Beyoncé and ‘Legendary’: Ballroom culture went mainstream. Now it looks to preserve its roots
It’s hard to imagine Beyoncé leading a group of dancers on a ballet-themed dance number at a festival. But that’s what happened in February, when she hosted ‘The Reina’ Ball in NYC. At the first dance, Beyoncé’s dancers performed “Dance in the Fire” as a prelude to the main performance. The choreography on ‘Dance in the Fire’ wasn’t for ballet students or any other group—but a crowd of more than 2,000 women, mostly dressed in hot pants, leggings and sweatshirts, with more than $500,000 worth of jewelry at stake. By the end of the night, the ‘Dance in the Fire’ dance routine went viral on YouTube—and the viral video (with over 4 million views) is now Beyonce’s first single, debuting as the background music for the trailer at the end of her video for ‘Formation.’
The Reina Ball was, for all intents and purposes, the first modern woman-led ballroom battle of its kind. But not for Beyoncé and her crew. The dancer-turned-reality TV star is not an original ballroom superstar. Her father, Robert, launched the group in 1982 while working for Motown Records, but had to step aside in the 1990s when he began investing in a number of other companies. Beyoncé herself has admitted that her own dance roots were not in ballet, but in the more modern style of Martha Graham and Anne Bogart.
But she has always been a ballroom dancer, and one of them. Beyoncé started dancing in ballet as a teen, and her mother taught her the basics. In the ’80s, she studied classes at the prestigious Alvin Ailey School of Dance in NYC. She is now among a select group of athletes and celebrities who are taking ballet class to fulfill a lifelong dream. Beyoncé’s friend, fellow dancer and choreographer Misty Copeland, says that her ballet roots are her “secret superpower.”
“Beyoncé, not only did she grow up in a household of ballet—but she grew up in the ’80’s, when there was definitely a style that was