With no time to spare, Iris immediately raced off to the dance practice room. From her knowledge about Produce 101, the best course of action in the evaluation stages were to either perfectly pull off a cover, or perform an original.
For Iris, the choice between the two was clear. She would perform an original. After all, she could demonstrate her composition abilities while catching the attention of the judges and public. She would also maintain the self-composition images of BTS and Big Hit.
While she was sweating in the practice room, J-Hope popped his head in along with Jimin, V, and Jungkook.
"Iris! We heard you're participating in Produce 48! Are you going to be okay? You only had one day's notice!" J-Hope called out with worry as he approached the hardworking girl.
"One day! That's so harsh," murmured V as Jimin asked, "Do you need help with anything? One day really is too short."
Jungkook observed Iris's dancing before noting out loud, "You're going to perform an Original? This is Neverland?"
"Ah! Correct!" Iris exclaimed. "Since this song has a lot of meaning and is familiar with the public somewhat, I thought this would be the best. I'm also most confident with singing it, and the public hasn't seen the dance for it yet!"
Although Iris sung and danced on her YouTube channel, Neverland was off limits if she wanted to conceal her identity. But on Produce 48, it would be the perfect segue into her history with BTS and Big Hit from becoming a fan to their composer to finally their trainee.
"Good thinking!" they all agreed.
"Then, can we watch? We can still give you some pointers if you already have the choreography done," offered J-Hope who was still concerned and wanted to help his hoobae, his junior company member.
"That would be great!" Iris nodded her head and shook her limbs to prepare herself for going through the whole routine. She steadied her breathing and refocused her mind.
Swiveling away from the mirror and toward the awaiting BTS members, she smiled, turned on the music, and began dancing.
"The shadow which overhangs in our lives~
Who creates the dark?"
Iris closed her eyes and lifted her hands.
Is it worry, hopes, someone else?
Or is it you?"
Iris's eyes flashed open, and she glided a step back with one of her hands out to the audience.
"I look at my shadow
It changes with time
Is that me? Or was it the old me?
Who am I?"
Her eyes drooped down to her fictional shadow. She grabbed it and spun away to look at her hand which held the shadow.
"Can I escape my past?
Can I return to my past?
Can I face the world?"
In a single position she conveyed her questions with her hands and arms in a form of flowing tutting.
"On my darkest day
Where I couldn't even find my shadow
I found you instead
She reached the pre-chorus of the song.
"On a journey beyond my dreams
You showed me a new world
Where time was timeless~"
"Peterpan and his band, you are my Neverland~
Let's chase our youth and live freely
Even if one day we have to grow up
These memories are eternal~
Please don't forget me
I won't forget you
Although the song contained more verses, a bridge, and renditions of the pre-chorus and chorus, Iris ended her performance at this point. This was the amount of time she would be allotted on the evaluation stage.
Raucous claps followed her ending pose: hands over her heart, legs angled elegantly together, and lowered eyes which lifted slowly upwards at the audience.
"Iris, that was great!" J-Hope cheered, still clapping like a seal.
"Yeah! You told a story with your dances!" Jimin commented, thoroughly impressed.
"And you were stable in singing too," added Jungkook, pleased.
V made no additional remark and instead expressed it through body language. He scrunched his face into a gritty face of utmost approval while forcefully clapping. Seeing that funny face made Iris burst out in a chuckle, and she lost her pose.
"Thanks guys. I'm glad I got the BTS approval!" She thumbed up with a bright grin, making the members laugh. "So what points do you think I can improve on? I'm worried about losing my breath or straining my voice when I hit the chorus."
While the chorus ended softly, the beginning half was bold and emotional. Since Neverland was a song that heavier on the amount of lyrics than on the instrumentals carrying the melody, Iris had to sing a lot even in this short snippet.
Although the moves weren't overly strenuous, the quick movements paired with the slower parts made balancing breathing tricky. She couldn't have her voice suddenly dip or shoot up in volume between those parts.
The insightful and keen BTS members quickly offered up advice and points of improvement.
"With the tutting, it's good, but after all the movements, suddenly stopping in one place sort of ruins the flow," said J-Hope. "Maybe add in some simple movements like this—" He performed a few examples at which Iris followed along.
"If you're having difficulty with controlling your breathing and vocals by the chorus, let your voice fade at the end of the pre-chorus, so you can catch your breath and prepare. It also adds a more dramatic effect." Jimin gestured with his hands while speaking.
Iris nodded intently. They really did give great advice and noticed the subtitles of the mood and song. She turned to the other two.
"I'm not really a dance expert, but your facial expressions for grabbing the shadow felt a bit stiff and could have a little more emotion to match the words better. Maybe angle your head a bit as a question at the end, too." V bobbed his head once after finishing.
Jungkook then spoke up. "Also your footwork in the pre-chorus, this also might help with breathing too, if you do this—" He got up and demonstrated with adept steps. "Then it's more striking and powerful while keeping your chest from moving too much, so your voice is even more stable."
Iris mirrored his movements and found it to be exactly what he said.
"Thank you so much everyone! This definitely helps a lot! I feel better now about the evaluation. I'm going to practice a little more. Then I'll go pack up and sleep early so that I can travel early tomorrow morning to the Produce building."
The members all nodded and gave further encouragement before leaving. Jimin and Jungkook stayed a little bit longer. Just as the maknae was leaving, Jin, Suga, and Rapmon poked their heads into the dance room.
"J-Hope and V just told us that you were practicing for tomorrow and that you're really good!" explained Rap Monster.
"Yes! We're here to see you!" cheered Jin as Suga smiled and nodded his head in confirmation.
Jimin waved them on over, and Iris thanked them for coming. She started from the beginning with all the advice incorporated into the performance. Afterwards, the older members clapped in approval.
"That was really good!" remarked Suga with an impressed expression.
"Iris-ah! Center!" hurrahed Jin as he waved his arms excitedly in the air. "I know everyone's going to love you!" He bobbed his head confidently and assuringly.
"Yes, we're proud of you Iris. This is going to be really big for Big Hit, but you're going to do great. You're ready for this, go get them!" said Namjoon more calmly as he beamed in encouragement.
"Ah, thank you so much! I think I'm ready now, too! I don't want to be too tired out for tomorrow, so I'm going to head off and pack up." Iris wiped her brows and relaxed her shoulders.
She was lucky to have BTS as mentors, for tomorrow would the biggest turning point in her musical career.
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