Category Archives: In-Depth ’17

In-Depth: #6

More than half way!

With adventure trip, year-end, in-depth and other projects coming up, it’s hard to choose a single focus when APRILMAYJUNE hits. I have been working on choosing a different solo piece, due to the fact that, after discussion with my mentor, this piece may prove to be a little too difficult for me. I will try to film a first version of it this weekend, if I’m able to learn the choreography properly.

I realize that I have been so obsessed with learning the moves down to the last detail, I haven’t really considered how to make the moves look visually appealing. Just because the moves are textbook doesn’t mean they look good, which is the whole purpose of performance. The concept of visual appeal was brought up by Kaleigh. After watching the video with us in class, she pointed out that for me specifically, my moves looked good (she was pleasantly surprised), but I needed to work on two things, which looking back on now, make me realize are HUGE elements to the performance aspects of dance: facial expressions and clothing adjustment. Throughout the dance, I only had two expressions: annoyed, and overly happy. I need to learn to maintain a neutral expression during the dance. I also constantly pulled down the edges of the sweater I was wearing (borrowed from Katrina), so note to self: wear a longer shirt next time. Another idea that I noticed while watching the video was that I need to work on my posture and angle with the camera. A lot of times, I was looking anywhere BUT that camera, giving me a paranoid appearance because I keep changing viewpoints. By “spotting”, I need to choose a single point to focus on while performing, something that I haven’t been doing. (Something else we need to work on is film quality, in terms of the resolution of the clips and finding a proper tripod and camera to film with to get a consistent angle.)

Sunny brought up the concept of synchronicity. In our previous dance video, there were two specific areas where we could have focused more on this: making sure the music was matched properly with the visuals (when layering the sound track over the original clips, we need to spend more time on the editing process, because that was extremely rushed last time). Additionally, you may notice that at 1:00, we are all doing completely different moves. Instead of trying to alter the move to fit all our physical capabilities, we tried to follow the move exactly (and failed in doing so). The “point” move in the dance, which appears several times as a recurring move, was also executed differently by all of us. Although I have already subscribed to the 1MILLION school of thought (accuracy is important, but dancing is, above all, an expression of ones’ creative and physical abilities and therefore, it is okay and even good to add your own elements to the choreography) I am going to apply their teaching styles more to group dances, as I have mostly been applying to it to my solo dances.

At the moment, Sunny has been giving me advice on choosing a different dance: ideas to keep in mind include 1. It’s okay to use a KPOP song, that’s the point of the project and 2. Ultimately, no one is going to care if you use a flashy, difficult dance that you can’t execute, so choosing an easier dance and doing it well is much better. Kaleigh has offered to help me work on technical aspects of the dance (as her 11 years of expertise is much more than my 11 weeks). I have many resources, including the internet, that I can turn to, so I am looking to keep my options open.

In-Depth: #5

 

Our first video is up!

(you can also watch the video here)

Stars:

-I was impressed at how we were able to make up for the empty space left in the choreography, especially since we have 3 members instead of the 13 the choreography calls for.

Wishes (for next recording of this dance):

Location: The ground of the film site was not suitable for the sliding moves in the beginning of the dance. The gritty pavement resulted in limited mobility and scraped knees. Ouch. The background and lighting was fine, but next time, I would like to use a smoother floor, such as a gym, or even smoother cement.

Synchronicity: Because I finished teaching Katrina and Franny elements of the dance right up until the moment we recorded, we did not work on dancing alike. Often times, we were not matched up, either ahead of or behind each other.

Mastery: Again, it was difficult to schedule practice sessions, so it is easy to tell that there are some gaps to fill in terms of proper execution of dance moves.

Goals for next dance choreography (In-Depth Night):

Unfortunately, we still do not have a proper venue to practice in, so securing a practice space is my first priority. Although we still need to make our second recording of ‘Adore U’, we will be discussing possible group pieces sometime soon. For now, I will be focusing on learning the choreography for my solo piece, ‘Work‘ (choreographed by Sori Na from 1MILLION dance studio).

Additionally, learning the moves quickly, properly, and similarly (as in we dance with similar movements and are all in sync) is a huge goal. This can only come with proper practice. Although I can practice and learn the dance on my own, it is difficult making sure everyone is on the same page. We originally aimed to have 3 group dances, but gauging from how long it takes us to properly learn a dance with timing and proper moves, we limited it to 2 dances, and will film 2 versions of each to show progress between recordings.

For our next dance, a huge goal is being able to meet up at least once a week. With the upcoming adventure trips and such, we may have to meet during the week instead of weekends in order to accommodate everyone’s schedules. In terms of individual practice for my solo piece, I have no doubts that I will be able to learn and present a first ‘draft’ version of it maximum 2 weeks from now. Using videos alone, I know that I will be able to pick up the dance, and hopefully meet with my mentor to fine tune it.

six-thinking-hats_650

De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

In consideration of De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, here is a conversation I had with Sunny (my mentor), a while back in February, after a practice session where had she helped us develop some of the trickier parts of the dance (where we had to compensate for the lack of members in our group, 3 instead of the expected 13). [Unnecessary pauses and filler words have been removed; M = Mimi; S = Sunny]

M: Hi Sunny, thanks for meeting up with today and letting us use the clubhouse, haha.

S: No problem, I really enjoyed it!

M: I was just wondering, I’m not really sure which piece I should choose for my solo on In-Depth. I’ve narrowed it down, but I feel like there are too many things to choose from, and there’s still a lot of time. [Green]

S: So… what are your choices?

M: I can send you the links, but I know for sure I want to use choreography from 1Million. I’m not totally sure if I can execute the dances, but they have choreography that I know for sure I can handle. Like, I know that I can’t do the crazy whacking and popping and locking, but I have the physical capability to do some moves.  I don’t know… I just really like the choreography. [White, Red]

S: That’s ok, I like it too, haha. I know you mentioned that you learned something before from there, so that’s good to think about while moving ahead. Just keep in mind that you want to choose something you can learn in a short period of time because you can’t be unrealistic about the dances.  [Yellow, Black]

M: I was thinking of doing ‘All I Wanna Do’, or ‘Half Moon’. Haha, I just mostly like the songs, but the dances are challenging– but not too challenging, if that makes sense.  [Red]

S: Well, I’ve seen snippets of the videos already, and I think that ‘Half Moon’ might be kind of difficult, but you’ll probably be able to do it. ‘All I Wanna Do’ would be more fun but you don’t have a partner. I think you should keep looking, because you still have some time.  [White, Red, Blue]

M: Ok, well I want to thank you again SO MUCH for helping us today! I’m sorry I keep saying this but thanks for being patient and helping us with the… iffy parts of the dance.

S: No don’t worry about it, actually I have fun doing it! Message me anytime you want and I’ll see if I can make it to your practices.

M: Thank you!!!

S: Bye!

In-Depth: Post #4

For the past two weeks, there has, admittedly, not been a lot of progress. It has been quite busy for my team and I, with work and other things to focus on. As we have lost our practice space, there are few things that we need to be able to solve, the most important being a place to rehearse. As such, I have not been able to film progress videos, also due to the fact that I have not chosen a solo piece yet (see below), We have been finding ways to communicate our goals, progress, and  with each other and our mentor regardless of the loss of space. However, as the projected date for posting our first video approaches, we have made finding a new space our first priority. Since a location with a mirror will be of most effective use for us, I will try asking for permission to use the theatre backstage once a week in order for us to practice.

In consideration of principle #4, “What new information are you getting and what questions did you ask to probe further into the topic?”, I have been directing my focus these past two weeks into individual research on the topic of hip hop dance, common elements, and a dance to use for my solo part. Rather than use Korean music for my solo on In-Depth, I have decided to instead use choreography by the dance studio “1Million”, a Korean dance studio which focuses on hip hop dance not only with KPOP music, but with Western songs and remixes as well. Although physically and conceptually challenging, I believe that I will eventually be able to learn dances such as this and this. In the process of choosing a solo song, I had been excited about choosing dances that looked really cool without taking into consideration the possibilities that a) I might not be actually be able to physically execute the dance and b) by choosing KPOP music, although it is the focal point of my project, would I be broadcasting my project to as wide an audience as possible? I realize that this project is about striving to create something interesting for myself, I also want to be able to share this with other people, which competes with the original idea of the project. Point A: I want to be able to create something new for myself that helps shape my identity as both a student on the West coast and a Korean teenager. Point B: I want to adhere to the goals of the entertainment industry and cater towards my audience one step at a time (as many people are not used to the Korean hip hop style of dance, I figured that by combining Western music with said dance style, it would be an enjoyable experience for all audiences to enjoy), so by using familiar music, people will be able to further enjoy the performance.

Aside from contingencies in venue and preparation, our group still stands to keep to our timeline. Aside from some details that were missed because of rehearsal configuration, the dance is near complete and will be ready for filming within the next two to three weeks if we can get a rehearsal in this week. Hopefully by next Friday, I will be able to add an additional post, with a progress video from a possible Friday rehearsal and an update on filming.

In-Depth: Post #3

Ah, the rush of in-depth.

These past three weeks, Franny, Katrina and I have been chipping away at the dance choreography (progress video to be uploaded after next practice session!)

Progress Report:

Since the last post, I have met with my mentor, Sunny, as well Franny and/or Katrina to practice the dance weekly, learning it almost to the point of completion. We’ve had very good progress so far, with minimal roadblocks. The only major one that can be pointed out is the fact that we’ve had to make some noticeable adjustments to the dance choreography, because there are only three people in our group, and seventeen in the original KPOP group. Thanks to Sunny, we have been able to fill in most of the gaps, using our own moves as well as most of the original dance to be able to complete the choreography. It’s very easy to get carried away in terms of liberties with the choreography (after all, it’s not like anyone in the audience has a Ph. D. in KPOP dance), but Sunny reminds us to keep the original choreography as a skeleton, and mold the parts we need to around it. Using this video as a guide, which I have found to be very helpful in noticing, learning, and implementing the tiniest details of the dance, we have near-completed the choreography. By modifying the dance to meet the circumstances of the group, we have actually been able to learn it faster, making our practice session more efficient and yield a higher success rate.

Mentor Update:

For the past two sessions, our practices tend to go something like this: listen to our song, outline goals for progress, learn any new parts, review parts, run through dance several times, complete a ‘random play’ dance, and run through dance several more times. Wait, what do I mean by ‘random play’ dance? This obscure term refers a popular Korean trend (especially in the entertainment and music industry, examples here and here), which may seem extremely odd and overly exaggerated to an outsider, but is a very common activity that is participated in on Korean variety shows, where the hosts of a show play music at random sections and the participants dance to the corresponding choreography. It sounds and looks kind of ridiculous to someone who isn’t Korean or doesn’t invest themselves into that sort of thing, but I feel like I have stumbled upon a common interest between my mentor and me because of this. Dancing has always been a passion of mine, but I didn’t know how much enjoyment I could get from dancing to these random, flashy KPOP songs with my mentor. The actual dances themselves, being only 20-second snippets from several pieces, were not difficult, but rather the act of having to make a half-second switch from one dance to another made it challenging. I found myself in awe of Sunny’s ability to make these quick changes, and made me respect her even more (cheesy as it might sound).

Communication between us has improved a lot too. Since I find it very difficult to open up in social situations, reverting to my hermit crab-like tendencies is usually the easiest thing to do when faced with a new challenge or meeting a new authority figure. However, through mutual understanding and the ability to respect each other on an equal level, this sense of anxiousness has gone away and I find it very easy to ask her for her opinions, discuss things with her, and converse with her. Before, I felt like I was questioning her authority by asking her to repeat something, as if she didn’t teach it right the first time. Now, however, I am comfortable enough to ask to her explain things again, or to demonstrate a certain move for us

Goals:

Since Katrina had not been able to join us for a session (due to a water polo tournament), there are some important things we need to fill her in on. Luckily, she has been able to learn the dance on her own, but the parts that we have had to fill in need to be taught. Hopefully we will be able to meet for a session soon. I am very lucky to be in a team where I can rely on all my team members to learn their own parts, because it means that the time we have together is used efficiently and not wasted by having to go step by step on basic moves. By the next blog post, I hope to have the first version of footage ready to post for people to see.

Another goal I have been working towards is working on my solo performance for In-Depth night itself. Popular Korean dance studio, ‘1MILLION’, has a YouTube cover of a popular Korean hip hop song called ‘Half Moon’, which I have been looking at and learning for quite a while. Although I know without a doubt this will be challenging conceptually, physically, and mentally as I have never danced to anything this difficult before, I’m up for the challenge, and am very excited at the prospect of learning this.

Until next time, let’s all hope for some progress and success to come our way!

In-Depth: #2

                The 2nd semester is gearing up, and in-depth is already starting to feel like it’s in full swing! Katrina, Franny, and I are ramping up our practice times and are beginning to schedule regular times to practice biweekly (weekly if we can manage it).

                These past two weeks, we have finalized our song choice. We have decided to stick with, “Adore U”, the light-hearted, energetic dance song by the boy group “Seventeen”, using their mirrored dance tutorial (where the video is flipped, so we can copy the moves exactly), a dance tutorial by YouTuber @Charissahoo, and with the help of Sunny Ko, our mentor whom we met with this weekend.

                As of now, Katrina and I have met with our mentor once, and are scheduled to meet with her again sometime this week. She has very generously agreed to give us tips about blocking, dance techniques, and how to fill the spaces in the dance with different moves (since we are only a group of 3), as well as provide us with a venue to practice in. We were able to learn the first minute of the dance, using different tutorials and the help of Sunny, relying on each other to learn the dances. Where one of us had troubles with the dance, the other would learn it in order to help out.

                Right now, I have no problems with my mentor or my group members, other than the fact that schedule is quite an issue right now. However, since this project can also be completed individually, I don’t have too many worries, since I know that I have to rely on my other group members to learn their own parts. Although this is a group project, we need to be to be independent and find our own opportunities to learn on our own (not everything has to be in a group, just occasional meetings). I agree with my mentor in that I like her approach to helping us. She does teach us and help us in the way of learning and teaching us the moves, but also helping us make up parts of the dance where we have an insufficient number of people.

           All in all, we’ve had a bit of a slow start. But the next few weeks are looking to be very productive, with lots of learning and posting going on.

In-Depth: And So it Begins… (#1)

After we jump over one obstacle another one immediately takes its place, and the same goes for In-Depth (the very name of which sends chills down my spine). Speaking honestly, I have to say that last year’s In-Depth experience was about a 4/10 on the success scale (partially because of procrastination, and partially because of the topic I chose), but I’m hoping to greatly improve that this year. How, you ask? Well this year, I’m going to follow the TALONS In-Depth model better. Which is, to say, I’m really going to try and learn everything about something.

This year, my In-Depth project is already looking to be more enjoyable and have a larger prospect for success. Rather than focus on something that requires intense recording, academics, and a high-stress environment that calls for lots of individual research and studying along with the process, I have decided to pursue something fun, and something that I’ll really enjoy doing. (In other words, something that won’t stress me out like my project last year.) Something that I would have considered doing outside of school anyway. Something that requires dedication but nothing to academically stressful. Something fun, and something that I can enjoy doing, and not spend every waking moment worrying about. KPop dance!

(Stop laughing.)

The idea originally came when Katrina and I were joking around, talking about doing KPop covers for In-Depth, about a year ago. We were both pretty invested in the idea, but I abandoned it to do something different. I was considering many different options, ranging from noodle-making to graphic design, but after Katrina and Franny joined together to do KPop for their project, I decided to ditch all of my other ideas and come back to my original one and join the two of them. Other than the fact that this project will be enjoyable to partake in, I also feel that, as a Korean who isn’t as in touch with Korean culture as one could be, this project is a great opportunity for me to learn more about my family’s country, and how much it has developed from one of the poorest nations at the bottom after war and poverty, to a flourishing, increasingly cosmopolitan society booming with culture, art, music, and some of the trendiest brands on the market. This project will definitely give me the chance to research some of the more modern elements of Korean culture, and how it has changed over the years, and how it’s helped Korea rise to international fame.

Throughout the course of this project, there are many goals and plans I have, some of them already in action. The main goal that I have is to be able to independently learn dances using dance tutorials and music videos to aid me in my learning, and to be able to practice and perfect these dances on my own before coming together with a group. For our first project, which we have already started to learn, we will learning a dance called “Adore U” by the popular KPop boy group, Seventeen. This will be quite a challenge, as I have learned dances in the past, but usually not very quickly, and with the help of other people to learn.

For the times when we do need help and guidance, the three of us have secured a mentor already! Sunny Ko (sister of fellow TALON student Sydney Ko), Grade 12 student, has agreed to help us with our project. Since we will mostly need her help in learning dances, blocking, positioning, etc., we will not need to meet with her as often as a typical project might call for, as some of our time will be spent choosing dances, and editing and posting videos. Nonetheless, I am very excited to be able to work with her for this project, and I’m extremely grateful to her for offering to help us out for the duration of this project.

Additionally, we will be seeking help from Kaleigh, who although is inexperienced in the hip hop genre, can help us with dance foundations and things such as stretching that can help develop our general dance skills. We will also be looking to find some drop-in hip hop, popping, and KPop dance classes at various dance studios to help us be able to achieve mastery (or as close as we can get to it) for this project, which will be especially vital for our final performance on in-depth night.

Another important component of the project is one that is personal, will help develop my general fitness, and will not be talked about on in-depth night. Rather than just learn KPop dances, I have decided to further immerse myself into the intense world of KPop and Korean pop culture. Throughout the next 5 months, I will be changing my diet, drinking more water, and increasing my fitness regime. Partially driven by the fact that my fitness and general health isn’t as good as it used to be, I have decided that, following the intense KPop trainee model, I will increase not only my fitness through dancing, but through more vigorous cardio and muscular strength activities, and changing the way I eat. The fitness component is important to me, mostly because I am used to having a high base fitness level (and it has dropped since I’ve had to take PE Online), but also because I can use the hours put in to dancing as hours that can count towards my PE Online course. For the diet portion, I’m not going/able to follow the strict diets that KPop trainees and idols are forced to follow, simply because of the nature of their schedules vs. the nature of mine. By this, I mean I am simply going to make the switch from processed, less healthy foods to whole foods with more nutrients, and decreasing my caloric intake (not by much, but by a few hundred as I tend to overeat on a regular basis). I will be tracking my food and water intake using a food journal throughout this project, and working on better meal planning and frugal grocery shopping for better foods. Hopefully by doing this, I can add another dimension to my project by not only learning and performing dances, but by changing my lifestyle as well.

I’m very excited to see where In-Depth takes me this year. I can already see more possibilities for success and enjoyment compared to last year, and the collaborative element with Katrina and Franny will make the process more enjoyable since I’m sharing it with them. As a 10, I’m also excited to see where everyone takes their project and how they choose to use it as a vessel towards further mastery in a subject. Good luck everyone, and try not to suffer too much!