“Basically, the song’s about a prenup — like ‘girl, you takin’ all my money!’ The whole song’s a joke, so you just gotta have that personality,” an exuberant Ellen Kim explained to the crowd of dancers in Dillon’s Group Fitness Room. UGK’s “International Player’s Anthem” blasted from the speakers and the entire room was filled with loose sweatpants, bright sneakers and the Black Arts Company’s signature purple.
The students came down to BAC’s Boot Camp to learn from Ellen Kim, a famous YouTube dance choreographer who has previously worked with Beyonce, LL Cool J and Snoop Dogg. “We always shared her YouTube videos on our Facebook group because we’ve loved her choreo for a long time,” said McKenzie Dawkins ’14, the artistic director of BAC, “We’re really thankful to have her!” Kim’s workshop was the final day of the Boot Camp, a series of dance workshops throughout the week to introduce students to various types of dance, including popping, dance hall, R&B and hip-hop.
It was obvious that everyone in the workshop was excited to learn from Kim. For a YouTube sensation, she was incredibly personable and down to earth. She wore a large sweater, a loose red flannel around her waist and black Vans. As she led the dancers in a warm-up, she bobbed her head and rapped along to the music, incorporating spontaneous dance moves into her stretches. And as she launched into teaching her newest moves, Kim made a wide variety of sounds to complement them. “It’s like boom, kaaa, zoom, SHA!” she yelled to the group, “Click and click, voooom ka!”
The dancers seemed to have no problem keeping up with Kim’s advanced dance moves. But perhaps this was unsurprising, because there was an overwhelming majority of students wearing gear displaying the logos of different campus dance crews. Kim emphasized that the purpose of the workshop was for students to let loose and have a good time. “You just gotta have fun and add personality! I’m a loud person, so be loud with me, okay?” she encouraged. The dancers were enjoying themselves so much that choreography mistakes became more of a source of laughter than a source of consternation, and some even spontaneously added their own moves to the routine. “I see everyone’s different personality in this and that’s what I like! I don’t want everyone to be the same!” Kim shouted. As the music turned on, everyone launched into a flurry of movement, picking up pace each time. By the end of the workshop, almost everyone was able to keep up with Kim’s speed, their movements flowing into one another as naturally as Kim’s were.
In the last few minutes of the workshop, the dancers split into groups of seven and danced for Kim. At the end, she joined one of the groups and led them through the entire choreography. The performance was so synchronized that it was hard to believe the dancers had learned the movements just two hours before.
Kim concluded the workshop with a few words of advice: “You wanna always exceed, you know, and excel in different styles and levels in dancing, instead of just getting constant and comfortable. It’s just like studying … you always gotta bump it up.”