FAU’s first K-Pop dance group, N.I.A, is taking their love for K-Pop centerstage

N.I.A. aims to build a welcoming community as the group prepares for their first showcase on April 1. The group is holding general body meetings every other Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Grand Palm room 3.

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Next In Action (N.I.A)

The founding members of N.I.A wanted to create a dance group that centered around K-Pop. Along with dancing, the club aims to create a welcoming environment for everyone who is interested in Korean culture.

Melanie Gomez, Contributing Writer

Korean Pop (K-Pop) has been rising in popularity, yet as a genre itself, it is still largely looked down upon in the west along with its fanbase. At FAU, the K-Pop community may be generally small, but Next In Action (N.I.A) is seeking to change how others view K-Pop and its fans through dance.

Formed in 2019, N.I.A’s the first K-Pop dance group at FAU and was originally stemmed from the Asian Student Union dance team, AZN. The founding members of N.I.A wanted to create a dance group that centered around K-Pop. Along with dancing, the club aims to create a welcoming environment for everyone who is interested in Korean culture.

“I joined right when I started my first semester here. I didn’t know that many people, but since I joined I get to go to practices and meet the other members. It’s always a good time preparing a dance,”said Dámarys Blanco, a junior multimedia journalism major and founding member of N.I.A.

Shortly after the club’s founding, the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown resulted in the group going fully virtual for over a year, halting all plans the group had for their first year.

“We were preparing a massive dance for Spring 2020, but that was cut short. After one or two rehearsals we were sent home and didn’t meet up again until summer 2021,” said Blanco.

Next In Action (N.I.A.) after one of their group rehearsals. (Next In Action (N.I.A.))

Despite not being able to meet up in person, N.I.A members became more active on social media by posting individual dance covers.

“We would all learn parts of a song and we did little teasers for it. We cut our takes together and that was our group dance while we were all in quarantine,” said Annabelle Graves, N.I.A’s vice president and senior secondary English education major.

According to N.I.A’s leader and senior Biology major, Darn Faveur, keeping the group alive got easier overtime, but became difficult in finding new members.

“It put a dent in our growth because it was harder to recruit more people to audition and we couldn’t hold events in person either,” said Faveur.

The group officially became registered as a club in Fall 2021, graduating members such as Faveur felt the need to expand and inspire before receiving their diploma.

“We don’t want this group to die once we all graduate. We’re trying to host as many events as possible such as having a lot of workshops. We’re posting more on Instagram, and encouraging people to join and take leadership positions,” said Faveur.

Inspired by a comment that was made on their Instagram page, N.I.A’s founding members became interested in hosting General Body Meetings (GBM) and began hosting them biweekly on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in Grand Palm room three for students to enjoy themselves and have fun together.

The dance workshops consist of N.I.A members teaching part of a song and having newcomers performing the choreography they learned. It’s important to N.I.A. to make the GBMs a welcoming environment to everyone who may not have much dance experience.

“Even if someone messed up on something while they were dancing, everyone else was cheering them on and encouraging them, “ said Graves.

N.I.A has been performing for the Asian Student Union and was invited to perform at a FAU dance showcase. However, the group declined due to a busy schedule preparing for their upcoming event as a group on April 1.

While music itinerary, choreography, and location have not been finalized as of yet, there is hope that not only will this showcase open more opportunities for N.I.A members, but also change how K-Pop is viewed among the general public.

Faveur recalls how such a negative generalization of K-Pop had affected her life when she was starting out as a fan,

“I didn’t want anyone to know that I listen to K-Pop. I was very shy and nervous about it because I feel that a lot of people are still kind of judgemental when it comes to K-Pop,” Faveur said.

K-Pop fans are often judged based on media representation that often portrays fans as weird and childish. While K-pop is widely more accepted now, there is still prevalent xenophobia against popular artists due to the language barrier and overall different culture.

Graves, however, has high hopes that the upcoming showcase will prove how a group like N.I.A can create a positive image for K-Pop culture. By showcasing their dancing abilities N.I.A hope that more people will come to learn how difficult it is to master K-Pop dances and how fans have more to offer than it is realized.

“I feel that it can destigmatize a lot once people are able to see the intricacies of the choreographies. How talented these people (K-Pop fans) can be,” said Graves.

According to Blanco, K-Pop is often generalized as something too abnormal for western media being music from a foreign market when the concept of the genre itself shouldn’t be overly complicated.

“If the music is good, it doesn’t matter what language it is. You can just enjoy it and its fun choreography,” said Blanco

​​Melanie Gomez is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories email her at [email protected]