지난달 열린 미국 국가대표 선발전 수영 여자 자유형 1500m 예선 경기 전 웜업 시간에 헤드폰을 끼고 노래를 부르며 춤을 추는 슈미트의 모습이 TV화면에 잡혔다. 누리꾼들은 단박에 헤드폰 속 노래가 케이팝 아이돌 트와이스의 ‘치어업(Cheer Up)’임을 알아차렸다. 영상 속 슈미트는 가사를 완벽하게 따라부르는 입모양과 트와이스의 안무도 그대로 췄다.
이 영상이 화제가 되자 슈미트가 이전 다른 경기를 앞두고 트와이스의 ‘라이키(Likey)’ 춤을 추는 영상도 덩달아 주목받았다. 슈미트의 경기 전 댄스 영상은 스티븐 콜베어가 진행하는 유명 토크쇼 ‘레이트 쇼’까지 진출했다.
슈미트는 아쉽게 도쿄행 비행기에 오르진 못했다. 만약 도쿄 올림픽 무대에 설 수 있었다면 어떤 춤을 출 생각이었느냐는 질문에 그는 “종목마다 다르다. 400m처럼 비교적 짧은 거리 때는 트와이스의 ‘예스 오어 예스(Yes or Yes)’를, 800m였다면 레드벨벳의 ‘빨간맛(Red Flavor)’, 1500m였다면 블랙핑크의 ‘프리티 새비지(Pretty Savage)’를 췄을 것 같다. 요즘 꽂혀있는 노래들”이라고 밝혔다. 걸그룹 춤만 추는 이유로는 “남자 그룹 춤은 미끄러운 수영장에서 추기엔 너무 위험해서 주로 보는 것으로 만족한다”고 설명했다. 이어 “최근에는 갓세븐의 ‘딱좋아(Just Right)’ 춤을 연습하긴 했는데 주로 수영장 들어가기 전에만 춘다”고 덧붙였다.
케이팝 팬이었던 친구가 트와이스의 ‘치어 업’을 추천해 그때부터 케이팝에 빠졌다는 슈미트는 “멤버들이 완벽하게 동선을 바꿔가며 춤을 추는 게 너무 멋져보였다. 따라 추지 않을 수가 없었다. 일단 시작하고 나니 멈출 수 없어서 몇 년째 케이팝 춤을 추고 있다”고 말했다.
케이팝 팬으로 화제가 된 것에 대해 그는 “보내주는 모든 응원에 너무 감사하고 행복하다. 특히 내가 응원하던 케이팝 커뮤니티에서 이번엔 반대로 나에게 응원을 보내주는 게 큰 동기부여가 된다”고 밝혔다. 케이팝에 관심이 많은 그는 최근 동아일보 히어로콘텐츠 전용 페이지 ‘디오리지널’을 통해 영문으로 소개된 ‘케이팝 시리즈’도 챙겨봤다. 그는 “케이팝 스타로 빛날 기회를 잡기 위해 노력하는 아이돌 이야기가 인상적이었다. 꿈을 쫓아 스스로를 한계로 밀어 붙이며 올림피언이 되려는 내 꿈과도 많이 닮은 것 같다”고 말했다.
U.S. Freestyle swimmer Sierra Schmidt‘s K-pop dance clip from the women’s 1,500-meter race at the U.S. Olympic swim trials has wowed K-pop fans with its joyful energy. Although we can not see her dancing on a pool deck in this Olympics, she still dreams of making the Olympics with her huge motivation booster: K-pop.
―As a big fan of K-pop, can I ask you to share your reaction about our recent news stories?
It has honestly been such an amazing experience! I have been so honored and happy about all the support that has been sent my way. The k-pop community has always been so awesome to be a part of, but having the community turn and support me has been a huge motivation booster. Reading Dong-A‘s articles about the young people dreaming about becoming K-pop stars is so inspiring, as they all try so hard for the opportunity to shine. It is much like my dream of making the Olympics, both of us are pushing ourselves to the limit to chase our dreams, and it is so awesome to connect with.
―How do you practice all the choreographies of K-pop?
For me personally, it takes me about 2 weeks to fully learn a K-pop song. Some of this is research into the song, and the message that the group is trying to portray. Once I have this, I can really understand all of the moves, as well as connect with the song itself. I really love songs that are about inspiring yourself and others, as well as positive songs. It is these feelings that make me excited before my races, so I am motivated to give my all. I am so amazed by the amount of work that all K-pop stars give, and I feel like I have to carry on their inspiration when I dance as well!
―Then you mean you actually study all the meaning of the lyrics first and start practice dancing? Wonder whether you can understand some koreans after all that researches so far.
I’m not a Korean speaker, but I like to go and read what the lyrics are online. I think it‘s important to understand what the song is telling the audience, so that I can connect with it, as well as portray the same message when I dance! Through repetition, however, I do learn some of the Korean lyrics, and hope to learn Korean more fully in the future!
―If you had been able to participate in this Olympics, what song was in your mind?
I have different dances for different races, so I think it would have to depend on what events I would make it in! If I had made a shorter race, like the 400 meter Freestyle, I probably would have done a faster song like “Yes or Yes” by Twice. If I had made the 800 meter freestyle, I might have done “Red Flavor’‘ by Red Velvet, and if I had made the 1500 meter freestyle, I would have done ”Pretty Savage“ by Black Pink. I also have other songs that would have been considered, but these are ones I’m into right now.
―How did you get interested in K-pop?
I used to dance to a lot of Japanese Idol music when I was younger, but it started to be a little too much for me as I got older. A good friend of mine, who was a K-pop fan, suggested I check out some of the groups. I remember she sent me ”Cheer Up“ by Twice as one of her suggestions, and I just fell in love with the music. The way that the members could move so seamlessly from formation to formation was so cool to me, and I couldn‘t resist! Once I started, I really couldn’t stop, and so I‘ve been dancing to mainly K-pop for the past few years now. Though I am not able to perfectly replicate their dances, I try to get as close as possible to honor the amazing work that these stars do!
―If you pick one of your favorite K-pop stars, who would be?
Oh my goodness that’s a hard one! I really don‘t have a favorite because I love them all- I’m a huge fan of Twice and Black Pink, so any of the members from those groups are my favorite!
―You‘ve been seen dancing only girl group’s dances. Is there any plan to try some boy band‘s one?
While I have a huge respect for many of the boy bands, theirs are not safe to do on a pool deck, so I typically just enjoy watching their dancing rather than trying their dances haha! I have learned GOT7 ”Just Right“, but usually do that dance before I’m on deck!
임보미 기자 email@example.com기자페이지 바로가기>