Learn How to Move Like Beyonce, Thanks to Bay Area Dance Teacher

Photo: YouTube
Photo: YouTube

Beyoncé is an undeniable force of pop stardom. Girls (and some boys) look up to her, want to emulate her and even dance like her. There are YouTube tutorials that'll try teaching you how shake it like Yoncé, but bumping into your coffee table while trying to stop, pop, and drop it doesn’t make you feel like you’re closer to being in a Beyoncé video.

Enter Carol Johnstone, one of the co-founders of Bay Area Flash Mob. After a successful Beyoncé flash mob performance earlier this year, Johnstone thought of expanding the series and focusing on the routine from the “Ego” music video. She sent out a press release to Eventbrite and 7x7, to gauge interest and hopefully gain 30-ish RSVPs for the class. She ended up with 816 sign ups.

“I want to help women feel sexy and empowered like Beyoncé and, it’s a good workout. The way she drops it the floor with her leg popped out: it’s not easy,” Carol Johnstone tells me over the phone from her home in Marin. I take her word for it, not only because Johnstone has met Queen B herself, but because I’ve stubbed my toe attempting it myself.

Johnstone’s career connected with dance five years ago, when she joined the Thrill the World flash mob to learn Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" choreography. Here, she met fellow co-founders of BAFM, who together went on to build a following of 2000+ members through word-of-mouth and social media.

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In 2010, a friend turned her onto Les Twin, a hip-hop dance duo from France, who were gaining popularity in the dance community. After some internet sleuthing, Johnstone discovered Les Twin were coming to San Francisco and she could be several feet away from them, “for like, five bucks.”What started out as innocent fangirling (asking for a picture with them) turned out to be a life changing business deal. “I asked if they had a website and they told me about their Facebook page...so I offered to make them a proper fan site. A friend of mine in New York and I created Les Twin Online and within weeks, started getting offers from everyone from Russian dance classes to Rihanna.”

Les Twins dubbed Johnstone their “de facto manager” and, in between turning down Russians, Johnstone found out Les Twins were wanted men. “Beyoncé had a bounty for $10,000 to find them." Johnstone soon booked Les Twin’s career-making “Run the World (Girls)” music video and, while fulfilling her managerial duties on set, was introduced to Queen B herself. Though Bey politely turned down a picture with Johnstone because she was in top-secret-at-the-time costume, it’s an experience Johnstone remembers fondly. Johnstone and Les Twins have since parted ways, but Johnstone’s involvement in the dance community clearly hasn’t slowed.

Johnstone on set with Les Twins
Johnstone on set with Les Twins

The original run of six Sunday classes at San Francisco’s Levy Studio, taught by Dyon Lain, sold out within hours. “I’m in the process of adding more teachers, classes, and weeknights,” Johnstone says of her revised plan to meet the demand. So far, she’s secured one location in Oakland and is working three to six more in San Francisco, but it’s hard to find space to accommodate the large groups. Yet Johnstone is up for the daunting task, already surveying the event page to see what Bey dance attendees would want to learn next. “Run the World” is in the lead, but I’m partial to “Single Ladies.”

Since the current class is progressive, I ask if there’s a performance end goal. “I could get eight or nine girls up on stage at the Castro Street Fair. If enough people express an interest, they’ll get a chance to perform.” Turns out Johnstone is open -- a life philosophy -- to plenty of options that would bring Beyoncé dance moves wherever they are needed. “I know it seems like everything is always in the city, so if there’s an interest in North or South Bay, I’m open to an on-demand basis! If there’s an interest, I’ll try to make it happen.” Carol Johnstone: proving that we do have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyoncé.

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$10/per class, $60/6 pack series. For more information and time/location updates, visit the Facebook event page!

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