On MTV’s new dating show “My Own,” enthusiastic wannabes are transformed into carbon copies of the pop stars they idolize, in hopes of capturing a fellow fan’s heart. Though training these budding Justins and Ciaras may sound like a tall task, the mission was far from impossible for the show’s choreographer, Chantal Robson. Off-screen, Robson has made a career out of coaching up-and-coming artists such as Hope Seven on personality and performance.
To prepare choreography for “My Own,” Robson watched hours of music videos to adapt the moves for contestants. (The show airs 6 pm EST Monday through Friday.) On a shooting schedule of several shows per week, Robson found herself memorizing the dance steps of everyone from Ashlee Simpson to Jennifer Lopez at a breakneck pace. Added to the pressure was the challenge of getting the contestants camera-ready to perform.
“Sometimes people are afraid of movement,” says Robson, who as a dancer has shared the stage with stars like *NSYNC, Madonna and Usher. “They’re afraid of what they’ll look like, so they shut down and don’t let their personalities shine onstage. I help them have fun without over-thinking it.”
Robson now has her sights set on the Robson Project, a six-city dance convention that converges her own creative energies with those of her brother Wade, mother Joy and sister-in-law Erica. “We want people to embrace the idea that being a performer incorporates acting, singing, and dancing,” says Robson. After all, when talent is abundant, why keep it all in the family?