The K-pop world is jam-packed with all-singing, all-dancing girl groups. And although attracting attention is not too difficult, retaining it can be a real challenge. But every now and then an act develops a piece of choreography that really stands out and has the power to live on in the memory.
In case you missed it, you can check out the boyband edition of Most Memorable dance moves here. But now join us on part two of our journey through some of the most noteworthy dance moves in K-pop history. Go get ’em, girls!
As featured in miss A’s “Breathe”
Having already proven that they had skills with the debut song “Bad Girl Good Girl,” miss A’s sophomore release was a K.O. blow in the dance stakes. Hardcore K-pop fans will be aware of the fact that miss A’s boss, Park Jin Young of JYP Entertainment, was himself responsible for one of the most famous dance routines in K-pop,“Honey”.
So it should come as no surprise to learn that the members of JYP’s flagship girl group are every bit as handy on the dancefloor as their mentor. The “Breathe” choreography leaves you gasping for right from the get-go, but this quirky shoulder shuffle always gives me a bout of the giggles.
As featured in Girls’ Generation’s “I Got a Boy”
I will admit that I was always somewhat skeptical about Girls’ Generation’s abilities as a pure dance act. I mean, the music is always on point, and visually it is hard to argue with what the girls bring to the table. But, as is the case with just about any girl group with a large number of members, the stage often seems too crowded. I had to throw that opinion into the trash after “I Got a Boy” dropped, though. A great use of space, some epic hair flicks (if you are fan of that kind of thing) and flowing movement, you can hardly fault much about this release. However, the surprise head-banging sequence is as fun as it is unexpected.
We hadn’t seen moves like that since the early 1990s.
As featured in A Pink’s “No No No”
Apologies for the long-winded moniker I have given this dance, but it is quite a tough one to put into words. If you watch a lot of music TV shows, however, you will be no stranger to this move, as dozens of girl groups have done variations on it. K-pop historians can split hairs about which girl group (or choreographer) first came up with the move, but there is little arguing with the notion that A Pink’s version of it is definitive.
Easily the group’s strongest track on both a dance and musical level, the fact that “No No No” had a very memorable dance routine helped really A Pink stand out in what was at the time, a very overcrowded girl group scene.
As featured in Wonder Girls’ “Tell Me”
A game changing dance, and possibly one of the most enduring K-pop dances of them all, if you are shrugging your shoulders at the inclusion of this song/dance, you clearly were not listening to K-pop in 2007, a time when you could not move in Korea for people trying to copy these moves and singing “T-T-T-T-T-Tell me” at you day and night. The girls even put this helpful video together, but for dancing non-entities like myself, arms and legs always ended up flailing off in the wrong direction.
This was arguably the genesis of the modern girl group, but the trick about this dance is that although it looked relatively simple, it was almost impossible to execute properly.
As featured in KARA’s “Mister”
Before everyone and their mother began butt-shaking, KARA had pretty much written the butt-shake manual with this move (0:00:11 in the video below). Although the group chose to wear relatively baggy pants for the promotions of this track – almost unthinkable for contemporary girl groups, whose butt shakes now leave very little to the imagination – it was nothing short of revolutionary.
Although many other memorable K-pop butt dances have surfaced both before and since, very few have achieved the originality and staying power that the five-piece KARA achieved with “Mister.”
As featured in EXID’s “Up and Down”
An obvious pick, yes, but no less iconic for it. This was a great dance even before the now-infamous 12 million-plus-hit Hani fancam video went viral, but took on a new level of appeal after the user-upload took the K-pop world by storm.
EXID went straight from girl group also-rans to music/entertainment royalty thanks to these now-notorious thrusts, although there is much more to both the song and the dance than booty shaking and hip lunges. Even now, coming on to a year after the song was first released, you can barely watch a Korean variety show or drama without witnessing some kind of “Up and Down” reference. The girls will be pleased if their most recent effort “Ah Yeah” gets even half as much attention as its predecessor.
As featured in Jewelry’s “One More Time”
Although Jewelry officially called it a day earlier this year, the fourpiece’s imprint on the K-pop world is indelible, largely because of this song – and more specifically this dance move. If you have never seen it before, you are probably wondering what the fuss is about, but K-pop veterans will attest that once upon a time, you could barely walk down the street in Seoul without getting jabbed in the ribs by the stray elbows of imitators of this (fairly straightforward) move. In its day, this was the Moonwalk, the Mashed Potato and “Gangnam Style” all rolled into one.
As featured in Brown Eyed Girls’ “Abracadabra”
Speaking of EXID as we were earlier, this track was the “Up and Down” of its day, and instantly flung Brown Eyed Girls from life as a talented but geeky-looking fringe act into established sexbomb divas that continue to captivate fans to this day. The video was risqué at the time, and has lost none of its edge, despite the fact that it is already half a decade old. But the arms-folded, hip-swaying dance was what really caught the public imagination, and Korean TV was full of people doing often-horrendous copies of this move for months after the song dropped. It is still the benchmark for all wannabe K-pop hip-swayers out there, and goodness knows there are a lot of those.
As featured in AOA’s “Miniskirt”
If you embrace the “sexy” concept (which AOA have done with great gusto), you are always going to be sailing close to the wind. The likes of Dal Shabet have found themselves in almost constant censorship hot water – the “Be Ambitious” skirt tear-off move was banned in 2013, the “B.B.B.” faux “rubbing” [coughs] sequence was forbidden in 2014, and the latest effort “Joker” is in a spot of bother with broadcasters KBS, who are unhappy with the group’s wordplay even before the group have debuted the song on TV. Some people just can’t catch a break. But AOA’s “Miniskirt” was the “sexy” dance routine that unfailingly got pulses racing for all sorts of reasons.
Too hot for TV (networks forced the group to cut major parts out of its choreography or incur a total ban) the racy skirt-unzipping sequence was visual fireworks for supporters, while for others it was a moral abomination. No matter which side of the fence you were on, there is no denying the fact that this move pretty much defined (and continues to define) the “sexy” concept.
As featured in T-ara’s “Lovely Dovey”
Disco may have had its heyday long ago in the 1970s and early 1980s, but it is an almost constant source of inspiration for girl groups and their choreographers. There have been some classic disco-themed dance numbers through the years, including F-ve Dolls’ funky “Soulmate #1”
Dal Shabet’s “Bling Bling”
And not forgetting Crayon Pop’s “Saturday Night”
But perhaps no group has embraced the concept with as much glee as T-ara did for “Roly Poly,” a dance routine that influenced in no small part by the landmark movie of the disco era, “Saturday Night Fever.”
A festival of disco balls, flared trousers, turntables, and star-shaped sunglasses, all of the classic disco moves made an appearance in this dance routine, and then some. It was a good, old-fashioned follow-the-leader dance that even those with two left feet could attempt to copy.
Surely it would be too much to ask for more of the same thing? But no, T-ara decided to do disco all over again with “Lovey Dovey,” a year later – this time with zombies and a furiously funky shuffle dance. Seriously, if you are not a fan of the fancy footwork going on circa the 3:58 mark in this video, you have my pity.
You’ve read our list, but what do you reckon, Soompiers? Which K-pop girl group dance moves have been the most memorable for you? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
timmydee is a music geek with a penchant for pop, an enthusiasm for electronica and a hankering for hip-hop. When he isn’t writing for Soompi, he is remixing your favorite K-pop tracks – with sometimes astounding (but often catastrophic) results.
*The views expressed in this article solely reflect those of the author and do not represent Soompi as a whole.