What It’s Really Like to Dance in a Music Video

When you ask successful commercial dancers why they started dancing, you tend to hear similar stories: Their 5-year-old selves turned on MTV and obsessed over "Thriller" and "Vogue," and they ended up dancing for hours in the living room, mimicking the iconic choreography and falling in love. Music videos were so many dancers' first inspirations.

But what's it really like to dance in a music video? Ysabelle Capitulé, who was featured in Bruno Mars' retro-chic "Finesse" vid, shares her experience fulfilling those living-room dreams.


Hurry Up and Wait

From start to finish, Mars' "Finesse" video took only three days to make. "It was definitely the fastest job I've ever been hired for," says Capitulé. The project consisted of two nine-hour rehearsals and one 15-hour shoot.

Arriving in the wee hours of the morning, dancers were rushed into hair and makeup and hustled off to wardrobe. And then…they waited. "I like to call a day on set a 'hurry up and wait' situation," says Capitulé, laughing. Once the dancers finally got called to set, they sometimes filmed for 5 minutes, sometimes for 5 hours. That unpredictability means music video dancers have to be not only patient, but also prepared for anything.

What does preparedness look like? Capitulé's must-haves on set include her laptop, makeup bag, makeup wipes, extra comfy clothes, and her slides. "And don't forget your chargers!" she says. "It'll be a long day."

Capitulé (center) working hard on her craft (courtesy Capitulé)

Having Fun

All that said, dancing in a music video is definitely a fun job. "We knew when it was time to work hard, but with Bruno we all had our moments of goofiness," Capitulé says. "It didn't feel like work." She and the other dancers were excited that Mars was so fully involved in the process, making it enjoyable and unforgettable.

Capitulé specifically remembers Mars not wanting it to look like he was the star backed by supporting dancers. Instead, he wanted it to feel as if they were all in one crew together. "I don't think I've worked with anyone as down-to-earth as Bruno," she says. According to Capitulé, working with major celebrities is usually the same as working with anyone else: As long as you're professional, everything should go smoothly.

The "Finesse" music video is an homage to the '90s TV show "In Living Color," and for the dancers, it was an honor to emulate the show's iconic Fly Girls. "The set looked just like the show and the costumes were amazing. It felt like the real thing!" says Capitulé.

Tips for Living Room Dreamers

Ready to take your moves to the small screen? Capitulé recommends getting familiar with being in front of a camera (creating dance videos with your friends is a good place to start) and auditioning as much as possible, so that you get used to performing under pressure. "You have to be able to learn quickly in rehearsals, have a good memory to correct notes on the spot, and your dancing has to be on point whether it's 4 p.m. or 4 a.m.," Capitulé says.

Latest Posts


Because you know you've always wondered... (Getty Images)

Sounding Off: Here's What Your Favorite Musicians Think of Dance Routines Set to Their Songs

In the competition world, a small group of musicians has attained almost cultlike status, with choreographers turning to their tracks over and over. We know how we feel about these bangers—there's a reason we can't stop dancing to them—but how do the musicians feel about us? We caught up with three contemporary artists whose music has dominated the competition scene recently, and gauged their reactions to the dances set to their life's work.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
King Kong on Broadway (Joan Marcus, courtesy Bonneau/Brian-Brown)

Follow the Path of a Broadway Musical from Concept to Opening Night

The curtain rises, the crowd goes wild, and the bright lights of Broadway shine down as you make your debut on opening night…it's every Broadway baby's dream. But you may be surprised to learn that a show's journey to the Great White Way can be months, or even years, in the making. How does a production go from concept to curtain call? We spoke to industry veterans about what happens at every stage.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Jordan Fisher (center) in a dance scene from Work It (Brendan Adam-Zwelling/Netflix)

Here's Why Jordan Fisher Thinks You Should Be Excited for Netflix's New Dance Film, "Work It"

If you're looking for a sign that 2020 might *just* be turning around, look no further than Netflix's new dance-centric film Work It. The movie comes out this Friday, August 7, and the hype is real. ICYMI, the film follows high school senior Quinn Ackerman, played by none other than Sabrina Carpenter, as she attempts to lead her dance team to a competition win in order to bolster her chances of being admitted to the college of her dreams. One small challenge: Quinn isn't a dancer.

Enter Jordan Fisher as Jake Taylor, a talented-but-troubled choreographer and dancer, to help Quinn lead the team. We had the chance to speak with Fisher about his experience on set, and why Work It just might be the dance movie we've all been waiting for.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search