Oh, to Dance with Beyonce on Tour

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More than 1,000 scantily clad dancers line up in the cold in New York City for the chance to go on tour as backup dancers for the pop diva Beyonce. The multi-city auditions will results in only a lucky 40 dancers chosen.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

If you have ever watched "American Idol," it may seem that every young person wants to be a star. Not so. Some people dream of dancing behind a star.

In New York City, more than a thousand women lined up around a city block to audition as backup dancers to pop star Beyonce.

NPR's Robert Smith stopped by too.

ROBERT SMITH: A cold, windy New York City street is no place for a scantily-clad dancer, but Amber Bianca Hill has been standing in this line all night long.

Ms. AMBER BIANCA HILL (Dancer): I stayed awake, trying to stay warm. I ran across town trying to find a bathroom.

SMITH: For staying up all night, I mean, your hair looks great, your makeup looks perfect - how do you pull this off?

Ms. HILL: Well, I've drunk plenty of water; fruits, candies, chips - everything bad that a dancer is not supposed to eat.

SMITH: But she has no time to talk right now. The line is finally starting to move into the dance studio in midtown.

(Soundbite of dancers)

SMITH: The choreographers for Beyonce are holding these open calls in five cities across the country, looking for 40 people to shimmy and gyrate behind the diva on her world tour.

Unidentified Man #1: Everyone, put your hands down, (unintelligible)

SMITH: To fight chaos, Lindsay Rhodes and her friends from New Jersey are trying to warm up a little with the dance routine.

Is there a signature Beyonce move?

Ms. LINDSEY RHODES (Dancer): Like the booty dance.

SMITH: The booty dance.

Ms. RHODES: The booty dance.

SMITH: Show me the booty dance.

Ms. RHODES: Six, seven, eight...

SMITH: And the whole line undulates.

There are two types of dancers in the line. Some are here because they want to be famous - they want to be Beyonce. And there are the ones that just want to perform, even out of the spotlight.

Tanya Cruz has done backup dancing before, and says there's just one commandment.

Ms. TANYA CRUZ (Dancer): You can't upstage her. She should be the center.

SMITH: So it's like when you're bridesmaid.

Ms. CRUZ: Right.

SMITH: A paid bridesmaid, somebody says here. It's going to take longer for the scene of young women warming up their hip-hop moves starts to attract a mostly male crowd. John Davis and Chris Rammy(ph) are leaning against the mailbox, trying to predict who will make the cut.

Unidentified Man #2: I feel like an ESPN analyst. I just (unintelligence), because there's a lot of quality women out here right now, in all shapes and sizes as they well.

Unidentified Man #3: It couldn't get any better than this.

SMITH: Actually, it does get better for the dancers. Amber Hill, the woman who stayed up all night in line, runs down the stairs from the studio.

Ms. HILL: We had about 8,000 girls, and they were bummed rushing us to the mirror, literally like pushing and fighting to be in the front, and you know, it looked like a strip club inside of there (unintelligible)

SMITH: They were talking basic moves to Beyonce's hit "Déjà Vu," as a man went around the room whispering to their ears.

Ms. HILL: He wasted no time because everyone's doing it twice, and I only did it once, and he was like, come back, and then that was it. And I did it backwards and stayed there.

SMITH: Hill made the first cut and will return on Sunday. She says, watch out, this time she'll have hair and makeup professionally done and hopefully get a little more sleep.

Robert Smith, NPR News, New York.

(Soundbite of music)

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