(Interview) What BTS’s Choreographer Says About ‘BTS’ and ‘Run’

BTS became a definite trend. The title song ‘Run’ of the mini album ‘THE MOOD FOR LOVE pt.2’ which was released on November 30 topped various music charts. BTS has continuously accumulated global fandom since their debut in 2013. Now they topped the music charts.

BTS was a group that showed their charms with powerful dance performances since their debut song ‘No more dream.’ They are getting anticipation for the performance of the title song ‘Run.’ Before their comeback, they revealed the performance of ‘Run’ to the fans at solo concert which was held on November 27 to 29. Moreover, they showed off their greatest comeback scale by revealing the performance of ‘Run’ for the first time on the air at ‘2015 MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards)’ which was held on December 2. It is very meaningful that they reveal the performance for the first time. Therefore, it is highly anticipated for the performance of ‘Run.’

The anticipation for the performance of ‘Run’ is not just because BTS was good at performances. After they successfully finished world tour with ‘THE MOOD FOR LOVE pt.1’ in last April, BTS grew further. They made more close teamwork with the choreographer Son Seongdeuk who they have worked with even before the debut. With their increased experience of making performances, their expression of the performances would have grown too. The anticipation for the performance of ‘Run’ is also the anticipation for the growth of BTS.

When we interviewed the choreographer Song Seongdeuk, we watched the dance training video of ‘Run’ which BTS had worked on for two days. It was almost perfect so we could not believe that they just had worked on it for ‘two days.’ The choreographer Son Seongdeuk also acknowledged the talent of BTS by saying, “They became fast learners.” What would he think about ‘Run’? We heard from him about the growth of BTS and the new song ‘Run.’

BTS & Song Seongdeuk

Q. You worked with BTS since their debut. You would feel something different to see BTS now.
Song Seongdeuk: The biggest difference is that they memorize fast. They really became butterflies now. In the past, the members were not good. Jin and Rap Monster looked awkward even when they were just walking, but I am astonished by them and say ‘You memorized all in two days.’ When they just made debut, I corrected their expression, gestures, and even the gaze, but it became much easier. When I take a rest, J-Hope makes other members to work on what they are not good at, so we have a system for training.

Q. You had showed thanks to J-Hope during the interview in the past. I guess J-Hope plays an important role in dance training.
Song Seongdeuk: J-Hope still plays an important role. He is good at dancing so people think that he has good physical strength. But he is not that good in physical strength because he is thin. Haha. But he has sense of duty for training. He leads other members.

Q. ‘Run’ is first revealed at concert. It’s a bit different from other comebacks.
Song Seongdeuk: It is because the fans see it for the first time. We are not doing a showcase separately and we lastly came to Seoul before the comeback after continuous concerts abroad. At this point of time, it is very meaningful to show it to the fans for the first time.

Q. How was it when you first listened to ‘Run’?
Son Seongdeuk: I didn’t know what to do at first. When I choreograph, I rack my brain when I cannot think of something at first. ‘Run’ was relatively easy because it was continued after ‘I NEED U,’ and we were continuously talking about youth. It’s beautiful, sad, and unstable. The title was ‘Run,’ so I framed running while crying. I got ideas for prologue and music video by watching previous videos. The ending of ‘Run’ dance is butterfly. Last time it was flower, and this time it’s butterfly. We end with butterfly and it’s too boring if we keep running. So I couldn’t miss sexiness, sadness and power at the same time.

Q. I think part for Jin is similar to ‘I NEED U.’
Son Seongdeuk: The structure itself is like that. There is an acting of sending a butterfly while closing up Jin. I imagine that it would be good to emphasize this part.

Q. Is there any other part that you want the camera to close up?
Son Seongdeuk: Butterfly is most important, Jin and ending part. People could say ‘What is it?’ when they see the part, but it’s important that Jin acts well. And I hope people would see what the members try to tell with their dance. When I choreograph, I always express the dance in accordance with the lyrics. BTS songs have many raps. So the dance and song could be separated if we just concentrate on dance. I want to make performance which can show the same story when they are shown or heard. I hope that people would see why BTS made certain facial expressions and gestures.

Q. What did you want to show about BTS by ‘Run’?
Song Seongdeuk: I want it to be more energetic. Since ‘I NEED U’ was rather soft, I included more energetic parts this time. It’s like mixing original BTS with ‘I NEED U.’

BTS & Song Seongdeuk

Q. Do you talk a lot with the members when you choreograph and make concepts?
Son Seongdeuk: The members write lyrics, so I talk a lot with them. When I express many worries while choreographing, they express their ideas like ‘I think it would be good.’ They take care of the individual acting part. I point out what’s really needed, but they do study for themselves. When I say one, they do 10. Actually, I feel lucky that I met BTS compared to other singers. Even if I choreograph well, who’s doing it is important. BTS makes 10 out of 1, so it’s really nice.

Q. What do you feel most proud of the dance performances for BTS that you worked on?
Son Seongdeuk: I like ‘No more dream,’ ‘We Are Bulletproof Pt2,’ and ‘I Like It.’ It still makes me cry when I listen to ‘I Like It’ at concerts. ‘No More Dream’ and ‘We Are Bulletproof Pt2’ have lots of history, and we corrected the choreography a lot. The members also did their best. I like them the most and BTS appealed to the people with performances because of these songs.

Q. Then what is the least satisfied one?
Son Seongdeuk: It’s not like unsatisfied, but I think of ‘N.O.’ I really like the melody and choreography of ‘N.O,’ I really like them, but the album didn’t turn out to be good. It’s disappointing that the album didn’t get enough spotlights. I hope people would watch the choreography of ‘N.O’ a lot. When we go workshop abroad, we always show ‘N.O.’ I really want to show the choreography.

Q. One-take performance of ‘DOPE’ was a hot issue. The starting of Rap Monster was also impressive.
Son Seongdeuk: Rap Monster did well in accordance with the concept of ‘DOPE.’ I actually had thought of one-take performance from long time ago. I thought of it even before the debut. When I watch the videos of foreign choreographers, one-take performance was on the trend. But it was kind of late in Korea. I thought it is kind of early to do one-take for rookie, so we tried it for ‘DOPE.’

Q. When did you think that BTS kind of got settled?
Son Seongdeuk: I feel it when there are lots of fans in front of the broadcasting station. And when we first went to Japan, we made performances at some place like a club. Then we didn’t have many audiences. I watched their performances at a small concert hall, thinking that they will grow someday. And we entered K-Pop goods shop at Osaka and there were no photos of BTS. It was before the release of BTS album in Japan. After that, we went to concert in Japan and US. Then I thought that BTS grew a lot watching the increased fandom. When they were doing ‘I NEED U,’ I felt that they began to rise. Since Jimin and Jungkook only worked in powerful concept, I thought that they would not be good at acting sentiments, but they could express them well.

Q. Please tell me about each member’s charm.
Son Seongdeuk: Rap Monster has good fashion style. When I first saw him, he was not that good, but he became really cool. Haha. He is very interested in clothes. He really became cool. He has leader’s aura and charisma. SUGA is really thoughtful and well-mannered. I can communicate well with him. Jin is the oldest and becoming sly, so I talk with him a lot. I used to scold him the most, but I became comfortable and close with him now. He became experienced. He is really optimistic. Jungkook is really innocent. He is same from the debut. He is just like when he was 15 years old. His body became a man. I really thank J-Hope. He is reliable although he would feel really tired. Rap Monster is the leader of the team, but J-Hope really helps in dancing. He takes care of it all. Jimin has really good greed. He is really practicing hard. He practices singing very hard now. He tries to catch up what he is not good at. He even remains after to practice. V also has blank charm. I laugh a lot because of him. When he learns choreography, he thinks of what to add to his part. He is very talented. He also has good memory. He is talented in dancing to some extent.

Q. Jimin, Jungkook, and J-Hope are very good at dancing. How are they different?
Son Seongdeuk: Jimin, Jungkook, and J-Hope have different charms. J-Hope has feeling of street hip-hop. We worked really hard to correct his habits when he was trainee. He is also good at technical wave, pop-pin. Jungkook is powerful and dances beautifully. He knows when he is beautiful. He knows how to add techniques to the movements. Jungkook is good at basics, J-Hope is good at techniques, and Jimin dances beautifully because he used to dance before. He is soft but powerful.

Q. What do you expect BTS to be in the future?
Son Seongdeuk: I think they did well to make a trend. From now on, music is the focus. Rather than performances, I hope them to do sincere music that they want to do. There is idol’s music, but there is limit to it. I want them to tell their story of lives through music. They are really good at music. I get astonished by their lyrics and composition.