You know that old saying about how Ginger Rogers had to do everything Fred Astaire did but backwards… and in high heels? (If not, go ask your great-grandma.) Well, it sounds like Harry Styles and his dancers had to channel some serious Rogers vibes during Sunday night’s performance at the 2023 Grammy Awards.
According to posts on Monday from a pair of Styles’ dancers, the spinning turntable set they had endlessly rehearsed on for their run through the singer’s hit “As It Was,” threw them for a loop when it started spinning in the wrong direction during the performance. “What you don’t know is that the moment the curtain opened and it was time to perform, our turntable started spinning in reverse,” dancer Brandon Mathis said in an Instagram Story (per Rolling Stone).
“Backwards. Freaking all of us out on live television, and there was nothing we could do to stop it,” added Mathis. “In real time, we had to troubleshoot and try to do a complete piece in reverse. Talk about professionalism.”
At one point, viewers may have noticed Styles awkwardly hopping down off the spinning wheel and appearing to stumble a bit, expertly regaining his balance while moving from the malfunctioning set to the more stable, non-moving, front of the stage. Another one of his dancers, Dexter, revealed on TikTok that the team practiced the intricate choreography for 10 days before Sunday’s show and that the comments decrying the performance as “lethargic” were unfair given the challenges in the moment.
“We rehearsed for 10 days getting down these beautiful formations and sliding off the table in a roll-off and just making this incredible, morphing, cool artistic s–t and Harry did such a good job integrating into it,” Dexter said in the video, adding that the dancers desperately tried to get a stage tech’s attention about the miscue, but were forced to improvise in the moment and completely switch up all their choreography on the spot.
Dexter said the team had rehearsed the whole time with the turntable moving clockwise, which is why it was “difficult” and “frustrating” to try and pull off the intricate moves and retain spatial awareness while moving in reverse.
“To switch all those patterns around on the spot, having not even walked in that direction, it sounds easy,” he said. “Since it’s circular, it pulls you in different directions and is such a special type of balance. We got accustomed to one way, and it was the opposite way. So, luckily we worked together and did our best and got to one cool formation in time for the overhead shot but had to change the rest.”
Spokespeople for Styles and the Grammy Awards had not returned Billboard‘s requests for comment on the reported staging malfunction at press time.
Even though Styles had to sing and walk in the opposite direction — including during a complicated catch-and-release series of moves with a female dancer — he had plenty to celebrate on the night of, including winning album of the year for Harry’s House. Styles celebrated his big win on Instagram on Monday night (Feb. 6) in a series of pics in which he is grabbing a moment of quiet backstage and showing off his custom Adidas sneaks at a late night pizza party.
Check out the Styles’ post and the performance as it was, but not as it was supposed to be below.