One of the best parts about Seoul is the bustling arts culture. In Seoul, there’s plenty of theatre performances, fashion shows, galeries, and concerts to explore! Now, I can go on and on about the fantastic exhibits to explore, or hear my friends talk about that Gucci Exhibit I happened to miss, or the time my roommate’s friend got to sit in at Seoul Fashion Week. I want to focus on something I’ve planned to do since Day 1: Training at dance studios. Seoul has many dance studios. Big and small, well-known internationally, or known for locals, I was very surprised during my initial research at the amount of results that came up. And as an arts major, I wanted to learn from the best of the best while catching a glimpse behind the scenes of the dance community.
Honestly, I’ve been putting this off until I’m familiar with the class format, and after about a month of non-stop dancing, here’s what I’ve compiled:
1 Million Dance Studio
Okay so no dancer has not heard of this iconic studio. With the myriad of veteran choreographers currently working in the industry, this studio was my first choice to attend. Funny enough, this is also the only studio so far that had the best site navigation. I was able to easily hop onto the website and switch between English and Korean with ease. After creating an account (which only requires your name, email and password), I was able to browse through a timetable of courses and reserve my spot. So far, it’s also the only studio with a smooth online payment process, offering paypal for any foreign students. On that quick note, you can also browse and book classes through their app, so everything was VERY accessible.
My first class was a pop-up class from Ligi, a choreographer from the Viva Dance team. And let me tell you she is an absolute GEM! Her enthusiasm is contagious and it helped me feel close with everyone in the classroom despite not knowing everyone. It was also the first class where I got a chance to be filmed on camera, and being super nervous, I ended up messing up on my timing, oops. Her primary style is more Jazz-funk, but her most recent class (yes I went back to her multiple times) had contemporary elements, a style that’s not often taught at 1 Million. You can find that class video here:
A class that surprised me the most was a Kpop masterclass collaboration held by Dohee and JJ. Although both are Openstyle street dancers, they decided to teach their new choreography of Girl Group, BILLIE’s new song, Gingamingayo. Not gonna lie, despite how fun the dance was, the super girlie style is a bit out of my comfort zone since I’ve never really learned kpop dances before. But the energy they bring liven up the classroom and everyone was just super supportive of each other!
I highly recommend Dohee, JJ, Woomin Jang, Kyo, Sieun Lee. Dohee’s style is Open Style with HipHop and Jazz-funk elements, which is great for those looking to learn choreography. But for those looking to define their popping skills, Kyo is a fantastic instructor. Woomin Jang is perhaps my favorite, because his speciality is more footwork-based and his Learner-level classes are still super challenging but fun! To be honest, I haven’ taken Sieun Lee’s class often, but she seems to be VERY popular for heels courses and the masterclass I went to was not too challenging, instead relying on smooth grooves and quick transitions to piece together the choreography. I'll link some class videos here:
Honorable Mention: Minny Park’s masterclass. For the class I went to, she opted for more street-style choreography, and boy it was so FUN! It’s very very fast-paced though, so come prepared to sweat!
My advice on picking classes/instructors at 1Million is first look at their previous class videos to get a grasp of their preferred style. Additionally, depending on the instructor, their masterclass and learner class difficulties vary. Yes, 1Million offers 4 types: Pop-up class, Masterclass, Learner Class, and Step by 1Million. Pop-up classes are usually guest instructors from other studios. Notable classes I’ve taken and LOVED: NAIN from Just Jerk Academy, Haejun from House of Seas, and Ligi from Viva Glam. Masterclasses are for intermediate to advanced dancers depending on instructor. Learner classes are a bit tricky; it’s for intermediate dancers and said to be taught at a slower pace with emphasis on the details of a choreography, but that REALLY depends on the instructor. Because lemme tell you that Woomin Jang’s learner classes are not easy (or maybe I’m just bad at footwork who knows). I’ve never taken a STEP by 1M class before, but from what I’ve researched, this is the best level for those who would like to try a 1 Million class but have little to no dance experience. Recently, Minny Park has been teaching this level pretty often, at least more often than the masterclasses.
NAINxROOT Pop-up class I attended:
Overall Rating: 9/10 aka wanna get on Youtube, here's your chance!
Not a close-knit classroom environment (not that i have a preference), can get super crowded, great teachers and great environment, slightly English friendly staff (but don't rely on it).
Ok, so this is getting a bit too long for mobile-friendly consumption so I’ll spill my next studio review in a different entry.