Stand Up! and More! parties have been battling it out every year at The University of Melbourne’s student elections. Although the majority of UMSU offices are held by the More! party, Stand Up! still disagrees with the way they represent students. Samar Khouri reports.
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Since he was a high school student, Tian Xing Wang has been spinning coloured cube puzzles from chaos into order. Today pursuing a masters of information technology at The University of Melbourne, he’s an international speedcube superstar.
With K-pop’s catchy music, synchronized choreographies and stylish fashion grabbing international attention, so is the number of dance covers filling up YouTube. But not like this 4-member K-pop girl group. Based in Brisbane, Australia, P4pero Dance formed in 2014 and since then have caught people’s attention, even getting picked to represent Australia at 2015 K-POP World Festival in Changwon, South Korea. Much like Korea’s idol groups, P4pero Dance’s members are young and are of multicultural backgrounds, proving that anyone can enjoy K-pop regardless of the cultural and language barrier. Meet the squad …
How did you all come together to form P4pero Dance? Were you friends beforehand?
Brit: We originally met at a K-pop dance workshop and quickly became friends after that. Eventually we decided that we wanted to take it a bit more seriously and film cover dances, so we formed our own group and filmed our first cover. That’s how P4pero came to be!
River: We were friends beforehand! We were part of a larger group of K-pop dancers, but we decided we wanted to form just a four member group together.
Kelly: We were all good friends about a year before forming P4pero! We met through a K-pop dance workshop in Brisbane and then danced with a big group of friends where we then branched off into our own 4 member dance crew.
“I feel like everyone is unique in their own way, but what makes us unique is that we go the extra mile to make our dance covers and outfits look as close to the original as possible” – River
Why did you decide to focus on K-pop?
Brit: K-pop is the reason we all met and it’s what we love, so we knew right from the start that we wanted to focus on it.
River:We all met because of K-pop, and we didn’t have much background for dance what so ever, so we wanted to start off with K-pop. Now we’re starting to learn choreography from popular choreographers like 1million now that our dancing has improved and we feel more confident.
Kathy: K-pop is a genre of music that is constantly evolving and constantly spreading to all different parts of the world. As a K-pop cover dance group, not only do we focus on the dance/choreography for a song, but we also focus on the overall presentation and delivery of a music video which is what K-pop allows for.
Kelly: We all have the same love and interest towards K-pop, which we evidently wanted to pursue seriously. From the music videos, to the K-pop idols, everything about K-pop drew us in and we wanted to cover the dances of our favourite K-pop groups!
There has been a steady rise in K-pop dance crews over the years. What makes P4pero Dance unique and stand out from the rest?
Brit: I think what helps us stand out is that we really try to cover every aspect of a K-pop dance when we film videos; everything from the dance, the costumes, lip-syncing, and teaser photos.
River:I feel like everyone is unique in their own way, but what makes us unique is that we go the extra mile to make our dance covers and outfits look as close to the original as possible. We are also very diverse in ethnics as well!
Kathy: I think one of the main things that sets us apart is that we are very meticulous in our costumes and like to have it as close to the original as possible. Or we collate costumes that are very closely inspired by the ones worn by the K-pop idols.
Kelly: We are seeing lots of our friends forming their own K-pop dance crews, which is amazing! We have, in a way, paved the way for K-pop cover dance crews in our local area and in a way that’s what makes us unique!
Tell me more about your whole dance process, from practicing to releasing a performance-ready dance? How do you choose a song and how long do you practice for?
Brit: We practice once a week for four hours at a time, and we can usually have a performance-ready dance out within 4 to 5 weeks. We choose songs based on new releases and what we’re loving at the time!
River: We all have to decide on a song. If a member /really/ dislikes the dance, we wont do it, but that rarely happens. We choose a current popular song, then decide who will be who based on roles in the group and song (rappers and vocalists). We then flip the video and learn it together. It usually takes about four weeks since we can only rehearse once a week.
Kathy: We only rehearse once a week for 4 hours due to our personal busy schedules. Depending on the difficulty of the song, it would usually take us 3-4 weeks to rehearse, where we would film the dance cover the next week. This includes all the members practicing at home by themselves, studio rehearsals and looking for outfits/filming locations. We usually choose the most recent song that has come out, that we all like of course, and that is popular at the same time.
Kelly: We work really hard on our dance covers, making sure we get the dance as well as all the production looking the best we can. Our dance process includes deciding on what’s most popular and recent in K-pop. If we like the dance to the song and its manageable between the 4 of us then we will make it work! We practice once a week for 4 hours as well as in our own time at home and it usually takes us approx 3-4 weeks if its an easy dance and maybe 5 weeks to perfect a difficult dance.
You mostly perform girl-group covers. Is there a reason for this?
Brit: We’ve covered a lot of girl-group covers mainly because we’re an all-girl cover dance group and they are the dances we’re most comfortable with since generally they suit our style. However, we’ve been trying to cover more boy-group dances so we can develop a more versatile dance style!
River: At first, we pretty much only did girl covers, but we have become more confident in our dancing and now do both girl and boy covers.
Kelly:We prefer dancing girl-group covers because they suit our dance styles better. We’re able to embody the K-pop girl members better in terms of clothes, dancing and lip -syncing. From building our dance repertoire over the years, we have eventually become more confident in ourselves to tackle boy group dances because they tend to be a little bit harder.
Who are your favorite K-pop groups to cover?
Brit: We’ve covered quite a few dances by Red Velvet and BLACKPINK, which are two of our favourite girl groups. EXO and BTS also have some really fun dances, so we hope we can do more covers of their dances in the future!
River: Anything with four members since it’s the easiest for transitions and line distributions. But I like covering all K-pop groups!
Kathy: Covering female K-pop groups that have less members is definitely ‘easier’ for us such as BLACKPINK, however I also personally like to cover male K-pop groups such as BTS which is a bit more challenging.
Kelly: I think we do an awesome job at covering BLACKPINK dance covers who are also our favourite K-pop girl group. I enjoy covering girl group dances in general!
What’s the hardest or most challenging dance cover you’ve done?
Brit: I think NCT 127’s Limitless was quite challenging. It’s not a style that we’ve really covered before, so it was a learning process for us!
River: Probably NCT’s Limitless? Anything NCT is pretty difficult!
Kathy:Yeah I agree, definitely NCT’s Limitless.
Kelly: I’m going to say April Story by April only because we had only one week to learn the dance and film it!
You performed at the 2015 K-POP World Festival – which is such a huge accomplishment – in Changwon, South Korea! How did that come about? What was the experience like? Did you get to meet any K-pop groups or artists?
Brit:It was the first competition we decided to enter as a group and we never expected to win since all the other groups in the competition were so amazing! But that’s how we ended up in Korea and the whole experience was absolutely amazing. We even had the opportunity to have dinner with K-pop boy group GOT7 and also meet K-pop girl group Bestie!
River: It’s the best experience I have ever had in my life. I wish I could do it every day! I still think about it all the time. We met quite a few K-pop groups! We had dinner with GOT7, we went to the bathroom at the same time as 4Minute, BTS walked past us twice, SHINEE, VIXX, Red Velvet, AOA and a few more! It was so amazing!
Kathy: Thank you so much! It was definitely one of the best moments of my/our lives. Something I never in a million years dreamed could happen. We got to share our passion for dance and K-pop with people from 13 other countries around the world. We learnt so much about Korean culture and of course the experience of performing in front of 25,000+ people was just so unbelievable. As we were coming off the stage after our performance, Red Velvet were waiting side stage to go on and we greeted each other as we passed!
Kelly:We are extremely grateful for the experience and there are really no words that can describe how incredible it was to be able to go to South Korea after winning in the preliminary round in Melbourne. Initially we entered the competition merely for fun and the experience and had absolutely no idea that it would turn out to be an experience of a lifetime. When we found out that we were going to Korea represent Australia in the K-pop World Festival along with 13 other countries, it felt surreal and we were so excited. We were in Korea for about a week and had activities to do each day from shopping, eating, bike riding, experiencing Korean culture and of course rehearsing for the concert on the last day. We were lucky enough to also meet the trainers and choreographers of actual K-pop groups who guided us and gave us feedback for our dance routines. We travelled for about 3-4 hours from Seoul to Changwon, where the K-pop World Festival was held and got to experience what it was like to be a K-pop idol! We had our own dressing tents, had our hair and make up done, and even got to wear the mics while performing on stage! We felt like idols and it brought happiness to P4pero. Like the girls said, we were lucky enough to have dinner with GOT7, which was crazy! And meet K-pop girl group Bestie!
It’s been recently announced that P4pero Dance is participating at KCON Australia. Congrats! How are you all feeling right now? Could share with me what fans will look forward to?
Brit: We’re so, so excited to be participating in KCON Australia! It’s going to be an amazing time and fans can look forward to panels, K-pop dance workshops, and also the concert each night of the convention!
River: Yes! We are so excited! It’s the first time KCON has ever come to Australia, and we are honored to be apart of some of the panels! You can expect to come and hang out with us and dance along to your favourite K-pop songs with us!
Kathy: I can’t believe it! We’re so excited and honored to be participating in KCON which is coming to Australia for the first time! Everyone can look forward to a dance workshop we will be teaching at 12:30pm and a panel at 2:30pm on the Friday. As well as another panel at 2:30pm on the Saturday!
Kelly: Thank you so much! We have always wanted to KCON and had dreams to even go to America for it. Now it’s a dream come true that its coming to Australia and even better that we are gong to be participating in the panels! Honestly couldn’t be happier and it comes with hard work, perseverance and passion! Fans can look forward to the convention during the day which will include everything related to Korean culture and of course the concerts at night!
What are your thoughts on K-pop in Australia? Do you think locals are noticing the music genre more?
Brit: K-pop in Australia has been steadily growing in popularity and has really blown up recently! Locals are beginning to notice it thanks to all the concerts and events that have been happening in the past year.
River:Absolutely! We recently attended a few schools to teach them about K-pop, and to our surprise, even with the younger kids, so many people knew about it! When I was their age, I had no idea! So it’s definitely spreading throughout Australia, and hopefully everyone will know what K-pop is one day!
Kelly: K-pop in Australia is definitely not as big as in Asian countries like China, Japan, Vietnam, Phillipines etc., but it’s definitely growing and becoming known. We want to help spread K-pop because it’s an awesome genre of music, they’re just singing and rapping in Korean! I think locals are giving it a chance and I’ve been able to introduce K-pop to my friends because they support what I do. Slowly but surely K-pop will be known all around the world!
“It is not about the success but more about how we have managed to engage with an audience through our love of K-pop” – Kelly
Who are your favorite K-pop groups right now? Why?
Brit: EXO and BLACKPINK are two of my favourites! They really stand out with their phenomenal music and dance performances.
River: My favourite at the moment is EXO. I’ve followed them from the start and have an emotional attachment to them. Sappy I know. But I also love UP10TION, Girls Generation, Red Velvet, BLACKPINK, BTS, NCT, Seventeen, MONSTA X. Each of them have their own individual sound, and that’s why I really like them.
Kathy: There are so many new groups that debut every year it’s so hard to pick a favourite! But my favourites at the moment are definitely EXO, BTS, GOT7, Pentagon, Monsta X, Wanna One, Seventeen and BLACKPINK. These groups either compose some of their own songs, choreograph some of their own dances and are exceptionally talented in their dance ability.
Kelly: My favourites right now would have to be MONSTA X, EXO, BTS, GOT 7 and BLACKPINK. I like everyone and am multi-fandom (which means you don’t have only one favourite). Every group has their unique genre of music which makes K-pop that much more engaging and exciting because there will always be groups coming out with new music!
You all have you been active since 2014. What have you learnt throughout the years?
Brit: We’ve learnt a lot in terms of dancing and the way we go about making our covers. We’ve definitely improved over the years, and I think that shows in the videos we produce.
River: We learnt that no matter what people say, you keep doing what you love. This is something we love, and we do it for ourselves more than anyone else!
Kathy: Keep doing what we love no matter what others say and keep working harder to always improve our dancing and videos.
Kelly:We have learned so much from dancing to group learning experiences. We have learnt to work hard in every aspect of what we do. Whether it comes to dancing, making covers, and performing. We always do our best and give 100%. Also that every member is important and a group wouldn’t be possible without putting their all into it. Since I am the leader, I organise the performances so I’ve learnt to be prompt and also to make sure everyone is happy about what direction we are going in. It is not about the success but more about how we have managed to engage with an audience through our love of K-pop.
What words of advice would you give to anyone who wants to form a K-pop dance-cover group?
Brit: Just do it! It’s that simple! Whether you’re doing it for fun or you really want to make something out of it, just gather some friends who have the same love for K-pop and dance that you do, and just go for it.
River: Just do it! You only get better as you keep doing it, and it’s so fun and fulfilling. There is no reason that you shouldn’t do it, even if you think you’re a bad dancer, there is no such thing! Everyone can dance!
Kathy: Just find a group of people who have similar interests in K-pop as you and start rehearsing! Also, don’t just get together and dance, but have fun and remember to hang out outside of rehearsals to build a strong bond with your members.
Kelly: If you are serious about it or just want to do it for fun, make sure you have a goal. Even if it is simply, making yourself happy. I believe that when you make goals, you have a purpose to pursue what you’re doing. When you create a K-pop dance group, not everyone is going to have the same opinion. My advice is to stay open-minded. Practice hard. Hang out with each other outside of practice and definitely try and go travelling together!
Is there anything you’d like to share that I haven’t asked?
River: If you love K-pop, tell the world. Don’t hide it. If it’s something that makes you happy, let everyone know! That’s what I did eventually, and I don’t regret it at all, or else I would have never met P4pero, and we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Kelly:Definitely what River said. Something that started out as an interest has now allowed us to hopefully inspire other to do the same. Share the love for K-pop!
A rally took place on Saturday, 2nd September on steps of Victorian Parliament House in response to the decision made by the Turnbull government to cut income support for over 400 Manus and Nauru refugees who are currently in Australia receiving medical treatment.
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Based on a true story, Ali is an Iraqi-Australian who is caught between going ahead with an arranged marriage or following his heart.
English title: Ali’s Wedding
Director: Jeffrey Walker
Cast: Osamah Sami, Helana Sawires, Don Hany, Robert Rabiah
Genre: Romance, comedy, biography
Release date: 31 August 2017
Running Time: 100 minutes
Did You Know…
It’s Australia’s first Muslim rom-com movie.
Ali’s Wedding is Director Jeffrey Walker’s first feature film debut.
It was filmed by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Donald McAlpine.
Based on a true story of award-winning Iraqi-Australian actor, writer and stand up comedian, Osamah Sami.
Ali’s Wedding won Best Feature Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival.
The film had its world premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival in October 2016.
… and lastly, my thoughts…
Ok, I have a confession to make. Before arriving at Victorian College of the Arts for an exclusive preview screening of Ali’s Wedding, organized by The Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, I wasn’t quite sure I would enjoy the movie. I had my doubts. The reason is I’ve watched other Australian-Arabic movies and wasn’t quite – you could say – content. Reasons of me being bilingual and of Arabic background, I felt the the roots of the characters weren’t portrayed accurately .
Ali’s Wedding not only picked up the interest of international audience but also won the Best Feature Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival.
It was inspired by the true story of Osamah Sami, who plays the main character, and is based on his award-winning memoir Good Muslim Boy.
(From left to right) Osamah Sami and Helana Sawires
Playing a somewhat fictionalised version of himself, Sami took the role of Ali, an Iraqi-Australian and son of a Muslim cleric. He is caught between going ahead with an arranged marriage or following his heart for the first time.
It’s an affectionate and light-hearted story that explores the lives of the communities in Melbourne and all the outrageous events of Ali’s life, which involves his struggling identity, lying about scoring highly on his medical degree entrance exams and falling in love with Diane, a smart Lebanese girl from his mosque and who also attends The University of Melbourne to be a doctor.
Sami doesn’t sail to show the welcoming and humorous side of his Islamic community in the multi-cultural Australia.
With Osamah Sami’s co-writing style, Jeffrey Walker’s award-winning directing skills, and Donald McAlpine’s Oscar-nominated cinematographer technique, Australia’s first Muslim Rom-Com resulted in a warm-hearted comedy that is bound to win audience’s heart.
The co-writer and star, Osamah Sami, Andrew Knight (co-writer) and Tony Ayres (executive producer) passed by for a live, insightful Q&A with the international audience after the screening, discussing the film at VCA.
The cast during Q&A at VCA UniMelb (Image taken by me)
This movie is worth watching! This is the first Australian-Arabic movie I actually enjoyed watching. Go watch it and let me know what you think in the below comments section.
Note: All above images are screenshots of the movie trailer.
Full-time postgraduates in Victoria are unable to have access to concession Myki cards and this is affecting students, especially in the light of the latest fare increases. Victoria is the only state in Australia that allows postgrad students using full-fare transport cards. Listen to my audio below for more information. #faresfairPTV