Will learning hip hop dance help with K-pop dance?
September 15, 2020 10:19 PM   Subscribe

13yo boy wants to take K-pop dance lessons, but there aren't any nearby. Is it worth it for him to take hip hop in the meantime?

My 13yo son has never taken dance lessons before, but he has been keen to try for a while. He is most interested in K-pop dance, i.e. BTS Dynamite.

There are no K-pop classes near our home in Vancouver, BC, so he signed up for a hip hop class instead. It's one hour, once a week, for the rest of the year. After the first class yesterday, he's a little disappointed that it's not his first choice in music or dance style.

Is there value in him continuing with hip hop anyway? Will he learn moves or skills that are transferable to K-pop when he's able to study that? Will it help him get better at rhythm, learning routines, and moving his body to music? I'd like to see him continue with something even if it's not his preference, but I want to give him honest reasons why continuing would be valuable. And I'm not a dancer, so I'm turning to AskMefi :-)

I want to acknowledge the racial aspect of this question too. My son is Chinese, and he relates more to the Korean roots of K-pop than the Black roots of hip hop. I don't want to imply the two styles are interchangeable. I am curious about how they overlap and inform each other, though. I'm not sure how much dance and music history/education will be part of the class but we could supplement with that on our own.

(One other consideration - we've paid the deposit and bought the uniform, so we're already in for a chunk of change. It might have been more prudent to let him try a class before we committed, but also having money on the line may be what we both need to see this through.)

Thanks AskMefi for helping me be a better parent!
posted by alicat to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
Learning any dance will help with any other dance. It will help with rhythm, with fitness, with balance, with taking instruction, and just with moving.

How much concrete stuff transfers over varies with styles but hip hop is as good a basis for kpop as anything else I can think of

It’s too bad there’s not exactly what he wants available but I would still expect this “next best thing” to potentially be a very positive experience for him
posted by aubilenon at 11:22 PM on September 15, 2020 [5 favorites]

k pop roots itself firmly in the soil of black american music.

k pop is everywhere. the popular dances on tik tok are very much influenced by the (sometimes simple) choreagraphy of k-pop music.

i suspect a solid foundation in hip hop dance would put your son way ahead of the game when he finds himself in a k pop class.

i suspect a solid foundation in hip hop or any other style of dance would leave your son bored when he finds himself in a k pop class.
posted by Time To Sharpen Our Knives at 11:25 PM on September 15, 2020 [10 favorites]

I think the dance moves are quite similar so my first thought is to stick with it. A few months from now he'll be using his hip hop moves to dance to K-pop.
posted by shoesietart at 11:28 PM on September 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Any style of dance helps, as said above, but K-pop and hip hop should be even more so. Learning how to isolate parts of your body, how to move smoothly and with control, he will find that he looks at K-pop dances and understands them much better. The dancer isn't just lifting his arm, what's he doing with his shoulders, neck, ribs to create the smooth look? Where's his body weight?

This is all assuming he's learning some technique in the hip hop class, and the first session might be disappointing for him because it might have been more introductory, but if he can pretend far enough to go along with these lessons, it'll definitely help him later.
posted by Lady Li at 12:19 AM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Hip Hop will def help with the foundations and help him learn the basics of choreography and body awareness. K-pop takes a LOT of influence from hip hop and if he sticks with it he’ll see that and it will help. I think after a few lessons he could easily supplement the activity with following some tik toks or you tubes of k-pop routines, like on the weekend, as he will have developed enough skills to follow some of those tutorials on his own.
posted by like_neon at 12:32 AM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Meanwhile, there's an online program of videos for training in the K-pop style that he could supplement with: link.
posted by xo at 5:58 AM on September 16, 2020

He’ll get all kinds of skills in rhythm, body and spatial awareness, strength and flexibility that will serve him really well in a k-pop class. Lots of dancers of all kinds learn ballet (even if they are not themselves ballet dancers) for that reason. As another user mentioned, hip-hop will be particularly useful because of the ways k-pop borrows from hip-hop.
posted by unstrungharp at 9:42 AM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I came here to say what aubilenon said: learning any kind of dance (or other movement, like martial arts or skating) will help with any other kind of dance (or, again, other movement). I used to do dance, martial arts, and roller skated - each helped the others, and for him learning hip-hop dance will help him learn how to figure out k-pop dance moves. Hip hop dance sounds fantastic and I hope he has a good time!
posted by bile and syntax at 10:09 AM on September 16, 2020

In answer to your direct question: absolutely! Dance skills of strength, rhythm and body awareness are highly transferable. It's a tough road no matter the style. He'll need to commit to classes and practice for what will probably be at least a year to really start to feel comfortable in the movements.

To answer your indirect question of whether he should stick with it: I think dance should be a celebration and a passion. When you feel it, you are inspired, even if frustrated in the moment by what you can't perform. If he's finding the genre doesn't match his expectations and goals and will be a drag, I wouldn't push it. He can learn a lot just by watching videos of what he does like and practicing those.

Dance takes practice, and the practice (particularly at the start) should be fun!
posted by meinvt at 10:20 AM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think other folks have covered well that hip-hop dance technique will help your son with k-pop.

But also, if the class is on the small and casual side, can your son mention to the teacher that he'd like to dance to some k-pop music? The type of dance studios I went to as a child would have been open to that type of suggestion, as long as it came off as polite and not entitled. For example, my ballet class sometimes danced to the Beatles. I would wait until your son has learned a couple of routines and/or established a relationship with the teacher, but I think it could be an appropriate request done carefully.

Alternatively, this may be kind of weird, but I bet that the "hip hop" (or even "jazz") classes at your local Chinese dance schools are going to be heavily influenced by k-pop. YMMV, but when I was a kid, those names were just catch-alls for any kind of dance that wasn't traditional Chinese folk dance or ballet.

Lastly, in the asian suburban communities here, tweens/teens seem to do a bunch of kpop or youtube-inspired dancing as part of school clubs. Those clubs are going to expect that your son be able to follow along with choreography at a non-beginner level, since they're often taught by other kids and focused on school performances or competitions. If this is a thing in your area, maybe that could be extra motivation for your son to stick with the class.
posted by tinymegalo at 3:49 PM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

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