Filipino K-pop world champion Sodem Solana kicked off “Dublin Lunar New Year” with a masterclass during popular morning TV show “Ireland AM.”
As COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Ireland, the Ilocos Norte-born Filipino will resume dance lessons in March in the Irish capital.
“During the pandemic, people loved the K-pop challenges posted by K-pop Idols on TikTok. It has become so popular because of the choreography which is attached to the songs, the fashion and the beautiful Korean language,” Solana said.
Solana won the grand prize of €8,000 against 6,400 attendees at the 2019 World K-pop Festival in Changwon, South Korea.
His “Savage Family Dance Crew” was the champion of the 2021 World K-pop Festival in Ireland. They promote K-pop in the country by making eye-catching YouTube videos filmed on the streets of Dublin.
“Our winning streak at the World K-pop Festival has inspired me to continue promoting K-pop through our YouTube channel ‘S Nation Official’ and other social media platforms,” said the two-time winner.
In 2005, when Solana was 8, he and his two older siblings moved to Dublin to join his mother who is a nurse at St. James’s Hospital and his father who works at Luas.
He started dancing with a Filipino dance group, “Sining at Galaw”, which promoted Filipino folk dance and other genres and performed at barrio parties.
“I entered the 2014 contest but didn’t win. I kept training and researching then after five years I decided to do a cover of the K-idol pop Jennie Solo at 2019 which I was very grateful to win the grand prize for as I was able to show the world that it was okay for a man to perform a female song. I’m glad they loved it because it was something new and different,” he joked.
Solana completed an acting and musical theater qualification at Liberties College Dublin. He was invited by the K-pop Society of Trinity College to give weekly K-pop lessons to students of different nationalities.
While waiting for his big break from acting, he is focusing on mentoring his 15-member Savage Family Dance Crew and other crews by doing weekly dance rehearsals.
Besides dance classes, he plans to hold events that will help promote K-pop and the Philippines.
“I love fashionable and attractive K-Pop artists. They inspire people to be like them – so cool and beautiful. New famous Pinoy-pop idols like SB19 are always highly trained by Korean professionals, but this time using Taglish songs,” he continued.
For his victory in 2019, Solana was sent to South Korea for two weeks, with all expenses paid by KBS – a Korean television station which hosted the competition.
“I feel indebted to K-pop culture because it was a life-changing experience. It was my destiny to earn it and it told me to do something for K-pop, to return my gratitude” , Solana said.
“That’s why I encourage others to appreciate K-Pop, and at the same time, I want to add my own Filipino touch to the routines I teach, making them more Pinoy-Pop.”
Solana’s goal is to raise awareness of K-pop in the Irish media: “K-Pop is still new in Ireland. I plan to have more K-Pop events in the future in hopes of paving the way for Irish K-Pop fans and hopefully having a normalized K-Pop scene here in Ireland .
Still a Filipino at heart, Solana also has some inspiring words for her compatriots: “To my fellow Kababayans, keep being a true Filipino. We succeed because we respect others. Always stay positive and resilient, especially in the arts industry, where competition can be fierce.