Han Geng: Dancing his way to the stars

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After a few songs at a spacious factory-turned-art space in Beijing's 798 art district, Han Geng needed to loosen up.

Like a man who had just spent a hard day at the office, he shrugged off his brown leather jacket, loosened his tie and rolled up his sleeves. As fans screamed, he jumped into the fast rhythm of "Wild Cursive" with his energetic trademark dance steps.

From his leather pants, books to his silver-dyed hair, the 28-year-old singer-actor, who is known as a heartthrob with his healthy image and handsome smile, is eager to prove that he is more than a winsome face in the music scene.

The old Han, an earnest, sunny prince with a boy-band past, is still coming to terms with the new Han, a manly pop star, who can dance until dawn.

"You know, when I look at myself in the mirror, I laugh," he giggles. "But it feels good."

His second album, "Hope in the Darkness", which will be released on July 29, shows his determination to change. Riding on strong rock beats, he roars fearlessly as he performs.

In the music video for "Wild Cursive", he wears iron armor and mask, battling on horseback. The music video for another new song, "Clown Mask", is full of darkness, as Han dances like there is no tomorrow with cold eyes and numb lips.

"I am getting rebellious musically and personally. I don't want to repeat my love ballads and smiley faces," Han says. "I know that it's risky for a singer to try totally different styles in his second album, but I want to show my attitude."

His new persona will also be reflected in his upcoming concert on July 28 at Beijing's MasterCard Center, with new stage settings, clothes, dances and new songs.

He also invited Taiwan's most famous magician, Louis Liu, to design thrilling, sometimes frightening plots for his concert. Besides his own songs, Han will sing rock singer-songwriter Wang Feng's hit songs.

Coming from Heilongjiang Province, in northeastern China, Han has been dancing since childhood and by the age of 12, he mastered all 56 types of traditional dances from the different Chinese ethnic groups during his study at Minzu University of China in Beijing. He also did ballet and martial arts.

He went to South Korea in March 2003 and received private lessons in singing, dancing, acting, and Korean language.

Thanks to his powerful dance skills, Han won a contract with South Korea's influential entertainment agency, SM Entertainment, as a member of the South Korean boy band Super Junior, which debuted in 2005 and won fans across Asia.

In 2008, Han was one of the torch bearers for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2009, he returned to China to pursue a solo career and his popularity soars even higher than in the group.

"I know that I am a lucky guy and I cherish everything I got. I am afraid of lagging behind, so I keep on pushing myself and trying different things to enrich my career," Han says. "But I also noticed that the most important thing for me is to find my own style rather than following or catering to anyone."

In 2010, he released his debut album, "Geng Xin", or literally "Geng's Heart", at the Great Wall in Beijing. The album sold more than 350,000 copies within two months, which led to Han's first two concerts soon after the release of the album.

Tickets for the concerts were sold out in a record of 37 minutes. Due to his overwhelming popularity, Han was invited to perform in the 2011 Spring Festival held by China Central Television.

Solo Concert by Han Geng

Time: 7:30 p.m., July 28, 2012, Saturday

Place: MasterCard Center (near the Wukesong subway station on Line 1), Beijing

Tel: (86 10) 8817 8066

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