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[INTERVIEW] 'We want to help Korean dancers build global fandoms'

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From left are producers Kwon Young-chan, Choi Jung-nam, Hwang Sung-ho and Kim Na-yeon during a media interview at a restaurant in central Seoul, Tuesday. Courtesy of Mnet
From left are producers Kwon Young-chan, Choi Jung-nam, Hwang Sung-ho and Kim Na-yeon during a media interview at a restaurant in central Seoul, Tuesday. Courtesy of Mnet

By Dong Sun-hwa

"Be Mbitious" is cable channel Mnet's latest dance competition show for male dancers who do not belong to a crew. Premiered on Tuesday, the program has been garnering positive reviews from many young viewers, who used to be big fans of Mnet's previous survival dance programs such as "Street Woman Fighter" (2021).

In fact, "Be Mbitious" ties in with "Street Man Fighter," the men's version of "Street Woman Fighter" which will hit the air in August. The winners of the program will form a new crew named "Mbitious" and join "Street Man Fighter," going head-to-head with other dance teams. According to Mnet, a lot of dancers specializing in different genres applied for the show, and among them were veteran dancers with nearly two decades of experience, as well as K-pop stars like the former INFINITE member Hoya.

A poster for
A poster for "Be Mbitious" / Courtesy of Mnet
One big factor behind the birth of "Be Mbitious" is the stellar success of "Street Woman Fighter," which propelled numerous female dancers to meteoric stardom. It was also named the Best Variety Show at the prestigious Baeksang Arts Awards in May.

This time, however, Mnet has bigger ambitions. Four producers at Mnet ― Kwon Young Chan, Choi Jung-nam, Hwang Sung-ho and Kim Na-yeon ― told reporters, Tuesday, that they would strive to establish global fandoms for Korean dancers and promote "K-dance" worldwide. According to them, "K-dance" refers to a fascinating set of synchronized dance moves that aptly visualize the lyrics of a song.

"We are planning to air 'Street Man Fighter' in the U.S. and Southeast Asian countries, and have our dancers perform a series of concerts in Korea and beyond once the shows wrap up," Kwon said during an interview at a restaurant in central Seoul. "A prominent choreographer, who previously worked with K-pop megastars like BLACKPINK, TWICE and ITZY, will also appear on our programs. Given that Mnet has played a role in promoting K-pop worldwide through its content, I believe we can do similar things for K-dance, too."

Producer Kim, who runs Mnet's newly launched dance channel "The CHOOM" on YouTube, elaborated that Mnet is set to showcase more diverse content for dancers so that they can closely interact with their followers around the world.

"We are going to share videos featuring the behind-the-scenes stories of dancers and produce some live-streamed content, helping our dancers stay connected to their fans all year round," she explained. "We will also release some songs for dancers that can be used for their performances. In fact, rapper Changmo already lent his voice to a new track titled, 'SMF.'"

Choi added, "'Street Woman Fighter' thrust the leaders of eight dance crews ― PROWDMON, Coca N Butter, HOOK, LACHICA, HOLYBANG, WANT, WAYB and YGX ― into the spotlight. But for 'Street Man Fighter,' I will try to unfold the stories of all contenders so that not only the leaders but also the other crew members can win people's hearts."

Another program in Mnet's pipeline is "Anybody Can Dance," a show featuring people who do not excel in dancing despite their passion. To help them improve, the eight leaders from "Street Woman Fighter" will train them. The first audition for the program, which will premiere in June, took place in Hongdae and Gangnam in Seoul last month.

A poster for
A poster for "Anybody Can Dance" / Courtesy of Mnet

"The focus of 'Anybody Can Dance' is to show how non-professional dancers gradually improve and form different teams to perform together," Hwang said. "I hope it can make dancing more approachable to the wider public so that more people can enjoy dancing."

Kwon added, "Unlike our other shows, 'Anybody Can Dance' is not about competition. It is a program where people can realize their dreams of becoming skillful dancers and performing on the big stage."

Choi said that Mnet will continue to roll out different shows dedicated to dancers.

"I think Mnet could launch a series of successful programs thanks to the dancers," she said. "So we will continue to bring life to the shows that can help them interact with the public."

Dong Sun-hwa

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