Rhapsody James

Music for street jazz dance

Rhapsody James and her company R.E.D.

Rhapsody James has choreographed for some of the music industry’s top artists: Beyoncé, the Jonas Brothers and The Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. And though she’s thankful for these successes, she admits that the work wasn’t always what she had dreamed it would be. “I wanted those gigs. I was chasing them. But once I got there, I found that those jobs aren’t as fulfilling because of the restrictions,” says James, who wasn’t always given choreographic freedom while working under production directors. “They were always, ‘She can’t dance,’ or ‘I don’t like the concept.’ I get that it’s a business, but there were too many cooks in the kitchen.”

While teaching at Broadway Dance Center and Monsters of HipHop, James has been working with her company R.E.D. (Rhapsody En Dance), a project she had put on hiatus until recently because she didn’t yet understand how her work fit into the concert scene. “When I was growing up, hip hop was hip hop and jazz was jazz,” she says. “Today, people always ask me, ‘What’s your style?’ I finally understand that I shouldn’t try to be a certain type of choreographer. I mean, I’m Rhapsody. There’s really no label for it.” DT

Artist: Jessie Ware

Song: “Running”

“This is the first song I play during my warm-up. It has the undertone of a house groove but is slow enough to still be feel-good. Every time I play this, people just start doing head rolls. There’s something about it that makes you focus.”

 

Artist: Rihanna

Song: “Diamonds”

“This is one of my top-five favorite songs right now. I feel like Rihanna really took a risk with this song. It has a new sound that draws up emotion when you dance. And I love the words.”

 

 

Artist: Lapalux

Song: “Strangling You With the Cord”

“This shows my crazy love for musicality. It has a lot of interesting beats that force me to create awkward timing or move in a less structured way. It has a hip-hop base fused with electronic music. And it’s a little darker than a lot of songs I use regularly.”

 

Artist: Sevyn Streeter

Song: “I Like It”

“I’m choreographing for this artist right now. I’m such an ’80s/’90s kid and this has that feel. Plus, she can sing her butt off! Her voice is so incredible that it keeps me on the up-and-up—it gives me hope for the future of popular music.”

 

Artist: Friendly Fires

Song: “Show Me Lights”

“This has that Euro ’80s thing going on—the perfect blend between a funky sound mixed with pop. When I hear it, I can only think of hip-hop street jazz. It’s perfect for the style.”

 

 

Photo courtesy of Rhapsody James

 

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