“I DIDN’T THINK I COULD DO IT, UNTIL I WAS CHALLENGED TO DO IT” are the words that better define the astronomical career of the brilliant Brian Friedman, choreographer of all the stars you love.
Britney Spears, Beyoncé & Cher are only a few of the icons who have danced to Brian’s routines. You can thank him for Britney’s Slave4U moves, because, let’s be honest, we’ve all rocked them when nobody was watching. As a young dancer he worked with Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul. When you meet Brian you instantaneously understand why he’s so successful. He’s got that fiery energy and a bright smile that captures you and emanates passion. Yet, he’s laid-back and absolutely down to Earth.
My mom was a dance teacher, so I used to sit at the back of her classes, but she never forced me to dance. I began when I was 11 and started competing straight away. All the other kids had started when they were 4 or 5 years old so I felt a bit like the late bloomer, but I fell right into it. You have to have passion
Born in Scottsdale, Arizona, he recently won Male Choreographer of the Year at the World of Dance Awards and won Best Choreography in a Music Video at the Industry Voice Awards for his work in Britney Spears’ ”Till the world ends”. He also gathers 5 nominations at the American Choreography Awards, 4 for MTV Video Music Awards and 2 for the Music Production Video Awards. He’s been a creative director of America’s Got Talent, Britain’s got Talent and The X Factor US & UK, as well as a choreographer and director of Dancing with the Stars.
But things weren’t easy for Brian:
My biggest obstacle has been my body, I don’t have a dancers body at all. I was never the flexible one. I would be in a dance class, everyone bent over and touched their toes and I couldn’t. But I wanted to do it… I had the passion! I’ve had many injuries, I even was in a wheelchair for a while… but I’m always ready to get up and kill it
Brian is the kind of person who knows no limits. If he’s got an obstacle, he will work as hard as it takes to overcome it and be the best, an attitude that led him to land major projects at a young age:
“I was a very driven child. I forced my mom to take me to Los Angeles to constantly train and chase my dream. I entered endless competitions… I was only 14 the first time that I choreographed. I hated school and felt like it was holding me back. I only wanted to go back to the dance studio”
Brian soon stumbled upon an unexpected opportunity to transition from dancing to choreographing. His breaking point came while he was dancing in LA:
“I was working with wade robson in Los Angeles. He was working on 2 projects at the same time so he couldn’t make it to one of them, so he asked me if I would take over for him. That meant cleaning, teaching choreography that was already done and coming up with some of my own original choreography. I was really nervous because the dancers were professional, not dance studio dancers, but Julie McDonald from MSA (the largest agency in Los Angeles) saw me there and asked me to consider choreographing professionally. She told me that she thought my work was very good.
Shortly after, Wade gave me another job with 15 year old Christina Milian when I was only 23 years old, which was my first job as a creative director. In that moment I was sure, that was exactly what I wanted to do.”
Toxic (Britney Spears) was the first video that I wrote. I didn’t think I could do it, until I was challenged to do it. Britney asked me to come up with a concept. I’m thankful to her for giving me the opportunity to become the director that I am now
He has a message for young and upcoming talents that might surprise you:
“If anybody has doubts, if there are obstacles whether it’s your flexibility or you can’t remember the choreography… I would always tell them keep working on it. If you have obstacles, your consistency will get you through it. Keep practicing. you have to have passion and put your heart into it. If you have that hunger and fire, you will succeed. People see through it. I hire dancers that don’t necessarily have perfect technique but they have the energy, the fire, and when you put it on camera, it’s undeniable and directors, producers… they see it”
But Brian didn’t stop there. Choreographing iconic pop stars’ music videos and tours and directing major American and British TV Shows is good enough, you say? Absolutely not. Brian has two more amazing projects going on he’s very passionate about, a super successful dance clothing brand called BSBF (Brian Says Be Free):
“We don’t learn fashion; it is injected into our veins and travels right into the depths of our soul. It’s something we can’t live without. Fashion is freedom. Fashion is life. Fashion is being unafraid to be uniquely you. I live for fashion and I live to b free.”
…and he is also the creative director of The Pulse on Tour, a weekend dance workshop with some of the most talented choreographers, teachers and dancers:
“I get to teach about 30,000 students a year. They’re the next generation of us, so it’s really great to know that the heartbeat of dance is staying alive”
NOTE: After this interview, Brian decided to leave The Pulse on Tour, as he explains:
I decided to leave the Pulse after 13 years. It was a decision that was very difficult for me but I am very excited about my new endeavors. The company I am starting with in November is called Radix and I have already started posting about it. Just as I created The Pulse, I will be doing great things at Radix 😉
Brian Friedman is one of the most inspiring and motivational people that you will ever come across. He has worked for every ounce of success and every accomplishment that he has achieved, and has always kept an amazing attitude and positivity towards setbacks and obstacles. He’s a perfectionist which has absolutely been key in his career:
“My eye always goes to the bad , I only catch mistakes. It doesn’t stop when I’m not working. It’s my ocd, but I accept it , it gives my work a finished quality, everything has to look tailored and perfect”
Dance is the only language that I speak. it’s helped me become a better choreographer, a better director. To do what i love is just unbelievable to me. Dancing is the only thing that I got right. It’s my heartbeat.
KEEP UP WITH BRIAN AND HIS (MANY) PROJECTS:
PHOTOGRAPHY: LOUISE FLORES