East London dancer, choreographer, singer and actress Rhimes Lecointe is best known to people as the character Justine from Streetdance 3D. She’s also an original Boy Blue member, Stylefest 2010 nu-style champion and recently choreographed the video for Plan B’s Love Goes Down.
Rhimes is judging the street dance battles at Enter the Battle at the Indigo2 on 28 November.
There’s going to be lots of styles of dance and urban arts on stage at Enter the Battle, have you ever tried any of the different styles that aren’t dance?
I used to be a kick boxer. I trained for about… three years? My dad is a sensei. He wasn’t when I was training, I had somebody else, but then he started forcing me – I had brothers – so I had to go. So yeah, I was a kickboxer, and I did karate when I was younger, I did gymnastics, so I’ve done some of the other styles.
With that in mind, what competitions are you looking forward to the most? Triple Threat, The One, or the Street Dance crew battles?
I am judging the crew battles, but I’m interested in watching the Triple Threat because it’s going to be so many different things and it’ll be quite cool – I think I’m looking forward to the Triple Threat most.
Because it’s going to be really cool! There’s going to be three different styles and they’re gonna find it inspiring. Maybe I could steal some moves?
Nice. Have you been following any of the groups at all?
I Am The Future – we went to Paris, so that was quite cool. I got to know them and they taught me some stuff. Flawless I know from being about, I see what they’re doing on their tour. And a couple of the London crews that I know of, I speak to them a bit to get the update of how they’re feeling and how they’re doing. On a couple of occasions I’ve seen Akai at other events so we’ve spoken about stuff. Mainly training though, but he’s gonna be at Enter the Battle as well.
Your performance name is Rhimes. Where did that come from?
It came from school, from secondary school, I used to rhyme… well, I still do. I write and I sing and I used to MC a bit, but it’s more of a lyrical thing now, I wouldn’t call it quite rapping and I wouldn’t call it MCing, but that’s what they started calling me.
So besides dancing, poetry, singing, are there any other talents our readers might not know about?
I was a hair stylist. I was probably one of the people that I braided every dancer of my generation’s hair, literally! I was the person with the magical fingers that everybody used to come to. I cut hair for the girls in my crew, I’m one of their regular stylists, still, to this day.
I think that’s it. Oh, designing: I used to design clothes and customise. Still do occasionally, not too often any more, but that’s something that I’d love to get into.
Let’s talk about your career. How long have you been dancing for?
I think it would be about 11 years.
And did you start off in street, or did you start off in classical, ballet?
No, wait, I’m lying. At the age of four I did a couple of classes of ballet but I didn’t take it seriously. I was a child, do you know what I mean? Then maybe at the age of seven I started gymnastics, and then I’ve always danced from being little, just jumping up and down in my house, but I took it seriously from maybe about the age of 14 or 15, and that’s when I started street.
Was it “I want to try street dancing” or was it “I want to DO street?”
It was “I wanna do this.” But also the resources weren’t around. There was no dance groups… well there was dance groups, but there was nowhere to go. It was like three other friends and myself putting our routines together saying “Yeah, we’re gonna be a crew!”
It wasn’t until Kenrick [Sandy] came into our secondary school and started teaching then decided he wanted a group and he was like “Yeah, come and audition,” that I thought “Yes, this can actually work.”
So your progression in street dance was because of Boy Blue?
It wasn’t Boy Blue at the time. It was Kenrick, I would say, because Boy Blue started maybe about a year and a half after this crew had already formed, and that was his first crew, then he was like “OK, I’m going to make a company.”
Since then, who else have you danced with?
Zoonation: Into the Hoods. Sho Tyme – he’s from New York. I did a piece for him. I was in Dance2XS for a period of time, never performed – literally for three months. Dre – he had a company called Image, he was Kelly Rowland’s choreographer for a while. The Waacktitioners.
With all the people you’ve danced with was it like a reunion on the set of Streetdance?
Hmm. Yeah, I suppose so. The best thing about Streetdance 3D is I was dancing with people that I know, that were actually my friends, because that doesn’t happen, do you know what I mean? You do a movie with your friends and it becomes the biggest movie in the country. Yeah, I guess it was a bit like a reunion.
How did it feel when you were cast in the movie? Did you go for Justine or did you go for a background character, or were you just chosen because you look the part?
I went just to dance, because they wanted dancers, then I told them I could act and Gary Davies, the casting director was like “Yeah, we might have a part that you would suit.” So I went and auditioned for Justine. It was amazing to know that I had the film. I did jump for joy when I got it.
On the blog: Read the Streetdance 3D cast interviews
Tell us something we didn’t know about Streetdance 3D
There was one day I was really, really sick and that was the day we were shooting the mall scene and they stuck me on Vitamin C, Berroca, Lucozade, everything to get my energy up.
I wish they put the bloopers up, because there was this fall that somebody did, and they really fell over and it was so hilariously funny, but nobody put it up, I was really expecting to see it in the bloopers. It wasn’t me that fell, by the way, it was someone else.
What about any unlikely friendships, is there anyone that you didn’t know then ended up being friends?
Nicola [Burley]. I didn’t know her until about three weeks before we started rehearsing. She came to Boy Blue and she came to train and I worked really closely with her, because at the time I was choreographing a show at Hackney Empire and she performed, so we got quite tight from that, and throughout the film we were quite close.
And Lil Steph. I knew of her, but I had never met her. We’re very good friends now, very good friends.
What about the friendship extending to the directors?
I talked to them. I guess I spoke to Dania more, she’s a female (!), but both of them. Max is always trying to be funny. Yeah, I still talk to them now, I’ve invited them to Enter the Battle, they’re coming, so the friendship is still there. And I love Dania’s two boys as well.
If Justine had a more central role to the film, what do you think she’d get up to?
Probably cussing people. She was made to be really rude and still lovable, but just to the point, and probably too honest with people. That is one thing I would have loved, for the audience to get to know her a bit more, to understand why she went away and why she came back.
Have you any further plans for big screen domination?
I really want to do film and I’ve done auditions and I have an acting agent and I’m hoping to? There are some things that are in the pipeline. Hopefully, we will see. I want to do as many films as possible, I really, really enjoy it.
You say you did acting as well? Was that stage, or film or on camera?
I studied acting in college and done calls just as an actress with no dance involved. So, yeah, I wanna do a film that is just acting, and I really wanna do a fighting film. I wanna fight.
Maybe a Britflick would be something for you, an East End gangsta story?
I wouldn’t mind that either, to be honest. Hopefully I might do something soon that involves East London gangsters.
You got Plan B: Plan B is the singer, slash rapper, slash actor, and he could also be involved with the movie soundtrack, so do you see any of this coming together with you?
I’d love to get involved with him. I love what he does, and the way that he’s done his videos, they’re all linked, and this whole big storyline, and it’s hard because they need continuity, so people that were in the first video couldn’t necessarily be in the next video, but hopefully they will remember me as the choreographer and want me to get involved. I was actually talking to him about stuff like that yesterday.
So what do you know about the Streetdance 3D sequel?
I’m afraid not too much. I know that there’s Latin involved, much Latin, with street dance. That’s all I really know, and they’ve been casting for a while.
Harry Potter books and films, their characters grew up with the person that’s watching or reading them. Should the Streetdance series continue, would you like to see the characters mature?
That would be good, because you could get someone that is at a certain level that is inexperienced and they’re not going to be trained, and it would be really good to see what they go through. As well as making it fun and entertaining, in terms of training and what the go through to become better, I think that would be quite a good idea.
I got words for you to rhyme. You got to think of the first word that comes into your mind that rhymes with these.
First word: Dance
Prance, France, chance, glance.
Meet, greet, cheat, fleet, feet.
Hacking, stacking… racking?
Ah, man! Mr Steen, haha.