Before a K-Pop idol debuts, they typically go through years of training with their company in order to increase their skills and performance ability. While this is usually done behind the scenes for the most part and the trainee won’t appear on stage until their debut, there have been a number of exceptions to this! Sometimes trainees will act as backup dancers for other already debuted artists, usually under their own label, if dancing is their area of expertise. Here are 6 K-Pop idols (and one group) that acted as backup dancers before they made their own debut!

1. Eunbi (IZ*ONE)

Before Eunbi was on Produce 48 and became the leader of IZ*ONE, she was a backup dancer for Girl’s Day! Even back then, however, she had dreams of becoming a singer.

1When she reunited with Girl’s Day’s Hyeri on Amazing Saturday, the older idol said that Eunbi had told her she wanted to become a singer, and with her hard work, her dream came true!

2. BTS

Back in 2012, 2AM‘s Jo Kwon promoted under BigHit Entertainment for his solo debut, “I’m Da One”. For live performances, BTS members J-Hope and Jungkook were backup dancers for the senior idol (and V and Jin even appeared in the music video)!

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Members Jimin, Suga, J-Hope and Jungkook also worked together as backup dancers for their senior labelmates, GLAM, as well as for the hologram singer SeeU, who was designed after GLAM member Dahee.

3. Lay (EXO)

Before Lay became known as one of the most talented dancers in EXO, he already brought a lot of attention to himself by a particularly impressive performance! He was a backup dancer for SHINee — an amazing feat in itself, given SHINee’s difficult and iconic choreographies — and was chosen to step in as a replacement fifth member when Jonghyun was unable to perform at one time.

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It’s obvious that SM Entertainment already recognized his talent, to give him such an incredible opportunity!

4. Lee Know (Stray Kids)

Before he was a trainee at JYP Entertainment, Lee know was actually a backup dancer for BTS! His role was important enough that he even went on tour with the group at one point.

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After he debuted, he once ran into J-Hope and was flattered that the BTS member recognized him, considering that they usually have around 80-90 backup dancers. It just shows that Lee Know’s talents were noticeable in a group, even back then!

5. Ni-Ki (ENHYPEN)

When Ni-Ki was still only 11 or 12 years old, back in 2017-2018, he was a backup dancer for SHINee!

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Since Ni-Ki is the youngest member of ENHYPEN, it’s incredible that he was given the part of acting as a backup dancer for a group as iconic and beloved as SHINee, especially at that age!

6. Kang Daniel

Before he was on Produce 101, Kang Daniel had the opportunity to act as a backup dancer for FIESTAR‘s Cao Lu and SPICA‘s Sihyun on an episode of Her Secret Weapon. After he gained attention for placing first on the competition reality show, this performance was brought up to him and he admitted how nervous he was to dance with a girl for the first time.

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It was my first time dancing with a girl, so I was really nervous. My hands were shaking when I had to hug her from behind.

— Kang Daniel

7. Shownu (MONSTA X)

Before Shownu became the leader of MONSTA X, he was a backup dancer for soloist Lee Hyori during her “Bad Girl” era.

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Dressed in a mesh shirt and dancing rather intimately with the soloist, Shownu was catching people’s eyes and having K-Pop fans swooning even before he was an idol himself!