Article. Song Hooryeong
Research. Song Hooryeong, Kim Rieun

On October 27, LE SSERAFIM kicked off their show at the Dankook University festival with a performance of their debut song, “FEARLESS.” Unlike when they do it for TV, the audience could see them lying down in preparation for the opening of the song. The atmosphere grew increasingly exhilarating as people took out their phones to take videos and talked to each other in excitement. But as soon as they heard the opening notes of “FEARLESS” and the members of LE SSERAFIM began their performance, the audience started to cheer. Raising their legs and bringing their feet back down to the stage with one simultaneous thud, viewers were charmed by how tightly in sync they were dancing. And their live vocals easily overpowered their backing track. If you watch a video on the group’s YouTube channel titled “LE SSERAFIM Stage Cam @ 2022 YONSEI AKARAKA,” their lively voices ring out through the venue there as well. Their live performances are precise and explosive, with high-energy movement all throughout. The reception toward their new album and the performance video for their titular track, “ANTIFRAGILE,” released together on October 17, shows just how enraptured people are with the group: “ONE SSERAFIM”; “I’ve never seen a performance with such intense precision”; “Electrifyingly precise dancing”; “Their passion comes across through the screen”; “These girls are determined to be masters of the stage.”

On the day of their comeback, the group put on their first live performance of “ANTIFRAGILE” in a video titled “LE SSERAFIM Comeback Show: ANTIFRAGILE” on Mnet. The video was published on the network’s M2 YouTube channel, and has over 12.27 million views as of November 25. Another video, “LE SSERAFIM – ‘ANTIFRAFILE’ @ Inkigayo 20221023,” was uploaded to the channel SBS KPOP X INKIGAYO on October 23, two weeks after their comeback, and now has 1.71 million views. Again, that’s over a million views for one video and 12 million for another, all in a short period. A separate “LE SSERAFIM ONE TAKE STAGE @SBS Inkigayo 221023” video shot alongside the other Inkigayo video has more than twice as many views as the first (4.28 million). Not only do audiences cheer loudly for LE SSERAFIM at university festivals—they also show their dedication just as loudly through all the times they view the videos online. The performance video uploaded by Studio CHOOM on their YouTube channel on October 19 has over 10 million views, while another performance of “ANTIFRAFILE” in a video titled “LE SSERAFIM never breaks, only my heart breaks 💘” on channel MUPLY has over 3.15 million views. Wherever LE SSERAFIM performs, people will be there.


“There’s no special know-how—it all comes down to how perfect you want it to be,” Park So Yeon, head of the SOURCE MUSIC Performance Directing Team in charge of LE SSERAFIM’s performances, said. “I can say with confidence that the members of LE SSERAFIM always try to push it as close to 100 as possible. People have to push past their limits in order to improve, and LE SSERAFIM always tries to push past.” In other words, the foundation of LE SSERAFIM’s performances is their constant push for perfection. HUH YUNJIN and SAKURA said on Weverse Live that they built up their stamina for performing by doing repetitions of “100 jumping jacks, four sets of 25 burpee tests, three sets of core exercises and twist planks, and repeating the routine again during evening dance practice.” Park explained to the group members that, “in order to put on a performance where the audience can feel the group’s energy in full, you have to be healthy and build up your physical strength.” It’s for this reason that Park feels “the choreography was more important than anything else for being seen as a team when they debuted.” And, as their documentary LE SSERAFIM: The World Is My Oyster shows, they didn’t have much time to prepare for their debut. There were SAKURA and KIM CHAEWON, who already had experience in the idol world; HUH YUNJIN, who had stopped training and returned to the United States; KAZUHA, who was about to make her debut as a professional ballerina; and HONG EUNCHAE, the last to join the group. All five girls came together to form the group just months before their debut. Considering all this, the precision of their dance moves in the opening to “FEARLESS” really shows the amount of practice, skill and teamwork that go into the group’s performances. “I’m quite sure they can do it with their eyes closed now,” Park said, confident from the sheer amount of time LE SSERAFIM put into practicing “FEARLESS.” Now the group can perform the opening moves to the song anywhere and without warning as soon as they hear that music cue.

“We don’t have time to look backwards,” Park kept telling the girls. “From now on, we keep pushing forward.” Park also explained, “I see a singer as someone who conveys their messages and stories to the public through their music and performances, so I tell them it’s really cool when they use 100% of their energy and convey that to their audience. If they don’t give it 100%, the audience can feel that.” Park said that most artists put in a similar amount of effort when they practice. “They practice together continuously, check for parts that don’t sync up, figure out why it isn’t working and find a way to get themselves back in sync. There’s no special know-how.” What makes LE SSERAFIM different despite their similar approach lies in “how perfect they’re willing to make it.” She told the group members, “When you’re taking lessons, it’s okay if you can’t do it yet. It’ll still work out if we start now, but we have to keep in mind that, if we don’t put the effort in, we won’t get the results” they’re looking for. “Performance is very important to our group,” KIM CHAEWON said in a special SONGS+PLUS documentary produced by NHK. She explained how the members “are all ambitious, so we practice a lot, and even once we’re perfect—when we’re 150% ready—that means our performance might end up being at 100%. I think that’s why we work really hard to make our performances as perfect as possible before taking them to the stage.” Practicing to 150% to make the performance 100% or as close as possible to it—that’s the core ideology of LE SSERAFIM. Park described the members of the group as “highly driven,” noting that they “often say they want to be the kind of artist who is great at performing on stage. Since all five of them feel that way, they put all their energy into making their performances stand out and they make an effort to work together a lot.” She emphasizes that the members put a lot of effort into really looking like “one team”: “Each of them has their own unique vibe, background, dance style and things they’ve learned, but all five of them share the same thought: ‘I really want to do well on stage and keep improving.’”


The energetic atmosphere of LE SSERAFIM’s performances grew out of the connection they formed even before they debuted. “The members say they’re going to keep moving forward and have more to show in the future, and I thought of moves that would fit with that mindset,” Park said, referring to “FEARLESS.” “So I thought it was good to reflect their strong aspirations through energetic movements like walking and kicking together.” To express “a bold woman showing she’s moving on and not dwelling on the past in the most comfortable and gentle way possible,” they start the performance lying down. For the part where HUH YUNJIN sings, “Don’t care about those past troubles you all know,” they “thought about the sort of image a cool woman who doesn’t care about anything would have” and had them do a chic walk complete with hair shake. KIM CHAEWON, who had cut her hair short and changed her whole image prior to the debut, sings, “You should get away,” and looks back with a hint of pride. By contrast, HONG EUNCHAE, the youngest members, smiles brightly, emphasizing “the pure ‘FEARLESS’-ness EUNCHAE possesses: playful, and true to herself.” Each of them expresses fearlessness in their own way, but then, for the line, “Climbing up, next one,” they “thought about what things would look like once they reach the top” and had “the members all hold hands in a hurrah to represent their victory.” In a sense, this predicted the kind of “amazing ending” LE SSERAFIM would reach with the song.


According to Park, “LE SSERAFIM is ‘FEARLESS’ and ‘FEARLESS’ is LE SSERAFIM,” and the choreography conveys the song’s lyrics, which are in turn about LE SSERAFIM. She feels their choreography was a tool to “tell LE SSERAFIM’s story.” The group’s performance of “FEARLESS” at THE FACT MUSIC AWARDS 2022 on October 8 once again showed how they tell a story through dance. They emulated the choreography from the two trailers for the album and the dance break was similarly inspired by catwalks and voguing. Like the way “fashion continues to develop and change over a long time,” the unique and energetic performance is a mix of dance and fashion show, expressing the group’s drive to continuously grow and keep trying new things.

LE SSERAFIM’s performances aren’t limited to any one genre or idea like the concept of the powerful woman. For Park, LE SSERAFIM’s performances are “a process of discovering dance moves through the members’ own stories unbound from any genre or concept” so that “the concept behind the group becomes the story of five people.” “ANTIFRAGILE” plays on this idea more directly than “FEARLESS,” as when KAZUHA sings of her experiences in ballet (“Don’t forget my pointe shoes I left behind”) or when SAKURA and KIM CHAEWON instruct the listener, “Don’t underestimate the path I’ve walked.” The choreography, too, reflects these personal lyrics: KAZUHA performs ballet movements, while KIM CHAEWON and SAKURA shake their hands as if to shoo away the haters. The lyrics and their choreography are imbued with their life stories and the performances bring the message full circle. “KAZUHA had a relatively short trainee period and her debut with LE SSERAFIM was her first time trying K-pop choreography,” Park explained. “The straight lines of ballet movements are built into her after 15 years of doing them, and it must’ve been really hard for her to break out of all of them at once.” In the final chorus of “ANTIFRAFILE,” she leads the other members out to the front of the stage in a move that was intended to let “KAZUHA, with her beautiful and elegant ballet image, shout, ‘I’ll climb higher,’ as she moves forward to excite the audience.” Park recommended KAZUHA dance the part despite the difficulty she might have faced due to her lack of experience in the genre. And, as expected, she practiced tirelessly and pulled it off flawlessly.


“ANTIFRAGILE” is also faster and higher energy than “FEARLESS.” In order to capitalize on this, “so-called ‘tight’ choreography” was required, Park explained. The members of the group wear bright facial expressions and throw the occasional cute hand gesture, but all the while they’re moving around in different formations, dancing nonstop to paint a complete picture. They also use their hips at all times per the conventions of Latin rhythm. “At first I was worried because we didn’t have much time to get everything for the second album together,” Park said, “but they didn’t have any difficulty pulling it off because their dance ability and sense of understanding improved thanks to last time they trained.” “Impurities” is another track that, like “ANTIFRAGILE,” maintains its R&B flow from start to finish, but this track, according to Park, has “a choreography that requires all the strength of doing core exercises, so in some ways it’s more difficult that ‘ANTIFRAGILE,’ which releases its energy out into the open.” Five months after their debut, LE SSERAFIM was back with a comeback show for their second album, performing all different genres and intense dances for tracks like “ANTIFRAGILE,” “Impurities” and the rocker “No Celestial.” Park compared the group’s growth process of becoming enlightened in the ways of self-expression to “drawing on a blank piece of paper and at last the LE SSERAFIM feel” comes forth. The members were trained to express themselves through dance, “explained what they’re expressing and how to do so, and, when it comes to difficult emotions,” trained to “draw on their own personal experiences and reflect those one-of-a-kind situations.” You can tell how LE SSERAFIM is able to perform at the level they do by taking a look at SAKURA. “SAKURA put in a ton of effort so that she could sing and dance the way she does today. I was particularly surprised by how she showed us way more than expected for ‘ANTIFRAGILE’—so much so that now I wonder just how far she’ll be able to go. So much so that I clapped while watching her in the practice studio.”

When practicing for “FEARLESS,” Park said, it was “their desire, drive and passion for what they want to do” despite “not knowing what the future holds” that led to such a high-quality performance. “Each of them has their own unique vibe, background, dance style and things they’ve learned, but they share the same thought: ‘I really want to do well on stage, keep improving and push boundaries.’” Each of the girls had their own reasons for joining LE SSERAFIM, but their shared desire to push boundaries and not only do well but keep improving brought them together and made them into the high-energy performers they have been from the moment they debuted. In “No Celestial,” the group jumps around to the rock music, shouting, “Just wanna live a real life,” and sings, “I’m no f***in’ angel / I’m no f***in’ goddess.” “I tried to capture the joy each member has in their hearts, from the youthfulness of 17-year-old EUNCHAE to the hot-girl vibe YUNJIN has,” Park said. “You know how when you’re with good friends and you’re laughing your head off? I said they should just have fun on stage for this one, and they really do go out there and enjoy the legit vibe,” adding that “their facial expressions and gestures weren’t forced—just an extension of their real selves.” Thanks to the members simply having fun on stage, the performance is full of heartwarming, energetic, cool, cheerful women. The performance is a natural exhibition of their growth and the relationship they’ve already shown themselves to have fostered together. The five girls’ lives are shown on stage, and the performance is made all the better for it. “Even as an expert, I can’t say just how far they’ll go,” Park said, and said she has hope for their future. “I hope they go beyond the limits of their image as idols and a girl group and become the kind of people who simply have a really cool presence on stage”—living their lives while forever pushing the limits of the stage.