What It’s Really Like To Be a Pro Choreographer
Aspiring to be a dancer is like aspiring to be a model or an actress. It sounds glamorous and fun, but everyone will tell you that the chances of making it in the industry are slim to none. Besides, you’re always going to be catering to someone else’s needs as a dancer, they’ll say.
With the recent popularity of dance videos on Youtube and other forms of social media, dancers who were once relegated as the “back-up” are now shining stars in their own right. Just ask Janelle Ginestra, girlfriend of Willdabeast Adams, both of whom are the minds (and bodies) behind ImmaBeast Dance Company. Even if you’re not into dancing, you’re sure to have scrolled past some of their work on your Facebook timeline. Perhaps you even saw their nomination for best dance video at the BET awards?
We caught up with Janelle to talk about what it’s really like to live and work as a professional dancer/choreographer.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue dancing?
At age one and a half. My mom took me to a dance recital to watch one of our family members and I bugged her until I was two years old, telling her that I wanted to do that. Finally, she took me to a dance school. They said they were sorry but they didn’t take two-year-olds, and my mom said, “But she can do a cartwheel!” So they allowed me to dance with the four-year-olds because I could do a cartwheel. Ever since then, I’ve always danced off and on, it’s really who I am. I can’t imagine myself not dancing.
What’s an average day of work like for you?
I usually wake up and workout, then I will have a meeting because I have pointless meetings everyday. Then I will most likely have a rehearsal and then I’ll probably teach. If I don’t have a job or something specific, I’ll probably be working with my dance company.
What does your morning workout usually consist of?
I do a little bit of cardio, but mostly strength training. So like, weights, box jumps, I don’t like, go for a run, I’m much more aggressive.
I’m sure you get a workout during the day also?
I do, but since I choreograph now, it’s much more sitting and pointing [laughing].
What’s the biggest false stereotype about dancers?
There’s two types of dancers, freestylers and choreo-kids. I’m a choreo-kid, and people always think that if I go out or if I’m at a function I’m going to dance my ass off, and it’s actually the opposite. When I go out I just want to blend in, groove around and stuff, but I’m not going to start doing a routine at the club [laughing].
What are the pros and cons of being a professional dancer and choreographer?
The pro is that I get to do what I love everyday and it’s always changing, and there are endless doors that have been opened in the dance community. Dance has grown so much, so it’s welcomed lots of variations of jobs. The cons are that it’s not consistent and it’s not promised. I could be irrelevant tomorrow because some new white girl with brown hair is doing some new shit. You always have to stay on top of your game, money is inconsistent, you never know when your next job is going to be.
You’ve worked with a slew of celebrities including Beyonce, Jason Derulo, J.Lo, and tons more..was there ever a time when you got starstruck? Or is it just another day of work for you?
I respect all the artists I’ve worked with, but can’t remember a time when I was starstruck by them. I do get starstruck when I see the Real Housewives at events though [laughing]. There are a lot of artists that are famous that I feel like I don’t respect that much. Oh and Beyonce, oh my god, she is by far one of the biggest [artists I respect] ever. Her and Lady Gaga.
What’s been your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
My favorite project is by far our BuildaBeast convention. It’s the most rewarding to see what we have created on our own. With everything negative going on in the world, it’s beautiful to see so many cultures, sizes, races, and variety in one room and have so much love and good energy flowing throughout it. We bring a lot of choreographers to teach at our convention as well. And it’s not a common thing that choreographers support each other because it’s such a competitive field. So I like that we can all come together.
How do you think YouTube and the popularity of sharing dance videos on Facebook and other social media platforms has changed the industry?
It’s completely changed it. I can’t even describe. You have an outlet to connect with the world. You have an outlet to put your face on something and be in the forefront instead of as a backup. It’s completely changed the way dancers are viewed. And now I just want the money to change along with that so we can be paid as professional athletes and professional stars. Now that people have become fans of the craft and the people, it allows us to shine in a whole new way.
You recently released a look book dance video with Cardi B, can you tell us more about the idea behind look book videos?
My stylist and the stylist for Immabeast, we wanted to create an art movement. We also wanted to have brands come to us to promote visual look books instead of just having it in a magazine or having the models walk. We wanted to do it in a urban, fashion kind of way. So then it combines two of those worlds. Now you’re going to have not just the models and fashionistas watching, now you’re going to have the dancers watch too.
What advice would you give to aspiring dancers and choreographers?
To stay true to yourself and not give up the fight, because there are going to be so many talented people surrounding you always. You have to find out what makes you you and what makes you stand out from the rest and to also be versatile. You cannot just be good at one thing and you cannot just be a dancer, you have to have an image, you have to have a brand and you need to have an identity. You need to use that and be confident in that. That will allow you to shine as your own person.