Dancer-choreographer Aimee Lee Lucas: K-pop opened doors for me
by Jonathan Hicap
October 14, 2013
She has worked with some of K-pop’s most popular artists including Big Bang, G-Dragon, Uhm Jung Hwa, Se7en, 2NE1 and Taeyang and has appeared in numerous music videos including in Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend.”
Today, Filipino-American dancer, choreographer and businesswoman Aimee Lee Lucas is sharing her expertise to thousands of fans in different countries through her K-pop dance workshops.
“I teach everything. (The purpose is) to have fun. But really it’s a party,” Lucas described her dance classes in an interview with Bulletin Entertainment.
Lucas held her first “Dance K-pop” workshop in the Philippines last Oct. 12 at Starmall EDSA.
The workshop, organized by the Philippine K-pop Committee, was a fundraising event for the children of Gawad Kalinga.
She told Bulletin Entertainment she’s excited to visit the Philippines.
“This is my second time. My first time was for work. Really excited to meet all the hip-hop fans, just kids you know. I love working with high school kids, younger kids. Their energy is so different, something so special none of us can really go back to,” Lucas said.
Before coming to the Philippines, Lucas was in Singapore.
“I was there for hip-hop international watching the Philippine teams compete. I was just blown away and so impressed. I was really proud to be a Filipino,” she said.
Lucas was born and raised in San Francisco, California.
“I’m the youngest girl. My parents are from the Philippines. My mom was born and raised in Davao. My dad is Ilokano,” she said.
Lucas said she started dancing at an early age.
“When I was young, my mom put me in ballet and I danced all the way through college. I started dancing hip-hop when I was in high school and I really loved it,” she said.
Her professional career as a dancer got going when she was 20.
“As a dancer, maybe when I was 20 years old. I was in Los Angeles and started working on music videos like Avril Lavigne and Daddy Yankee. Then I started dancing in commercials and movies,” she said.
Then the opportunity came to work with K-pop artists in South Korea. Her first project was being the assistant choreographer for singer and actress Uhm Jung Hwa’s “D.I.S.C.O,” a track from her album with the same title that was released in July 2008. The album was produced with the help of YG Entertainment.
“(My first K-pop project) was working with Uhm Jung Hwa. Working with her on “D.I.S.C.O,” going to (music TV shows) “Inkigayo” and “Music Bank.” I have to say that hip-hop really works in Korea,” she said.
This opened the door for Lucas to work with YG Entertainment artists Big Bang, 2NE1, G-Dragon, Taeyang and Se7en. She also performed with them in concerts and music videos.
She was the lead girl in Taeyang’s stage performances of “My Girl” and “Sinner” at his first solo concert “HOT” in 2008. She also appeared in the music video for Taeyang’s “Wedding Dress,” released in 2009.
Lucas described Taeyang as a “deep thinker.”
“With him, I felt like he held back. For his confidence, (I told him) to touch me, grab me, whatever you needed to do, do it to get in the character. During the show his eyes, he was in character that I was almost felt intimidated on stage. How he switched that on,” she said.
She also helped in the staging of G-Dragon’s first solo concert “Shine A Light” in December 2009. Lucas performed with G-Dragon at the concert in the song “Breathe,” an incident that sparked controversy that led to an investigation for obscenity. G-Dragon was later cleared of the accusations.
Lucas said he enjoyed working with G-Dragon.
“With G-Dragon, I really enjoyed working with him because he doesn’t really care about what other people think or thought. He would explore so many different outlets and ideas. It was so cool,” she said.
Lucas also appeared in the music video for Big Bang’s “Number 1” and at performed with Se7en at his concert.
She said, “Se7en has been an artist for a long time. It was really nice to be on stage with him.”
In addition, she choreographed 2NE1 member Park Bom’s single “You and I.”
“Working with Park Bom, she’s so funny. I had to push her because she kept holding back. It’s nice to see her grow as an artist,” Lucas said.
She described these K-pop artists as “full of wonder and curiosity.”
“Each one is different personally,” she said.
While working in Korea, Lucas said cultural differences and the custom of seniority became a challenge for her when it came to the dancers.
“Yes it’s difficult because culture is different. Entertainment wise and values. The biggest one was not just language. Dance is a universal language that there’s no problem with communicating. The biggest one was in Korea, they have someone who is older than you. You have to respect him or her. In a room full of dancers of different ages, it’s really hard. It was hard to yell at them, hard to tell them ‘Hey, stop what you’re doing. Do this better.’ So we had to like come to a compromise culturally with the dancers. In LA, whoever comes in, no matter what age, no matter what race, everyone starts from scratch. Everyone from the same level. We treat them all the same way. It was a learning experience,” she said.
Among the K-pop artists today, Lucas is impressed with boy band EXO.
“They’re like head turners. The music is so good, the beat, their fashion, the concept. Obviously EXO has a huge following. Something very smart,” she said.
Lucas describes her dance style as eclectic.
“Hip-hop is so vast now. Hip-hop can be like twerking or krumping. It could be girly-like. As far as my style goes, it’s just very eclectic. Full of variety,” she said.
She said her goal right now is to bring K-pop dance worldwide.
“K-pop has really opened these doors for me. I love it. I’m a K-pop fan. But right now my focus is really just tuning in to K-pop fans everywhere, all over the world. All ages,” she said.
October 17th, 2013