How to be a backup dancer for beyonce

What It Takes to Dance for Beyoncé, According to Her Choreographer

  • JaQuel Knight has been doing choreography for Beyoncé for years.
  • Knight landed his breakthrough gig at 18 years old for Beyoncé's iconic video "Single Ladies."
  • His most recent collaboration with her at Coachella left people speechless.
  • We spoke with Knight about how he got into dancing and what it takes to be her backup dancer.
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Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: JaQuel Knight is the creative mind behind many of Beyoncé's iconic performances. He's worked with her for years and he's been dancing his entire life.

Knight: I remember dancing in my grandmother's living room. And then when I was 16, I started my own dance group with my best friend in Atlanta. So that was kinda the first serious step towards choreography and creative direction.

Narrator: At just 18, JaQuel landed a gig choreographing one of the best videos of all time, "Single Ladies." Years later, JaQuel reveals what it takes to be a backup dancer for Beyoncé.

Knight: To work for B as a dancer, it takes everything, you know. She's a southern girl, you know, who's worked very hard to get where she is. So she wants people to do the same. She wanna know that you want it really bad. She wanna see your heart, your passion, your drive. And then, you know, you gotta be able to jam. How greasy can you get? How can you hit it hard? Then there's also the side of her that's looking for the technical element. You know, are you trained? Do you have any ballet training? Do you have any jazz training? How are your lines? You know, so there's a few things that go into the process.

And once we start to audition things, you know, we look for everything. We teach them hip-hop number, we teach them a super difficult technical number, we teach them the classic Beyoncé number, you know. And then besides that, you know, you gotta be able to carry the stage, you know, with her. You gotta be able to stand next to her and be just as good, you know. And sometimes people are ready, sometimes they're not. You can be a great dancer, but it may not come through when you get on stage. You may kind of pull into a shell, don't know who to look at. So she's looking for stars. Star dancers, who have magic. That can bring it, you know, and pull other people in, always.

Working with B during the rehearsal process is like, it's kind of an out of body experience, ya know. People don't understand the amount of effort her work ethic is out of this world. And it's never just one thing. When we're creating choreography, it's okay, boom. Where's the wardrobe at? You know, bring them in so they can see what the choreography is. Okay boom. Where are we on this stage? You know, let's make sure lighting knows how to light this, boom. Where are the cameras? Okay, let's look at this camera and then do this.

You know, we're always thinking of every single piece of the puzzle. But you know, at the end of the day, we send her pictures, we send her videos. She's watching people in rehearsal like who's that? Okay, that's so and so that we talked about. She's like okay, she's good. You know, she's looking at everything at every moment, you know. So she's like heavily involved.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2018.

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How Ashley Everett Became Beyoncé's Background Dancer

There are not many entertainers who are in the same league as Beyoncé. She does it all and does it well. The singer, actor, and dancer expects nothing less from those who work with her, especially her background dancers. For over a decade, Ashley Everett has been a staple alongside Beyoncé on stage and in videos. She began working as her background dancer when she was just 17 years old.

Beyonc with dancers performs on stage during the “On the Run II” Tour | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Parkwood Entertainment

Beyoncé’s choreographer initially scouted Ashley Everett

Everett, a California native, moved to New York when she was a teenager to pursue her professional dance career dreams. She began training at the Alvin Ailey studio. While there, a chance meeting with someone close to the Queen Bey would change everything.

Source: YouTube

“When I was 16, and I was training at Alvin Ailey, Beyoncé was rehearsing for an award show that she was going to do in New York. Her choreographer was in the hallway, and we just passed by each other, and he just saw me, and so he invited me in the room, and Beyoncé was in there barefoot, sweating, no makeup on, hair a mess, just working hard,” she told Allure Magazine. “She was so sweet. And he took my information, and then I never heard from him.”

“But then, like a few months later, was her audition. Her choreographer, Frank Gatson, remembered me from that day,” she added. “So impressions and timing are everything.”

She gave up Julliard to tour with Beyoncé

Everett nailed her audition and was offered to work on music videos with Beyoncé as a background dancer, becoming a standout in the “Single Ladies” music video. That eventually turned into an offer for her to go on tour with the superstar. But she had a difficult decision to make as she’d already been accepted into Julliard’s School of Dance.

“As a little girl I dreamed of going to Juilliard. I watched “Save The Last Dance,” and it was one of my dreams in life. When I got accepted, I was like “OMG, this is amazing.” I planned on going, I was enrolled. I pulled out a week before I was supposed to move into the dorm because the tour [The Beyoncé Experience] got extended,” she told Dyana Marie in a 2017 interview. “I was having a hard time deciding, I asked around for advice, and everybody said follow your heart and do what you want to do. Obviously, it was a great decision and either way I feel like I would’ve been happy. I still would’ve been winning. They were both dreams and goals of mine. But yeah, it was super hard to turn it down.”

Choosing to work with Beyoncé proved to be the best decision. She’s performed on every major Beyoncé tour since then, eventually becoming her dance captain.

Her career extends beyond her work with the living legend

Outside of her work with Beyoncé, Everett stays booked and busy. She’s performed with Usher, Ciara, Ne-Yo, Luke James, and others. Everett is also an actor, appearing in the Vh2 dance drama, Hit the Floor, and multiple commercials.

Everett is also a model and fitness enthusiast. She recently launched a line as a co-owner of Cachet Brands, which is marketed as a luxury essentials line. They sell CBD-infused oils, edibles flower, skincare, and topicals.

RELATED: Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious” Was Inspired By Beyoncé’s Weight Gain

"The New Beyoncé": How Normani Became the Voice of the Younger Generation

Normani's 23-year-old duet with Sam Smith, Dancing with a Stranger, became the most popular song on radio stations around the world this year. How a 'Regular Girl from the South' Succeeded and Became One of the Forbes Top 30 Music Talents Under 30

Weeks before the annual Video Music Awards in August, Normani, the 23-year-old would-be superstar, received a call from MTV and offered to perform a new song in front of TV viewers throughout the country. The singer jumped at an incredible opportunity, although there was a significant problem: the recording of the new single Motivation was already completed, but there was no video clip for the song yet, not to mention the dance moves to perform on stage. Rehearsals began, which resulted in two days of filming and dozens of takes. Moreover, all this still had to be combined with the schedule of performances as the opening act on the tour of Ariana Grande. Normani managed to do everything and released a video clip in the style of 1990s in pastel colors and backing dancers in crop tops, which, together with the energetic movements of the performer, evoke memories of a young Beyoncé. However, a significant evening at the sports complex in New Jersey did not go quite according to plan.

Two months later, Normani recalls: “I didn't hear anything at all. The music was intermittent right in the middle of the performance, so I had to somehow get out.”

The 15,000 spectators who gathered at the ceremony did not even notice the technical difficulties, and the performances of the speakers made the guests of the event, including such stars from the VIP box as Lizzo, Halsey and Taylor Swift, jump up and dance. “I want to repeat it. Everything went so fast!” - Normani admits smiling broadly.

If the performer manages to achieve her goals, then she will be invited to perform an encore more than once or twice. In a couple of years after the dissolution of Fifth Harmony, in which Normani was the vocalist, the songs of the pop diva were listened to 3 billion times, which exceeds the number of plays in the same period by superstars like Adele and Jay-Z. Added to this are constant comparisons to Beyoncé, who began her career in the 1990s as a member of the R&B group Destiny's Child and is considered by many today to be the Queen of Pop.

“I'm very flattered that people see such potential in me,” says the young singer. “But most of all I want to be Normani.”

Her most recent achievement is being named to the new Forbes Top 30 Music Talent Under 30. In addition to Normani, it included Bruno Mars and rapper Wiz Khalifa. The former Fifth Harmony member's place on the list was secured by a panel of judges who were on the list from previous years, including electronic duo The Chainsmokers, rapper 21 Savage, music manager Adriana Ars and songwriter Mikaela "Miki" Shiloh.

“Normani is not just a girl with a beautiful voice and looks who can make a show out of a song,” explains Shiloh, songwriter for Janet Jackson, Pitbull, Britney Spears and many others. “Intelligence, energy on stage and huge talent are rarely combined in one person.”

It seems to some that Normani suddenly woke up famous, in fact, she went to this for almost 10 years. Normani Corday Hamilton was born in Atlanta and raised in New Orleans. As the girl herself says, she was "very influenced by live instrumental music." After Hurricane Katrina in 2009her family moved to Houston. There, the girl began to professionally engage in gymnastics and dancing (tap, ballet and jazz). A little later, she moved into music and, as a teenager, ended up casting for the 2012 X Factor talent show.

Although Normani didn't qualify as a solo performer, producer Simon Cowell signed her to his record label Syco, along with four other members of the project, including Camila Cabello, who made last year's rating, and Lauren Jauregui. So the band Fifth Harmony was born. The musical group released three albums that hit the Billboard 200 charts, and the composition Work from Home reached the fourth line of the single chart. Even though the band was earning more than $200,000 million in a single concert (which only a few members of the current rating can do), Normani wanted more.

The singer notes: “I like the idea that I can do even better. As soon as everything suddenly suits me, I start to get nervous. When it gets too comfortable, that's the moment of failure."

  • Esportsmen, financiers, rappers: Forbes unveils new 30 under 30 rating indefinite period for the sake of participating in solo projects. After that, Normani decided to take a risk, as only a few of the novice performers risk, and hired a certain Brandon Silverstein as a personal manager. The 25-year-old young man then had absolutely no experience in managing the affairs of popular musicians. His firm S10 Entertainment had only one client, and the only success in the world of music was the organization of a festival on a farm near his native Indiana University. The event featured world-famous DJs from Avicii to Tiësto and sold over 100,000 tickets.

    The young manager offered the performer something that experienced veterans of the industry could not offer. S10 is an agency partner of Roc Nation, which is owned by Jay-Z. This, in turn, gave Normani a chance to connect with celebrity professional agents like Jay Brown, one of the founders of the label, who was responsible for the activities and creativity of Rihanna in her early years.

    Through her acquaintance, Normani became an ambassador for Rihanna's SAVAGE X FENTY lingerie brand.

    As a solo artist, Normani has performed at various festivals such as Lollapalooza and has released several top ten singles as a duet with other musicians, notably Love Lies with Khalid. Dancing with a Stranger duet with Sam Smith became the most played song on radio stations around the world this year.

    Silverstein has made it into the rankings too, and since he started working with Normani, he's had rising stars like Anitta, the Brazilian diva, and Buzzy, the singer-songwriter from Michigan. The artist manager explains: “There are performers who are immediately clear that they are real stars - you can hear it on the radio, you can see it in their performances and in person. Normani is just one of those.

    The girl is determined to prove it with her first full length album, slated for release early next year via Sony's Keep Cool/RCA Records. With her debut album, the singer will try to inspire fans in the same way that her favorite performers inspired her in their time: “I remember how, as a little girl, I watched the performances of my favorite singers, young black women, and today I am in their place. I hope that I will be able to inspire a new generation and convey to them an important message: what I do, they can do it too. I'm just like them, an ordinary girl from the South who ran after her dream."

    Translation by Anton Bundin

    The highest paid singers in the world - 2019. Forbes rating

    10 photos

    SWAG from skinheads: unexpected extras in Beyoncé's new music video

    Today is a great day. We, like all big media outlets, write about Beyoncé's new video and, like many small ones, we do it in the slander genre. Oi!-Columnist Sadwave Pavel Duev is outraged by the fact that representatives of the authoritative skin group Lion's Law appeared at the pop star's backup dancer.

    Text : Pavel Duev

    It happens, you stand in Paris, you smear the door with tar. You understand that you are, in fact, an ambassador of culture. When else did someone introduce the frogs to our primordial customs? Seventy years ago, or even never at all. You are full of pride, but your heart is anxious. The devil knows how everything will end: either in bloodshed, or by calling the police. Loud voices are heard outside the door, which adds to the spice of the moment. They are getting closer.

    Just then, the door will open, and you will have a fleeting trial with some muddled Gaul. What is better, to immediately hit the butt, taking advantage of fleeting confusion, or first to say some phrase appropriate to the moment? But chu!

    Although the occupants of the house couldn't help noticing the anti-social activities coupled with the pungent smell, silence looms. Silence and the noise in the neighboring apartments. Surprised, you finish writing the communique, finally wipe the doorknob and leave thoughtfully. As they say, surprised - won. But he made inquiries - according to all signs, on the other side of the tar there should have been a formidable grunt and a big man, and the devil knows who else.

    I recalled this anecdote from my own practice to illustrate the idea that the French would do well to be puzzled by the eternal question of school essays: to be or to seem? And not only the French, what is already there. Local rock formations are also no exception.

    Although the skinhead subculture is shrinking like shagreen leather (and especially, by the way, in France, where there have been no major concerts since the Yeltsin era, and today there are only one or two bands), amazing events happen here.

    For example, recently a number of Parisian skinheads, in particular members of the Lion's Law group, starred in the video of the singer Beyoncé. That's the shame, really.


    The video came out incredibly boring. The heroes of the extras look pretty stiff. And just as stiffly they justified themselves when their debut became public, shocking many prominent representatives of both foreign and domestic movement.

    - What is it? The worker is not dusty. I saw Beyoncé's ass, and even got 900 euros for it, they whine like schoolchildren at fault.

    Lived, the ass of the singer for the happiness of seeing people. Theoretically, filming in this infamous video could be a spectacular demarche. But courage is completely absent here. The fools got their two minutes of fame, stuffed the loot into their pockets, and now, I suppose, they will tell their grandchildren about this greatest moment in their lives. The guys from Lion’s Law could still be understood if behind their act there was a desire to spit in the face of the surrounding hypocrites and say: “Go to hell, I do what I want. ” But here, neither courage nor daring, just the dreams of labuhs-klutocks to get on MTV came true. By the way, many senior comrades supported them, for example, the musicians of the highest paid oi!-group in Europe Stomper 98 and representatives of the reputable label Contra Records. They explained the attacks on Lion's Law by ill-wishers, as usual, with elementary envy. What a sin to hide, for them to light up in something like this is a cherished dream.

    Despite the fact that these monsters confidently cut down a couple of thousand euros for a concert, none of them have yet managed to climb into the high society. But you want to, because they have long been living happily according to the unwritten laws of show business. True, old clichés are chewed on in the songs, but what of the stars does not do this?

    Creativity of the same Lion's Law is pathetic through and through. Death to enemies, forward, skins, we will kill everyone, pride to death, lionheart, you do not want peace. All those classic ultra-violent anthems that are designed to lure teenagers out of their cloudless childhood onto the streets. Here is a song with great lyrics.

    Those who believe them and run to buy shoes may also get lucky and be invited to some hipster party as outlandish animals. Sitting on the outskirts of the big world is okay if you truly despise it. But it is a shame to look out the window to admire the beautiful life. And then after all, they can also invite you to the kitchen to eat. In general, pride singers have long lacked elementary self-respect and an understanding of why they sing one thing and do something else.

    I have to admit that this is not the first time skins have appeared in mainstream bands' music videos. Long before the Frogs, Pink Floyd The Wall featured members of the TIlbury Skins gang. Alan Parker decided to call the real adherents of violence for greater authenticity.

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