On a recent Saturday morning, Bay Area Beyoncé fans reveled in the rare opportunity to get down with the man behind some of Queen Bee’s fiercest dance moves.
With KQED video cameras rolling, Los Angeles-based professional choreographer James Alsop led participants through two high-energy dance classes, based on the stage choreography he helped create for the song “End of Time,” from the Beyoncé album 4.
Alsop got his first big break with Bravo’s short-lived reality television show “Step It Up and Dance." He went on to dance for Kelly Rowland, Jennifer Lopez, and Janelle Monáe. Then, in 2011, the Charlotte, North Carolina-native was tapped to create the choreography for Beyoncé’s “Run the World” music video. “The rest, as they say, is 300-million-views history,” says Alsop.
So why make the trek from Los Angeles to teach a group of mostly amateur dancers in the Bay? “I just love to dance,” he says. And, as a choreographer, working behind the scenes of stardom, “you don’t really realize the impact your work has on everyday people’s lives, until you come here.”
At least one class participant, Mackenzie Conway, a San Francisco State grad with experience dancing in Bay Area musical theater, dreams of someday working as a professional tour dancer. But most people showed up that day to celebrate the artist they love, and her message of women’s empowerment and equality. And, of course, there was the opportunity to bust moves with other members of the BeyHive.
“The dances, the stomps, all the moves, it’s just really fierce,” says Richmond resident Symone Wilson. “You just let yourself go, no inhibitions, that’s what I love.”
The special master class was part of the Bay Area dance series PopStar Booty Camp, founded by Marin County’s Carol Johnstone, former talent manager for world famous hip-hop dancers Les Twins. The camp has been bringing pop choreography to local dance fans since 2014, producing six-week programs that culminate in public performances at local music clubs.