NIA aims to build a welcoming community as the group prepares for its first showcase on April 1. The group holds general meetings every second Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Grand Palm 3 room.
Korean pop (K-Pop) has grown in popularity, but as a genre itself, it is still widely looked down upon in the West with its fanbase. At FAU, the K-Pop community may be generally small, but Next In Action (NIA) seeks to change the way others view K-Pop and its fans through dance.
Formed in 2019, NIA is the first K-Pop dance group at FAU and originally spun off from the Asian Students Union Dance Team, AZN. The founding members of NIA wanted to create a dance group centered around K-Pop. In addition to dancing, the club aims to create a welcoming environment for anyone interested in Korean culture.
“I joined the team as soon as I started my first semester here. I didn’t know many people, but since I joined, I can go to training and meet the other members. It’s always a good time to prepare a dance,” said Dámarys Blanco, junior multimedia journalism student and founding member of NIA.
Shortly after the club’s founding, the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 led to the band going entirely virtual for over a year, halting all plans the band had for their first year.
“We were planning a massive dance for spring 2020, but it was cut short. After one or two rehearsals we were sent home and didn’t see each other again until the summer of 2021,” Blanco said.
Although they weren’t able to meet in person, the NIA members have become more active on social media posting individual dance covers.
“We were all learning parts of a song and making little teasers for it. We cut our takes together and it was our group dance while we were all in quarantine,” said Annabelle Graves, vice president of the NIA and senior secondary English education major.
According to NIA Chief and Senior Biology Major Darn Faveur, it has become easier to keep the group alive over time, but it has become difficult to find new members.
“It held back our growth because it was harder to recruit more people to audition and we also couldn’t hold in-person events,” Faveur said.
The group officially registered as a club in the fall of 2021, graduating members such as Faveur felt the need to grow and inspire before receiving their degrees.
“We don’t want this group to die once we all graduate. We try to organize as many events as possible, like having lots of workshops. We are posting more on Instagram and encouraging people to join us and take on leadership positions,” Faveur said.
Inspired by a comment that was made on their Instagram page, the founding members of NIA became interested in holding General Meetings (GBMs) and began holding them every two weeks on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in Room Three of Grand Palm for students to enjoy and have fun together.
Dance workshops consist of NIA members teaching part of a song and having newcomers perform the choreography they have learned. It’s important to NIA to make GBMs a welcoming environment for anyone who may not have a lot of dance experience.
“Even if someone missed something while he was dancing, everyone was cheering and cheering him on,” Graves said.
NIA performed for the Asian Student Union and was invited to perform at an FAU dance showcase. However, the group declined due to a busy schedule preparing for their next event as a group on April 1.
Although the musical itinerary, choreography and venue have not yet been finalized, it is hoped that this showcase will not only open up more opportunities for NIA members, but also change the way K-Pop is viewed. by the general public.
Favor recalls how such a negative generalization of K-Pop affected her life when she first started out as a fan,
“I didn’t want anyone to know that I listen to K-Pop. I was very shy and nervous about it because I feel like a lot of people are still a little judgmental when it comes to K-Pop,” Favor said.
K-Pop fans are often judged based on media portrayal which often portrays fans as quirky and childish. While K-pop is widely more accepted now, there is still widespread xenophobia against popular artists due to the language barrier and different global culture.
Graves, however, has high hopes that the upcoming showcase will prove how a group like NIA can create a positive image for K-Pop culture. By showcasing their dancing abilities, the NIA hopes more people will learn how difficult it is to master K-Pop dances and how fans have more to offer than meets the eye.
“I think it can de-stigmatize a lot once people are able to see the intricacies of choreography. How talented these people (K-Pop fans) can be,” Graves said.
According to Blanco, K-Pop is often generalized as something too abnormal for Western media to be music from a foreign market when the concept of the genre itself shouldn’t be too complicated.
“If the music is good, it doesn’t matter what language it is. You can just enjoy it and its fun choreography,” Blanco said.
Melanie Gomez is a staff writer for University Press. For more information regarding this story or other stories, email him at [email protected]