On May 23rd 2014, EXO (one of Korea’s most popular bands at the moment) took to the stage at Seoul Olympic Stadium to start their tour EXOplanet: The Lost Planet tour. The tickets sold-out within seconds, and it promised to be an absolute dream tour for SM Entertainment. By the end of EXO’s first day on tour, however, many foreigners took to the Internet expressing disappointment in what they saw—They saw EXO perform the haka.

Some of you may ask, “What exactly is haka?” The haka is a traditional war cry dance from the Maori people of New Zealand. The dance is traditionally performed by the Maori men and involves stamping their feet and shouting together in rhythm. There are many different types of Haka, but the most famous is the War Haka. Warriors performed them before battles to show their strength and power. The New Zealand rugby team has helped spread its awareness by performing the custom before their matches. You can watch the haka in the link below.

New Zealander Stephanie Town attended the concert and told the New Zealand’s 3news that, “I felt uncomfortable upon seeing it, because of how meaningful it is. No one likes to see their heritage used for entertainment value like that. Knowing that they didn’t personally choose to do it makes me able to forgive it. It’s the choreographer who should have known better.” The choreographer to whom she’s referring is Tony Testa, an American who worked with EXO on this concert. There isn’t any solid evidence that it was Testa who combined the haka within the choreography, but it’s highly likely.

Now, the question we’re asking today is this—Was EXO being culturally insensitive? As Town later discusses, EXO’s use of the haka could be a way to pay homage to the Maori culture of New Zealand. Critics of EXO, however, claim that the band has cultural appropriated an important aspect of a traditional Maori dance and mishandled it. In my opinion, I don’t think so. Choreographers like to draw inspiration from other sources of dance and combine them with their own styles. That’s exactly what happened here. Now, I’m not a New Zealander nor do I have any Maori ancestry, so my opinion might not matter to you. Should they change their chorography? No. Will they? Probably.

 

If you would like to read more about Stephanie Town’s thoughts and opinions on the concert, please read more here, Korea’s biggest boy band performs haka

Check out the video here and decide for yourself.

 

 

 


Farrier, D. (2014, May 27). Video: Korea’s biggest boy band performs haka

Cover Photo Cred: the.angrycamel