Get Your Dancing Shoes on With the Best Dancers in K-Pop
There are so many elements that work together to make the K-Pop scene so unique and captivating— but I think that few are more important than dancing skills. K-Pop is ultimately an all-around performance, all the time, and while obviously, idols should have their fair share of singing and rapping training the importance of the dance side of things can’t be overstated.
Pretty much all K-Pop tracks come equipped with choreography, and the fact that all members of a group are required to perform it flawlessly means hours and hours spent in training rooms memorizing moves and working on being perfectly in sync—whether that choreography is on the easier side or particularly intricate.
All idols are capable of learning choreography and bringing it to their stages, but there are those who do so better than others—that’s what the dance line is for. Among all the various K-Pop positions, those idols who belong to their groups’ dance lines are the ones who perhaps came into training with an already strong dance background and so the ones who find themselves front and centre during choreographies and dance breaks.
All idols are capable of learning choreography and bringing it to their stages, but there are those who do so better than others—that’s what the dance line is for. And among the best dancers, there are also the best of the best.
Maybe because performing is such a central aspect of K-Pop, members of the dance lines often become the most popular members of their groups—but that could be just me projecting since a truly embarrassing amount of people in my bias list are dancers. Whatever the case, dancers generally receive big cheers whenever they appear on stage.
Of course, even among the best dancers the industry has to offer there are those who can be considered the best of the best—masters of their art and captivating to watch. The list below compiles some of them in no particular order, even though I couldn’t of course include everyone—I’ve limited myself to idols who are currently active and tried to remain as unbiased as possible. However, I am still human so a bit of my personal taste has definitely slipped in.
Ten from NCT
Thailand-born Ten, birth name Chittaphon Leechaiyapornkul, is a member of SM Entertainment’s NCT—a group unique in its composition since it consists of more than twenty members divided in a wide array of sub-units active in various parts of Eastern Asia.
In particular, Ten is most active in NCT’s Chinese-speaking subunit, WayV, as well as a part of the agency’s cross-group project SuperM.
A sure presence in all of his groups’ dance lines, Ten is known for the fluidity of his movements and his adaptability to any style of dancing required by the comeback at hand.
Seulgi from Red Velvet
The second-oldest member of Red Velvet, Kang Seulgi—known mononymously as just Seulgi—is the main dancer of the group and one of the most talented female performers of the entire third generation. She’s particularly versatile, a skill which is undoubtedly very useful considering that Red Velvet are famous for their double cute/sexy concept.
Besides her work with Red Velvet, Seulgi is also part of a subunit with her fellow member Irene (which debuted in 2020) and has recently released her first solo EP, 28 Reasons, in October 2022.
Chung Ha, formerly of I.O.I.
Kim Chanmi, stage name Chung Ha, became known to the wider K-Pop public when she debuted in I.O.I., the temporary group formed at the end of the first season of MNet’s survival show Produce 101. Chung Ha, who had gained popularity during the show’s run for her dancing skills, obviously took up the position of main dancer of the final lineup.
Once I.O.I. disbanded after a year of activity, Chung Ha continued her career as a soloist—she recently released the first part of her second studio album, Bare & Rare, in July 2022. Her dancing skills, and particularly the fluidity of her movements, continue to be a central part of her performances.
Kai from EXO
EXO is one of the biggest K-Pop groups not just of the third generation but pretty much of all time, and one of the jewels in SM Entertainment’s crown. Leading its dance line is Kai, real name Kim Jongin, who also acts as the group’s centre and visual. Kai is also part of SuperM, the agency’s cross-group projects, where he’s once again taking up the main dancer position.
His training is varied, ranging from ballet to jazz to hip hop, which makes him a versatile dancer capable of taking on any kind of choreography—including a modern take on a traditional Korean dance at the closing ceremony of the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics.
Yeji from ITZY
Yeji, real name Hwang Yeji, is the leader of ITZY as well as a part of its dance line—a particularly crowded one since four out of five members are included in it. While not as seasoned as some of the other names on this list—ITZY debuted in 2019 so while they’re no longer considered rookies they’re still in the first part of their career—Yeji has definitely shown time and time again that her dancing skills are no joke, and that she has perfected the art of being everything a K-Pop dancer should be.
Taemin from SHINee
Taemin is, hands down, one of the absolute greatest dancers that ever took to a K-Pop stage. The maknae and main dancer of SHINee, Lee Taemin is known throughout the K-Pop world—to fans and non-fans alike—for his unique style, made up of smooth and incredibly controlled moves.
Besides, Taemin has been in the industry ever since he was a teenager, having debuted with SHINee at fifteen, as a soloist at twenty-one and then again in SuperM at twenty-six. His experience definitely contributes to him being an unstoppable force full of power and grace.
Chaeyeon, formerly of IZ*ONE
Lee Chaeyeon, known mononymously as Chaeyeon, debuted as the main dancer of IZ*ONE, the temporary group formed after the third season of MNet’s Produce 101, titled Produce 48. A master of the hip-hop style, Chaeyeon has always been known for her incredible hard work and dedication to training—making her performances some of the most exciting to watch. After IZ*ONE disbanded, Chaeyeon continued her career as a soloist—starting with her very recent October 2022 debut.
Dancing talent must be a family trait in the Lee family, since Chaeyeon’s youngest sister, Chaeryeong, is also an accomplished dancer and the second main dancer of ITZY alongside Yeji.
Momo from TWICE
TWICE’s “Dancing Machine,” Momo—full name Hirai Momo—is one of the best female dancers currently active in the industry and probably one of the best of all time. She’s become known to ONCEs and casual listeners for her sharp moves, which look even sharper thanks to her body lines, and for the fluidity of her transitions.
Also, TWICE members have commented time and time again how easy it is for Momo to pick up new choreography, a skill that is definitely useful to have for someone who makes dancing a central part of their career.
Jimin from BTS
Does BTS really need an introduction? Does Jimin, certified charmer and dancer extraordinaire? One of the four members of BTS’s dance line, Jimin—real name Park Jimin—trained in modern dance and ballet, which gives him the elegance and fluidity of movement he’s known for among fans.
At the same time, he has an enviable body strength, which allows him to take on more acrobatic moves — hello somersault over J-Hope in “We Are Bulletproof pt. 2” — and making them look as easy as walking.
Lisa from BLACKPINK
Another viable contender for the title of “Best K-Pop Dancer of All Time” is Lisa, real name Lalisa Manobal, the maknae and only Thailand-born member of BLACKPINK. A dance champion even before she became a YG Entertainment trainee, Lisa’s body control is unmatched and while she shines in more powerful, swaggy performances she can truly take on any kind of dance and make it hers.
Just like Momo, Lisa has been called a “Dancing Computer” for her ability to see a choreography once and reproducing it almost immediately, further proving that the art of dancing really has no secrets for her.
J-Hope from BTS
I’ll just come out and say it, J-Hope is my favourite on this list. My blood does run purple, and I have also been lucky enough to see BTS live three times— and everyone knows that once you see Jung Hoseok performing live in front of you there’s no going back.
The undiscussed dance captain of BTS, as well as the leader of the group’s dance line, Hoseok’s fluidity and body control are out of this world— and no genre suits him best than hip hop, which he has proved time and time again during the earliest days of BTS’s career. Then again, being as versatile as he is, he has had the chance of shining in all the other styles BTS has tried on— from jazz to modern to traditional.
Now it’s your turn— who do you consider the best dancer currently active in K-Pop? And who would you say is your absolute favourite?
(source: SeoulSpace; image: @j.m on Instagram)
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