Choreographer to Share Insights on K-Pop Dance As Part of WT Distinguished Lecture Series

CANYON, Texas—A former ballerina turned academic will offer insights on the world of Korean popular dance.

Dr. Chuyun Oh, associate professor of dance at San Diego State University, will speak at 6:30 p.m. March 9 in the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex Recital Hall as part of WT’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

Oh will share stories from the K-pop industry, her research processes and challenges, and new insights that will be published in her next publication.

“I like to share the significance of K-pop dance fandom,” Oh said. “I am also excited to share what I called ‘K-pop dance studies’ and how we can further expand this rising research area.”

Oh, who began studying classical ballet at the age of 7 at Kirov Ballet Academy in Washington D.C. and in Seoul, is an expert in many different styles of dance such as modern and K-Pop, in addition to ballet. She has earned international awards and performed in Austria, Japan, Germany and the U.S. She earned her Ph.D. in performance studies at the University of Texas. She earned her master’s degree in dance aesthetics and her bachelor’s degree in dance theory with a minor in philosophy from Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul.

“K-pop dance teaches us a lot, not just about identities but also about fitness business, entrepreneurship, community building, and a future of education,” Oh said. “Many of these positive changes have been made thanks to social media, which contributes to the popularity of K-pop dance in the U.S.”

Dr. Min Wha Han, assistant professor of communication studies, invited Oh to visit WT and submitted the proposal for Oh to be part of the Distinguished Lecture Series this spring.

“As I see growing interests on this topic among WT students and people in this area, I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce the topic and an academic approach to this as a growing research field to the campus community and beyond,” Han said. “Dr. Oh has recently published a book about K-pop dance, in which she theorized K-pop dance from an academic lens.”

WT has a student organization, West Texas K-Pop, boasting a large membership of the genre’s fans. The weekly lineup of KWTS 91.1, WT’s student-run radio station, features “K-Pop in Your Area” from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays.

The event is cosponsored by the WT Department of Communication and the Department of Art, Theatre and Dance in the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities.

In July 2022, Oh published “K-pop Dance: Fandoming Yourself on Social Media.” The book describes K-pop’s dance popularity on social media and was written based on interviews, fieldwork and observation over five years involving 40 amateur and professional K-pop dancers in South Korea and the U.S. The book examines the development of K-pop dance from the 1980s to the 2020s.

“I know Dr. Oh’s work very well, and she is an excellent scholar who can bridge academic fields of communication and dance/performance studies,” Han said.

In addition to the evening lecture that is free and open to the public, Oh will also speak to dance students at WT.

Fostering an appreciation of the arts is a key mission of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.