July 19, 2018 | ° F

Dance group performs Korean pop music to University

Photo by Courtesy of Timothy Zhen Wei Ho |

HARU, the Rutgers K-pop dance club, meets every Friday in the Red Lion Café on the College Avenue campus to practice music from their favorite idols.

Members of HARU aim to bring new sounds to campus with their Korean pop dance team.

HARU: K-pop Dance Cover Club members gather every Friday at the Red Lion Café on the College Avenue campus to devote their time and energy to dancing to their favorite Korean songs.

Comprised of dancers with diverse backgrounds and ethnicites, HARU does not require technical dance skill or experience to join. The club welcomes students who wish to learn about this music genre while embracing the most peculiar aspects of Korean pop culture.

Swati Patel, president of the club, emphasizes the importance of HARU as a multi-ethic group whose purpose is to harmonize the diverse qualities of each member.

“We try to blend different individuals while preserving their personalities. Each member is identified with the group as an essential part of its unity,” said Patel, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

Only four student were members of the club when it was founded in 2011. Since then, the group has gained popularity by using its Facebook page to upload video performances of its members, and the group has expanded to 13, Patel said.

K-pop combines various music styles such as hip-hop, rhythm and blues and dance-pop. The genre involves well-synchronized movements. The choreography matches the song’s lyrics while reflecting its main concept.

Other K-pop dance groups produced by Korean record labels inspire the club. S.M. Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and YG Entertainment are the largest Korean pop music labels, known as the “big three,”  Patel said.

Timothy Zhen Wei Ho, a general member of the club, said the club members must select a song, analyze its content and reproduce the artists’ choreography.

“K-pop involves more performing than dancing skills. The judges evaluate the performers’ attitude, the quality of movement and facial expression,” said Ho, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

Moreover, the group must reflect the artist’s personal style and movement while still encouraging originality. An effective portrayal of a single or multiple characters requires precision, coordination and a good ear, he said.

“K-pop is a lifestyle,” he said.

K-pop has dramatic fashion to attract the young audience’s attention. Their hairstyles, colorful outfits and cosmetic products enhance the group’s social impact among consumers as well, Ho said.

HARU’s song choices are not solely based on their personal tastes but also the listeners’ expectations, Patel said. The club attempts to surprise the listeners by adding a striking quality to its choreography.

“SHINee, a South Korean R&B boy group, inspires the concept we embody as a group. All of us have grown up with SHINee since its debut,” Patel said. “Before HARU was made, we separately loved the band and watched them climbing the ladder of success until they became respectful idols.”

They have also covered songs such as “I Am the Best” by the South Korean girl group 2NE1 and “I Don’t Need a Man” by the Chinese-Korean girl group Miss A, she said.

Sophia Chao, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, watches the selected music video and learns and teaches the choreography, while the president and a few other members support her.

“K-pop is just different. I was a fan of Big Bang, a popular South Korean boy band since 2006, and afterwards, I became something more. HARU was able to create such an unbreakable bond among its members,” Chao said.

As a team, they have performed at dance contests such as the 2012 and 2013 New York K-pop Festival, earning third place both years, Patel said. In September 2013, they participated in the Los Angeles K-pop Dance Festival after auditioning online. Although they did not win, the judge selected them as finalists.

Patel said the members’ lack of experience and individual traits became the most challenging aspect of performing as a team. Yet they have succeeded in turning the discrepancy within the group into a strength.

“We did not know there were so many people who loved K-pop music like us. Now, we are trying to inspire our HARU new members to never give up on what they are passionate about,” Patel said. “I must admit that in 2011, we were an ordinary dance team. In 2014, we are a family.”

By Sabrina Restivo

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