K-Pop and COVID-19: ‘Arizona KPop Dance Workshop’ Class Defies Odds

Upon entering J’s Martial Arts Academy in Mesa, Arizona, you can feel the excitement in the air. In celebration of Arizona KPop Dance Workshop’s first anniversary, K-Pop fans from all over the state have come together to participate in an intensive 47-song “Random Play” dance challenge. Hosted by Rina Okhuma and dance group AKDC, The Arizona KPop Dance Workshop was founded in 2019 with the goal of bringing together K-Pop fans from all over and to share with people the joy of K-Pop dance. Alex Varela, an attendee and instructor of the workshop, was one of the people I was able to stop and chat with. “I take Rina’s Piladance (pilates) classes and her K-Pop workshop classes as well, I also recently started to assist with teaching some classes alongside her.” 

COVID-19 has brought on many challenges, especially to places where people congregate. Alex elaborated on how the workshop maintains cleanliness during the pandemic. “Between every class, the studio is sanitized, wiped down, and mopped before the next class arrives, we have several sanitizer bottles located in ever 6 feet around the studio, and everyone is required to wash hands outside at the wash station before entering, mask are required and we also have marked areas to let everyone know where to stand to be at the 6ft apart requirements.

Although the current pandemic has put many things to a stop, the K-Pop industry continues to pump out new songs and dances. This gives fans something to look forward to during what can be a depressing time for many. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rina incorporated Facebook online streaming for her workshops. “We resumed the in-person workshop on May 26th with everyone’s face masks on, 6 feet apart, 20 seconds hands wash before and after the workshop and more.” she stated. In-person workshop guidelines are posted on the Arizona K-Pop Dance Workshop’s official Facebook group, which currently holds 300 members. “Once the situation gets better, we will resume performing in public and also start hosting kpop related events to expand and share our K-Pop community in Arizona which I’m very excited about.” 

The random dance game had in-person participants that were able to get out of their homes while maintaining social distancing. Some artists that were included in the dance game were BTS, BLACKPINK, TWICE and EXO, just to name a few. All of the songs in the dance game were from previous workshops. This made the dance game a lot more fun for those participating. “We go through only the chorus part so usually learning the dance moves can be done in a 1 hour workshop. Since we dance the same song in 4 classes, we also focus on improving individual dance skills and getting into the formation.” Rina said. 

The workshops cost $5 and are every Tuesday and Thursday at J’s Martial Arts Academy in Mesa, AZ. Rina also hosts a variety of K-Pop tutorials and her Piladance classes on her YouTube channel: Rina Okhuma. The K-Pop Workshop may also be live-streamed on the Arizona K-Pop Dance Workshop group on Facebook where viewers from all over are welcome to attend. 


Written, photographed, and filmed by: Kayla C.

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