Ariana Grande kicked off Sunday night’s (May 20) 2018 Billboard Music Awards in the air. Lying across a trio of neon-lit umbrellas high above the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the singer descended through a cloud of black parasols held by her gang of dancers and made her way up a bank of white steps center stage to pose as she sang the first verse of her propulsive single “No Tears Left to Cry.”
Wearing a black minidress, black leggings, six-inch knee-high stiletto boots and a black ribbon in her hair, Grande posed on the stairs, flipping her long ponytail as she moved through the set, which featured a series of white columns and arches with bricks and clouds projected onto their surfaces.
The dancers spun in circles around the singer, opening and closing their umbrellas while the audience grooved along to the infectious dance pop track, with the camera catching Camila Cabello enthusiastically singing along in her seat, as Taylor Swift and Shawn Mendes bopped along beside her. Grande ad-libbed over the beat, smiling and repeating “we turnin’ up” as the performance drove to the finish line, a rain of digital snow covering the columns behind her and a smile across her face. In the audience, her brother Frankie Grande had his hands in the air, shouting his approval at his little sister’s powerful performance.
Grande kicked off a night packed with superstar performances from host Kelly Clarkson, Salt-N-Pepa featuring En Vogue, Dua Lipa, Jennifer Lopez, John Legend, Macklemore & Kesha, Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey, Khalid & Normani Kordei, Shawn Mendes & Khalid, Christina Aguilera & Demi Lovato, BTS, Camila Cabello & Pharrell and Janet Jackson.