Choreographer JaQuel Knight’s moves have made their way to Beyoncé‘s stage, but he’s drawn inspiration from those who came before Queen B for years — and Queen is one that had him stomping and clapping with the beat long before “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” came along.
To mark the Friday (Nov. 2) theatrical release of Bohemian Rhapsody, the new film that chronicles the rise of the arena rock act before their career-defining performance at Live Aid in 1985, Knight spoke on Freddie Mercury’s influence as a performer and how the film captured that.
“From his confidence, to the way he walked, to the way he held the mic stand — [he] embodied that,” he says. “The difference between good and great is belief in yourself. Bohemian Rhapsody, to me, it’s about being free.”
He goes on to highlight Mercury’s impact on him, personally, and why Queen’s music lends itself so perfectly to spirited choreography.
“Freddie literally gave everything he had every time he hit the stage, in the studio,” Knight continues before invoking “We Will Rock You,” one of Queen’s greatest hits. “Freddie created things that people were afraid of. You have to be able to look fear directly in its eyes, and you’re gonna create. I’m that same way… The idea of the stomp and claps is genius, because you want the audience to be a part of the show.”
Watch Knight discuss Queen and Mercury’s lasting impact — and work through some killer choreography inspired by their music — below.