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Interview with Bangtan's Choreographer - Son SungDeuk



Group BTS has definitely become a major trend(ing idol). The title track ‘RUN’ of their mini album “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life pt.2,″ released on Nov. 30th, took 1st place on all kinds of music charts. BTS, who has steadily been building their global fandom since their debut in 2013, has now surpassed the fandom and has achieved becoming a common name on music charts.(T/N: “surpassed growing their fandom”They’re on the music charts so often that it’s common to see their name)

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BTS is a group that has showed their powerful performances and knife-like group dancing charm since their debut track ‘No More Dream.’ They are gathering anticipation this time also for their title track ‘Run’ performance. BTS, with their comeback coming up, released their ‘Run’ stage first to their fans at a solo concert this past 27th~29th. Also at the ‘2015 MAMA’ that will open on the 2nd, they will broadcast their ‘Run’ stage for the first time and show off on a grade A scale comeback (T/N: also “one of the best/biggest scale comebacks so far”). They put great meaning into their first broadcast performance. And the anticipation that is rising for their ‘Run’ stage/performance is that much greater,

Anticipation of the ‘Run’ performance is not simply because this group has always performed well. This past April, after ‘The Most Beautiful Moment in Life pt.1′ activities/promotions, BTS successfully finished their world tour and grew (matured) even more. Their teamwork with choreographer Son Sungdeuk, who has been with them since pre-debut, has also become stronger. As much stage experience they have earned, BTS’ performance expression has also grown. The anticipation for the ‘Run’ performance is also combined with anticipation of BTS’ (future) growth.

The day I interviewed choreographer Son Sungdeuk, I was able to see BTS’ ‘Second Day of Practice’ ‘Run’ dance practice video. Their appearance was so finished that I couldn’t believe that it was the “Second Day.” Choreographer Son Sungdeuk also nodded at BTS’ skills, saying their “acquisition (of dance moves) has become quick(er).” What kind of picture has choreographer Son Sungdeuk painted with ‘Run’? We listened to what he had to say about BTS’ growth (development) and their new track ‘Run.”

Q. You’ve been with BTS since (their) debut. It seems that when you look at BTS now, the feeling is completely different.

SSD: The biggest difference is that they memorize it (the dance) quickly. They’ve really become butterflies now. The members back then really couldn’t dance, and in the case of Jin or Rap Monster, even the way those kids walked was awkward, but now we are at the point where we are surprised that “It’s only been two days but we’ve memorized it all.” During debut time, I corrected their expressions and gestures and even their gaze focus, but now it’s become easy (for them). Also, when I’m resting, J-Hope, on his own, tells them to work on parts that are lacking, and the practice system has become more structured.

Q. In a previous interview, there was a time where you expressed your gratitude for J-Hope. J-Hope’s role (responsibility) in terms of dance practice must be big.

SSD: Even now, as always, J-Hope is certainly taking on a big role. They say it’s because J-Hope is good at dancing and his strength/stamina is good but because he’s thin his strength/stamina isn’t (that) good actually. Ha ha. However, he has a sense of duty when it comes to practice. He leads the other members a lot.

Q. ‘Run’ is being released at a concert first. It seems that preparing for this comeback is different from that of the usual comeback.

SSD: (Yes) Since fans are the first ones to see it. And it’s not like we’re holding a special showcase; at this kind of time, in between finishing their overseas concert(s) and being in Seoul before the comeback, we/they are showing this to the fans firs,t so it has a very big (great) meaning.

Q. How did you feel (What did you think) when you heard ‘Run’ for the first time?

SSD: In the beginning I was stuck. When planning choreography, if it doesn’t hit you at once (inspiration) then you have to rack your brain for it (squeeze it out). The easy thing about ‘Run’ was that it was a continuation of I NEED U, and we were still telling the story of youth. It’s beautiful but sad, anxious. The title is ‘Run,’ so a lot of ‘running while crying’-feel moves came out (of the planning). I got the idea while watching the prologue, music video, and (our) past videos. The ending for ‘Run’ choreography is a butterfly. Last time it was a flower, and this time it’s a butterfly. It ends with a butterfly, and since if I only included a running motion it would be too obvious, I couldn’t leave out (made sure to preserve) how even though the kids are sad and powerful, within that there is a sexy feel.

Q. Now that you mention it, Jin’s part (in ‘Run’) seems to have a similar feel to the one in ‘I NEED U.’

SSD: The composition itself is indeed like that. In one part, when Jin has a close up, he has an acting (scene) where he grabs a butterfly and then lets it go. I think it would be great to specifically focus on that part.

Q. If there is one more part that you hope the camera will specifically focus on(?)

SSD: The butterfly is most important. Jin’s part and the ending part. People may say ‘What’s that?’ when they see it, so Jin has too act it out well enough. Also, I would like it if the audience/fan looked at (T/N: paid attention to, tried to figure out) what kind of story the members are telling through the dance. Every time I plan choreography, my style is that I always express the lyrics through the dance, but with BTS, there is also a lot of rap (in their songs). Therefore, if they just dance separately, the dance will be separate, the song will be separate (T/N: he means no harmony of dance and music). I want to create a stage (performance) where you can see and hear the same story. I would like it if the audience/fans looked at why BTS shows these expressions, why they did (chose) these movements.

Q. What kind of image did you want BTS to show with ‘Run’?

SSD: Instead of wanting to show something specific, (be) a little more energetic. If ‘I NEED U’ was soft, this time I wanted to express a slightly more energetic image, so I added a little more choreography. The feel is basic (’Run’) choreography with BTS’ ‘I NEED U’ mixed in.



Q. In terms of planning the choreography or concept, do you talk (it over) with the members a lot?

SSD: Since the members write lyrics, I do talk about it with them a lot. When I’m planning the choreography and worrying about (considering deeply) many things, they express their opinions in a ‘I think this will be good’ way. For solo parts also, the acting and such, they do it (figure it out) on their own. I point out things that we absolutely have to do (include) but everyone researches on their own before coming. When I say 1 thing, they do 10 things. Honestly, compared to other artists, I think it’s good luck that I met BTS. Even if I make great choreography, it’s (more) important who does/performs it, and I really like that when I make a level 1 choreography (a dance as good as ‘1′) they do/perform it as a 10.

Q. Out of all the BTS choreographies that you’ve worked on so far, which one are you most proud of?

SSD: I like ‘No More Dream,’ ‘We Are Bulletproof Pt2,’ and ‘I Like It.’ Even now when I hear ‘I Like It’ at a concert, I feel emotional. ‘No More Dream,’ ‘We Are Bulletproof Pt2′ has a lot of history, and we really modified the choreography a lot (many times). The kids also grit their teeth and worked hard. Personally, I have the most affection for those, and because of those (choreographies), BTS was appealing in terms of performance from the (very) start.

Q. Then the most disappointing choreography? (T/N: Choreography he was disappointed in / felt was lacking / did not do as well compared to expectation / thinks he could have improved on)

SSD: Not really disappointing, but I do think of N.O. I really like N.O music and choreography, I really like it but the album didn’t do well. I think it’s too bad because it seems like the album didn’t receive a lot of light (wasn’t noticed a lot). I’d like it if fans/audience looked toward ‘N.O’ choreography a lot. When I go to overseas workshops, I always show ‘N.O’. I truly want to show that dance a lot.

Q. There’s also the topic of ‘Dope’’s one take performance. Rap Monster’s start also left a strong impression.

SSD: I think Namjoonie did well (his starting part) in really matching ‘Dope’’s concept. Actually, I was planning on using the one take technique for a long time. I was thinking of it even before debut. If you look at foreign choreographers’ videos, the one take technique was trending, so in a way the trend came late in Korea. I thought it was a little (too early) for a rookie group to do a one take so I ended up trying it for ‘Dope’.

Q. When did you think that BTS had more or less settled down? (T/N: adjusted to their surroundings / lost the ‘rookie’ or ‘unprepared’ feel)

SSD: I feel it as I see the many fans outside of the broadcast agencies (for live show/pre-recording), but (also) when we first went to Japan we had a performance at a club-like place. There really wasn’t a lot of a people then. I looked down at them performing at the small performing venue/theater and I thought ‘we’ll get bigger one day, right?’. Also, I went into a K-Pop goods shop in Osaka, and there wasn’t even one photo of BTS. At that time, BTS’ album hadn’t even come out in Japan yet. After that, we went to (have) the Japan concert, and the U.S. one too, (and) while looking at the (growth of the) fandom, I realized (thought) that they had grown a lot and had really come far. Afterwards, at the time of ‘I NEED U’ promotions, I felt that they had improved/were in prime condition. In terms of Jimin or Jungkook, because they had only performed/shown strong images, I thought they wouldn’t be able to do introspective acting, but after seeing that they could express their growth/maturity, I nodded my head. (T/N: was satisfied / acknowledged them)

Q. Since the opportunity arises, please tell us about BTS’ individual charms.

SSD: Rap Monster dresses well. I couldn’t believe his visual (T/N: it was bad) when I first saw him, but he’s really become cool/stylish. Ha ha. He has a lot of interest in clothing, and he’s really become the most cool/stylish (out of the other members). He (now) gives off the ‘leader aura’ as the leader, and he has charisma too.

Suga’s thinking is really deep. He’s very well-mannered (T/N: can also mean gentle, respectable, like a ‘gentleman’). Out of all of them, it’s easiest to communicate with him (T/N: they understand each other the best / Suga ‘gets’ him the most).

Jin, since he’s the eldest hyung, used to be sly (T/N: can also mean slighly prideful or stiff in terms of associating with others) but we talk a lot (now). He used to be the one who got in the most trouble (was called out/punished the most) but now we’re comfortable (with each other) and we’ve become close. He’s become mature.  He’s really positive.

Jungkookie is really innocent (T/N: can also mean pure, genuine). He hasn’t changed any since debut. He’s the same 15 year old Jungkookie that I met on the first day (that first time). His body has become that of a man (though).

I’m really thankful toward J-Hope. It must (definitely) be difficult (T/N: referrring to J-Hope being the dance leader) but he’s dependable (reliable). Rap Monster is the leader for the team itself, but in terms of dance, J-Hope’s the one who, more than any of the other members, is the/our greatest strength. He organizes everything on his own.

Jiminnie has a lot of good/positive aspirations (T/N: actual word is ‘greed’ but since that has a negative connotation, I changed it). He’s a work bug (T/N: Korean expression for someone who’s always working diligently). Even now, he practices singing a lot. He practices to fill in the things he believes are lacking (in himself). He stays behind and practices (too).

V also has a blank/dazed charm. I/we also laugh a lot because of V. When they’re learning the choreography, he thinks (for us) about what else he can do for his part. His sense is no joke (T/N: it’s really good) (T/N: ‘sense’ also means ‘talent,’ refers to how quickly he picks up/learns the dance and how well he notices what is missing/what could be added; good ‘sense’). V has good memory too. He does have talent in dancing (to an extent).

Q. Jimin, Jungkook, J-Hope are the members (most) distinguished for their dancing. What differences are there (among them in terms of dancing)?

SSD: Jiminnie and Jungkook, Hope’s charms are different. Hobi’s dancing has a strong hip hop feel, and because he’s someone who used to do street hip hop, he really suffered/had to work hard to get rid of those habits from his time as a trainee. He’s good at technical waves and popping. Jungkook has good strength, his lines are pretty, and he himself knows what is pretty (what looks good). He knows how to add (in) the correct/precise movements. Jungkook’s good at standard (T/N: He performs the basics very precisely) and Hobi is good at technique. Jiminnie used to do classical dance/ballet so his lines are pretty. He has the soft but powerful charm.

Q. In the future/From now on, how would you like BTS to turn out?

SSD: Personally, I think it was good to have popular/mass appeal and go/come this way (T/N: in terms of promoting/group style). From now on, it’s the music. More (important) than the stage performance, whatever music they do, I want/would like them to do music that they want to do and music that is sincere/genuine. Though there is certain music (structure) for idols, and there are some limitations for idols, I want these kids to really want to do it (music/dance, etc.), work/try (hard) to do it, and really tell (all) the (members’) life stories that they want to tell. These kids are really good at music. When I look at things like (how they write) lyrics, composing/producing music, I’m really surprised again and again.


translation credits: JK @ btsofficialtrans.tumblr | via tenasia

i hope this is okay. *fingers crossed
Tags: bts, interview
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