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TooMuchFlavour » Interviews » EXCLUSIVE: Born from A Boom Box: Interview with Step Up choreographer Dave Scott

EXCLUSIVE: Born from A Boom Box: Interview with Step Up choreographer Dave Scott

Dave Scott is the epitome of born from a boom box: a self taught dancer from Compton, California that made it big in Hollywood, he’s choreographed for all the big street dance movies on the silver screen: You Got Served, Stomp the Yard, Step Up 2 The Streets and Step Up 3D.

Ahead of Step Up 3D‘s release on DVD this week, Too Much Flavour is the only magazine in the UK granted an interview with Dave Scott – everything you read here is exclusive to us!

Dave Scott on Step Up 3D

Step Up 3D is released on DVD at the end of the month, which scenes did you choreograph?
I choreographed the opening scene, the Battle of Red Hook – I’m actually dancing in that one as well – and also the bathroom scene.

Did you have to start thinking differently because of the added dimension of the film?
Oh yeah! That’s where the fun part came in. They actually did a test shoot just to see what actually works with dance in 3D. I got to see that a lot of dimensions worked like if I had a line and someone was closer to the camera and I had four people stretching out upstage then the person that’s closest would be so much more in focus. Spinning and stuff like that closer to the camera would give you a head ache, you know. So I just watched and watched and watched, and I used the b-boys in the scenes doing dynamics that wasn’t b-boy dynamics and doing a lot more dance and movements and the magic of the body moreso than the tricks of that trade. It let me experiment a little bit.

Would you do it again?
Hell yeah!

Tell us something that no one else would know unless they were on the set of Step Up 3D
In my scene it was grimey, so it was like a warehouse, there was dust, and it was sparks and metal, so I used all of these elements to add to that thrill, but we had to get an allergy-free dust that’s really, really light and so we were dancing on concrete – nobody could keep standing up , nothing worked because there was so much dust on the floor, so we were dancing like we were dancing on pins and needles

Battle of the Red Hook – and the troublesome non-allergy dust

What were your most memorable moments from the Step Up movies?
The highlight is going from rehearsals. None of the producers or director sees any of the rehearsals until the end. What was cool is that he only brought a couple of people in, and so by the time it got to on set, nobody on set had seen any choreography, it’s brand new to everybody, so it’s an actual performance. When we did the very first shot everybody went so big and so hard that there were people that were  actually crying because they thought it was that exciting. That was amazing to me.

Dave Scott the dancer and choreographer

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m self taught, from Compton, California. I learned how to dance by watching TV. I honed in on my style by watching old musicals with the Nicholas Brothers and these different artists. My hip hop style is a mixture, from Poppin Pete all the way to Sightful Soulshoe to Little Jazzy.

Coming from Compton an with the stereotype of ‘boys don’t dance,’ was it rough coming out and saying “I’m a dancer”?
Yeah, it was definitely a rough thing, but I came up in an area where it was breakdancing, and popping and locking was cool, and it was a little bit more ‘manly.’ It was like it was frowned upon a little bit, but I continued to make it masculine, even if I was doing anything jazzy, make it cool to move.

Having no formal training and taking influence from watching, copying and imitating, have you ever not got a job because of it?
No I haven’t, because everything that I tried to do I put myself into it, I’m a perfectionist, so whenever I went out to do anything it wasn’t like I had it written on my back “I taught myself,” you know? They just saw my talent. I danced for a little while before I actually started choreographing, it’s because I was self taught I started choreographing things immediately. And plus I’m 6′ 4″ so I didn’t have that many people to partner with!

Talking about choreographing and being self taught, can you define originality for us?
Originality is taking the basis of what you’ve learned and not copying, but turning them into your style, your expertise. Everybody learns from something, everybody learns from someone. It’s really honing in to your individuality, like taking what’s inside of you and bringing it out.

Let’s touch back on the musicals. Which ones did you say were your influences?
Well there’s a bunch of them! I love Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and what’s funny is I like a lot of the comedic actors like Danny Kaye back in the day, and I grew up on musicals because of my mom, she loves musicals and she’s a Motown girl so I listened to the older hits and watched that on TV.

The comic stuff, was that the development of your dancing character?
Yeah, because it’s vivid, it’s exciting, you have to tell a story with your movement, and it gives a lot of characteristics, even if you’re doing something that’s a little bit mote emotional, it makes you a little bit bigger in your movement.

Has being so tall ever been an issue with you?
Yeah, at the beginning it was an issue dancing, I started putting together little crews – I had a little crew called the Pyjama Boys and I was the tallest one in the crew. I had somebody else that was 6′ but it didn’t matter once I got asked to do Ginuwine, Ginuwine’s 6′ 1″ and I was like “Oh okay, I’ll be on this side of the stage!”

Video: Dave Scott showreel (YouTube)

If you could look back and rewrite your own history knowing what you know now would you have gone into dancing?
I don’t have any regrets on my past or the way that I’ve gotten here. I’m working with a lot of different genres of dance now, and one I wish I’d learned when I was younger if I had the money to be taught would be tap. I love that form of dance.

Why do you love it so much?
‘Cause its so raw and rhythmic and its not anything that I can just be taught in an hour’s class or on a tour, its something that you really, really have to hone in on that craft.
And hoofing is actually a street-oriented dance form, just like hip hop, its you gotta dig and its a little bit more grimey and I love it. I’m actually producing a film with a mixture of both.

Could you tell us a little bit more?
I’m actually in the script rewriting process, but its a film set in New York and its a film about hoofing and hip hop, so its a pretty raw and deep film and I think its going to be amazing for the world to see because the tap-hoofing genre extends from ages six to 80.

There’s a lot of dance on TV at the moment, some of which you’ve been involved in – do you think its a positive thing or is there limited life?
I think it’s going to last a little while. The only thing is keeping the quality things on TV, not just some stuff with dance, because its “the thing to do.”  I think that’s what’s going to extend the life of it. If you start getting a lot of the “bubblegum” stuff on TV then it’ll start to shrivel away.

Move – what is it?
It’s more of a documentary about about us, about where we come from and why we do this, but its showing us behind the scenes and really telling the raw of why we do this. And you will see that a lot of us we do it because we have to. We do it because we wake up in the morning and if it doesn’t happen its like there’s no more life as far as your heart is concerned, so you’ll see that in the film with the movement that they put together and I think it’s really really hot how they did it.

Step Up 3D is out Monday November and can be pre-ordered from Amazon

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