Gibson on Season 3 of Dance Showdown
July 14, 1969 |
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Occupation||Choreographer, television personality, director, singer, actress, dancer|
|Genres||Hip hop, urban|
I'm an emotional eater. If something's worth celebrating, we're going to grab pizza. If it's going bad, girl, pass me the chocolate. Gotta keep it in check!
'The Dance Scene' is basically the most amazing dance show in the world, and it follows me as a creative director. You see how I maintain that creativity.
I love working with Alicia Keys, because it's not just the ability to do the dance to me; I think it's the ability to interpret it that excites me the most.
She's like a Barbie, then she wants to be a superhero, or coming out of a spaceship and everything's pink. She makes a certain move that's ghetto hood mixed with a little robot so its like I'm evolving Nicki Minaj and developing her style. She's fearless, and I love her.
I think reality TV for dancers has changed for the better. There are more opportunities and the platforms that we are being given are better. We have more job security and TV is allowing different levels of dance to come through to the forefront. People can now take their abilities and turn them into brands and make these top dollars.
A choreographer deals with the movement that you create, and with a creative director it's about the story, the stage, the lighting, the costuming, executing someone's idea, choosing how far to go or how little to go, and blending it so that you feel it, you're emotionally effected.
Everyone has the notion that hip-hop is messy and loose, but there's also another level to it.
Back in the early days like for the Temptations, Supremes and Four Tops, artist development was alive in record companies. Every artist had a moment to develop the record visually. When the web took over and camera phones, it stripped the artists of the power to figure it out. So there's a need to bridge that gap and that's my job.
I think that there was a fad where everyone said, 'I want you to create a signature step for my artist.' The thing is, for me, music creates the step. The artist commands the step, you know?
I was born in Toronto and studied with the National Ballet of Canada. I went to school to study dance, slept on the floor, ate nothing, waitressed – and then there was a Mary J. Blige audition.
For me, a dancer is part of an artist's entertainment – 'backup dancer' isn't even in my vocabulary.
I want to be able to say, 'you think you're odd, I'm even odder and I made it – you can too!' I want to direct, do more with 'The Dance Scene,' sign artists and just provide opportunities. I'm just getting started and having the time of my life!
I dance but I also work out. I run, do strength training… you name it. I've got to!
Choreography is amazing. I'm still a dancer, yet I transitioned into choreography then as a Creative Director. All of these creative elements are brought out of being a dancer. Directing is something that comes out of understanding movement and choreography. Directing movement is directing a dance piece.
Recently, Lady Gaga was motivated to take the helm of the creative direction of her career and as such I decided to step away. I am extremely proud of her, and in stepping away I wish her all the best.
With Lady Gaga I really stretched myself as a creative director, and because I was with this artist from before she got signed I was able to really take control of the opportunity and execute as a creative director.
I personally love to run outdoor fitness trails. I love the meditative value I get when out alone, challenging myself to run faster and higher.
Artist development is something that I've been passionate about from my days at Uptown and Motown Records.
I believe it's extremely important to include some other type of fitness activity in your training, so cross training will help you to avoid injury when you are dancing.
I realized that, for me, great records always moved me with the lyrics and the melodies. And so I said, 'I think I can do it now,' 'cause I found a team of people who understand I didn't want a record that was 'drop it, pop it, shake it' just 'cause I can dance.
People were being so mean as a result of my ability – a gift, really. So I think that's what makes me fight harder to provide an option to aspiring kids or artists. I wouldn't want anyone to go through what I went through… to see a little girl or a little dancer experience such unnecessary rejection.
'The Dance Scene' is just a real look at what it takes. You see the award shows. You see the videos and you never realize what goes on behind the scenes. The reality and the preparation. The motivation I have to give each dancer on that set.
I think dance is amazing because what people don't realize is like when you dance your spirit and your soul get ignited. You're not only releasing endorphins, but also your spirit is awakening. It makes you feel good and happy.
What people are feeling is the similarity in what I do and how I'm capable of breaking a new artist into a competitive field. People can't wrap their head around the fact that Gaga did not do that on her own. She didn't. There was a Laurieann Gibson.
I was very disenchanted in the industry for a long time before I met GaGa. Everyone wanted a 'Single Ladies' for their artist, or a Puffy move.
'Boom' is my heart. The 'kack' is my soul. Apparently when I choreographed I didn't realize that I said 'boom-kack' 'boom-kack.' I had no idea I was doing it and then I realized that it's every time I felt like the fight in my soul – the boom and the kack – was like my heart. It was like the love of it – my heart and soul.
I've created, directed and choreographed for Lady Gaga since the beginning, so 'Born This Way,' this was musically such an amazing evolution and such a brilliant record. So when she played it for me, it took me a while to find out the visual interpretation that I could give back to her.
I am trained, and I did do 'The Nutcracker' in its right form, but at the time, they told me I was black and I'd never be in 'Swan Lake.' I went through all those prejudices in the ballet community, and I still emerged wonderfully trained and found my way to Alvin Ailey where there were familiar faces.
I think it's absolutely possible for any woman to use the moves I do with Lady Gaga. Just put on her 'Born This Way' video or turn on one of her songs, spend 20 minutes and get a routine down just by watching our choreography. You'll start to see a difference in your abs, legs and butt. Anyone can get great results from this.
I enjoy getting an artist at the beginning stages, and then I'm able to pull out something that is so pure and actually create their individual style. From how they pick up the microphone, to how to look on the stage, to their dance steps, to their talk, their opinions, to what they wear, so it really gets to be developed from the beginning.
'Saturday Night Fever,' Paula Abdul, 'Fame,' Debbie Allen… all affected me and the generation before me.
I like to always remind my dancers about ways to avoid injury. One of the basic ways to avoid injury is to always make sure to stretch and warm up your body. This will loosen up your muscles, which will help to avoid common strain injuries such as shin splints and ankle strains.
The only thing that I have is the truth, so the only thing I fear is a lie.
If you love dance and you have the gift of teaching, teaching is super amazing and important because my teachers planted that seed in me. As a teacher you understand the difference or the definition of a Baryshnikov or a Gregory Hines, so teaching is really important and very necessary.
I'm born originally in Toronto, and I have what I call my 'Fame' story. I took a Greyhound bus and went to Alvin Ailey and received Dunham, Horton, Graham technique there, but I could never take my eyes off of Balanchine doing 'Nutcracker'; to me he's the best who ever did it.
When I began to choreograph and find my way pulling other artists' dreams out and changing music in a visual way, there was still a part of me that had something more to say. There was still a desire to rock a stage and ultimately perform the eight count of my dream, but there was a lot of insecurity there.
It's all about salsa with grain chips, tofu, turkey slices, hummus, and coconut water.