Korean dancers are all very nice. They are open and very welcoming, but as a foreigner you still have a lot of problems integrating. People try to speak in English with you, but a lot of them are not completely fluent and are more uncomfortable than they should be. Making close friends and hanging out with people is a real problem if you only know English. (At least it was for me). So when I could take a very in depth Korean course in my university, I took the chance.
Knowing Korean helps a ton. People are very surprised if you can talk in Korean. They are already amazed if you can speak a few sentences. They do not care if you make mistakes or don’t follow the proper politeness rules. However, they will make fun of you for any kind of accent. Thanks to my Korean ability, I was able to go to places I would not have gone otherwise and I could meet amazing people that I would not have met otherwise. It was not always easy, but it was definitely worth it.
I wanted to do some really serious training today. I thought that I would go through all the basics that I know and afterwards do some freestyle. However, during my warm-up I started listening to my Korean playlist. This is not really music that I normally dance to, but it just put me in a really good mood. Instead of starting my basics, I started to mess around. I didn’t care about any kind of technique and just did whatever came to mind. It felt incredibly good and it was very liberating.
I bet that I did get some practice out of it. Even though I did not practice seriously and I am not sure about the effectiveness of this kind of practice, I am sure that it is very important. It was just fun and sometimes you simply need to have fun. You can drill techniques and basics all day long, but sometimes you need to remember why you are doing this and there is nothing better than messing around.
I have not been dancing for a long time yet, but I have been trying to go really fast. I want to learn more and more. I always try to find a new advanced move. I am in more lessons than ever before and I am training on my own all the time. However, it means that I do not have the time and energy to repeat the basics. It has been hurting me. My dancing is neither good nor clean. My basics have been getting rusty! It doesn’t help that basics are not valued as highly here, in Germany, as in Korea.
Today, we did two hours straight just doing popping basics. In the beginning, I thought it would be really easy. However, really quickly I noticed how much I suck at the basics. It ended up being really fun and it rekindled my love for doing basics. It is so important and I just cannot become a good dancer without drilling the basics all the time – PERIOD.
The moment I decided that I wanted to dance was incredibly important for me. From that point onwards my life changed completely and it is still changing based on that decision. Looking back in a few decades, it might have been the best or worst decision of my life. At this point, I am investing huge amounts of time into dancing. I am structuring my life around the idea that I should be dancing more. Every waking minute I think about dance or practice. I still don’t know where my dance will lead me, but so far it led me to incredible places and it showed me a side of mine that I never knew before.
So when did I decide that I wanted to dance? It happened in Korea very shortly after I arrived there. BK (Before Korea), I spent most of my time studying and worrying about university. I was always hanging around with a couple of core friends. I decided that in Korea, I wanted to make some Korean friends and I wanted to focus much less on my studies. Studying less was really not the problem, but meeting people was much more difficult. I was never the kind of guy who could just get into a conversation easily.
One day, I walked past a booth for the street dance club of my university. I was fascinated with dancing and I thought it would be really cool to join. However, I didn’t approach them from the get go. I was too scared. I didn’t know what to say and I thought that dancing would not really suit me. After I passed the booth for the fifth time, I finally mustered up my courage and told them I wanted to join.
It still wasn’t easy. There were a lot of hurdles and even when I was in the club it was difficult being the only foreigner, but I eventually got into the club. I still didn’t dance as much as I do now, but it was the small chance that I took that one day that led me to the path I am on right now. I don’t even want to think about what I would do if I didn’t approach the booth that one day. It taught me that I need to take chances sometimes, especially if it is something I really want to do.
I have been involved in a big performance over the last month. It is called surrogate cities and it is part of the “ruhr triennale”. It was much bigger than anything I have been involved in so far and it was quite different from the things I am used to. It was a huge production with around 100 different performers and an orchestra. There was a crew for the sound and the light and everything.
However most of all, the dance style and the kind of music was very new to me. It was not Hip Hop AT ALL. Even though they searched for hip hop dancers, the whole piece ended up being a very abstract contemporary choreography. It did, however, allow us to implement our own training and use the moves we learned so far. Overall, it was an amazing opportunity and we were able to exchange a lot with each other.
We had very regular training and it was very interesting to work on a single project over an extended period of time. You need to have a certain kind of dedication to keep yourself focused on a seemingly simple task for such a long time and it was nice to see that I was able to cope with it very well. It did not get boring, but at the same time, I am glad that I can go back to my regular training now.
I have been studying in Korea in 2013 and I started dancing there. Now, I am back in Germany and I notice how different the dance scenes really are. One of the biggest differences I noticed is midnight training. Koreans seem to like doing things over night. They study the whole night, they play games the whole night, they party the whole night, and of course they train the whole night.
Midnight training mostly means that you meet around 11pm – 12am and then train until 5am – 6am. There are a lot of instances when one would do midnight training. Maybe you went to a battle and you lost earlier than you wanted or you want to prepare for a battle in advance. These are perfect opportunities to schedule some midnight training with your friends. Maybe you have a performance you want to prepare for. Just take your group and do some midnight training. Or maybe the most common reason: You just have some free time and want to train more.
If you are a dancer in Korea, it will be very easy to find people wanting to do midnight training. Even most dance teachers or professional dancers are doing midnight training all the time. Finding a location is equally easy. You can reserve most dance studios for midnight training for free and there are a lot of practice rooms you can book for very little money.
Even though you go there for around 5-6 hours, you will probably not train for all this time. It is much more relaxed than that. People eat together and they talk together. Most of the time, there is some kind of agenda for what you want to do, but often times there are enough chances to mess around and to exchange creatively.
I want to discuss the different roles that workshops and regular lessons have for my dance education. I attended regular lessons as well as workshops in Germany and South Korea, but I have very little knowledge how they work in different countries. I did not spend an extended period of time just learning to dance by myself, so it is very hard for me to assess how effective learning by myself would be. I do, however, see that just attending lessons or workshop is not enough for me and I definitely need to practice alone. I also know a couple of people who never attended a single lesson or workshop, but are doing extremely well.
First of all, lessons as well as workshops seem to do much better in South Korea than in Germany. Overall there are more courses and they are still attended much better than the ones in Germany. On top of that, lessons in South Korea tend to be more expensive. This really helps workshops a lot. Workshops are effectively the same price as regular lessons, but without the commitment of having to pay for a full month. In comparison, lessons in Germany are pretty cheap and you can generally get discounts if you take more than one lesson. Workshops are a little bit difficult. They end up being more expensive and still lose money for the organizers as not enough people attend.
Lessons are the foundation of my dance education. I personally need a regular input for my training. Training alone with videos or attending a workshop from time to time is just not going to do it. In my life, I always needed a very strict structure to work most effectively. Additionally, having someone who completely knows my skill level and has a long term plan for my development feels very reassuring. It keeps me on a steady path upwards.
However, I notice time and time again that just attending regular lessons makes me complacent. The teacher adjusts the level to your level and you feel good about your skill. You inadvertently feel better than you actually are. You also start to imitate your teachers style a lot. To keep things fresh, I need to take a workshop from time to time. You suddenly see one of the world’s best show you something you have never seen before and it is eye opening. Whenever I attend a workshop, it always reignites my flame and passion. I always think that I should train harder and more than ever before.
Lessons are the structure and foundation of my dance education. It gives me a very clear path that I follow and it keeps me dedicated to practice. On the other hand, workshops and an active exchange with other dancers fuel my passion. I am very interested to hear how other people train!