“I love everything about Rihanna”: Quebec dancers alongside the star
Assistant choreographer Gab Robert (left) and dancer Ada Ba (right) joined Rihanna during her Super Bowl halftime show.
While the world was staring at Rihanna at the last Super Bowl, it was also watching three Quebecers at work, on stage and backstage. Metro chatted with two of them.
Before going on stage, Ada Ba, focused on the upcoming performance and surrounded by some 80 dancers who shared the stage with Rihanna, barely had time to watch what was happening. passed around her.
“During the technical rehearsals, we had simulated the assembly of the stage, but the big day was something else, says the dancer. I believe that the three minutes before going on stage were the longest of my life. And then I will never forget the moment I looked up and saw the stadium full of people, the cameras and the fireworks. It was super impressive!”
For his part, backstage just before the show, Gab Robert – whom the singer nicknames Starburst because of her colored hair – remembers a great organized chaos: “For us it's a Rihanna concert, but for the organizers it's also a football game so as soon as halftime starts, everything is super calculated, explains the assistant choreographer. In fact, until I got on the bus with the team after the show, I hadn't stopped running all night.”
“Rihanna was really happy, we were all very happy with the performance,” he adds.
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< h2>An intense preparation
A Super Bowl show, as you can imagine, is a lot of preparation! Work therefore began in November for Gab and choreographer Parris Goebel. Ada and the other hand-picked dancers began rehearsals later in January.
“It was one of the experiences most difficult and intense of my life,” says Ada. Both because the choreographies of Parris are really hard on the body, but also because you constantly give your 100%. It's a 12-minute piece without a breakand you don't want to disappoint, neither the production, nor the choreographer, nor Rihanna. It made me grow a lot.”
As an assistant choreographer, Gab also put a lot of his energy into preparing the show. “Rihanna is a night owl, he reports. She showed up around 1 a.m. and we sometimes rehearsed until 6 a.m..”
But despite the very long days, he has no regrets and says he loved working with the star he has always admired. “I love everything about Rihanna! When I was 10 I was already dancing to her music and I really like the person she is, her enthusiasm and her bad bitch energy”, he summarizes.
Montreal – L.A. – Parris
Passionate about dance since always, from the age of five Gab began to take classes at the Chantale Boulay dance school in Saint-Philippe, on the south shore of Montreal where he grew up, developed his talent before studying at the School of Montreal Contemporary Dance. In 2015, he flew to Los Angeles to follow a program with choreographer Rhapsody James known for having worked with Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Janet Jackson and even Beyoncé.
“It's was a really eye-opening experience for me, he recalls. I told myself that this was really what I wanted to do with my life.”
Some time later, he therefore returned to California with a visa and after an attack of appendicitis and six months without being able to dance, he went back to work and that was where “everything fell into place”. He toured for two years with Cirque du Soleil, then danced for big names like Kanye West, Rihanna – seen in the music video for Work– J-Lo and meets choreographer and artistic director Parris Goebel.
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Before becoming his assistant choreographer for the Super Bowl show, he had the chance to assist him notably during the SavageXFenty Show, parade-show of the lingerie and streetwear brand launched by Rihanna, broadcast on Amazon Prime.
“Parris is really on top of the world, he testifies, it was she who made almost all the videos of Justin Bieber. She's been an awesome artist and a good friend for a few years now. I love working with her!”
Also from Montreal, Ada has been visiting L.A. regularly since she was 16 to improve her skills and build her network of contacts. As she often stays at Gab's, she also ends up meeting Parris and last December she learns that the choreographer wants her to be one of the dancers who will go to the Super Bowl.
“I think I was in the right place at the right time to take this opportunity, but it's also that I've been training for a really long time and I think she saw that I was an involved dancer. she. In any case, the Super Bowl I did not expect, I really pinched myself!”
Others dreams in perspective
After having accomplished this dream, both of them have no shortage of projects. Divided between Montreal and L.A., Ada would like to obtain a permanent visa in order to pursue her career in California and why not work again with Parris.
If he enjoys returning regularly to Quebec for < em>shows, simply to dance with his friends or to see his loved ones, Gab also intends to continue his journey in L.A.
“I believe that there has a real pool of talent in Montreal, thanks in particular to shows like Révolution, which have made a lot of young people want to dance. But it's still a small environment. In L.A. there are so many more opportunities. That's why many of us come to make our lives here. We try to book Quebec dancers as soon as we can!”
Inspired by his collaboration with Parris and other choreographers, he hopes to one day be able to sign major projects as a choreographer and artistic director with his husband, the artist Dez Soliven,… and maybe even go to the other side of the camera while directing movies.