Behind The (S)team - Burn Up the Dance Floor with Son Sungdeuk
Intricate, sophisticated, alluring, and dynamic are only a few words to describe BTS’ choreography. Ever since they debuted, their precise dance moves, bold expression, combined with powerful stage acts instantly made them a center of attention and shoved many rookie awards down their bags. Let us meet the mastermind behind those graceful dance steps: the one and only Mr. Son Sungdeuk.
From Ground Zero
As an in-house choreographer now also performance director, Mr. Son has been working with BTS from the very beginning. He helped choreograph No More Dream, We Are Bulletproof Pt.2, Danger, I Need U, and many more. When not in charge of the choreography, he also acts as the supervisor and monitors dance practices thoroughly.
Inspired by BTS’ lyricism, Son Sungdeuk always composes a choreography that depicts the meaning of the lyrics so the audience can see as well as hear it. He would listen to the song a million times, studying the beat, rhythm, and melody until he grasped the feeling, the vibes, and the meaning behind it before translating it into a whole performance. As a performance director, he is responsible for not only the choreography, but also the overall stage act, including the artists’ expressions and formations. While BTS steadily gained recognition, in 2015, Son Sungdeuk became the first K-pop choreographer to have a dance workshop in the USA, in collaboration with MyMusicTaste. He also held other workshops in Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Hard Work + Perseverance = Growth
Son Sungdeuk did admit that BTS’ success didn’t happen overnight. Not everyone from BTS had a background in dancing, he said, so it was tough at first. But then, what made them shine through the difficulties and become one of the most synchronized groups with a powerful stage presence out there?
Practice, practice, practice.
That’s what they’ve done these past eight years, led by Mr. Son.
Mr. Son revealed in an old interview that one thing he adored when working with BTS was their dedication and ambitions. They even took up additional practice on their own to polish their performance and used to dance more than 10 hours per day. Mr. Son also revealed that their attitude during and after practice were polar opposites. While they would be normally bubbly and cheeky, during practice, the atmosphere would always be heavy, intense, and strict.
Many ARMYs also noticed significant changes in BTS’ choreography over the years. In Lee Hyun’s recent reaction video to Butter featuring Son Sungdeuk and Pdogg (HYBE’s in-house producer, songwriter, and composer), the performance director confirmed that the old choreography mainly focused on their synchronization, while as BTS grew and gained more experience, they developed an undeniable individual charisma and charm. “The choreography is really tight when it needs to be, but it can also show off their individual charms. That’s how this amazing choreography came to be,” he stated.
For his impact and creativity while constructing superb performances, Mr. Son receives a huge wage, even higher than some CEOs from the main K-pop entertainment agencies known as the “Big 3.” In 2021, it was confirmed that his salary reached 554 million won (approximately 489,000 USD).
He also received a lot of awards these past few years including “Best Performance Director” on 2018 Asia Artist Awards, “Best Choreographer of the Year” on 2018 Mnet Asian Music Awards, “Style of the Year - Choreography” on 2019 Gaon Chart Music Awards, and “Favorite Music Choreography - Dynamite” on 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards.
Although BTS also collaborates with other international choreographers, Son Sungdeuk’s signature style will always remain the main attraction in BTS’ performances. With BTS’ skyrocketing popularity, we can expect even more graceful performances in the future. Burn up the dance floor, Mr. Son!
Written by: Avi
Edited by: ren
Designed by: Achan
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