Saidah Nairobi’s Journey From Beyoncé Backup Dancer to Artist & Author
Just about everyone in the world is a Beyonce fan, and her latest work “Formation” made everyone learn more about black culture and womanhood. Well one of her tour dancers and celebrity back up dancer Saidah Nairobi dishes on how it feels working for Queen Bey, other projects she has in store and much more, check it out below.
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When did you become a celebrity backup dancer and why?
I would say my biggest recognition came as the dancer with the short blonde Afro on the I Am World tour with Beyoncé. From there it was Usher’s “Hey Daddy” and “OMG” video where I also became widely recognized, and although I’d worked with Ciara for over 7 years, her video Body Party became another work of recognition for me.
What did you love most about being a dancer for Beyonce during her formation tour?
I loved being able to work with so many different styles and personalities of women. There were a lot of young women who were touring for the first time ever and I took it as my responsibility to guide a few of them and serve as a big sister that looked out and helped however I could.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a professional dancer?
The most challenging aspect of being a professional dancer is the physical wear and tear from lots of traveling. Anyone whose flown an economy flight for 23 hours understands what I mean. And as a dancer, our bodies are our instrument, so the need for recovery from traveling is elevated. And there have been so many cases where as soon as we’ve landed from a 12+ hour flight, we have to go straight to stage and perform. We can’t look like we’re jetlagged, we can’t look like our muscles are tight and aching from traveling. We have to show up and show out. But as professionals, we understand and respect the nature of our work, so we do just that. Show up and show out.
Who are some celebrities you’ve danced for and who’s style is most similar to yours?
I’ve danced for Beyoncé, NeYo, Ciara, and Usher. Being from Atlanta, Ciara’s style is most similar to mine. We both come from athletic backgrounds and have very long legs and toned bodies. Being female athletes, we understand the necessity for comfort and style, so that tomboy chic vibe comes naturally to us. It was always fun performing with Ciara because we complimented each other on stage well.
What are the most important factors in becoming a professional dancer?
Important factors in becoming a professional dancer are a strong work ethic, determination, discipline, skills, a unique style, solid working relationships, humility, sense of style, and adaptability.
What are some personal and business goals you set for yourself?
I have just released “We Are”, my first single as an artist, I am anticipating the spring 2017 Release of my first book, a dance memoir titled, ‘The Journey of A Dream,’ and I am currently working on an EP for upcoming release.
Tell us about your new project “We Are.”
On the way home one night, my husband and I were listening to Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti, and something about the horns we were hearing felt like a call to action. There was so much going on in the news about police brutality and African-American males lives being senselessly taken, I got inspired to write a song that speaks about the power and potential in us as a community. A song that is uplifting, that speaks truth, and also serves as positive affirmations to speak over yourself, your children, your family. We Are Trail-Blazers, We Are Game-Changers, We Are Peace-Driven, We Are Light-Holders. “We Are.”
Who motivates you to never give up during difficult times?
I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength. I am grew up with faith as a foundation for life, and I place great value on it. Fear can handicap people from moving forward in their purpose and destiny, but when you really walk in faith, you give yourself no fear to waste time on.
What’s an interesting fact about you that many people don’t know?
Beyoncé, being the visionist that she is, is the reason for my what became my signature short blonde hair. She is very hands on when it comes to the look of her dancers for tour, and my hair was already short due to me cutting it all off a few months prior to booking the I Am Tour. But in May 2009, on the day of a show in Lisbon, Portugal, Beyoncés hair stylist dyed my hair platinum blonde in his hotel room and that became the launch of a new era in my life.
What do you want your supporters to take from this interview?
Look out for my upcoming book “The Journey of A Dream” in spring 2017. I speak in depth about my journey as a professional dancer, stories leading up to my first break, experiences on tour, lessons learned, challenges faced and overcome, and faith being the driving force of my career. It’s a book for anyone that is a fan of music, arts, and entertainment as well as adults and children looking for inspiration and motivation.