Column: K-Pop! Oh My Gosh! Ole Miss dance group is breaking cultural boundaries

Picture of OMG co-founders, Delaney Mason (left) and Olivia George (right). Photo taken by Aaliyah Goldman.
OMG co-founders Delaney Mason (left) and Olivia George (right). Photo by Aaliyah Goldman.

Aaliyah J. Goldman
Oxford Stories

Ole Miss Generation, widely known as OMG, is a popular K-pop dance group dedicated to spreading K-pop in the South at the University of Mississippi.

The group was created in the fall of 2017 by co-founders Delaney Mason and Olivia George. The pair met in college through a talent show, where a group of students were doing a small dance cover. They started the group because they shared a common interest in the music genre, K-pop.

K-pop is a genre that originated in South Korea. While the modern form of K-pop can be traced back to the early ’90s, the term has been popular since the 2000s to describe a modern form of South Korean pop influenced by styles and genres from around the world.

Delaney Mason, 21, is a UM senior from Flowood. She is majoring in IMC and with a minor in business administration with a specialization in public relations. She will be graduating in May 2021.

“When I graduate, I don’t really have a set plan,” Mason said. “But, hopefully, I can start up a business focused in the entertainment industry, or before going down that route, get an internship somewhere, like an entertainment company or somewhere in the music industry in South Korea, or maybe even here, anything like that, just to see here how they run their business and how I can run mine.”

Olivia George, 22, is a UM senior from Biloxi. She is majoring in international studies and will be graduating this year.

 “When I graduate, I plan to return back to South Korea to work on getting my language skills up and eventually return back to the U.S. to get my Ph.D. in sociology,” George said.

“OMG is an acronym that stands for Ole Miss Generation,” said George. “The name comes from a very popular K-pop group, which is called Girls’ Generation, so we sort of did a play on the words to mix it with Ole Miss.”

Photo of OMG co-founders, Delaney Mason (left) and Olivia George (right), and myself (middle). Photo taken by Aaliyah Goldman.
OMG co-founders, Delaney Mason (left) and Olivia George (right), and myself (middle). Photo taken by Aaliyah Goldman.

OMG has three subgroups: OMG X, OMG Y, and OMG R.

OMG Y was created first as a test run for branching out. “It was supposed to be for advanced dancers only, so it had no genre, no concept, no nothing,” Mason said. “It’s kind of just developed over time and grew into, like, the more girl power, kind of tough female empowerment, kind of subgroup.”

OMG X was created last semester. It has a “extreme” or “sharp movements and popping” concept. “Initially that one was supposed to be hip-hop based subgroup,” Mason said.

Recently, the newest group, OMG R, was created this semester. “Rated-R, like 18+ type of dancing,” Mason said. “Very sensual, very sexy floor movement and utilizing chairs or props, anything like that. It’s a little concept of everything.”

Practices happen twice a week, and each song is an hour-long practice.

“It’s really fun. I guess, it depends on your choreographer,” Mason said. “Some choreographers teach like differently than others. Some are like stricter, while some are relaxed. But overall, I would say that it’s pretty fun.”

Practice is a big-time commitment for some people, but they come because it is a great way for them to make new friends or de-stress.

This is a photo from the IASA Culture Show last semester. Photo taken by OMG.
A photo from the IASA Culture Show last semester. Photo taken by OMG.

OMG usually has around 30 to 40 members each semester. Many people join the group because of the inclusive and diverse environment.

“We have people, a lot of international students,” Mason said. “People come from China, Korea, Japan, Nepal, Vietnam and Americans, too. People of all different types of backgrounds come and join the group because we all love K-pop so we can share that similar interests, and we can build on it together.”

Many people also join because they don’t have a skill requirement.

“We accept like a wide variety of skill level,” George said. “We have a lot of beginners, like mostly beginners, almost every semester. And so, in that sense, it’s also very inclusive because it’s not about how necessarily talented you are in dance but, sort of, what you enjoy and meeting other people, who enjoy the same thing is the most important to us.”

Every big group has its problems. The co-founders seem to struggle with meeting people’s needs and demands while also juggling with gaining respect from newcomers.

“Definitely, the respect that you should expect as a leader is not really expected,” Mason said. “It should be earned, and that’s something that can be a problem, people don’t want to respect you and trust that everything that you do is for the betterment of the group.

“Don’t mind them because the supporters in the group who stand by your decision and also offered their insight to help grow the group as a whole rather than what they individually want – those are people that really help grow the group.”

They also have a smaller number of choreographers compared to students.

Picture of OMG co-founders, Delaney Mason (right) and Olivia George (left). Photo taken by Aaliyah Goldman.
OMG co-founders, Delaney Mason (right) and Olivia George (left). Photo by Aaliyah Goldman.

“We don’t have enough people to teach our dances,” Mason said. “It’s just such big groups. And trying to position everybody because we’re still doing choreography-related things, so a big part of choreography is positioning, and we have to base it off of the size of our group and use our creativity to position people based on the covers of the actual dance and make it into a cover.”

Despite the problems, OMG seems to have a positive effect on many people as it helps people gain confidence and the ability to trust in yourself.

“We get a lot of people coming to us at the end of the semester and telling us that they have really built their confidence through performing and through dancing,” George said. “The same goes for choreographers, as well.

“We build our confidence every time we teach and our organizational and leadership skills. But, as far as, interacting with our students, we just genuinely build relationships and friendships to the club as well so, in that sense, our club has really become a family.”

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