Let's just get down to business, shall we? The best dance moment of last night's Grammy Awards came courtesy of—surprise!—Beyoncé.
BECAUSE BEYONCÉ IS A STRAIGHT-UP GODDESS.
Yes, you obvi already knew that. But last night a very pregnant B cemented her divine status when she donned a stunning gilded headdress for an insanely captivating performance, complete with fluid, entrancing choreo by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and lots of our favorite Bey backup dancers (Ashley Everett! Ebony Williams! Denee Baptiste!). It was the stuff of award-show legend.
Watch the magic yourself (or re-watch it for the thousandth time—we won't tell!):
— Wolé II (@Kingwole) February 13, 2017
Things got super romantic Saturday night on the Formation tour in St. Louis: Queen Bey helped facilitate an onstage proposal surprise for her dance captain and longtime backup dancer, Ashley Everett. AND IT WAS THE CUTEST.
During the song "Single Ladies," naturally, Beyoncé invited Everett's boyfriend (and fellow Formation backup dancer) John Silver onstage. She passed him the mic and he started saying the sweetest things to Everett as she stood next to him in complete shock.
Then Silver got down on one knee and officially popped the question! She said yes, of course, and the pair shared a kiss. Everett was beaming while Beyoncé congratulated the couple, and told her, "Now let's see you do the choreography after that."
True pro that Everett is, she found her chill (how, we'll never know) and got right back into formation to finish out the "Single Ladies" number—only this time she HAD a ring on it.
Watch the adorable surprise unfold here:
Congrats, you two!
Ashley Everett (Beyoncés’ longtime leading lady) has performed at her fair share of awards shows. She was most recently seen on the field with Queen Bey at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show—where they slayed, per usual.
Ashley Everett dancing with Beyoncé at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2014. (photo by Getty Images via Health.com)
And although she wasn’t up onstage at this year’s Grammys, she told The Huffington Post what her experience has been like in years past. For anyone who’s ever wondered what booking the high-profile gig is actually like, the article is a rare and awesomely insider look at the whole process, from the competitive casting to the thrilling final performance.
Everett reveals that most dancers aren’t actually directly booked. Choreographers and artistic directors usually hold auditions—and the stakes are high. “The audition process can get crazy: Everyone is there fighting for the same jobs, and performing at the Grammys is definitely one of a dancer’s top career goals,” she says.
She also lets us in on all the behind-the-scenes work that goes in to making those short performances so epically #flawless. There are so many technical aspects that viewers often forget: Hair and makeup, wardrobe, staging, lighting, pyrotechnics, etc. “The magic of what everyone’s hard work and imagination can create is awe-inspiring,” Everett says. “I’m constantly amazed at how it all comes together in the end so effortlessly.”
(Photo by Joe Wesley)
If you’ve seen Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” video (or read our May/June 2013 issue!), you’ll recognize backup dancer extraordinaire Ashley Everett. We got Ashley, who’s currently on tour with Queen Bey, to share the 10 must-have items that keep her body (and her mind) happy.
1. Her Adidas track suit. “I love a good sweat suit after a long day of work or during a hectic travel day. It’s the best loungewear by far!”
2. Her hair products. “I use Moroccanoil, a brush and a comb.”
3. Comfortable shoes. “Jordans are my favorite, but if it’s a heel rehearsal day, I use a boot for support. On days when my feet are sore, I rely on my trusty UGGs.”
4. Matte lipstick in nude, red and pink. “I always keep a few options with me. I like matte lipstick because my hair doesn’t get caught in it while I’m dancing.”
5. Reminders of her boyfriend, Jennifer Lopez dancer John Silver. “When I’m sleeping in a different bed almost every night, I like to have a little piece of home with me. I’ll throw on his T-shirt or basketball shorts when I’m missing him.”
6. Her iPhone. “It helps me stay in touch with my family and friends. FaceTime is the closest thing to being with them in person.”
7. A neck pillow—“Because I travel so often on tour!”
8. Her laptop. “I get a lot of emails with music edits or videos to reference for rehearsals, and it’s easiest to view them on my Mac.”
9. A camera. “I like to capture all the great moments that will turn into priceless memories!”
10. A small-barrel curling iron. “I use it on show days when I need to make my hair bigger and define my curls.”
All photos i-Stock unless otherwise specified.
IT'S BEY DEY!!!
WE ARE GOING TO WRITE THIS POST IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER ACCURATE WAY TO CONVEY OUR EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW!!
BEYONCÉ RELEASED AN ENTIRE NEW ALBUM OVERNIGHT WITHOUT WARNING ANYBODY!! YOU NOW HAVE 14 NEW BEYONCÉ TRACKS TO PLAY OBSESSIVELY!! FOURTEEN!!!
OH, AND DID WE MENTION THAT THIS IS A "VISUAL ALBUM," WHICH MEANS EACH SONG HAS A VIDEO?! AND THAT THERE ARE THREE ADDITIONAL BONUS VIDEOS?! AND THAT THE CLIPS STAR MANY OF THE QUEEN BEY BACKUP DANCERS WHO GRACED OUR MAY/JUNE COVER?!
OK. Calming down a bit now. We are professionals.
All of this goodness is available in full via iTunes, but 30-second clips of each video have also been posted to YouTube. And we've shared some of our favorites below. Because THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO MANY BEYONCÉ VIDEOS!! AHHH NO STILL TOO EXCITED FOR REGULAR TYPING!!!
"Mine," featuring Drake
"Heaven" (check out dancer Ashley Everett as the bride!)
The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour is underway! Beyoncé and her fabulous crew are in the process of making their way across Europe (they're performing in Berlin tonight).
But while we wait for them to arrive stateside, team Bey has released a tantalizing series of video snippets that go behind the scenes on the tour. And most of the clips put Beyoncé's awesome dancers—a.k.a. our May/June cover stars!—front and center.
Here are a few of our faves:
A Serbian woman (the tour's first date was in Belgrade) fangirling out as she meets dancer Ashley Everett in the airport:
More of our dancer friends—and Beyoncé—getting pumped up and warmed up before opening night:
Les Twins doin' their thing...
...and talking about their mom!
And finally, a peek at the super-dance-y premiere of "Grown Woman" onstage, with commentary from choreographer Frank Gatson and Mrs. Carter herself:
It's always fun deciding who to feature on the cover of our annual Commercial Issue. There are so many incredible, spotlight-worthy dancers who deserve to be grooving alongside Hollywood's biggest names—and this month, we're so excited and so proud to show off eight of those dancers (plus two more on the DS digital edition!).
Do we even need to ask who runs the world?
Meet Beyoncé's backup dancers! These eight women (click here to read their story) and two men ("Les Twins"—read all about 'em!) just kicked off the superstar's The Mrs. Carter Show world tour, which will be making its way to the U.S. later this summer.
Naturally, pulling this shoot off wasn't easy. We somehow managed to get all 10 dancers, choreographer Frank Gatson Jr., two stylists, three hair and makeup artists, a publicist, a photographer, a photographer's assistant, a video crew and the DS staff together for five hours (on the Sunday morning of Daylight Savings Time—ouch!) at the Alvin Ailey studios in NYC...just days before the Beyoncé Camp began tech rehearsals for the tour. The shoot was completely crazy but totally worth it.
My .5 seconds of fame: being interviewed by the Beyoncé crew for her tour documentary. Gotta say, I prefer being on the other side of the camera!
Click here to see some of the best shots from the day.
Since the shoot and the magazine's release, Beyoncé and her team haven't taken a single day to rest or breathe. Here's a promo from the OMG-you-must-get-tickets tour:
And here's Beyoncé's latest commercial (featuring her lady dancers!) for H&M:
Finally, check out this killer video of all the dancers—and their fearless leader—dancing to "Grown Woman" in Paris:
What do you think of the new issue? Let us know!
(L to R) Ashley Everett, Hajiba Fahmy, Sarah Burns and Hannah Douglass (photos by Erin Baiano)
A year from now, many people won’t be able to tell you who played in that important football game on February 3, 2013. They won’t remember the first downs, the second downs or the touchdowns. What will they remember? Beyoncé, who absolutely threw down for her much-anticipated Super Bowl halftime show performance.
For 13 minutes that Sunday night, the superstar celebrated her greatest hits, bringing the roaring crowd at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans—plus 108 million home viewers—into Beyoncé nation. The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers may have come to play at the 2013 Super Bowl, but Beyoncé was the night’s true victor.
That groundbreaking performance was all about girl power. Beyoncé and her team of more than 100 “single ladies” plowed their way into the stadium and showed the world that women can be sexy and classy at the same time—not to mention showstoppingly talented. And for eight of those lucky women, performing at the big game was the beginning of something even bigger: the sold-out, nearly 50-city The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour with Queen Bey herself.
Kimmie Gipson (photo by Erin Baiano)
“Dance for You”
When hundreds of dancers showed up in NYC, L.A., Atlanta and Chicago to audition for a spot on the Super Bowl stage, they were actually trying out for a much longer gig as well. “This year’s tour audition process was the Super Bowl,” says longtime Beyoncé choreographer Frank Gatson Jr. “We saw 800 girls and once we got down to 100, we paid close attention to who was professional and magical. Beyoncé was very clear on who to pick for the tour—she means business. She’s hands-on and she wants her dancers to shine like stars.”
In the weeks leading up to the tour’s April 15 kickoff in Serbia, the dancers were in rehearsals daily, typically beginning at 9 am and lasting “until…” says Kimmie Gipson, who has been dancing with Beyoncé since her 2009 I Am…World Tour. Gatson and fellow choreographers JaQuel Knight and Chris Grant led the rehearsals; most days Beyoncé joined the dancers as well. “The whole rehearsal period was a lot,” says Sarah Burns, who joined the Beyoncé team in 2012. “Emotionally, physically, mentally—it was very stressful.” During rehearsals, the eight dancers were required to wear all black, and if Beyoncé was in the room, they also had to wear heels.
For Ashley Everett—one of the original “Single Ladies”—the rehearsal demands are no longer shocking, but that doesn’t mean the process has gotten any easier. “Don’t let the hair flips, heels and booty shaking confuse you,” she says. “Beyoncé’s choreography is very diverse—we do it all.” Ashley has been Beyoncé’s dance captain since 2009. “I have to know all the choreography, counts and timing,” she says. “I pay attention to every detail.”
Of course, attention to detail can be difficult when you’re learning choreography alongside the queen of pop. “The first time I met Beyoncé was the day after I auditioned for her tour in 2009,” says Kimmie. “She came in bright and early to rehearse ‘Naughty Girl’ with us. Everybody stood so far away from her, giving her so much space. She looked at us like, ‘Guys, I don’t bite!’ That day I began to see her work ethic firsthand. She was right there with us trying to get the steps.”
Ashley Everett (photo by Erin Baiano)
With so few female dancers accompanying Beyoncé onstage during this tour, it was crucial that the casting team pick eight girls perfectly suited for the job. Of course they had to be talented, and of course they had to be able to master that branded “Single Ladies” ring-finger point and Beyoncé stomp-walk-strut. But The Mrs. Carter Show women come from a wide variety of backgrounds. There’s Ashley, the master of all styles who trained at The Juilliard School, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, the School of American Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem School and American Ballet Theatre and then went on to become a Radio City Rockette. There’s Hajiba Fahmy from Paris, who boasts a contemporary dance background as a former member of Jean-Claude Gallotta’s company. And there’s Kimmie, who worked at McDonald’s (“It taught me how to remain calm in stressful situations,” she says) before going on to join the Philadelphia 76ers dance team. The Beyoncé “camp,” as the dancers call the group, hails from California, Australia and everywhere in between.
What brings the multifaceted group together is the carefully crafted choreography. A total of seven choreographers worked on The Mrs. Carter Show tour, but Gatson, Knight and Grant handle the bulk of the work. “We show Beyoncé at least four versions of each song,” Gatson says. “She wants options to choose from because she’s done all kinds of dance, from ballet to tap.” (When Gatson and Knight were choreographing “Single Ladies [Put A Ring On It],” they spent three weeks on the choreography and created 10 versions of the number.) In the end, Beyoncé makes the final decision about what she likes or dislikes. “She wants to have fun dancing onstage for two hours, so she has to love all of it. She wants to do everything the correct way—the best way. She doesn’t want watered-down choreography,” Gatson says. “She has such respect for dance. And she will do almost anything as long as she remains a lady. She has class with everything she does, even a booty shake. She knows technique will keep your movement classy. When you mix ballet with street movement, you get the Beyoncé brand. We call it country fried chicken with hot sauce.”
“Once in a Lifetime”
When rehearsals are done and it’s time for the show to hit the road, the work really begins. It can be a tough adjustment for the dancers. “You’re in and out of hotels and airports,” says Kimmie, who takes her zebra-print Snuggie on tour with her so she has “something familiar” on the road. “The hardest thing about tour life for me is the lack of rest,” Ashley says. “Aside from doing the show five times a week, I want to sightsee, teach, shop, go out, eat and experience the world. We do all that and then perform and jump on a tour bus to drive all night to the next city—and we keep doing it over and over again. It can be draining.”
Despite the sore feet, muscle aches and exhaustion, each of the eight girls makes one thing clear: This is their dream job, and it’s all worth it when they’re onstage in front of thousands of screaming fans. “I love those moments onstage when we make eye contact and connect with each other—the band, the audience and Beyoncé,” Kimmie says. Adds Ashley: “I’m doing what I love night after night. I’m living my biggest dream.”
(L to R) Amandy Fernandez, Tanesha "KSYN" Cason, Kim Gingras and Kimmie Gipson (photos by Erin Baiano)
MEET THE LADIES
Ashley Everett (Dance Captain)
24; Chico, CA
First Beyoncé job: The Beyoncé Experience tour, 2007
On being one of the original “Single Ladies”:
“I get recognized, and it’s so weird when I do. I’m like, ‘Really? You were paying attention to me?’ ”
24; Paris, France
First Beyoncé job: A commercial filmed earlier this year
On the best part of working with Beyoncé: “She does everything well. Dancing, singing…she’s like nobody else. You have to be a woman before you’re a dancer in order to work with her. You have to know your essence.”
26; Perth, Australia
First Beyoncé job: “Revel Presents: Beyoncé Live,” 2012
On how she scored it: “I was living in L.A., went to an open audition and got the call from my agent that I had booked the job. Everything I’ve done with Beyoncé since then has been a direct booking.”
25; Austin, TX
First Beyoncé job: “Revel Presents: Beyoncé Live,” 2012
On rehearsals: “You have to be ready for anything at any time. There are so many elements—the band, the dancers, the stage—and you don’t always have every piece of the puzzle at once. Your job is to be on your game and master your field.”
First Beyoncé job: “Run the World (Girls)” music video, 2011
On getting to know Beyoncé: “I helped workshop for the ‘Revel’ show [Beyoncé’s first performance after giving birth to baby Blue Ivy] with Beyoncé and two other dancers. It was just the four of us, so I got to do a lot of dancing with her. She’s a sweetheart. She’s down-to-earth and really nice.”
Tanesha “KSYN” Cason
29; Bronx, NY
First Beyoncé job: The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards
On her favorite Beyoncé routine: “ ‘Diva.’ It’s the perfect blend of hood and sexy choreography with a bit of acting.”
27; Montreal, Canada
First Beyoncé job: The 2013 Super Bowl halftime show
How she got the job: “When I saw Beyoncé’s ad about the Super Bowl show, I said, ‘This is it.’ I’m a strong believer in positive thinking and visualization. I listened to her songs over and over and pictured myself with her onstage.”
29; Plainfield, NJ
First Beyoncé job: I Am…World Tour, 2009
On taking the stage each night: “I anticipate the moment when the lights go out and everybody starts to yell. It sends chills all through my body and my nerves turn to excitement. We all hear it onstage, we all feel it, and then we’re like, ‘Let’s do it.’ It’s so powerful.”