The Most Impressive Girl-Group Dance Performance Ever?


Girls’ Generation justifiably gets a lot of flak  for the underlying messages about gender roles and body image they present in their songs, not least from myself. So much so, that sometimes it’s easy to forget what consummate performers they are, and how important their level of training has been in distinguishing them from their Japanese counterparts. Hell, if SM Entertainment deems them fit to act like actual women too, as is widely expected with the imminent release of their third album? Then I may finally be able to admit how much I like them, albeit pretending it’s only recently and begrudgingly.

Ironically though, perhaps they were actually at their best when they were first about to debut. As askbask explains, at Frank Kogan’s music blog:

“This is the most impressive dance performance I’ve ever seen from a girl group. It almost beggars belief. The stuff around the 3 minute mark is just scary…. Helps that it’s all lip-synced — it’s noticeably less sharp on regular performances — and that the camera is fixed so we get the amazing sync work and units moving around the stage. I don’t expect them to ever match this level again because it was their debut track and they exclusively practiced this choreography for such a long time”.

It’s certainly a video that deserves to be much better known, and kudos to askbask for finding it. See what you think:

Here are some better quality live performances found via the “features related” sidebar on its Youtube page, albeit without the OMG effect that comes with the fixed camera angle:

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t have stars in my eyes, and it says a lot about the nature of the K-pop assembly-line that better performances don’t necessarily come with performers’ greater experience. But the products it can create are no less impressive for all that!


17 thoughts on “The Most Impressive Girl-Group Dance Performance Ever?

  1. I like that first one. I think that was the last time a girl group actually deemed to take on choreography that was both technically and physically challenging. These days people don’t care about the difficulty of the choreo as much as they care about how hot the girls look. Makes me think of KARA’s latest single “Step” – part of the reason I like it is that it’s got a few instances of inspired choreo that they pull off pretty well.

    I wonder what their current performances of this song look like. I think they still perform it at concerts, but they’ve all lost a significant amount of weight since their debut days – I doubt you’d see this level of energy. That being said, SNSD’s military precision when it comes to choreography is still unmatched 4 years after their debut. The only band I can think of that could compete, male or female, is Infinite, who debuted last year.

    On an unrelated note, any plans to translate Brown Eyed Girls’ “Sixth Sense”? Check out EatYourKimchi’s latest video on it:


    1. That was from last year and is the only one I could find not in a concert or cut short. They look a lot more… pretty doing it? A lot of the strength was lost and some of the vocals from the stronger singers of the group are a lot weaker in these performances than in the past (though, some are a lot better).

      BUT, their precision is still there. Which is nice to see.


    2. I didn’t like Step much sorry, but I’ll definitely take another look at the MV because of your recommendation. As for Sixth Sense, I’ve heard a LOT about it, and it’s a definite 3rd in line after One More Chance by Dana & Sunday, then Ugly by 2NE1!


      1. The live performances of “Step” show the choreography better, so you’d be better off checking those out. Also, once you’re halfway though the song the choreo gets dull, save the bit where Nicole raps, so don’t expect to be blown away. Kara usually keeps it simple though, so it’s nice to see them venturing into more interesting choreography .


  2. One of my favorite songs from them and definitely fit the Girl’s Generation name. This is also one of the girls’ favorite songs being their debut song. I cannot believe that one of the people involved in making this song had a hand in creating “Oh!”. Some translations I found were really grammatically odd so I don’t know if the lyrics are suggestive or not. I don’t think they are but who knows.
    I’m hoping that this album will mark their drift towards elegance and sophistication. They always get a lot of flak for being “cutesy-poo” but they haven’t had a cute concept for about 1.5 years now. Mr. Taxi had cute gestures, but the concept was not cute. “Echo” filmed in Summer ’10 was a fan gift and not a promotional song.


  3. This is the level I hold SNSD at in terms of dancing and thus why I’m continually disappointed with their performances. They have the talent to pull off some A+ dance moves and, like you said, are good performers despite their songs, but audiences don’t really see that nowadays and instead it feels more like a shuffling into positions and arm movements. But this is true with most girl groups (Korean or Japanese) as there is less emphasis on displaying talent as there is on being cute/cool/sexy (A good example is the dramatic change between Japanese girl group Happiness’ debut PV Friendship and the newer PV Wish). I guess with more success and more concentration on other money making avenues like endorsements, there isn’t much time to focus on creating interesting choreography which is actually quite sad.


    1. I couldn’t comment on the Japanese songs sorry, but I certainly agree with you about SNSD’s shuffling into position and arm movements, the choreography for Visual Dreams being particularly bad (albeit not technically a song though?):

      I remembered that someone at (I think) Seoulbeats was similarly unimpressed with the dancing (and video as a whole) for Mr. Taxi, and so was going to link to it here too, but now that I need it I can’t find it sorry! And I can’t comment on it myself because I haven’t *cough* actually seen any Korean groups’ Japanese language songs yet to be honest, as it’s difficult enough just keeping up with Korean language ones.


  4. I’ve never seen SNSD as noteworthy dancers, but I too have been distracted by the underlying messages to plainly watch them dance. Now that it was brought to my attention, they do seem to be very synchronized.

    I have to admit I’m glad to see SNSD doing something blatantly sexy rather than oh-sorry-oppa-I-didn’t-know-I-was-being-sexy, as their “Into the New World” days deeply disturbed me the most in particular. Men were having a field day with that kick part in the dance. Screen captures all over the internet…

    Which leads me to ask: Have you ever discussed the 노출 cafes/blogs that seem to pollute all Korean blogger sites? It’s impossible to search for pictures of any female idol without seeing related searches for exposure pictures involving that idol, which then leads to cafes specializing in exposure and upskirt pictures, especially of female idols (including the underaged ones). And I was shocked to see how many of those cafes there are. Is there any article or essay that you can dissect and discuss? I have no idea if these are even seen as a big deal in Korea, but they are disturbing indeed!


    1. I haven’t discussed all the 노출 cafes/blogs sorry, or know of any article or essay about them. And to play Devils’ Advocate, I would assume that searches for pictures of female celebrities in virtually any country would produce similar results. But one thing I have certainly noticed and commented on though, albeit not online but in my “Introduction to Korean Gender Issues” lecture in Boston last year, is how the opening pages of Korean portal sites like Naver and Daum and so on are literally full of links to such things, and frequently even highlight such “news” stories. As I explained in the lecture, if that’s what mainstream, family-friendly Korean websites do, then you can just imagine how bad the rest of the Korean internet is…


  5. Well, the songs Jaewon choreographs tend to be complicated. None are as intense as the stuff he did as a member of Black Beat though:


  6. It’s good, isn’t it. The performances of the ‘remix’ version at the same time are equally impressive, especially one that’s filmed in rehearsal with the same static camera.

    Here’s a performance of the song from this year’s tour, professionally filmed:

    Significantly more lax. As the encore of a 2–3 hours long show, it’s understandably even more toned down. They sound great, though


  7. I only watched the first one but can someone more versed in dance please tell me how that’s great? My friend’s 15-year-old can dance just as well. If it’s qualification for being great is being not as bad as J-pop groups is that saying anything?


    1. I think you’re kinda missing the point. For me at least it’s not the choreography per se that is so good here, but rather the group’s synchronization, as if they were all robots simultaneously executing the same dance move as part of a computer program.

      Sure, that might be the very antithesis of “good dancing” in many people’s minds (and actually mine too), but then we are talking about manufactured girl-groups here. However good your friend’s daughter might be then, I doubt she’d be able to execute the same moves as well as SNSD did without the benefit of their probably 1000+ hours of training.


    2. I’ll try to help in that aspect. I’m majoring in kinesiology, as well as having been trained in Locking, Popping, Waving, girly, Jazz, Street Jazz, and a brief “career” as cheerleader. Synchronization is difficult to achieve. Kinetically speaking, kinetic memory as well as tonic, isotonic, closed and opened chain movements don’t actually happen the fraction of second we want them to happen, which explains some people often dropping things and general clumsiness. that’s in the Central Nervous System part. Then comes the musculoskeletal component. movements are not made by the whole of a muscle, or just one (Agonist) or maybe 2 (Agonist+ Antagonist) there’s also the synergic muscles working, all mus work in sync if a movement is to be precise. In random, general everyday life this doesn’t matter unless the asymmetry is major, if you’re gonna grab a cup of water, for example, the cup of water itself will stop your movement.

      Now on to dancing: dancing alone, none of this would matter either, because you don’t have anyone to be compared to; in come the other 8 members. all 9 must be perfoming the same isotonic, tonic, closed/opened chains, synergic, etc (I realise I’m making this too long) at the exact them time. now add in the Psychology in sports, which in short and the thing at hand: each member want to outshine the other (just watch any sports match) which leads to what we see in other groups (say, SHINee) where the main dancer will do more than what’s in the choreography. All those urges must be repressed. And also, for the movement to look perfectly in sync, the other 8 members lowered to the lowest of the girls’ dancing skill (meaning they are better than what is seen individually)

      In general, as a kinesiology major, dancer and cheerleader, this is Super impressive.

      I hope I didn’t confuse and actually helped in this.


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