Soon, the tense atmosphere turned somewhat chilly, and music flowed through the air.
Heart Attack was a dance with complex and intricate moves that matched the beats and subtle transitional moves between each main move.
Moreover, from verses 1 to 3, it was almost non-stop jumping for about 4 minutes and 30 seconds, with no breaks or overlapping moves.
In other words, it was difficult for an average dancer to master the dance perfectly within three days.
The production team that chose Heart Attack as the signal song probably didn’t expect all the trainees to succeed.
On the contrary, they might have hoped the trainees would struggle and have a mental breakdown.
Anyway, it was only natural to see it as a difficult challenge for the trainees.
If they did well, they would be able to impress Mook Hyeseong. If they hadn’t practiced properly, there would be nothing to say.
After finishing verse 1, we all caught our breath while waiting for Mook Hyeseong’s comment.
Mook Hyeseong observed us with sharp eyes, then opened his mouth.
“Trainee Go Minhyeong, Trainee Lee Yoojin, Trainee Bae Jisan.”
He called out the names of four trainees.
I thought I knew what the trainees he called by name had in common.
“Even though you’re trainees, you didn’t practice at all, did you?”
They were the ones who just loitered around and avoided practicing with the rest of the trainees even when they were urged to join in several times.
Mook Hyeseong’s observation was just incredible. How could he pick them out after just watching us once?
Still, they danced poorly enough for anyone to notice.
The trainees looked shocked or uncomfortable as their names were called, and their expressions were reflected in the mirror.
I could imagine that scene being included in a close-up shot in the broadcast.
“Why didn’t you practice?”
“Because it’s hard? Because you think you won’t be able to do it even if you try? Because you think you’ll get votes anyway?”
“Didn’t you come here to debut? Is there anything you can achieve in this world just by sitting around, whether it’s debuting or anything else?”
Mook Hyeseong seemed determined to root out the problem of insincerity.
He continued to speak in a calm and cold voice.
“You’re not here to watch other friends, are you? It’s your job. There must have been something helpful for you to do rather than just standing still.”
“If you know that but still don’t do it, it’s like deceiving the people who support and believe in your uncertain dreams of becoming an idol.”
At his last words, Go Minhyeong and Bae Jisan’s eyes filled with tears.
Other trainees also looked teary-eyed as they thought of their families.
Of course, I didn’t have a family, so I was fine.
Perhaps my indifference rubbed him the wrong way.
Mook Hyeseong’s attention turned to me, who had a class leader sticker stuck to my clothes.
“What were you thinking, letting them play without practicing?”
The truth was, I told them to practice, but they didn’t listen.
I didn’t mention that here, though, as I thought that the already fragile mentality of the kids would crumble if I did so.
When I apologized with a meek attitude, the icy expression of Mook Hyeseong softened a bit.
“As the group leader, you should take responsibility and look after your classmates.”
“Yes. I’ll work harder.”
The trainees who had slacked off were apparently thankful for my response as I was notified that their affection towards me had increased.
I won’t say much. Do better from now on.
And then the real lesson began.
Mook Hyeseong demonstrated each move in a completely different league from what I had done, explaining the choreography from beginning to end.
Even though he must be in his mid-30s, his joints… How could they still be fine? Well, they must be since he was doing fine right now.
And he had five or six people come forward at a time.
“Don’t stop in the middle. Just try your best. That way, I can evaluate you better.”
Looking at the wall clock, Mook Hyeseong pointed out the mistakes at a much faster pace than when he started the class.
I was no exception.
The trainees in this class who were relatively good looked bored as they watched me getting thoroughly criticized by Mook Hyeseong.
“Raon, did you really listen properly?”
As Mook Hyeseong pointed out facts one by one, my understanding finally surpassed 40%, and I unintentionally wore a relieved expression.
“Yes. I’m so grateful for your teaching… But I did listen properly!”
I immediately corrected the points Mook Hyeseong had pointed out and did my best to show him.
Oh, some trainees were impressed.
Without saying much, Mook Hyeseong turned his attention to the next trainee.
The expression of the trainees who received detailed criticism from Mook Hyeseong crumpled.
To my eyes, they looked on the verge of tears.
All that was left in the places Mook Hyeseong passed were the pulverized mental states of the trainees.
Even if he were to scold them, he should at least give a mix of harsh and gentle critiques, but he just went on relentlessly.
I knew Mook Hyeseong was amazing, but our future stars were currently feeling miserable because of his critiques. What could I do to reverse it? What?
Even though Jing Xiao’s dancing skills were improving after diligently participating in the practice, he received ten criticisms in just one minute. Afterward, he lowered his head in disappointment.
I hesitated momentarily, then impulsively raised my hand and spoke up.
“Teacher, can I ask a question?”
“Did I do anything well?”
“Um… Can’t you sometimes give me praise instead of only criticism? I want to do better at the things I’m bad at, and I want to do even better at the things I’m good at. I believe everyone else probably feels the same.”
It was cold. It felt like daggers were flying at me.
I had hoped that my words would have weakened Mook Hyeseong’s heart, triggering a natural pitying effect.
But it seemed to have not worked as he gave no response.
It was over. I was afraid of how this chilling moment would be edited later.
I was agonizing over whether to do something or not, and in the end, I found myself regretting that I didn’t choose the latter.
Yet a familiar, calm voice with a hint of warmth spoke up.
“You did well in memorizing the choreography from start to finish. It’s harder than it looks to memorize it all in one day.”
“Your movements are smoother than yesterday. This is one of your strengths; the more you practice, the more the choreography becomes yours, and it clearly shows.”
“I also heard from Junwoo that Raon has been helping the other trainees diligently yesterday and today. Good job on that too.”
No one expected those praises to come from Mook Hyeseong. He didn’t stop there but continued talking to the other trainees.
“Today, I only talked about the points that needed improvement because we don’t have much time… But thinking about you guys actually made me only think about myself.”
His face, always neat and perfect, relaxed slightly, becoming more human.
“I’m sorry. I’m not used to teaching people like this. If it weren’t for Raon, I wouldn’t have realized it until the end.”
[Mook Hyeseong is grateful to you for being consistent.
Mook Hyeseong’s Affection +2
Current Affection +3]
[The trainees of group Hyeseong are impressed by your courage.
Total Affection +3]
In the end, I became a clueless trainee who got an apology from a first-generation idol.
I looked at Mook Hyeseong, who was now being bombarded with excited trainees saying things like “What about me?” or “Please praise me too!” with a flustered feeling.
Why is he so cool with these things?
This scene, coupled with my performance yesterday, probably pleased the PD. I bet he would edit this moment to maximize the effect, adding tension like an MSG to the broadcast.
When that day comes, Mook Hyeseong’s fans might attack me.
How dare a trainee like me manage to get an apology from a heavenly, first-generation sunbae like him?
Although I was pretty scared, I decided to enjoy the moment.
At least the atmosphere in the practice room has improved.
With this, having zero F-ranked trainees wasn’t an impossible thing.
After the dance lesson, the expressions of the trainees, even those who received only a single word of praise from Mook Hyeseong, changed.
And those who didn’t receive any kind words were determined to receive them during the vocal lessons later this afternoon, so they began to passionately practice.
It was my job to take them to the cafeteria to eat, as some even said they would skip lunch for it.
“Guys, we are trying to survive here, so we need to eat first.”
The vocal lessons that continued after lunch had a good atmosphere.
Mook Hyeseong’s blunt criticisms remained the same, but each was now followed by praise or encouragement.
Though it seemed trivial, it was a great stimulus for the trainees starving for kind words.
The trainees jumped around and caused a scene with just a single word of praise from such a heavenly sunbae.
“One-and-two-and-three-and, tada-tara-tan, tang!”
“When our eyes meet,
And when you call my name,
I aim for your heart,
Ban Yohan elbowed my side and said,
“Hey, you’ve changed all the kids.”
“Now the others are also looking forward to being scolded.”
“That’s because they are happy to receive accurate feedback and think about improving their skills.”
[Ban Yohan feels strange being with a weird guy.
Ban Yohan’s Affection +1
Current Affection +19]
As always, I wished I could block his thoughts.
Anyway, thanks to Mook Hyeseong’s unexpected performance, I took a step closer to completing the sudden quest. As a bonus, we even managed to capture a decent amount of footage for the edited broadcast.
The next day went smoothly as well.
The trainees’ participation in practice was high, and there were no trainees who were not satisfied.
Surprisingly, a sense of pride even arose among our group’s trainees as they bragged about being praised by Mook Hyeseong.
However, I was disappointed that my understanding of the choreography for Heart Attack remained stagnant at around 50%. Not to mention that I still hadn’t fully mastered the song either, probably because of my lack of physical strength.
Both seemed to be influenced by my lack of basic skills.
Nothing can be done about it.
As I shook my head, the production crew set up the camcorder in front of the practice room and left.
Sitting in front of the camera, Nagase Ritsu’s throat squirmed uneasily.
The trainees from his agency, Star Production, also sat beside him and gripped his hands tightly on both sides, their faces stiff.
Today was going to be the day we recorded our grade evaluation videos.
It was an important evaluation.
Whether they could stand on stage or not, how long they could remain on stage, and whether they could show the dance they had practiced with determination after staying awake for three days were at stake.
I guess they’ll determine the center for Heart Attack within those with an A-grade.
The fact that there was only one chance to record made the pressure on the trainees heavier.
‘What if I make a mistake in the middle? What if I forget the lyrics? What if I miss the beat?’
The trainees’ eyes seemed to say just that, like heavy clouds hung over them.
Among the trainees crushed by tension, only Ban Yohan and I were able to maintain our composure.
If it continued like this, nothing would work out.
In other words, everything I had worked for would go down the drain.
That can’t happen.
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