With the music industry steadily changing, the factors involved in evolving an artist into a superstar has shifted along with it, one of them being the need for choreography. Although we do have illustrious talents like Normani and Tinashe who continue to incorporate dance into their music videos, there’s no denying that choreography is becoming a lost art when it comes to shaping an artist or enhancing the video.
Learning numerous eight counts for a dance number is far from an easy task and can take countless hours or even days to perfect. It’s this ability that separates artists like Beyoncé or Michael Jackson from other artists by pushing their hits and limits with iconic choreography. ‘Single Ladies’ and ‘Thriller’ hold two of the most widely known and practiced dance numbers of all time and have definitely solidified themselves in music and pop culture historically and respectively.
We also mustn’t forget a true pioneer in both music video visual arts and choreography the misdemeanor herself, Missy Elliott. Being a musical creative at a time where unfortunately size mattered, for black women in particular, never stopped her from stepping on necks when it came to videos. Despite being continuously bullied about her weight, she was still very active in her choreographed routines and to this day continues to show support for and be in favour of dancers. The boundaries Missy broke opened up the space for comprehensive artists like Lizzo to showcase dance ability despite societal perceptions of what big black women can do.
Chris Brown, in all his controversy, is an important part of any discussion being had on choreographed music videos. Brown has consistently displayed striking routines in his videos since his breakthrough record ‘Run It’ to his latest video ‘Heat.’ With Michael Jackson being a key inspiration to his career, it’s no wonder that he strives for commanding routines.
The talent of dance is such a luminous and important art form that is unfortunately being pushed aside. Having the ability to convert the music to fluid movements through the body is such a dexterous and complex task that only a true music lovers could both appreciate & execute. Where would the state of hip hop, R&B and rap be without dance? Dance inclusion is prevalent to our culture of expression by sometimes serving louder than the lyrics themselves.
Whether a dance break or the video’s entirety, here are some of the most amazing choreographed music videos both old and new and the choreographers responsible:
Single Ladies x Beyoncé
JaQuel Knight is the man responsible for the ‘Single Ladies’ routine turned worldwide phenomenon. He collaborated with Beyoncé at just 18 years old and is also responsible for Beyonce’s groundbreaking ‘Homecoming’ performance.
U Don’t Have To Call x Usher
Todd Sams is who we have to thank for Usher dancing his way to and throughout the club in ‘U Don’t Have To Call.’ The video led Sams to become one of the recipients of the American Choreography Award for Best Choreography in a Hip Hop video.
Tinashe x Stormy Weather
Although it’s not clear who’s responsible for the ‘Stormy Weather’ choreography, the abstract and intricate movements are perfectly mesmerizing in this dance focused video.
Remember The Time x Michael Jackson
No one in 1992 was ready for the work of Fatima Robinson for Michael Jackson’s ‘Remember The Time.’ The insane Egyptian influenced dance sequence perfectly sealed the video’s theme and truly captured how beautiful and talented black dancers are.
Pass That Dutch x Missy Elliott
The extraordinary Nadine “Hi-Hat” Ruffin gave us everything and more with the choreography to Pass That Dutch. Hi Hat has been a lead choreographer for other Missy Elliott videos and elites such as Rihanna, Jay Z and Diddy.
Turn Up The Music x Chris Brown
Rich + Tone and Flii Stylz helped Chris Brown pay brilliant homage to Michael Jackson in ‘Turn Up The Music.’ The video led them to earn the award for Best Choreography at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.
Motivation x Normani
Sean Bankhead perfectly blends an early 2000’s dream with a modernistic touch for Normani’s ‘Motivation’ video. Bankhead has also choreographed Beyoncé, so it’s only fitting for him to follow up with the world’s upcoming sensation.
Formation x Beyoncé
How could we not list the song and video that interrupted our daily lives on February 6, 2016? Once again JaQuel Knight teams up with Beyoncé to not only give us an unexpected dance number that we were forced to learn, but delivered a controversial, Black win during the most important month of the year.
Thriller x Michael Jackson
As it may be hard to believe, the “King of Pop” also used a choreographer. Along with Jackson, Michael Peters is the other half responsible for the zombie dance craze that shook the world on Dec. 2 1983. He’s also collaborated with Micheal for ‘Beat It’ and has won a Tony award for Best Choreography for the Broadway musical, ‘Dreamgirls.’