Exclusive Interview with MJ Choi, “I Love Dance” Founder

By Bak Keung Ko

Saturday May 11th marked the third annual student showcase by “I Love Dance”, a K-Pop and Hip Hop dance school. Founded by MJ Choi in 2006, the school expanded from weekly classes to daily classes in the heart of Times Square. For this year’s showcase, MJ and her students practiced for 4 months to bring us two performance times, 4PM and 8PM. In addition to the showcase, MJ also featured a raffle to thank the audience for supporting her work.

The event kickstarted with a Gangnam Style dance, followed by opening remarks. Immediately after, the excitement begins with a student group performing ‘We Are A Bit Different’ by EvoL! The rest of the schedule are as follows: Sherlock, Bang, Know Your Name, Wow, Janus, Bad Boy, Hip Hop Medley of One In a Million/Do It Like a Dude/Dancing In The Mirror/Crank It Up, I Got a Boy, Stop Girl, Warrior, Flashback, History, I Don’t Need a Man, Only One, Ice Cream, Lucifer, Tarantallegra, Like Me, and a finale with Love on Top.

A unique aspect of these showcases is that the students are from a variety of cultures so it is not only limited to an Asian perspective. The diversity of the performing groups allowed the audience to see the product of the performers’ love and talent for their work. This contributed to an interesting and another successful showcase. In addition to attending the event, AsianInNY got an exclusive interview with MJ Choi! Check it out below!

MJ Choi. Photo credit Vincent Wei

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
A: My name is MJ Choi. I am the director and instructor of I LOVE DANCE. I started dancing late in my life and after a couple of years of dance training, I founded I LOVE DANCE in 2006.

Q: What prompted you to start I Love Dance and teach K-Pop classes?
A: I originally started teaching Hip-Hop classes in NYC in 2006 thinking that I wanted to help beginner to learn how to dance. Back then, K-POP really wasn’t as popular as it is now. In fact, I don’t think we even used the term K-POP much. When I first started, I had a small group of Korean students who were interested in taking Hip-Hop classes. But as you know, we’ve had this explosion of K-POP popularity in the past few years. So my classes somewhat naturally transitioned into K-POP Dance as more and more students showed growing interest.

Q: Can you give some examples of your past work? (ex: events, shows, etc)
A:
I LOVE DANCE placed:
2nd runner up for the “I Am The Best Dance” Cover Contest by YG Entertainment
3rd place for KCC 2012 K-pop Video Contest
2nd place winner for 2012 NY KPOP Festival

I LOVE DANCE has performed :
Representing SM Entertainment receiving Global Award at The Korea Society New York Gala Dinner
at Korean Festival, Korea Parade, Chuseok Festival, All Kpop Event, AAPIHF, and many other Asian Community Events.

I LOVE DANCE has organized:
Flash mobs for 2NE1 and Big Bang Concert
(Upcoming event) K-Pop Dance Contest at 2013 New York Folks Festival for Children

MJ has back-up danced for Korean Artists:
Son Dambi, Brian Joo, and Ivy

Q: Who or what gave you the idea to do an annual showcase?
A: I wanted to share the amazing experience of being on the stage. Also, it always helps you to improve more when you have a goal to achieve.

Q: Do you offer free classes every once in a while besides your giveaways on showcase day? public try-outs, etc.?
A: I do organize open house parties every once in a while with free trial classes, and also free outdoor mini-classes at festivals.

Q: Have you had any unique students? If so, how have they influenced your work and/or how have you influenced them?
A: I have had a student who had a physical problem along with a self esteem issues. I wanted to help the student to overcome the obstacles and be more confident. Through my care and love, I watched my student change. Also, watching my student continuously trying and becoming an amazing dancer helped me to build more confidence as a teacher as well.

Q: Have you or will you be doing anything unique with I Love Dance with your community? (totally random example: teach homeless on the streets to brighten up their day)
A: Yes, definitely. I was telling my students that I would love to help the community with what we do as I LOVE DANCE. It is actually my next goal to share with people who needs help. As an example, I just started a small scholarship program of my own in I LOVE DANCE to help out some of my students who are going to through financial difficulties. I understand they are passionate dancers, but it’s really hard for them afford the dance classes. I’ve offered work-study positions in the past, but in addition to that, I recently started giving out scholarships.

Q: Finally, do you have anything that you want to tell your fans, the Asian community, or just people in general?
A: If you have a passion and if you really give your best on what you do, your dream will come true!

If you have any questions about I Love Dance, please visit www.ilovedance.us

For more photos, please visit: http://www.facebook.com/AsianInNYFans

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