Shaun Evaristo, one of our favorite people here on ATY, was interviewed along with two other choreographers in the December issue of GQ Korea. (The very same issue where a certain someone was featured as one of the Men of the Year.)
Choreography receives as much attention as music. Just as a song has a title, choreography gets a name attached to it, too. Three choreographers reveal the secrets behind choreography.
[The other two interviewees (answers omitted) were Park Nam-Yong, JYP Head Choreographer, and Jeon Hong-Bok, Leader of the Dance Team “Yama.”]
Q: Among the musicians you’ve choreographed for, who was the most impressive? In what aspects do you rate them highly?
Shaun Evaristo (Movement Lifestyle): G-Dragon and Taeyang. G-Dragon is a born entertainer with diverse talents, like acting, producing and rap. With such talents, he absorbed choreography with ease as well. With Taeyang, though I coached him in dance, our relationship has already passed that of teacher and student. He’s a friend, or, rather, you can say I’m a fan of Taeyang. His attitude toward learning and practicing dance is incomparable.
Q: If you were to pick a choreo that you were really satisfied with, but which didn’t get the public response that you’d hoped for?
SE: I would pick Taeyang’s “Where U At.” I think it’s because the moves don’t grab you immediately and were somewhat difficult to follow/learn.
Q: Composers of pop music often reference past music, whether it be popular or classical. In dance, there is an enormous range of dance you can look to. Where do you get most of your ideas?
SE: In order to invent diverse choreography, it’s imperative that you have diverse experiences. Of course, you don’t come up with a choreography based on any one image. You can say it’s a combination of the way you live and the way you think. When you express something you’ve truly experienced and thought about, it brings the choreography to life.
Q: When composing a song, some writers compose the chords first and then add the melody while others do the opposite. In the course of making a dance, I assume there’s a process as well. What process do you follow in order to advance your ideas?
SE: It’s different depending on whether I’m making choreography for myself or for a musician. When planning for a musician, I first listen carefully to the music. And when I’m completely absorbed in the music, I try to express what the song is trying to illustrate. On the other hand, when I make choreography for myself, I wait until the music selects me. When a piece of music makes it impossible for me to sit still, that’s when the best choreography is born.
Q: Does choreography follow the song, or does it follow the singer? In other words, when you create choreography, do you consider the song first or the singer’s capabilities?
SE: The music comes first. The lyrics are a big part. Simply put, my body is like a list of vocabulary. In order to fully express each word, I use the appropriate part of the body to plan the moves. It’s a fun process, deciding how to express it and using what part of the body.
Q: What’s the difference between choreographing for a solo artist and for a group?
SE: I personally favor solo. While making the choreography, I become the musician, and sometimes the musician becomes me. I enjoy that. It’s not easy choreographing for a group. You have to make sure that the members’ individuality doesn’t get buried in the group. For instance, with Big Bang each member has his own personality, so I have to make sure it remains alive within the group.
Q: Since girl groups have taken over Korean pop music, there’s constant controversy about the sexually suggestive dances. When creating choreography for female musicians, how do you adjust?
SE: I think it’s important not to lose the elegance of women. To me, the best dance is one that the musician can express naturally, so I hope that female musicians have a natural elegance. If they can’t arrive at it on their own, we try to find a way together, or I tell them what I see from a male point of view.
Q: With the recent craze for “hook songs,” such dances are also occupying great importance in the music scene. But when idol stars first appeared in Korea, what caught people’s attention were highly difficult dances that reminded one of circus acrobatics. Why do you think such flashy choreography has disappeared?
SE: Because choreography goes beyond just somersaults and flashy moves. Choreography represents the music, and the musician feels and shows the audience these moves. Excessive choreography should never get in the way of the flow of the music and what the music is trying to express.
Q: How do you feel about the criticism that such “hook song” choreography is made up merely of moves that are easy for the masses, sometimes at the expense of the choreography’s organic flow and form?
SE: It’s not a method that’s popular in the States, but I think that’s because diverse pop culture like that of Korea have not spread to America yet. Hook song dances are a fun part that’s also necessary in choreography. I’m pleased when I sometimes go to clubs in Korea and see people dancing to hook song dances I created.
Q: More and more people are commissioning choreography from foreign choreographers. How are foreign choreographers’ works different from that of Korean choreographers’?
SE: Most of the foreign choreographers that are working in Korea are people that work on famous singers’ music videos or tours. It’s hard to talk in term of good or bad, but I feel the agencies/companies have a confidence/faith in the foreign choreographers. In my case, YG Entertainment contacted me after having viewed my youtube videos.
Q: If you were to pick one “Dance King” and one “Dance Queen” among the Korean musicians?
SE: Dance Queen is Boa. I really like her music, and I’d love to have a chance to work with her. I’ve even thought of a different concept for her. 2NE1’s Minzy would be like the Dance Princess. She has talent at a young age, but she’s humble and has great potential. Dance King is Taeyang. My friends in America call him “Tae-Daddy.” They believe he’s going to do big things not only in Korea, but also internationally.
Park Nam-Yong (JYP Head Choreographer): Bi. Would anyone think otherwise? I don’t know about a female musician.
Jeon Hong-Bok (Dance Team “Yama” Leader): For male, Taeyang. For female, I want to pick After School’s Gahee. I’ve heard that Taeyang practices constantly. He doesn’t have a big build, and yet he completely owns the stage. I think long arms are a big advantage. I worked with Gahee when she was a young dancer, and even then she stood out. Her moves are clean and powerful at the same time.
(By Yoo Ji-Sung/ Editor)
Translations by SYLVIA@alwaystaeyang | Do not remove credit when posting elsewhere~!