Updated blog post 5/16/2016:
So you want to know about pole-dancing in Korea? Yes, it exists, although stripper pole-dancing does not, (just want to clear that up), and yesterday I took my first pole dancing class. I will tell you right off the bat that I failed miserably. I just started going to a new dance studio called JK Pole Dance a few weeks ago. They offer classes in hip hop, jazz, K-pop, silk art, pole-dancing, and now Zumba! (taught by yours truly.) The dance studio has two studios, one for regular dance classes and one for the pole classes. The pole dance studio has 4 poles so if you want to take a class you should call the studio ahead of time to reserve a spot. The first day I basically learned the basic warm-up steps and I attempted to learn trick #1, which is just a spin around the pole with one foot on the ground and the other foot behind you in an arabesque. It was not as easy as they made it look. Between having to make sure my foot was 10 cm away from the pole (after being here for over a year I am still unable to convert inches and feet to centimeters. I regret not studying harder in math about the metric system) and concentrating on my arms being at the perfect 70 degree and 30 degree angles it was just not happening for me.
Trick # 1
Pole dancing would be an awesome form of dance to add to my repertoire, but after spending an hour just trying to master one step, I know it’s not going to be that easy. I’m hoping next time that I can at least get two feet off the ground. Just trying to add to my recession-proof skill set in case I should ever need to go down that route. (Dad, if you’re reading this I am totally kidding). But seriously speaking, pole dancing is a great upper body and abdominal work-out. It takes a lot of core strength and I’m not lying when I say I’m feeling a bit sore today.
B-boy /Pole fusion
For anyone in Seoul that’s interested, here’s the info about the studio. You can also check out some cool pics and videos of their classes:
Directions: Go to Hapjeong station (green line 2) and use exit 8. Walk straight out of the exit for about 5 minutes. You will pass 2 SK gas stations. At the second gas station turn right. You will pass two side streets. After the second side street, look up and on your right hand side you will see a sign that says “Dance Studio.” JK Pole Dance is at the basement level of a building right next to a fish restaurant. You can find a map on the studio’s website.
Living in a foreign country where you have an extremely polite grasp of the language can make life extremely simple and extremely complicated at the same time. On a daily basis I don’t have to necessarily watch what I say because no one can understand me anyway, but when I do need someone to understand me, simple tasks become instantly frustrating and complicated. Fortunately, I can speak two languages fluently, English and dance. Dancing or being surrounded by dance is where I can find solace within myself and comfort in the fact that I can communicate with others without any words at all. If there is anywhere at all in this world to be as a dancer right now, it is Seoul. Like any big city there is a large population of artists, but I feel like the modern dance scene is taking off right here and now in Seoul.
This year Seoul held its first ballet festival. This ballet festival stretched through the month of June and included the classics Giselle and Swan Lake, which has become increasingly popular in the aftermath of the release of Black Swan. Since I had seen both of these ballets here already I took advantage of seeing the modern ballets which were performed in Jayu theater. I love Jayu theater because it is a small intimate setting and it literally is a black box with three tiers of seating. This evening I saw two modern ballets. The first was performed to the 70s rock hit “Keep Yourself Alive” by Queen. The dancing was dynamic and angsty. The ballet started out with a projection of the original music video and I was instantly intrigued to see what type of dance would be created with this 70s rock music. They ended up taking the words to the song and one of the dancers sang the words in a slow, eerie, acapella version while doing sign language type movement before breaking out into their high energy choreography.
The second ballet was called Flow…ing. This was a beautiful modern ballet the centered around two love triangles with two men and one woman in each. The choreography was beautifully executed to the sounds of fast violins and other string instruments. This ballet ended with a slide show presentation with pictures outlining the history of Korean ballet. Last week I also saw two modern ballets, Iron II and The Quasar. I’m thankful that I get to be in Korea during this time where modern dance is truly being recognized and celebrated. Surrounding myself with dance by either going to a show or taking a class has become my retreat here. When nothing is familiar and I can’t understand anything going on around me there is always the universal language of dance.
Updated blog post 5/16/2016:
This is for anybody out there who is looking to take dance classes in Seoul. When I first got here I had a hard time finding any information about dance classes online. So I am hoping that anyone who reads this finds it helpful. The studio I have been dancing at for the past 5 months (PAS dance studio in Hongdae) has now moved to a much bigger location in Sinchon. I took my first classes there yesterday and the place is amazing! It is three studios on the 13th floor of a building. The space is huge and the ceilings are so high. There are many more options for classes now and there are over 20 instructors. They have advanced classes in ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, hiphop, and jazz funk. I recently took a Martha Graham modern technique class that was great. (Wish I could understand what the teacher was saying though). The atmosphere of the advanced classes is similar to Broadway Dance Center in NYC. They also offer many fitness dance classes like yoga and basic jazz classes for beginners. All of the instructors have incredible backgrounds in dance. The studio is called Seoul Tanz Station and it is located at Sinchon (green line next to Hongik University) exit 4. Walk straight for about 5 minutes and you will see a big building on your left with a movie theater. Go in that building and use the elevator to get to the 13th floor. I am really impressed with the studio and I would recommend it for any dancers in Seoul!
You can visit their website: http://www.seoultanzstation.com
Phone number: 02-392-2011