Sources: CNN | All Things Michael
Lil Buck (MJ One) and Chris Grant (This Is It)
From Michael Jackson’s celebrated Moonwalk in the 80s to Miley Cyrus’ controversial twerking a generation later, pop stars have been stealing the secret moves of America’s inner city streets and transforming them into worldwide sensations.
From the tap, to the twist and the twerk, every age is defined by a dance. Where do they come from? Who are the stars of the future who’ll be shaking our world?
‘CNN Ones to Watch’ in February explores the evolution of dance from graffiti-sprayed ghettos to revolving arena stages through the eyes of legendary choreographer Frank Gatson, a man who began his career as a dancer performing alongside Michael Jackson in ‘Smooth Criminal’. Today, he is the choreographer who dreams up Beyoncé’s every move, including her iconic ‘Single Ladies’ routine, which has attracted over half a billion hits online.
The programme introduces CNN’s viewers to two rising stars that Gatson thinks people will be seeing more of: Lil Buck, a Memphis ‘jooker’ who has created a fusion of Southern street dance and ballet that has caught Madonna’s eye, and Chris Grant, an LA-based dancer who was handpicked by Michael Jackson for his final tour and is now breaking into the world of choreography.
Gatson reveals where he believes the origins of dance lie, in distant places and times, telling ‘CNN Ones to Watch’: “I’m pretty sure that dance started in Africa. What I have learnt is that whenever I go to a warm climate those people naturally have the gift of dance inside of them. It is really, really weird to me. It is something about being in touch with the earth, being on the beach, the sand getting in your hair, the sand getting in your toes that makes you feel the earth and you can dance.”
Gatson has worked with many of the biggest artists in the world, including Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Beyoncé, En Vogue, Janet Jackson, Usher, R Kelly, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Jennifer Lopez, Nelly Furtado, Shakira and Patti Labelle.
What made him choose these two up-and-coming young men, Chris Grant and Lil Buck for CNN’s show?
On Lil Buck, Gatson says: “He is a star. He’s an innovator…magical. His movement is so original. People have been waving and being fluid forever you know, but he’s made it be something else.”
Buck confesses to ‘CNN Ones to Watch’ that he feels most alive where he started out, battling on the dance floors of Memphis, Tennessee:
“When I battle people back in Memphis, they are always like, ‘how do you do this crazy stuff?’, and it is because my creativity is broader. I know how it feels to think like a ballerina. I know how it thinks to feels to think as a modern dancer, as a contemporary dancer. I know how it feels to be in each of these realms and I can just mix these realms up. I am not just trying to become the best jooker I can be. I want to be the best artist of movement to the point where if I trip up, I can just push myself right back up!”
On Chris Grant, Gatson enthuses: “Chris is the best dancer in the world. I think the thing that makes Chris and people like Beyoncé, J-Lo and Michael Jackson, is the fire. I will go on record to say that I think when Michael Jackson passed away, he left his soul of dance in Chris. ‘Dance like it is your last dance all the time’, always, and he does that.”
Viewers of the programme get to see Chris Grant and Gatson working behind-the-scenes on a special one-off show for Jennifer Lopez in Las Vegas.
During rehearsals, Chris Grant tells ‘CNN Ones to Watch’: “Jennifer Lopez has a Latin flavour. She just taps into it so easy. You can tell she just embodies that. She is not just about the movement or the dance. She really entertains you. It just has to really make sense depending on what the artist is saying or the movement or the sound of the music and that is the whole thing with booty…we just follow her booty…we reach to her booty…she inspires us to dance.”
‘CNN Ones to Watch’ airs at the following times on CNN International
Friday 13 February at 1030 GMT/ 1130 CET and 1630 GMT / 1730 CET
Saturday 14 February at 1430 GMT / 1530 CET and 2030 GMT / 2130 CET
Sunday 15 February at 0130 GMT / 0230 CET
Monday 16 February at 0430 GMT / 0530 CET
Tuesday 17 February at 1030 GMT / 1130 CET and 1730 GMT / 1830 CET
Wednesday 18 February at 0430 GMT / 0530 CET and 0930 GMT / 1030 CET
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