Beyoncé's Infectious Moves

Beyoncé Knowles' new hit single is addictive — not the song, it's the video. Andrea Seabrook checks out where Beyonce's new moves came from.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

(Soundbite of song "Single Ladies")

Ms. BEYONCE KNOWLES: (Singing) All the single ladies, All the single ladies, All the single ladies, All the single ladies,

ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

Beyonce Knowles' inescapable hit song "Single Ladies."

(Soundbite of song "Single Ladies")

Ms. KNOWLES: (Singing) Now put your hands up. Up in the club, we just broke up. I'm doing my own little thing.

SEABROOK: The video is in black and white. Beyonce and two other women dancing in a void. There's no set, there's no club, no Cristal, not guys - just three chicks tossing their hair in almost perfect sync.

(Soundbite of song "Single Ladies")

Ms. KNOWLES: (Singing) Cried my tears for three good years. You can't get mad at me, 'Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it. If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.

SEABROOK: But just try searching for "Single Ladies" on YouTube. You'll find a whole lot more than just Beyonce video. A veritable chorus line of homemade bootie-shakers. Everybody, it seems, is stealing her moves and doing them everywhere.

Ms. JASMINE BURROW (High School Student): Whatever, whatever I can find on demand. I just watch it like every day. I'm trying to get better at it.

SEABROOK: 17-year-old Jasmine Burrow is a high school student here in Washington. She rewinds the video again and again, working on her moves.

Ms. BURROW: (Singing) Now put your hands up...

SEABROOK: She's dancing at Ronald Brown Middle School where math teacher Patrice Philips works.

Ms. PATRICE PHILIPS (Math Teacher, Ronald Brown Middle School): It kind of reminds me of my college dance girls. Like, the moves were just like when we have football games, and the dance girls will come out. It looks just like this. I was really excited to see it.

SEABROOK: So, how did Beyonce come up with these infectious steps? At a Mexican Breakfast.

(Soundbite of music)

SEABROOK: Mexican Breakfast, that's the name of a 1960s Bob Fosse dance routine, broadway's Gwen Verdon flanked by two saucy ladies in pant suits on stage at the Ed Sullivan show. Beyonce saw this clip and an early YouTube takeoff set to the hip song "Walk It Out," so the pop star decided to channel the spirit of Gwen Vedon with a sexy updated style.

Mr. JAQUEL KNIGHT (Choreographer): Oh, my God. Look, as they're getting down the whole time with no cuts, no - let's do another take. It's just them three ladies dancing, going air for the key, and they're jamming.

SEABROOK: That's Beyonce's choreographer, JaQuel Knight. He's 19. Knight took the idea and added a healthy dose of J-setting. It's a sassy, jazzy style inspired by dance teams at historically black colleges. One person does a set of moves and the others follow, the perfect style for people all over the country to pick up. And JaQuel Knight says this is exactly what he hoped for.

Mr. KNIGHT: Just to see people wanting to learn it, be able to dance now because that's how I grew up. I grew up doing dance numbers that I'd seen on TV. All of Mary J. Blige's dance numbers, all of Jodisey's(ph), all of MC Hammer's, all of TLC's. I think that's how it should be.

SEABROOK: And get this, Beyonce and her dancers shot the video in one take. It took 12 hours to get it right, and many fans are spending that long watching the video over and over again learning the moves themselves. Young, old, thin, not so thin, everyone is doing it. Even Justin Timberlake did it on Saturday Night Live in a black leotard and heels. So, turn up the radio and feel it.

(Soundbite song "Single Ladies")

Ms. BEYONCE KNOWLES: (Singing) If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it. If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it. Don't be mad once you see that he want it.

SEABROOK: "Single Ladies" is climbing the billboard pop singles chart. It's at number 28 with a bullet.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.