K-Pop in Toronto: R.P.M Dance Crew
Group Name: R.P.M Dance Crew
Number of members: 25
Most Recent Cover: Fear by Seventeen
Members (from left to right): Michaela, Wiley, Soo Jeong
I am so excited about today's post because we're diving into the world of dance in Toronto. As you know I spent most of last year interviewing people in the Vancouver K-Pop and K-Hip hop scene and I wanted to start this year by broadening my horizons and hanging out with some of the members of R.P.M Dance Crew who happen to be from Toronto.
R.P.M stands for Rhythm Power and Moxie. It represents the powerful essence of the group and also describes the individualistic style and uniqueness that the group has. The four original members came up with the name after being inspired by K-Pop groups at the time like BAP and BTOB that had acronyms as their names.
One of the most fascinating things I always discover is all the different ways members of cover groups get into dancing.
Wiley got into dance through K-Pop. He started watching Girls Generation and started to learn their dances for fun. He went to an arts high school for dance and also did K-Pop dancing through high school before later joining R.P.M.
Soo Jeong started by dancing Jazz in grade three. She was also inspired by strong female idols like Hyuna and incorporated the K-Pop influences into her jazz dance routines.
Michaela started dancing in university after attending a K-Pop dance class. The dance teacher decided to form a group for a competition and so they taught themselves various dance routines and Michaela continued dancing from there.
The group initially started as just friends and then as more people became interested in joining R.P.M started doing public auditions in 2017. They also hold private auditions for people who are interested in joining the crew as well.
I was curious to know what the best part of doing dance covers for them was. Wiley expressed that his favourite part was to be able to meet everyone at each practice and seeing the dance go from start to finished product. He also likes getting to dance with all the different members especially when they haven't seen each other in a while.
For Soo Jeong the best part is being able to show what she can do as a dancer and a performer. She loves learning how to be creative in expressing herself and adding her personal style to each cover.
Michaela likes seeing all the members grow and become more confident over time.
It takes R.P.M about 2 months to comfortably finish a dance cover. The time depends on the song, the difficulty of the dance and everyone's schedule. Unlike other groups who are able to put out content very quickly, R.P.M likes to take more time to complete their covers. They also hold their covers to high standard so they only film when they feel like they are all ready.
When it comes to choosing what member will dance in what position, they create a role sheet where everyone lists their choice of member to cover each part of dance routine and they try and give everyone their first or second choice. They want everyone to have their first choice but also make sure to put into perspective what everyone's strengths are and what positions would showcase those strengths best.
As always I asked each of them what their favourite covers were and why. Soo Jeong chose Seniorita by (G)I-dle because they are her favourite female group and Soo Jin is her favourite female idol. She loved that she got to cover her part for the dance.
Wiley chose ICY by ITZY because it was when he was still new and he loved how it turned out after practicing so much. They also won first place at the Korean Harvest Festival with that cover.
Michaela chose Crown by TXT because it was fun and lighthearted. Even though the dance was challenging, it was rewarding for them to see how it turned out in the end.
As for their least favourite cover, Michaela chose every cover before 2016 because she feels they were all so bad but on the other hand they also showed how much they have grown as dancers over time.
Wiley chose Seniorita by (G)I-dle because it was his first cover with the team and also his first public cover. He felt uncomfortable and felt like he looked nervous in the video.
Soo Jeong does not have a least favourite cover but the one that was the most challenging for her was What is Love by Twice because she isn't used to doing cute concepts so she had to put in a lot of effort into being cute.
It was really interesting to hear how different K-Pop dance culture in Toronto is from Vancouver. Toronto has a lot of events and competitions with the Harvest Festival and yearly conventions being the major ones. Toronto also has a lot of dance cover groups as well but they don't do many collabs because of scheduling conflicts which is very different from Vancouver. Most teams have their own style and the way they do things and that is another reason why they don't collab often. However, they are all friends with each other and meet at events.
I asked Michaela, Soo Jeong and Wiley what made R.P.M special and they said it was their individuality. Everyone tries to bring their own personal style to every cover. They focus on showing their personalities in each and every cover instead of only worrying about being in sync or dancing well.
R.P.M define themselves as a "complicated work in progress". They have become such a big team and because of that they don't always see each other. They are slowly getting to know each other and they're trying to grow as a team and become better. They emphasize that they want to stay true to who they are as people and try to have as much fun as possible together.
It was really fun hanging out with R.P.M and learning about their team and them as individuals as well! I loved how they bring a little bit of themselves to each cover and really showcase their individual skills and abilities.
Be sure to check out R.P.M's YouTube channel and Instagram and show them some love. 💛💙💜
Also a huge thank you to Brijesh for taking and editing all of these amazing photos.