From the 26th of July to the 8th of August, the Korean Tourism Organisation, with the help of KLUE, organised 10 days of free vocal and dance workshops in Chelsea Old Town in London. The workshops consisted of a 2-hour dance lesson taught by professional choreographer Choi Kiwang followed by a 2-hour vocal lesson taught Do Heuisun or Kim Dongshik, both professional vocal trainers. I managed to get along to the last day of workshops on Wednesday to experience it all for myself and it was definitely a lot of fun!
I don’t know London all that well and I am ridiculously good at getting lost so even after managing to get to Chelsea and into the general vicinity of the Old Town Hall, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find where the workshops were being held. However my worries were soon put to rest when I was greeted by 2PM and Miss A (well, photos of 2PM and Miss A) showing me the way to the room where the workshops were being held. The room itself was a fairly large hall full of posters advertising the event as well as life-size cardboard cutouts of 2NE1 and members of 2PM and Miss A and a table against the back wall was lined full of KTO goodie bags.
The dance workshop began a couple of minutes after I got there and ended up being lead by Jay, the leader of UK based K-pop dance crew HANURI, as Kiwang was stuck in Olympic traffic. After a brief warmup we got onto learning the choreography of the day, BEAST’s Fiction. As I’m sure you all know, Fiction has some very complex footwork and this caused a little bit of a problem as it was impossible for everyone in the room to see in and follow the steps as there was so many of us. We ended up in a circle which meant everyone could clearly see the footwork however caused other problems as we were left with only a very small amount of space to dance in and caused a little confusion as everyone tried to figure out which direction they were supposed to be moving.
Our dancing was brought to an end after only an hour and a quarter as we were told that we were being treated to some special performances. First up was Poppin’ Hyun Joon, a famous breakdancer who specialises in popping and ticking. He and the other dancer in his crew showed off their amazing skills in a performance to the sounds of Daft Punk before getting the audience up on our feet to teach is some basic breakdance steps. Next up was the percussion group dressed in traditional costume played a form of music called Samul Nori which we learned has contemporary origins being first developed in 1978 although it uses the instruments of traditional Korean folk music. After this we saw a very special performance from renowned Pansori singer Aeri Park, who was dressed in beautiful and extremely elaborate hanbok, of famous Korean folk song Arirang.
After a break, we were onto the vocal lesson which focused on the song, Bad Girl Good Girl by Miss A. Despite relying on a translator due to his limited English, our tutor Dongshik managed to create a fun and light-hearted atmosphere while still teaching the proper rhythms and techniques to required to sing the song. A particularly funny moment was when he demonstrated the meaning of the lyrics by acting out the role of a scantily-clad woman being judged by a man. After going through the whole song with the keyboard, everyone sang along to an instrumental track while Dongshik walked around with a microphone and then he picked out a group of girls, who he nicknamed Miss B, to go to the front and perform. Everyone was really supportive and the girls tried their best and really looked like they were enjoying the performance
Although we didn’t manage to learn most of the dance due to the lack of space in the hall, both the dance and the vocal workshop were great fun. If the KTO ever organises anything like this again I hope I will be able to attend again, being in a room full of fellow K-pop fans singing and dancing together was amazing and it was a great opportunity to learn from K-pop industry professionals. It was also really interesting to learn more about traditional Korean music and performance. Thank you to the KTO and Klue for organising this great event!
Did you go to any of the workshops? If you did, we’d love to know which ones you went to and if you enjoyed them. If you didn’t manage to go, would you go to other similar workshops if they were organised again?
If you live in the London area and you are free tomorrow, there will be a performance from several of the students from the workshop in Kingston upon Thames as part of the annual Kingston Korean Festival. It should be a great day out with a mixture of modern and traditional Korean culture on display and of course lots of lovely food! To find out more about the performance, click here, I’m sure everyone will appreciate your support. Hope to see you there!