K-pop group to host night of dance, discussion

By Amy McNeel | 2/25/19 12:05am

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Courtesy / Facebook

On Thursday, Feb. 28, students will expose the Grand Valley State University community to Korean culture in a whole new way. From 7 to 10 p.m. in the Kirkhof Grand River Room, dance group K-pop Group Evolution (K-GE) will be hosting their annual K-pop Unleashed dance showcase. 

The showcase will include performances that the group learned throughout the semester and will also provide information about South Korea and its culture. 

“This year, we’re going to talk about different kinds of activism happening right now in South Korea, as well as bring in an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to be from there and what it’s like to study there,” said K-GE Public Relations and Co-Events Coordinator Ashley Salik. 

K-GE was originally founded in 2013 by members of the Korean Intercultural Society. Since then, the group has grown but kept the same goal — to have fun and to learn K-pop dances in a safe, casual environment. This will be the sixth year of the dance showcase and Salik strives to maintain a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere that anyone can feel free to partake in. 

“We learn the choruses to K-pop songs, or if we want to do a whole song we’ll learn the choreography from popular k-pop songs, and teach them to our members. You don’t have to have any dance experience, it’s very causal and laid back," Salik said. 

K-GE is rather unique being that it is an independent group not affiliated with any other organizations. It is categorized as a cultural club – not a dance club – which reduces the pressure on a lot of students who are inexperienced dancers. The club is a safe space for anyone who enjoys K-pop and would like to meet others who share an affinity for the music and culture of the K-pop community. 

“Right now, we are the only Korean-focused cultural group,” Salik said. “There is taekwondo, but they are considered a club sport, and Asian Student Union focuses more broadly on Asia, so I think having us be able to make a connection with the Korean culture and then be able to introduce and even bring in other clubs and organizations from off campus, such as Korean Connection, allows people to know there is recourses to learn about Korea here in their hometown.”

The K-pop Unleashed showcase will be a night full of grand performances, but will also include presentations and discussions exploring Korean culture and influence. This year, K-GE is bringing in Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Dr. Jina Lee, as well as GVSU alumna Bethany Maruzek, to discuss the differences in Korean and American schools.

“Dr. Lee is someone who was natively born there, and our alumna was born here,” Salik said. “Both studied in Korea, both studied in America. We’re also having a K-GE member who’s studying abroad (in Korea) this year. We taped an interview with her about studying abroad and her experience.” 

All GVSU students, faculty and staff are invited to attend and immerse themselves in this special night of diversity, dance and discussion. 

Stalik hopes that attendees will take away a better understanding of Korea, K-pop music and available activism opportunities. She also hopes that people will develop a deeper understanding of how to support Korean culture without appropriating it. 

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