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SA’s Rudi Smit makes his K-pop debut by choreographing for ITZY’s latest comeback

ITZY is a five-member South Korean girl group formed by JYP Entertainment and consisting of members Yeji, Lia, Ryujin, Chaeryeong, and Yuna. Inset: Rudi Smit

ITZY is a five-member South Korean girl group formed by JYP Entertainment and consisting of members Yeji, Lia, Ryujin, Chaeryeong, and Yuna. Inset: Rudi Smit

Published Jul 22, 2022


Cape Town – The star of Capetonian choreographer Rudi Smit continues to rise with his last achievement seeing him make history as the first South African to choreograph for a K-pop group.

The feat will certainly strengthen the love for K-pop (Korean pop) music which is already gaining more of a foothold in South Africa.

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Those who are familiar with TikTok, and social media, have for a long time been wise to how active the local K-pop scene is.

From K-pop dance parties, to meet-ups, and the often-reported acts of kindness by the local BTS army, there is no denying the K-pop is here to stay.

The latest news which will make many proud is that acclaimed SA choreographer Rudi Smit was approached to choreograph for ITZY’s latest comeback, “Sneakers”.

ITZY is a five-member South Korean girl group formed by JYP Entertainment and consisting of members Yeji, Lia, Ryujin, Chaeryeong, and Yuna.

Ever since their debut in February 2019, they have since gone on to big success in South Korea and around the world.

The music video for Sneakers by the South Korean girl group ITZY after a group rehearsal video by Smit and his dance company, Untimitive, went viral on Instagram.

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From choreographing and dancing in “Honey 3” the movie, being an assistant choreographer on “Bring It On: Worldwide #Cheersmack” the movie, and choreographing commercials for brands such as Adidas, Samsung, Facebook, and Pepsi- Smit’s leap into the world of K-pop should have been no surprise.

“I posted a rehearsal video to K-pop star, Jessi’s song ‘Zoom’ on Instagram with some members of my dance company, Untimitive. Jessi saw the video herself, loved it and shared it on IG (instagram).

“The next day the video had nearly 200 000 views. JYP saw my work via that video and subsequently reached out to me about a week later to ask me to choreograph for ITZY,” Smit said.

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When asked about how he conceptualised the choreography for the music video, Smit said the process with K-pop videos was tricky.

“You receive a document with all the lyrics of the song translated into English.

“Then you have to choreograph in such a way where you highlight what is being sung about without making it obvious or cheesy,” Smit said.

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Having choreography be selected for a K-pop group is no small achievement as it is rigorous process as the choreographers submit their draft versions of the choreography, and then the label then picks which best sections splices it together.

For example:

Final product

Smit said he was inspired by the song and the fun and whimsical vibe it had – he usually took a more “intense” or serious approach to his choreography, so having a song that was light and fun was a great switch up.

In a Facebook post, Smit added that the cherry on top of this experience was that he got to do this with dancers Janika Louw, Prudence Jacobs, Ashleigh Savage Harley Schultz, Zoë Aldridge and Tiffany Jacobs.

“Getting into the K-pop industry is not easy at all and no other South African choreographer has ever choreographed for a K-pop group, so this is a huge huge victory for me and I am so proud.

“Beyond that, ITZY was literally on my list of groups I have wanted to choreograph for and for them to be my first is huge for me,” Smit said.

Prudence Jacobs, who has been dancing with Smit for approximately 11 years, said he was very passionate and particular about what he did and that he always had a certain vision in mind for these projects – she said they shot about 13 hours of footage to ensure Rudi’s vision was carried out.

“We got tired and really exhausted at some point but the way Rudi treats his dancers and the way he handles his company, makes you want to do better and go the extra mile.

“Rudi has opened so many doors for us and helped us realise so many dreams that we never even knew we had,” Jacobs said.

The choreographer said he was interested in choreographing for more K-pop groups and international groups.

Smit told the Cape Argus that this was in fact his second K-pop job, and that the first one is set to be featured later on this year.

Smit added that “where you live and where you come from does not define the opportunities that can come your way and the milestones you can achieve”.

“In the dance industry particularly, there is the idea that you have to move to the America to make it big industry wise.

“I have been able to turn that idea upside down and make things work for me while still being based in SA, which I am really proud of.”

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Cape Argus