We all know the Glee kids can bust out a song, but how did they ever learn to bust a move? Here's their secret weapon: choreographer Brooke Lipton, who's also polished off the dance routines of Beyonce, Britney Spears and Janet Jackson.
The hoofmeister just chatted with Usmagazine.com during a break from her current The PULSE on tour, a workshop series where a group of the most respected choreographers in the biz (including Gaga's own Laurieann Gibson and J. Lo's ex, Cris Judd) show how they created their signature steps. Read on for her set stories and see her do her thang in a city near you at thepulseontour.com.
UsMagazine.com: Tell me about the Pulse Tour. How is it going so far?
Brooke Lipton: It's been going great. I obviously am the assistant choreographer on Glee, so it's been getting kids interested to see the younger side of television, film and dance, and putting those together.
US: That's awesome. You have an extensive list of people on your resume that you have either danced with or choreographed for. What was it like working with Britney Spears?
BL: It was one of the best experiences of my career. I got to tour the world with her twice. I have a pretty busy schedule with Glee, but I would love to work with her again. She's come on the show, which is really fun to see her back again. She's been an important part of my career of growing up. She's done a lot for dance and music. She's pretty fantastic.
US: It seems like you have formed a pretty solid relationship. As a dancer, what would you say her strengths and weaknesses are?
BL: She knows how to sell the camera. She knows how to work her body, and make herself look fabulous. There's a lot of dancers that you can teach dance moves to, but there's something just magical when the camera gets in front of her, and she gets an audience in there. I think there are some things you can't teach. She knows how she wants to move and what she wants to do.
US: You've also worked with Janet Jackson and Beyonce. Tell me about them!
BL: Janet is pretty incredible, and she treats her dancers so well. She's always one hundred percent into everything with them. She wants things perfect, and she has her hands in every little ounce of it. There aren't many artists who you get to experience that with.
US: What about Beyonce?
BL: She's fantastic. My job with Beyonce was pretty quick. We did a Diva's duet a couple years back. We did a version of "Proud Mary" with Jewel. Beyonce is another one of those great female dancers who I was lucky to get to work with. I think every woman in the world needs to know how to dance with heels and hair, and she's fabulous at it. She's a pretty powerful woman.
US: And you must be so excited to be working on Glee now!
BL: Glee is incredible. I've been with the show since the pilot. A lot of the actors had never danced, or ever been on camera or sang live in front of anyone. We really have gone from zero to pretty fantastic in terms of what they can pull off. Now we're learning numbers in an hour, and they’re performing, because time is so limited with the show rolling along.
US: How do you teach all of those elements -- singing, acting and dancing -- combined? Did they get frustrated?
BL: Oh, yeah. There's definitely been days. Everyone has had a moment where your brain gets fried. They're learning a song, and then they have to dance. A lot of times there is a random background vocal track that doesn’t match the step. You're hitting a high note when we have to do three extra steps. Things don't always hit in your brain the same way. We call them the hardest working cast. They really do have 12 to 15 hour days, 5 days a week!
US: Any funny bloopers on set?
BL: In the wheelchair number, Amber Riley was up at the ramp and she missed the corner and fell. It was literally in slow motion. Bumps and bruises, but hysterical laughing. That, and working on the trampolines and beds. Lots of bumps and bruises but always laughing. You're like, 'Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that I just fell on my head, but let’s do it again!"
US: Awesome. You said that these kids are working 15 hours a day and don't really have a lot of time for a life. Does that cause a lot of interpersonal relationships to develop off camera? Any romance? Any drama?
BL: Some of them have become such a group, it is like high school backstage. At the same time, they get done with work and people go to dinner. You've just spent 15 hours, so of course that's who you want to hang out with.
US: So, you would compare it to high school? There is some drama?
BL: Oh, totally. I think Glee is high school. There are certainly people having fun and people letting go, but it's really comfortable. We have a great crew and a great cast.