I know as a dancer, whenever I see a cool music video, my first thought is, “Who did the choreography?” Here are five popular, dance-filled music videos, and the choreographers that made the iconic moves.
1. Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) by Beyonce
Choreographer: JaQuel Knight
Before being hired for the Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) video, JaQuel Knight was a virtually unknown professional dancer. But when Beyonce’s choreographer, Frank Gaston, Jr., spotted him at an audition for singer Michelle Williams, he liked his movement quality so much that he hired him to choreograph a small part of the video.
Knight made a good impression, because later, he was hired again- this time for the Beyonce video for “Single Ladies: Put a Ring on It.” Several hip pops, head nods and hand twists later, history was made, and the “Single Ladies” dance became an international sensation.
Since then, JaQuel Knight has choreographed for Britney Spears’s “Circus” tour, Beyonce’s “Diva” video, Ke$ha’s video for “Die Young,” as well as the movie Burlesque.
2. Thriller by Michael Jackson
Choreographer: Michael Peters
Before the “Thriller” video, choreographer Michael Peters was already active in the concert dance and musical theater scene. In 1982, he and choreographer Michael Bennett won a Tony award for the original production of “Dreamgirls” on Broadway. He also directed the musical “Leader of the Pack” in 1985, and provided choreography for the movie “Sister Act II: Back in the Habit.”
Peters tragically passed away in 1994.
3. Vogue by Madonna
Choreographer: Karole Armitage
This iconic video of the pop diva was choreographed by Karole Armitage, also known as “The Punk Ballerina.” A choreographer who started out in the concert dance world, she performed in Ballet du Grand Theatre du Geneve, a Balanchine company, as well as in Merce Cunningham’s modern dance company. Since 2004, she has been operating her own dance company in New York City, called Armitage Gone! Dance.
Armitage also recently choreographed Passing Strange and Hair on Broadway, and was the choreographer of the 2012 Cirque du Soleil tent show Amaluna.
4. Bye Bye Bye by N’Sync
Choreographer: Darrin Henson
Who doesn’t know the signature hand move from “Bye Bye Bye?” Love it or hate it, the choreography in this video is still attempted at parties today.
The choreographer behind this video was Darrin Henson, a popular choreographer for many early 2000’s artists. You can also see his choreography in Britney Spears’ Crazy video and Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle.”
In the early 2000’s, he released “Darrin’s Dance Grooves,” a dance fitness DVD where you can learn the moves from your favorite music videos, including “Bye Bye Bye.” Of course, those of us who didn’t purchase the DVD certainly tried to learn the moves on our own!
Henson also works as an actor and has appeared in several TV shows.
5. Oops…I did it Again! by Britney Spears
Choreographer: Wade Robson
This video from Spears’s second album was choreographed by none other than Wade Robson, a popular choreographer for several major recording artists.
Robson’s choreography career started at age 16, when he contributed movement to Britney Spears’ 1999 World Tour. Later, he managed Spears’s world tour and choreographed her video for “I’m a Slave 4 U.” He also choreographed N’Sync’s Pop video as well as their subsequent “Pop Odyssey” tour.
More recently, Robson’s choreography has been featured on the hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance. He also directed the film Happy Feet 2.
6. Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
Choreographer: LaurieAnn Gibson
Who else remembers clawing the air while trying to dance to Bad Romance at a school dance? That move, and the others in this video, came from the mind of choreographer LaurieAnn Gibson. Gibson was Lady Gaga’s main choreographer until 2011, when the pair split over creative differences.
In addition to choreographing numerous music videos for Gaga, including “The Edge of Glory,” “Telephone,” and “Poker Face,” Gibson was featured as a choreographer for Danity Kane on MTV’s “Making the Band.” She also choreographed Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” music video, and the Jessica Alba film “Honey.”
Recently, she had her own TV show called “The Dance Scene,” on the E! Network, which went behind-the-scenes as she choreographed.
She is also a frequent teacher with The Pulse on Tour, a convention for young dancers founded by contemporary dance star Mia Michaels.