With the ever increasing popularity of Kpop among Canadian youths, more Kpop dance groups have arisen in the Canadian east coast, and I must say, this summer has been abundant with Kpop conventions, concerts, cover contests and the like. In parallel with many Kpop artists coming to Canada this year (Ailee, Jay Park, NU’EST, and Bigbang in October), there has also been more support for dancers who actively cover their songs. Recently, Pop Goes the World hosted the 2015 Toronto Kpop convention, in which Canadian Youtubers, bloggers, commentators and performers were gathered at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Even at Toronto’s annual Korean DANO Spring Festival, KpopMe gathered performers from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal to compete in their Kpop cover contest. These events offer cash prizes and gifts that performers take with them, and more recently, there has been an advent of global competitions that offer dancers the chance to perform at Korea.
Hosted by KBS, the K-POP World Festival is a global Kpop cover contest in which dancers and singers representing various countries around the world will have a chance to perform in Korea. It involves dancers and singers competing at their ‘local preliminaries’, followed by an online screening process, in which 12-15 teams will be invited by KBS to perform at the finals.
In Canada, it was decided that there was to be two preliminary rounds—one in Toronto on June 20th, and one in Ottawa on July 18th. Hosted by the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea and organized by UofT’s Korean Students Association, the Toronto preliminaries met a generous crowd and a great selection of performers. Judges were faced with 17 contestants, and as a performer myself, I was rarely not screaming or jumping off my seat to support the other contestants. Cherie, Exene, 6K.G, Underground Pulse and R.P.M, were just some of the dancers that competed, however, in the end, it was the Ottawa Hallyu Dance Team that won first place, R.P.M. placed second, and Underground Pulse placed third. Nikki and Hani won the Judges’ Special Selection, while Ala won first place in the singing category. By placing first on both the performing categories and the singing category, OHDT and Ala will now advance to the online semi-finals and will potentially be able to compete at the finals in October.
There were many other aspects that made the Toronto preliminaries much more memorable. In addition to a special guest performance by Ju Bora, the MC’s were also the stars of the night, what with their daring charisma and quirky introductions. Audience members were also given the chance to win gifts and two tickets to the Big Bang concert, due to the efforts of the Korea Tourism Organization.
Meanwhile, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the Hallyu Association of Canada took on the role of organizing the Ottawa preliminaries at the Canadian Museum of History, and they have managed to amass performers and singers from Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton. Competition was fierce in the Ottawa preliminaries, however, what stood out more was the performance diversity. Surprisingly, everyone chose a different song, and each performance had their own unique twist. Some singers incorporated choreography to their song, some greeted audience members in Korean with their beautiful hanboks, and I was even surprised to see some male singers in the event.
Many girl groups performed sensual, sexy or cute girl dances, while others performed some of the more technical and difficult guy dances. M2BC came in first with their stunts, tricks and seamless song transitions, Salja placed second with their fierce execution of Good Luck (B2ST), while D-army came in third with their footwork and charismatic performance of Dope (BTS). M2BC will now advance to the online semi-finals, where they will be judged among 84 other teams to advance to the finals in Korea.
However, I’d say that the best performances of the night was put on by the Director Lee and the Ambassador themselves. It takes skill to pull off the sunglasses-bowtie combo. AND, Director Lee’s footwork in jegichagi rivals that of Im Chang Jung’s footwork in Open the Door. Indeed, his enthusiasm and hidden talents are of great relevance to our local Kpop community.
Overall, I believe it had a good turnout, and select moments highlighted the efforts made by the organizers. Over 500 people attended the event, and were given free glow sticks to add to the excitement. Audience members were greeted by Kpop idols (Hyoseong actually said ‘Ottawa’!) and were also granted the opportunity to win special prizes by participating in the photo cover contest and a game of jegichagi.
As a fellow member of the organizing committee, I have only come to gain more respect for the Embassy staff and my other fellow volunteers that made this happen (and the Embassy’s generosity in providing food at each meeting was more than enough incentive to make me come back). Without them, this event wouldn’t have been as memorable or as fun as it was, and I can only hope to work with them again in the future. ^_^