Category Archives: Dance

All Eyez on ALiEN Dance Studio

I’ve written about the Kinjaz but I haven’t yet about ALiEN Dance Studio.  In my many YouTube travels, I came across this choreography video of Tinashe‘s song “2 On” and was entranced.  I’ve seen several male-only and mixed-gender dance crew videos on YT with much admiration and excitement, but ALiEN Dance Studio brings a bold and sensually precise dimension to the dance moves.


Their videos of Bruno Mars and Britney Spears songs leave me speechless.

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While we’re on the subject of grooving tunes, I watched All Eyez on Me (Benny Boom, 2017) over the weekend.  While I enjoyed the film and loved the music, I agree with many of the criticisms of the film discussed here on Reddit.  When Tupac Shakur was successfully navigating the rap scene in the 1990s, I was listening to The Cranberries, Cake, Dishwalla, Live, Bjork, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, TLC, En Vogue — basically lots of alternative rock and top 40s pop/rock and r&b.  While I knew who Tupac was and had come across his music by virtue of being a teenager of the 90s and immersed in pop-cultural media, it wasn’t until I saw the music video for “Gangsta Party” (aka “2 of Amerikaz’s Most Wanted”) featuring Snoop Dogg that I paid (more) attention to his voice and presence. I liked the rhythm of the song.

During the late 90s through the mid-2000s, I listened primarily to Asian pop music (Japanese, Korean and Chinese (Mandarin).  Given the way Korean pop, hip-hop, and hip-pop have evolved in the last few years, I feel as though I owe my taste for Tupac’s music to Korean hip-pop. *  Specifically, these kinds of tunes:

 

There is no soundtrack for All Eyez on Me, but Tupac’s albums are available to own.  After YouTubing a few of the songs on his album of the same name, I went to Best Buy and got it.  Let me tell you, driving while listening to “All About You” has been so much fun.  Snoop Dogg’s narration at the end is hilarious.  It’s also interesting to realize that “Recipe” by Kpop girl group Brown Eyed Girls lyrically samples “How Do You Want It.”

 

So why would I watch a movie about a rapper whom I didn’t really listen to when he was still alive?  I saw Notorious (George Tillman Jr., 2009) in theatres out of curiosity and not too long ago watched Straight Outta Compton (F. Gary Gray, 2015).  I figured I’d have to watch the Tupac biopic for symmetry.

* I am aware that American hip-hop heavily influenced Korean hip-pop.

Images of American Youth Culture in Kpop MVs

It’s cultural appropriation when the Subject takes the Other’s customs as accessories; it’s cultural appropriation when the ideological Majority (re)interprets the Minority’s norms and tastes.  Is it a gushing compliment when the latter inserts former’s cultural mise-en-scene?

I love these songs and the music videos.  I know that cheerleaders, lacrosse players, and football players are not exclusively North American “properties.”  Nonetheless, I wonder about the line that separates an effective incorporation of another’s look-and-feel from satire from shameless borrowing.*

It’s harder to avoid consciously emulating others’ visual representations of themselves because their lifestyles and fashion choices are but an app and internet connection away.  The disconnect for me is that the clothes and sets signify North American culture but the people in it are not North American (geo-politically speaking).  It seems real but it isn’t.

Girls’ Generation‘s “Oh” — spot the imac g3

 

 

AOA‘s “Heart Attack”

 

EXO‘s “Love Me Right”

* The art direction of Shinee’s “1 of 1” mv is a fantastic nod to New Jack Swing and fashion trends of the 90s.  Uncut version of Troublemaker’s “Tell Me Now” mv.  Psy’s “Gangnam Style” does not satirize directly American culture but because much of American popular culture is tied to excess and luxury, I thought it a fitting example — and the blog post is excellently written.

PS. Many members of Kpop groups (and likely creative staff) were born in or group up in Canada and the US, so it makes sense why they would bring a Westerner’s visual style perspective.   They still have to abide by the customs of their ethnic heritage (what is considered offensive and what isn’t), so depictions of violence, sexuality, and mind-altering landscapes would necessarily be affected.

PPS.  I still don’t fully understand the reggae thing.  I get the appeal for a musician, but the braids?  Je ne le comprends pas.

Deep into the Groove

Their bodies spin, slice, crumple, and roll like dice.  Their limbs go rigid then fluid again in under a blink of the eye.  No mandatory balls to catch, no pucks to pass, no bases to steal, just bodies in motion bending and rippling like water waves.  

I’m not referring to football players, hockey players, baseball players or any of those ball players.  I’m talking about dancers.  I am utterly transfixed by the Kinjaz.  Last night, I saw Wong Fu’s “Kpop” video and making-of.  A few of the members of the dance crew Kinjaz were featured in it.  Of course, I looked them up on YouTube and spent the next three hours watching their dances.

Just watch.

My favorite dancers from the group are:

Jawn Ha

Pat Cruz

Vinh Ngyuen

I’ve watched plenty of dance crew vids on YT and sometimes they start looking the same, especially when they’re from the same crew, but so far Kinjaz has proved choreographic consistency without being self-derivative.

 

 

Off Topic: Today’s Verse 88

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The screech of metal on metal,
a propeller from backstage to the proscenium,
the impact feels much slower
than I remember.

The last time I was surrounded
by flamenco dancers masquerading
as patrons worth every dollar,
the sun dipped down
below the islands of the Dominican Republic.

The polo boys were feverish,
speckled hoops of dirt on sinews
reminds me I’m sitting under white lights,
pouring over footnotes and marketing jargon.

The memory of passion fruit and orchids
Yanks me back to signing
below the dotted line
after the screech of metal on metal,
a flick of the wrist and I’m the new owner
of salient horsepower.

— yiqi 17 Feb 2016 10:01 pm

~!~

The above poem is based on a series of texts.