"It's all been happening really fast," says Lil Buck, a rising star in the dance world and ambassador for a style of dance from Memphis called jookin. In 2010, former New York City Ballet principal Heather Watts saw a video of the jookin virtuoso on YouTube. Watts showed the video to her husband, Damian Woetzel, also a former NYCB principal as well as a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the artistic director of the Vail International Dance Festival. Woetzel was equally impressed, and arranged for Lil Buck to dance "Dying Swan" to the accompaniment of Yo Yo Ma. "Unknown to them, this was filmed by the director Spike Jonze, using his iPhone. Mr. Jonze posted the clip online, creating a global sensation," explains this NYT article.
|Photo by Kyle Froman|
After that, Lil Buck became a sensation. He's danced on tour with Madonna, traveled extensively as an envoy for arts education, and appeared in numerous music videos. Most recently, he landed the role of dancing MC for Cirque du Soleil's newest Las Vegas show, "Michael Jackson One." The reviews so far have been raving. He "almost steals the show with his remarkable body movements. Wait until you see what this guy achieves balanced on one toe. Exceptional ... ," raves this LV Sun News piece.
I got to see Lil Buck perform "Dying Swan" alongside the great Nina Ananiashvili at the 2013 Youth America Grand Prix gala. (Here are videos of Lil Buck and Ananiashvili dancing the role separately.) Their performance together was stunning, and I was thrilled to have the chance to interview Lil Buck about the partnership, jookin, and his ideas for the future at a recent photo shoot. Read the interview here.