What was the secret behind Beyonce‘s historic performance at the 2018 Coachella in April? Months and months of planning and rehearsal, according to her two main choreographers.
Choreographers Chris Grant and JaQuel Knight, who have worked closely with Beyonce for the past 10 years, spoke with The New York Times about how the artist’s two-hour headlining set in Indio, Calif., came together. In the interview, Grant and Knight discuss the set’s college homecoming theme, Beyonce’s amazing body movements, her attention to detail, and pulling together a full-fledged marching band in the desert.
“I don’t think any of us were expecting it to be this big of a thing. It’s still blowing my mind,” Knight told the Times. “We even had a quick conversation with Bey as we were rehearsing for Week Two. She was like: ‘Wow. People really loved the show, huh?'”
Here’s how Billboard‘s Steven J. Horowitz described Bey’s first-weekend Coachella performance on April 14:
“Throughout a ceaseless two-hour set, the pop icon took the swelling Coachella crowd back to the days of feverish high school pep rallies and college homecomings. On stage, a tiered set of bleachers scraped the sky as a brass band and dozens of dancers backed what was indisputably the weekend’s most stunning performance, with guest appearances from a reunited Destiny’s Child (for a series of their classics), as well as cameos from her husband JAY-Z and sister Solange.”
Planning for the performance began in December, followed by early dance rehearsals in January. Things really started taking shape after Beyonce decided on the performance’s homecoming theme.
“She said, ‘Let’s do a homecoming,’” Knight recalled. “Boom. A nice, clear concept that we were all able to snap into and execute.”
Knight said the choreography team worked with Don Roberts, a consultant on the 2002 film Drumline,” to create their own “professional level marching band.”
“We flew quite a few people in from Atlanta, because it was pretty difficult to cast in L.A. for the specific swag and funk and charisma that we were looking for,” Knight told the Times.
Perhaps even more amazing is that Beyonce and her team had only one day to rehearse the performance on site in the desert.
“At Coachella, when it gets windy, you can’t rehearse. It was super windy the day of our rehearsal. They had to bring the lights and the speakers down. They shut us down,” Knight said. “So that was our one day spent in the desert: We ran it once in the hot sun with no lights.”
Read the full New York Times interview here.