his is the third and final part of a mini-series on talented foreign dancers who have been recruited by K-pop agencies to choreograph dances for their groups. See Part 1 about Bailey Sok and Part 2 about Ronnie Chen.
Alif Aircho is a veteran Singaporean dancer whose 16-year dance career started out with the formation of a small hip-hop dance crew in Juying Secondary School.
He was one of the pioneers of this dance group, but little did he know that this avid interest in dance as a teenager would later lead to him creating his own online dance portfolio and becoming a well-established dancer in his own right, having had the chance to work with HYBE (the South Korean entertainment agency behind BTS) not just once, but several times, on choreography for their K-pop groups Tomorrow x Together and ENHYPEN.
Website URL: https://www.danzpeople.com/en/about/danz-instructors
Alif is well-known in the competitive dancing scene in Singapore, having won awards both locally and in other countries where he has traveled, both to compete and to teach. He actively supports and guides new local dancers, taking on coaching and mentoring positions in the hopes that he can help to nurture new young future leaders of the Singapore dance scene. He has also helped choreograph for other fellow Singaporean artists like rapper Yung Raja.
Alif’s chance to choreograph for a large K-pop company came in November 2018 with the planned debut of Tomorrow x Together, HYBE’s newest and highly-anticipated boy group after launching BTS back in 2013.
Like fellow Singaporean dancer Ronnie Chen, Alif also received a call from the agency out of the blue with an offer to work on a dance for one of the group’s songs off their debut album. He accepted the offer immediately and began to work on it, with the choreography set to be finalized and performed by the artists a few months later.
Competition is stiff for those who want to work with K-pop agencies
Alif honestly didn’t really know how he came to be recruited by HYBE (then known as Big Hit), but he knew that his dance portfolio on Instagram was probably the biggest deciding factor.
Not many people have opportunities to work with such large K-pop entertainment agencies, let alone be headhunted by them. Many such K-pop entertainment companies search for talent globally, but few are chosen, and of those who are chosen, many of them make it up there through personal networks and connections.
Alif was from Singapore and had no connections to the agency, the industry, or Korea, nor did he have a formal dance education from prestigious international schools. His portfolio was all he had going for him, which made this success even more hard-earned and meaningful to him.
Alif was proud that he managed to secure this opportunity through sheer talent and hard work, as the agency recruited him purely based on what they saw in his online dance portfolio with the belief that he could produce something for them.
Alif said in a 2020 interview with Vulcanpost, “I got the (Big Hit) job off the quality of my craft, not through connections. That makes me proud.”
The first collaboration in 2019: Blue Orangeade
Like Ronnie’s experience in working with HYBE, Alif also taught the dance for Blue Orangeade through a proxy, meaning that he mainly communicated with a team of dancers from HYBE, not the K-pop idols themselves.
The entire process took place online, with HYBE providing the larger framework and theme of the dance, leaving Alif to handle the details. He drafted the dance with several revisions before recording and sending a finalized video over to them.
The dance team at HYBE would learn the choreography and then teach it to the K-pop idols after making modifications.
Alif worked on the dance since November 2018 in preparation for the group’s debut in March 2019, when the finalized song and choreography would be performed live.
Singaporean fans of Tomorrow x Together were pleasantly surprised to find out that Alif had choreographed the energetic and youthful dance for Blue Orangeade, given that HYBE - one of the largest entertainment companies in Korea - had never worked with Singaporeans before until now.
What made me even proud is knowing one of the judges Alif Aircho. He is responsible over TXT Blue Orangeade choreography. Yes guys! He choreographed it! I knew about it way before they debuted. When Alif told me while we were filming I screamed my lungs out. Proud of you bro!— yoonmin_fairy (@yoonmin_fairy) March 25, 2019
Alif Aircho choreographed TXT's Blue Orangeade. Amazing achievement and another hope for Asian dancer(s) 👏👏👏👏— R (@tteokjiniee) March 5, 2019
A slew of collaborations in 2019, 2020 and 2021
Alif’s work with HYBE didn’t end with Blue Orangeade. He went on to choreograph for Tomorrow x Together’s 2019 album - The Dream Chapter: Magic - contributing to creating the dance for Angel or Devil.
In 2020, he helped choreograph for B-side We Lost The Summer from Tomorrow x Together’s mini album Blue Hour, being the second Singaporean choreographer to be involved in the album project along with Ronnie Chen, who worked on the dance for the album’s title track.
In 2021, Alif worked with Tomorrow x Together yet again, choreographing the dance for MOA Diary, a B-side of their repackage album, The Chaos Chapter: Fight or Escape.
That same year, he also got the chance to collaborate with another of HYBE’s newest groups - ENHYPEN – by working on the choreography blueprint for their B-side song Upper Side Dreamin’, off their first full-length album, Dimension: Dilemma.
Back in the 2020 interview with Vulcanpost, Alif had expressed hope that he could continue to work with HYBE on future projects together. Looking at his portfolio a few years later, one can confidently say that he has managed to achieve that goal.
Alif is currently an instructor at Danz People Studio, where he teaches hip-hop dance classes to students. Through mentoring and coaching the next generation of dancers, he hopes to impart to them that a career in the arts can be achieved with constant hard work and the right attitude.
He said in the interview, “... you’ve got to be the best as a dancer, and hold yourself to (ever-higher) standards. That means putting in the time to gain the right skills and experience … You’ll have to work very hard, but you can do it with consistency and passion.”