Most likely – if you’re alive – you’ve heard of Beyonce. And if you were able to at least walk in 2008 – in one way or the other – you found yourself imitating the sassy, eye-catching movements from her No. 1 single “Single Ladies.” Now what you may not have known is then, a 19-year-old, LA living, multi-talented enthusiast created the choreography to the global phenomenon. His name is JaQuel Knight. That routine landed him a Video Music Award for “Best Choreography” and the rest is still in the making.
In an interview with Dance Spirit, Knight spilled his secret to success: “When I’m working, I don’t mess around. I’m really straightforward and I get down to business, which helps me earn respect.” With a Southern background and a Hollywood resume, Knight has become one of the most respected go-to choreographers in the industry. His expansive reach has found himself overseeing choreography on several seasons of American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance Tour, a Maybelline, Sketchers and Pepsi commercial, and music videos for Beyonce, Ke$ha, Michelle Williams, Chris Brown, Kelly Rowland and Nicole Scherzinger.
The North Carolina-born, Atlanta-raised star has always been ahead of the curb. Imitating movements on MTV and Dj’ing within the four walls of his room, Knight inhaled the arts. He played the saxophone for seven years, marched in his high school band and instructed movements to increase presence on the field. But at 14, he took his first dance class – and fell in love. Once he quit band, he started a dance group called TruStuylz. Performing for local talent shows and celebrity basketball games, then landed a gig doing the popular dance to “Walk It Out” on the BET Hip Hop Awards stage. Shortly after, he began teaching at Dance 411 and eventually visited Los Angeles for 10 days and it was everything he dreamed of. It was his destiny.
The striking dancer took LA by storm. Auditioning for industry buff Fatima and learning lessons from Cuck Maldadnado, Knight quickly caught on to the swing of Hollywood and its many hidden treasures. Early on, he choreographed Michelle Williams’ promo tour, attended college and auditioned a few times and didn’t make the cut. But none of those experiences dampened his determination to be the best. It prepared him for moments like: choreographing for Beyonce’s self-titled visual album, her Super Bowl XLVII performance, both “I Am…Yours” and “The Mrs. Carter Show” world tours, Britney Spears’ “Circus” tour, award shows including the AMA’s, MTV Video Music Awards, Logo Awards, the World Music Awards and television shows like The Voice, Dancing With The Stars, The X-Factor, Ellen, GMA, SNL and the Today Show and film for “Burlesque.”
At the youthful age of 24, Knight has interviewed on Inside Edition, The Wendy Williams Show, NPR, and covered Dance Universe, Dance Spirit and Movmnt Magazines. He’s traveled around the world three times and occasionally flies on a private jet with Beyonce assisting her with upcoming projects and choreography edits from previous shows. “And whatever I’m working on, you’d better believe that I’m going to be prepared – over-prepared,” he expressed.
“I’ve worked with many choreographers, but rarely do you meet one this talented who’s also a good guy. JaQuel’s honesty and realness and sense of fun is sending people right to him,” Frank Gatson says. From the first time seeing “Single Ladies” on television, sharing studio moments with Timberland, Jay Z and Beyonce, to turning down music videos for Rhianna and Whitney Houston because of conflicting schedules, he’s been on. Although he’s somewhat of a dance phenomenon, he’s still searching for new energies, different work experiences and ready to gain respect in all arenas of his artistic self. In 2013, Knight started his own production company based in LA overseeing a group of artists, songwriters and producers and producing short films. With plans of developing his own protégés and conquering the world – again, this superman is ready for another round of his kryptonite – revolving success.