chris grant

Gentlemen’s Corner: Beyoncé’s Choreographer Chris Grant on Pepsi’s ‘Dance for a Chance’ and Why Bey Reminds him of Michael Jackson

As a self-proclaimed Beyoncé fan, I can only imagine what it’s like to work alongside such greatness. In her 10 plus year solo career, the living legend has presented a plethora of dance moments. Whether it be the “Uh Oh” booty bounce, “Single Ladies” routine or “Get Me Bodied” breakdown, Bey’s hips have swiveled their way into pop culture history and thanks to choreographers like Chris Grant, the legacy is sure to continue.

As Frank Gatson’s trusty assistant, the Making the Band alum is responsible for many of King Bey’s dance routines including “End of Time” and “Love on Top.” Most recently, he joined forces with Pepsi to choreograph the soda brand’s “Dance for a Chance” superfan video. The eight lucky fans were chosen from thousands to not only work with Grant on fierce choreography, but meet Mrs. Carter herself at her Barclays Center tour stop.

Shortly after the video’s premiere, we talked with Grant about his dance inspirations and why he coins Beyoncé the “female Michael Jackson.”
pepsi challengeTell us about working with the kids on the “Dance for a Chance” video.
Working with the kids was really inspiring for me. These are some of her biggest fans and they were reacting and responding to the movement and they were just ecstatic. I’ve learned a lot working with them. Just seeing how humble they were and how happy—it just amazes me how Pepsi found a way to give back to her fans. That’s so important. I had a great time with them and I’m pretty sure they enjoyed themselves.

Was working with inexperienced dancers a hard adjustment?
The difference in working with Beyoncé is that she has more control and knows her body. She’s been doing this for years. Working with fans that are not professional dancers; they’re not really trained and they don’t really know so they have to learn on set. It’s like teaching raw talent and Beyoncé loves dancers from the street. She loves new and exciting things. So, it was just one of those moments where I was just teaching them the ‘proper’ way of doing things.

How did you get your start in dancing?
I started at a very young age watching Michael Jackson. Even when I was a kid, I was dancing and buying DVD’s and watching him. That’s what really got me into dancing. When I was 18, I auditioned for Making the Band 4 and I made it to the top 16 and then a year later, I met Frank Gatson. He noticed me from the reality show and wanted to work with me because of my dancing. So, we met up one time and a couple months later and I did my own version of “Single Ladies” and Frank loved it. He flew me out to show Beyoncé and she loved it. Next thing you know, I’m teaching and holding auditions with Frank as an assistant. That’s how it all started.

So it was all a whirlwind.
Everything happened really fast. It was a blessing because right after that, I got Michael Jackson’s “This is It” and I remember Beyoncé encouraging me saying “You should do this.”
Chris GrantBesides Michael, who are your dance inspirations?
Janet Jackson of course. I just like the tightness and structure that she has. James Brown, Fred Astaire- those are really my top, top picks.

Is there a type of dance you haven’t tried yet?
It would have to be tap. I went to a dance school in middle school and it had jazz and ballet and everything. I didn’t like it. I didn’t understand it, but my mom said to stick with it and that I would appreciate it when I get older…and she was right. I wish I would’ve stuck at it a little bit more. I was just stuck on the fact that we were wearing tights (laughs).

How much input does Beyoncé have when it comes to her choreography?
She has a lot of input (laughs). I’ve been working with her for awhile now and she likes to change things up. She loves to be hood, but then she wants to be sexy, and then she wants to make sure it’s not too sexy. She wants the audience to enjoy and want to do the movement. She reminds me so much of Michael Jackson it’s crazy. I call her the female MJ because she knows what she wants and I feel like that’s so important. She knows her body and what looks right on her, but that doesn’t stop her from trying. Sometimes she doesn’t even know that she’s doing it and it looks good. She might feel crazy, but we’ll tell her, “no, you look amazing!” She’ll work at it and next thing you know, she’s changing it and making it fit however she wants it to fit. She’s very educated when it comes to entertainment. She will watch those tapes after she performs and fix whatever she needs to fix. She knows her brand.

When it comes to your choreography for her, which ones are your favorite?
The ones I enjoy most are “End of Time” and “Love on Top.” I enjoyed those two because “End of Time,” it just feels a lot like Michael and it’s a lot of stomping. It’s high energy, but easy movement. It just feels good. “Love on Top” is another feel good song, but it’s more back in the day- the type of style we miss. Like the New Edition and it has a bit of the Jackson Five- a lot of old boy band groups. We just had a ball making up the steps and trying to get that feeling back.

Are you still pursuing your own music career?
I honestly just started getting back into it. I’ve been focusing more on the choreography because it’s been going so well. Now, I’ve definitely been picking up a lot of voice lessons and getting back into music. I have good friends like Elijah Blake and Luke James and they inspire me to get back into the music, so that’s definitely something I want to do.

Watch the winners dance for a chance below:

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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

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Actress Gabrielle Union attends the Being Mary Jane premiere, screening, and party on January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
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BET To Unveil Edible Billboard For 'Being Mary Jane' Wedding Finale

As Being Mary Jane comes to an end, BET is willing to offer fans a taste of what's to come in the series finale.

The network has enlisted the help of Ayesha Curry, celebrity cook and cookbook author, to create an edible billboard that also doubles as a wedding cake. The sweet treat will commemorate Mary Jane's (played by Gabrielle Union) nuptials in the two-hour series finale.

On April 20 from 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal in New York, fans will be presented with the edible billboard. At the intersection of Ashland Place and Hanson Place, the closer Being Mary Jane enthusiasts get to the billboard the quicker they'll notice that the four-tiered wedding cake is created from individual boxes, each containing a slice of Curry's prized wedding cake.

All fans have to do is pull a box from the billboard, snap a picture for the 'Gram, take a bite and enjoy. Although lovers of the show won't be able to celebrate with Mary Jane herself, biting into a slice of her wedding cake, for free, is the next best thing.

Don't forget to tune into the series finale of Being Mary Jane on Tues. (April 23) at 8/7 c.

Also, check out what's to come on the series of Being Mary Jane below.

Save the date! 👰🏾It'll be worth the wait. Join us for the series finale of #BeingMaryJane TUES APR 23 8/7c only on @BET!

— #BeingMaryJane (@beingmaryjane) March 29, 2019

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