What are some things you want to accomplish in the future?
I feel I’m kind of slowly doing everything that I wanted to do. I was lucky enough to experience and do things that I dreamed of at a young age. So, you know, when that happens it allows new dreams to form. I’m slowly branching out and getting into TV and film and directing. I’m also being a representative of a Polynesian woman, representing Polynesian women more through fashion, through collaborations.
The video you directed for Own the Floor is really impactful. Can you talk about that film?
I created this short piece with Nike. I choreographed the whole film and collaborated with Nike on the creative and the music and also the manifesto that I speak in the voiceover. It’s something very personal to me from what I’m saying to how I’m moving to the whole intention of the piece. The inspiration is sharing the different sides of me as a dancer. The different shades and the different colors that I feel when I move. You know, as dancers, we don’t just have one way or one style of moving. We have so many layers, and even just as a woman, too, there are so many layers through my personality and my emotions. So it was really beautiful to be able to kind of express that through the film, through color and through music and movement. It really is like a roller coaster. I felt like that was a really beautiful way to kind of celebrate dance and dancers and we each have our own story and through dance we can own that and express that and essentially own the floor.
I want to talk about some specific scenes from the Savage x Fenty show because I was so inspired by it. Can you talk about the opening scene, specifically the dancers moving like string puppets. What was the thought process behind that?
That scene in general was inspired by an opera. A lot of Broadway and musical theater inspiration came through. So when I selected the song, it had such a theatrical energy. That puppet section was actually the last section I created a couple of days before the shoot. It was very last minute, but I knew something was missing. I felt like it was this kind of theatrical element. I thought maybe it needed a prop, and then it kinda just came to me like a light switch. I was like, “What if we do like, a puppet section with the boys and it’s like puppets controlling each other?” It ended up being really cool, but I just felt like it fit within the story of this opera.
And I saw you rehearsing the Normani scene on your Instagram. And that choreography was so good in that red box. And I loved the section where the gentleman pulled her legs up. It was sexy but super powerful. I’m just curious how you came up with that.
We had the red cube already built for it. And I just kind of played off her energy that she already had within the song. I also believe in simplicity. So I felt like her doing really abstract, cool poses, and then like adding in boys in the second half to really amplify the performance. But again we did that very last minute with only a day to put it together. So when you’re in that position, you just go, you don’t think so much. You’re just like, look, we’ve got to finish it. So I think I ended up with a really cool for sure, for sure, it looks like a music video.
I have to ask about the Rihanna scene in that lounge area with Busta Rhymes’ “What’s It Gonna Be?!” song featuring Janet Jackson. Those subtle moves looked amazing. It seems like these things just come to you, but I’m still curious how you got to that.
You’re right. It just kind of happens. I just played the music and I just go, but I definitely know I wanted to keep it quite simple and visual with the girls in that lounge area we created. And I think Rihanna has such a presence that you almost don’t have to do too much. I just felt like I wanted to strip it right back, have like, some simple movement that really you’d never forget. And I think it looked great.