aris-dance.com exclusive interview with Ashanti’s choreographer Brice Vick.
Brice Vick: Legacy is my thing and if I don’t teach people how I want them to dance, then my legacy will die. When I am dead and gone I want Brice Vick name to be all over and I want my style to come out of their movement.
Escorting celebrity recording artists to their peak and creating a vision that is unattainable by conformists, choreographer Brice D. Vick sinks his teeth into challenge and knows nothing but perfection. All of this is evident once he is seen in action. His eclectic style is one that is readily admired and is rapidly becoming the standard for artists seeking to gain that critical edge while performing. Brice does not compare himself to anyone; he knows his craft is a gift. Coupled with confidence and humbleness, he stands outs amongst the best in his field.
Throughout his stint as a dancer and choreographer, Brice Vick has brought his unique dance approach to an array of artists including R. Kelly, Christina Aguilera, Rah Diggah, Lenny Kravitz, Destiny’s Child, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, Sticky Fingaz, Lauren Hill, The Roots and Lords of the Underground, Jah Rule and Bobby Brown. Although his work has traveled to some of the most recognizable stages in the nation, including stops at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman, choreographer Brice Vick is mostly known by everybody in the industry, as the person behind the dance moves of recording artist ASHANTI.
aris-dance.com: You are most recognized for choreographing stage shows, music videos and TV appearances for recording artist Ashanti. How did you get to know the Princess of Hip Hop?
Brice Vick: Well, the first job they offered me to choreograph for Ashanti was “Lady of Soul Award”. It was being recorded in Los Angeles and it was coming on Television so, they wanted Ashanti to look and be different. They asked me to come in because they knew that her and me were good friends, so I did the choreography. Ashanti got a standing ovation at the end of her performance. After the performance they told me that I would be the official choreographer for Ashanti.
aris-dance.com: Were you her first choreographer?
Brice Vick: Not necessarily. She has worked with Fatima Robinson and she has also worked with Kishaya Dudley who choreographed the “Happy” video for her. At the time I was working with another recording artist. When Ashanti came up with “Always On Time”, which was her first single with Ja Rule, I wasn’t one of the main choreographers they picked. They actually went with a lot of renowned choreographers. It wasn’t me at first at all. It was when everyone started tarnishing her image saying that she couldn’t dance at this scene of the “Happy” video, which I didn’t do. Ashanti is an amazing dancer. She is technical, she can turn, she knows how to tap and she knows how to do African and modern dance. She has studied that for all her life.
aris-dance.com: How challenging is the process of choreographing for an artist of such caliber?
Brice Vick: You have to be talented not only as a dancer and choreographer but at the same time you have to have a mind for business. You also have to know video production, because you will have directors coming to you with different terminology about camera angles for your choreography and for the artist. And you have to know how to answer that, or your work will get kind of choppy. You have to have the vision of videography and also keep re-inventing yourself. I remember for the “Only You” video I incorporated a little bit of African movement in it just to keep it edgy. Sometime is better to add other elements to your routine to keep the flavor going because if you don’t, it becomes boring and she will look for somebody else new. So, you have to re-invent yourself all the time.
aris-dance.com: After launching her own denim collection, Ashanti has become the latest celebrity to enter the fashion world. Do you know if she is working on anything else?
Brice Vick: She is working on a Denim Collection and also a perfume line. There’s a rumor going around that we are going on a National Tour and that she is getting signed to a new label.
aris-dance.com: Are you still involved as her choreographer?
Brice Vick: Definitely. But even if I don’t choreograph for Ashanti anymore, I will always be a friend and always be critical and offer advice to her. I think our friendship has grown to a family member and I consider her as my little sister.
aris-dance.com: How do you select your dancers and what would be your advice to dancers who would like to audition for you one day?
Brice Vick: It’s funny you say that because I am about to have another audition for Ashanti DVD and also I am working with a new R&B artist called Chosen and Rapper Remy Martin. I pick my dancers based on matching the recording artist. Sometimes I go with talent agencies and sometimes I hold open auditions. Dance agencies have great talents, but I am a choreographer who believes in people who have never had that big break as far as television. It is very hard to be represented by an agency if you haven’t done anything. I believe in giving people who are not represented a chance. I believe in their talent, even if they don’t have a big name. And I want to give them an opportunity to shine without caring if they are with an agency or not. If you are good, you are good, period.
aris-dance.com: During your professional career you have performed and choreographed for many recording artists and because of that you have gained an enormous experience in the industry. In your opinion, why are dancers overworked and underpaid by many recording artists?
Brice Vick: Well, just because you see a lot of artists on television and you see them working a lot; it doesn’t mean that they have big budgets. The industry went down because people were downloading music and sharing videos online. The music is not selling like it used to when Michael Jackson, Madonna and Janet Jackson were out. The money it’s really not there, the same with economy, it’s just not there and in some artists minds dancers are still an extra prop on stage. Some artist can do with them and some artist can do without them. Those who say take it or leave it, suffer in their performances. It shows that their performance looks ghetto, it looks tacky and it looks like they had only one little rehearsal. Other artists who know that dancers are the key to their performance put the money into it and they pay the dancers well and the dancers are happy. But you know, artists have the upper hand because everyone now wants to be a video dancer and if you don’t like it, another dancer will do it for free.
aris-dance.com: Not many people know this but an Italian visitor, who was assigned to scout new talent for a United Colors Benetton Commercial, discovered you. After that you set the choreography for an international add and several United Colors Benetton new line presentations. What was that experience like?
Brice Vick: It was absolutely breathtaking on the creation side, because I was a creator and it was easy for me. They wanted some kids to do choreography and I am like, hey, I am fresh out of dance school, I am seventeen but I can definitely do this. At that time dance really, really started to grow in the community and I knew what to do. I did it in 1,2,3. I didn’t go home to rehearse anything and I choreographed everything on top of my head and they absolutely loved it. However, I didn’t have an agent and I wasn’t affiliated with anyone who really knew the nature of the business. So, on the business side, I got completely screwed. They saw that I was nothing but a young hungry talent, I mean starving talent and I think I only got probably $200.00 out of choreographing a United Colors of Benetton Commercial. But the experience was great and that’s why I tell everyone, I don’t really care about the money sometimes because of the experience and the name. You have to build that name because that name is power in America.
aris-dance: What would be your advice to dancers who don’t have a representation avoiding the same mistakes you made?
Brice Vick: I would advice dancers, to not go there and act dumb but play your cards right. Always know in the back of your head what you are supposed to get, but also know how much this gig will benefit you. If it benefits you but there’s no money take it. It’s a business, you do it for me, I give you the name and you use the name in getting better-paid jobs in the future.
aris-dance.com: What would be your advice to aspiring choreographers who would like to work one day in the music video industry?
Brice Vick: Watch the people who are around you and never really put all your trust into them because their mission is to conquer and divide. Always stay within the means of your beliefs because people will steal from you and would rob you and they would try to pick something that you love to do and make you hate it, so they can be in your position.
aris-dance.com: You have traveled around the world not only for choreographic opportunities, but to conduct master classes as well, and recently you came to Atlanta for a dance workshop. What did you think of our talent here and what do you enjoy the most, choreographing or teaching?
Brice Vick: I didn’t really get a chance to see many dancers in one room because the workshop that I held wasn’t such a big master class, but the talent that I did see in Atlanta was absolutely good. Atlanta is in tune with their body and I love the way they move and they move different than any other city and that’s why I will always go to Atlanta if I need to do any real movement as far as moving your upper body, popping your back, popping your butt. Atlanta is raw, it’s very raw and that’s why I love Atlanta dancers. Look at Ciara’s dancers…they are beautiful.
aris-dance: do you enjoy choreographing or teaching?
Brice Vick: Choreographing to me is teaching. Because I am teaching them how to move to my vision in my head and my vision in my head is not like anyone else’s. So, whenever I am choreographing, I am teaching and coaching.
aris-dance.com: How important is technical training and what would be your advice for trained dancers who would like to work as back up dancers for the stars?
Brice Vick: Being a trained dancer is very important. And being a trained dancer has benefited me because there are certain times in the industry when music videos go on a blackout. What do you do? Would you go and wait tables or go and learn some tricks? Since I am a ballet and modern dancer, my trick has been using that knowledge in teaching workshops and getting paid for something that I love doing.
aris-dance.com: Anybody you look up to and would like to thank?
Brice Vick: I have to say God, because my belief in God is so strong and without him I am nothing, I am totally nothing. And I believe in it and I believe that God has something for me that I would enjoy, because he hasn’t brought me this far to leave me. I also would like to thank my deceased Grandfather Benny Jenkins.
aris-dance.com: If there’s one artist that you would love to choreograph, who would that be?
Brice Vick: Sting.
aris-dance.com: I never expected you to go with Sting. Why Sting?
Brice Vick: I would love to put some choreography to his work and I believe that if he saw what I could do to his work, he will use me and he will buy me out of any contract that I am in. I have always danced to Sting music.
aris-dance.com: What’s next for Brice Vick?
Brice Vick: Well, next is choreographing The All Star Game with recording artist Chosen. I am going to continue for another year working in the industry with recording artists and then Brice Vick is going to open his own major dance school.
Brice Vick: (laughing) The location is not going to be disclosed right now. I already have my blueprint and everything working but, I promise you guys are going to be …put this down: the first to know about the location is going to be you and aris-dance.com readers. So you know it’s a building and it’s going to be about four floors.
aris-dance.com: It’s in Atlanta, isn’t it?
Brice Vick: I didn’t say that, but you guys would be the first to know it…
aris-dance.com: You are the Artistic Director of Pop Starz in Florida. How is that going for you?
Brice Vick: I am the Artistic Director of the school because I believe in giving back to the kids. Legacy is my thing and if I don’t teach people how I want them to dance, then my legacy will die. When I am dead and gone I want Brice Vick name to be all over and I want my style to come out of their movement.
aris-dance.com: Thanks Brice and good luck!
International booking for Choreographer Brice Vick.
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