While 2017 is already picking up steam, there is still a lot in 2016 to celebrate! That’s what we have been doing with our latest End-of-Year Review, looking at the top Debuts, MVs and Dramas of 2016. It’s not often that we talk about the best dances from a year, but K-pop has made it a staple in our yearly reviews. Here, Brianna, Gaya, and Lorenza come together to discuss their top chorepgraphies for male and female acts.
|2|| Red Velvet
|3|| WJSN — “Secret”
I.O.I — “Whatta Man”
| NCT Dream
“Very Nice”/”Boom Boom”
|3|| NCT U
“The 7th Sense”
Honestly, this year had so many good dances. It was great to see such a vast variety of different styles get incorporated into K-pop instead of just jazz and hip hop. I’m a sucker for fancy footwork and small details which is why KNK‘s “U,” Got7‘s “Hard Carry,” and Seventeen‘s “Very Nice” are my top boy group dances of 2016. It’s harder to find as complex footwork in girl groups, so I looked at overall execution and the use of formations in choreography.
While Mamamoo‘s “Décalcomanie” doesn’t have as complex formations, I really, really love the mirroring of movements between the members. WJSN‘s “Secret” is just perfection for me. I like that they use the fact that they have so many members to create really really cool formations and have so many small details in the choreography. The hand gestures during the chorus are my favorite part. Laboum‘s “Shooting Love” is just a fun dance and song.
Gaya: I agree, 2016 had some really good material. I focused mainly on formation and energy, followed by use of back-up dancers (if present) and detail. I wasn’t expecting props to come into the picture at all, but here I am with “Chewing Gum” and “Mr. Potter.” I was worried about Dia‘s suspender dance looking gimmicky, but they are used to great effect throughout the song. And while that footwork in the chorus may be fairly simple, the visual effect it produces is quite mesmerising.
Hoverboards were another unoriginal gimmick to be wary of; but I began to think differently after a YouTube search for hoverboard choreo returned paltry results. Maybe I wasn’t just looking in the right places, but none of the videos I saw were as dynamic as NCT Dream‘s. Some videos spent more time rolling through vast studio spaces, and any choreo attempted was too careful — NCT Dream showcase much more energy and creativity in “Chewing Gum.”
Brianna: When I tell you that 2016 was just chock full of amazing dances left and right, I’m not exaggerating.
With or without complex footwork, there was one thing a lot of my favorite dances this year had in common — exceptional formation. While some may favor complicated footwork, I always love to see the different arrangements groups try out. Two groups I really fell in love with in 2016 were Seventeen and WJSN. Similar to what Lorenza mentioned earlier, it’s nothing short of amazing how both groups are able to use their large numbers to an advantage. “Secret” was overall an ethereal performance, and it looked very graceful and cohesive every time WJSN performed it live. With “Very Nice”, I loved the energy Seventeen always seemed to have while performing, and it was a plus to see the homage to “Pretty U” during The8’s solo.
If someone asked me to point out two girl groups worth watching solely on dance alone, I would definitely point them in the direction of Red Velvet and G-Friend. I might be biased in choosing “Navillera” over “Rough” since it was the song that actually got me into G-Friend, but I really don’t mind — any G-Friend choreography is good choreography. With Red Velvet, who I’ve been into since their debut, have never disappointed with their dances, and the choreography alone is one of my favorite things to look forward to whenever they’re making a comeback.
Gaya: Red Velvet seriously has some of the catchiest choreography, because I’m always wanting to try out their “red” dances. It’s a mishmash of a lot of different influences that somehow work together.
NCT U‘s “The 7th Sense” was one of my favourite dances (and songs) of the year, but my determination to stick to one dance per group meant that NCT Dream won out. What I love about “The 7th Sense” is that while it is clearly following the alt-R&B trend in American music, the choreographed performance gives it a K-pop touch. What about “The 7th Sense” drew you you to it, Brianna?
Brianna: What drew me to “The 7th Sense” as a song was the fact that it had reminded me a lot of singers like Banks and FKA Twigs, who I just adore. From sound alone, it was sensual and had a pace I found very easy to listen to.
When I first watched the MV for “The 7th Sense”, it honestly took me a couple times to really take everything in. I didn’t fully understand everything that was there, but I was okay with that. NCT U was a completely new act to me who I had never heard of before. When I first watched the dance MV for the song, it was basically the same experience. A lot of the dance moves included in the choreography looked weird to me and didn’t look like they fit the pace. Looking back, that’s now one of my favorite things about the choreography.
The dance for “The 7th Sense” isn’t strictly fast-paced, and it’s also not the slowest thing in the world. It’s more or less this really amazing equilibrium of the two. Adding that aspect to the different arrangements that the boys are actively moving into, it became one of my favorite boy group dances of 2016.
Lorenza: How could I forget about “The 7th Sense”? Both the song and the choreo are so so good. I absolutely agree with Brianna; the dance isn’t fast-paced and it works really well with the overall vibe of the song. That body roll with one leg in the air that they do is definitely the highlight, at least for me. Not only does it look cool, it’s also a difficult move to execute the way they do.
When SM does choreography right, they do it right. Red Velvet consistently has dances that turn into trends, Shinee has had arguably some of the most complex dance choreography in all of K-pop. I also like that they never really shy away from incorporating many different influences into the choreography so we get dances like “7th Sense” and the live choreography for pretty much every Exo song ever.
Gaya: It completely slipped my mind that “Pretty U” came out this year! But looking back, I think I prefer the sharp movements and synchronisation of “Very Nice.” What drew you both to this dance?
Lorenza: Personally, I think it was also the sharp synchronization. “Very Nice” just makes really great use of their numbers and to get 13 people that in-sync is no small feat. Seventeen never fails to impress with their choreography, if we’re being totally honest.
Brianna: I wholeheartedly agree with the two of you on the sharp synchronization of the dance, especially with the group’s large numbers, as Lorenza noted. Another thing that drew me to the dance was the amount of energy the group had while performing. Seventeen seems like one of those groups who just always has fun on stage, and this definitely applies to “Pretty U”.
This doesn’t necessarily pertain to the choreography for “Very Nice”, but I thought it was so cool that in most of the music show performances, there was one member who wore an outfit that was different from the others. To give you an example, in the Music Core performance above, everyone’s wearing some sort of shirt that’s red, but then you have Woozi who’s wearing a blue shirt. I believe all of the members have had their own special day, and it’s the simple things like that I love about Seventeen.
Gaya: I love when they include little details like that, it’s part of what makes watching the weekly music shows so appealing.
Lorenza, you mentioned details when talking about WJSN’s choreography for “Secret” — what were your favourite moments? “Secret” made your list too, Brianna, why?
Lorenza: I loved the hand gestures that were incorporated into the choreography. I like that the hand gestures are the center of the choreography, but also kind of very subtle. Especially during the chorus where it looked like they were using their hands to imitate the hands on a clock (at least that’s what it looked like to me). That and there were a lot of moves that were definitely taken from ballet and I love when more “classical” dance is incorporated into choreography. I think it makes it look more timeless and less gimmicky.
Small details like the hand gestures and creating body lines that are more reminiscent of ballet are qualities you don’t see often in most pop choreography and that’s what makes “Secret” unique and makes it work so well.
Brianna: Adding onto Lorenza’s point about the dance looking timeless and not gimmicky, I just love how soft and graceful the dance looks. There are some K-pop choreographies where the moves are one hard hit after another — “Secret” isn’t one of them. The members all look like they’re seamlessly gliding out of one step, and into another. “Gliding” probably isn’t the best word to describe what I mean, but it’s the closest I could find. Especially with Cheng Xiao‘s small little dance at the beginning of the song, I just love how ballet-esque the dance is, and it’s definitely a lot different from most of what I’ve seen in K-pop.
Gaya: From girl groups to girl solos, there were a number of female soloists with interesting routines this year. I enjoyed the effort put into Taeyeon‘s “Why,” the finesse and power of Luna‘s “Free Somebody,” the fun of Hyuna‘s “How’s This” and the fact that a Hyoyeon solo exists at all. But I think both of Grace‘s releases showcased her ability to perform cohesively with her dances while also standing out. I think Taeyeon and Hyuna’s choreography let the dancers overwhelm the idols, while Luna and Hyoyeon’s were simpler than I expected.
Grace didn’t have a lot of flashy tricks, but she knew how to keep attention on her. “I’m Fine” edged out “Trick or Treat” because Grace had more to do, dance-wise. I think this difference was due to a mood-based distinction between the two songs, and I feel bad for picking “I’m Fine” because of that, but the fact remains that the peppier track integrated Grace better into the dance than “Trick or Treat.”
The year was a good one for dances, and we are all looking forward to what 2017 has in store!
Readers, what were your favourite dances from 2016? Were there any that you took the time to learn as well? Let us know in the comments below!