Article. Lee Jiyeon
Photo Credit. Mnet Digital Studio, M2
The muscles KAZUHA developed through years of ballet and continuous exercise are still with her. That includes her mind, another muscle she developed in tandem with the others. Ballet, working out and K-pop are what made KAZUHA who she was and continue to define who she is today.

KAZUHA is “MUSCERAFIM’s” dedicated trainer
KAZUHA: All the members of LE SSERAFIM are dedicated to working out, and I’m thankful that people really appreciate that. (laughs) A lot of people these days find value in working out and going to the gym and I think they’re looking to us for that, too. I like that we can motivate a lot of people not only through our music and performances but through exercise as well. Lots of people take an interest in our muscles (laughs) so I feel a sense of responsibility and think about how I need to keep working out as best I can. The other members all work hard on their own individual exercises and they’re especially focused on upper-body exercises since that’s what they tend to show off when they’re wearing the outfits we perform in. Sometimes I take the exercise routine videos I watch and share them in our group chat, too.

KAZUHA’s workout routine
KAZUHA: I work out by looking up different videos on YouTube depending on my focus or the type of exercise I want to do at any given time. I even made something like a music playlist but for working out—a workout list. (laughs) I put together different exercise videos for each kind of exercise and keep adding to the playlist whenever I find decent new videos. We shot the “ANTIFRAGILE” challenge a few months ago and I’m the kind of person who follows along to workout videos on YouTube myself, so I loved being able to make some of that kind of content myself! The video’s pretty short, actually, so the challenge might not be that effective as far as working out goes (laughs) but the fact that it got so many people interested in working out made it even better.

Physical and mental health

KAZUHA: It’s hard for people to get to the gym every single day now, so they shouldn’t feel pressured about having to go there. They can always get enough exercise in at home. What’s important is that you get a certain amount of exercise every day. I’ve got a yoga mat in my room and the stretching equipment I showed off on FIM-LOG. Another good way is to create a space in your home where you can quickly and easily get five minutes of exercise in whenever you get the chance. Working out makes you physically stronger, of course, but I think it also keeps you mentally healthy, too. I really want to recommend that people work out because it not only helps you train and improve your physical health, but your mental health, too!

Why working out right before performing is important too

KAZUHA: It’s been a habit of mine ever since ballet to warm up my muscles before getting on stage. I’ll get hurt if I start moving around suddenly, so I’ll do a light warm-up of squats and planks before going out. And with how cold it’s been lately, doing this kind of light workout before going on stage is really helpful. Doing squats really warms you up. (laughs) It was really cold out when we shot our comeback show, and doing squats instantly warmed me up. I think consistently exercising this way has made sure I won’t lose stamina when I’m dancing and has a lot of other good benefits, too.

Exercise and ballet lead to a solid core

KAZUHA: I saw a YouTube video where we performed “ANTIFRAFILE” for a university festival and I didn’t have to hold my legs with my hands for the, “Don’t forget my pointe shoes I left behind, what more must be said,” part. I had the microphone in my hand, so I wouldn’t have been able to use my hands for that part anyway. I realized I had no choice but to do it without using my hands but it actually turned out better than I expected. I realized I could do it if I just tried hard. (laughs) I think I was already used to it because I did that kind of move a lot when I was doing ballet.

Elements of ballet in “ANTIFRAGILE” and “Blue Flame”

KAZUHA: It’s such an honor to be able to show off what I’m capable of. I talk a lot with the performance director to try and figure out which moves would be best and I’m working hard to try a lot of different approaches so I can do those moves in my own way. I think now’s the time I can show off choreography that incorporates ballet, and even the performance director said, “Let’s show them all your moves whenever you’re able to.” At first we were including ballet moves just to show that I had done ballet before, but I can’t keep doing ballet moves exclusively since I actually stopped doing ballet. (laughs) So I think it’s what’s to come that’s important. I want to keep improving myself so that I can feel confident when I dance, even without ballet, and put on more variety-filled performances moving forward.

Shoutout to a ballerina

KAZUHA: There’s a really famous ballerina named Maria Khoreva who’s also really into K-pop. She once posted a video on her Instagram where she did a ballet cover of a BTS song and I’ve seen it so many times ever since I was studying abroad. So when I decided to take the K-pop path, I realized she might see me one day. (laughs) I was completely floored and so honored when she recently posted a ballet cover of “ANTIFRAGILE.” She’s a fantastic ballerina and it made me proud and feel motivated that she chose to highlight me after I chose a new path beyond ballet.

Ballet and hip hop

KAZUHA: I haven’t done a lot of K-pop choreography yet so it takes me a little while to learn and really master the moves, but it’s not like I don’t have any experience whatsoever. I think all the experience I got with using my body through ballet has been somewhat helpful. It’s possible to guess somewhat about how I should move or pose to look good. But there’s a difference between what makes a move beautiful depending on whether you’re doing a hip hop performance or ballet, so I’m still working on that. For example, hip hop uses short, intense movements, whereas ballet is much softer and you use your weight as little as possible. It’s hard since it’s the complete opposite, but I’m paying close attention and always working hard so I can express myself through the choreography. A lot of the moves we try as a group are a first for me, so I watch videos of our group dances and try to identify where I’m different and then practice to make myself as similar as possible.

Performing alone and as a member of LE SSERAFIM

KAZUHA: When we perform as a group, we all have to be doing the exact same thing. Since we’re doing it together, if even just one person does it different, the energy doesn’t come across as well, so it’s important to stick to the details we worked on while practicing. And there’s so many little details for “ANTIFRAGILE.” (laughs) That includes the angle of our arms and the way the moves feel. I keep all of that in mind the whole time we’re on stage. And being on stage with all five of us helps me feel reassured and never feel alone. I feel like I can put on a good performance whenever I can feel their energy beside me. We’re putting a lot of energy into the dance break for our performance at the year-end awards ceremonies, too. [Note: This interview took place before the ceremonies were held.] It isn’t easy, but we’re practicing really hard to put on an amazing performance for everyone, so I hope they’re looking forward to it. I want to put on a good show! (laughs)

The appeal of ballet and K-pop performances

KAZUHA: I think they both have their own unique selling points. First of all, I feel totally at ease when I watch a ballet performance, and it feels like I’m in a dream. There’s lots of different kinds of ballet, but one of them is classical ballet, which are usually old fantasy stories about princesses or fairy tales, and it’s fun to use your imagination while watching those fantasies play out. These days there’s also neoclassical ballet and slightly more contemporary ballet, plus cool performances that are kind of like K-pop. Ballet has an extremely long history and that’s why there’s so many different kinds, and the more you know the more engaging it becomes.  And I think it’s absolutely amazing the way these ballerinas are such professionals at their job that they practice the same thing over and over every day from the time they’re young to put on their performances. I think the best part about K-pop is that each group puts on different kinds of performances because all the songs are all different and every group has its own unique songs, and nothing’s set in stone. Most important of all, every group has its own fans. As a performer, I get energy from the fans at every concert, and it’s fun because it makes every single one feel different. I want to put on a new kind of K-pop performance that uses the things I learned and felt while doing ballet.