Culture blur
LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph T. Gpnzales (The Freeman) - December 12, 2015 - 9:00am

Justin Bieber's song "Sorry" was airing on a music video channel, and as I huffed and puffed in the gym, I got treated to a display of gyrations and shimmying from the fierce gum chewing and attitude-flying squad of female dancers.

As they were jerking and working the song, I suddenly realized, "hey I've seen those moves before!"

What people don't know is that sometimes, in the middle of the night, I switch on Youtube and then watch videos of 1Million Dance Studio, this Korean dance club that showcases the choreography of Lia Kim and other dancers, and then sub-groups will then put their own spin into the dance.  As each of the small groups dance to the camera, the rest of their squad cheer on and lend support.  (Sometimes they even throw sneakers and wet t shirts on to the dance floor).

It's an addictive treat, watching the dancers and trying to figure out who's queen bee, which is the bitch among the hive, and who just cannot possibly be straight, and analyzing their agility level as well as their dance wear, and I catch myself moving on to the next and moving on to the next until I realize that, holy molly, it's been an hour! (Ah, guilty pleasures)

Anyway, the choreography is awesome, and having been "trained" for a year by contemporary dancers Jojo Lucila and wife Joy Beltran (while I tried my damndest to fit in among the more professionally trained members of Chameleon, still alive after twenty five years), I gape at the boneless danseurs and muse about what could have happened if I had an alternative life, and grew up in Seoul, and joined the dance group 1Million.  Could I have mastered those moves?  Would that have been within my range?

But that's a separate fantasy.

Anyway, here I was watching a Justin Bieber video where he doesn't show up, and I'm wondering, are these dance moves originally K-pop a la 1Million or are these black hip hop b-boy?

In today's world, it's real hard to tell now.  Culture has blurred and blended in such an indistinguishable manner that we are hard pressed to identify which country or tribe or movement really gave birth to what.  And with such speed. We see barangay fairs in the province feature hollywood dance moves a month? a week? after American mainstream media premieres it.  What's genuine then and what are derivatives?  (A question Madonna sort of posed to Lady Gaga followers a while back).

Originality is so important and so prized.  It becomes frustrating then when we find out unscrupulous individuals have decided to muscle in on other people's hard work, and claimed other's ideas as their own.

A designer fried of mine in Kuala Lumpur, Orson Liyu, refuses to have his clothes photographed as he is afraid it will be ripped  off. Other designers, on the other hand, immediately publish their designs so that there is no doubt in the world as the date when they came up with their idea.

I check out the web, and true enough Rolling Stone featured the choreographer of Sorry.  Her name is Parris Goebel from New Zealand, and she is 23 years old.  She's not too forthcoming about what inspired her for the video and its origins, and I came away unsatisfied about whether all the moves came from her fertile imagination or elsewhere.

For example, in response to the question as to who inspired her, she says: "Usually just the music ... I don't really like to anticipate or prepare things. For me, it's all about being impulsive with exactly how I feel at that moment, with the song or the people around me. I'm always inspired by the moment - the song, the people around me, the imagery in the room - it's all about that moment. That's how I get inspired the most."

As I watch Sorry, and try to debate whether the choreo there was copied from 1Million's dance moves, I come to the realization that it really doesn't matter in this case.  Sometimes, what matters at the end of the day is who did it better.

(1Million, I am still your adoring and drooling fan)

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