Jake Kodish performed as backup dancer for BTS Jung Kook’s first official solo endeavor, “Seven,” and from appearing in the Official Performance Video to TikToks with BTS’ Golden Maknae to performances on Good Morning America and BBC’s The One, Jake discusses his experience learning and executing choreography to a song that nearly broke the internet.
Congratulations on this awesome job!! How’d it come about?
I got a text from a student’s mom asking if I was interested in a job for Jung Kook for a music video in Korea to which I said, “I’m down.” So then, she sent it to a group chat, and it was just me and four other boys. Opportunity really knocks on your door when you least expect it!
Have you had any other experiences working with K-pop acts?
I’d never been to Korea, really. I’ve done a bunch of K-pop submissions with choreographers, but haven’t been exposed to much K-pop aside from that. When we got to Korea and started rehearsals, I was like, “Oh, I like this song. This is awesome.”
What was your favorite part of the choreo?
There’s a moment where it’s like a freestyle right before the last part of the choreography where it was like, boom, cat, boom, cat, boom, cat, boom, cat, and we have a freestyle moment. In that moment, Brian Puspos would throw something up, and I would hit it with a bat. It’s right before the last chorus. It happened naturally. I saw Brian lobbing something up, and then I was like, “Oh, imma hit it!” It was fun to me. I really like that moment.
What was your favorite part of the choreo?
There’s a moment where it’s like a freestyle right before the last part of the choreography where it was like, boom, cat, boom, cat, boom, cat, boom, cat, and we have a free style moment. But Brian Puspos and I – he would throw something up, and I would hit it with a bat. It’s right before the last chorus. It happened naturally. I saw Brian lobbing something up, and then I was like, “Oh, imma hit it!” It was fun to me. I really like that moment.
Was there any difference between the explicit and clean versions (besides the song itself) that maybe people aren’t catching in the choreography? Or is there a different perceived vibe?
There’s no difference in choreography. We only did the explicit version for the music video part. It was interesting because they shot a lot, and then realized they had been using the clean version, so we had to go back and do it a bunch of times. The only time we were told to tone it down was on Good Morning America. They just told us not to grab our crotches as much.
What was the performance like on Good Morning America?
It was our first time performing it live, and there was a storm coming. We were supposed to get one rehearsal, and then film it. But they were like, “Hey, just do it full out, just in case, because it might storm, and it might get rained out.” So we just went into it cold as full out as possible and did it.
I do remember hearing about fan’s’ stories of the storm, actually! And then people realized it was happening when they started hearing music. It’s interesting to hear that it was just a single take!
Yeah, they were like, “You can mark it,” and they were like “Actually, no. Do it like it’s the real deal.” We didn’t get to *really* go for it. So that’s why when we did the London show, we felt way better.
Was it because in London you had more time to warm up?
By that point we had done it so many more times. It was just like, “Okay, now we can have fun.” That first one in New York was stressful. I had little parts that I would mess up – I did it, and I didn’t mess up at all in New York. I for sure didn’t mess up in London, so it was good.
What was the most difficult part of the choreography that you maybe struggled with?
Nothing was hard about the choreography itself. I was more stressed about the formation changes and being in the straight lines. And then also doing the same choreography but facing a different way. And then doing the same choreography, but now there’s a moment that’s a little different. That’s what was harder. It wasn’t hard choreography; it was doing the choreography four times with variations.
What have you learned from this experience?
I learned a lot of Korean words – just easy things like 감사합니다 (thank you) and 안녕하세요 (hello) and how to drink a lot of soju. Also how to do K-pop style choreography. It was just fun. It wasn’t like any other major artists that I worked with. Jung Kook was really cool. It was really fun. All the boys vibed – all the dancers. In rehearsals, we were goofing around and having a good time. We would do it a couple times and get out of rehearsal early. It was super chill and a lot of fun. I had a great time.
It’s interesting, because a lot of people believe the vibe, or the perceived experience, is usually flipped or what you would think is flipped. They think the K-pop experience is probably so strenuous and so not chill whereas the Western artists are a little more relaxed. So it’s interesting to hear that it was a little more comfortable.
I messed up one time. And they were like, “Hey, don’t mess up again.” However, it wasn’t the hardest dance in the world. When we did it on set, we think we did it maybe 40 times in a row. Like, we did it at least 40 to 50 times that day. That was pretty hard. By the time we did that, it was so engraved in my brain. It was just stamina – it wasn’t stressful.
What about the choreography was more K-pop than not?
I wouldn’t say it was easier. Sometimes, I’m doing a full out, hard choreography whereas like a normal person would never really do that ever as compared to this [shows “Seven” chorus hand motions]. Like there are lots of people who can do it. It’s not easy choreography, but also, I’m not dying. I’m not stressed out about it. It’s very visual, and it’s very consumable.
If you had to put it at a level, like TMILLY TV level, what would you say? Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced?It’s an intermediate choreography, but you can make it advanced depending on how you execute it. There are moments where it is harder than others. But yeah, I’d say it’s really intermediate.
Do you have any advice for dancers looking to become professional and really work within this K-pop realm?
I have no idea how I ended up here either, but if I had to give advice, it’d be to keep working on your online presence, your style, your own craft, be in the industry, and make a name for yourself by just being yourself. That’s the best advice I could give. Just be yourself, and that’s what I feel like they want. If they want a dancer, they hit them up because they want their style and their vibe.
You get called because of your style and vibe first, but what should you do in order to stay within this realm and get called back again for other gigs?
Be on time. Work as hard as you can when you’re in the moment. Get along with everyone. Don’t make it about yourself. Do your best, and hang out with everyone. You got to make everyone be like, “Yeah, he’s cool. I can hang around him.” It’s not just about the steps because anyone can hit the steps. You know? Like anyone can come up here and do that choreography, but it’s how you execute the choreography and if you vibe with everyone. If you’re an a-hole, nobody wants you to be there. So be the best version of yourself you can be!