Saturday, December 9, 2023

‘Surreal’: Odisha teen step away from K-pop dream

Shreya Lenka

Just like millions of people across the world, Shreya Lenka was swept by the Korean wave. She dreamt of performing live in a stadium filled with K-pop lovers.
Little did Lenka realise she will also create ripples at being on the cusp of becoming a part of the phenomenon.
The 18-year-old from Rourkela, the steel city of Odisha, can put the state on the Korean popular music or K-pop map if she is chosen from among the two finalists of a worldwide audition to select the fifth member of the ‘Blackswan’ musical group.
“It feels surreal,” she told PTI from South Korea in an email conversation.
“This is like taking a step towards achieving my dream. Though, I still have a long way to go,” she said.
Lenka, who has been a trained dancer since she was 12, was introduced to K-pop by a friend a few years ago. She found the choreography in the music videos very attractive and got hooked onto its “unique style” of singing and dancing.
The teenager got into K-pop because of ‘Exo’ and subsequently fell in love with songs by the ‘BTS’, ‘Stray Kids’ and ‘The Boyz’.
“The list keeps on growing every day as I’m learning something new about K-pop and exploring new songs,” she said.
In 2020, she saw K-pop record labels open online auditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and decided to give it a shot.
“When I seriously started to audition, I found it was necessary to learn Korean. So, I downloaded online applications and started practising,” the class 11 student said.
She also started watching a lot of Korean dramas and began to pick up words from there.
The family members have been her pillar of support. When they learnt that she was applying for K-pop auditions, her grandmother introduced her to a classical music teacher. She referred to available online videos or western music.
Last year, record label D R Music announced the competition with categories of vocal, rap and dance after Hyeme left the K-pop girl group.
In the final round, D R Music has devised a six-month-long basic training programme to evaluate the skills and personality as part of the development in becoming a K-pop artiste.
Korean language education, dance and vocal training are part of the training, which started in December. The firm is expected to announce by May who will become the fifth member of ‘Blackswan’. (PTI)