YouTube sensation, dancer, choreographer, singer, actor, writer and director Todrick Hall has worked with pop royalty, choreographing routines for Ariana Grande, pal Taylor Swift and Beyoncé. This week, he makes his UK TV debut as dance captain on BBC’s The Greatest Dancer.
Todrick on collaborating with his The Greatest Dancer co-captain Cheryl:
“I don’t want to give any spoilers but it is something that has been discussed. Whether we’re going to collaborate on music or on making a beautiful biracial child is up for debate.”
Todrick on his close friendship with Taylor Swift and choreographing her LGBTQ anthem You Need to Calm Down:
“One of my favourite things that I’ve done is to be a friend to Taylor and be able to help her realise that using her voice is a humongous instrument that is able to change the minds of those who, without her, may have never looked at gay people as actual people. When I’m at a club or a concert and I hear people scream the line, ‘… shade never made anyone less gay,’ [from YNTCD], I can’t help but take a little bit of ownership of the fact that I helped her realise how powerful it would be for her to make a statement like that. I always wanted to handle the situation delicately because it’s not my place to tell someone else when it’s the right time for them to talk about something. All I really wanted her to know was that, as somebody who was a bystander, I didn’t know how comfortable she was with [my sexuality], and I was apprehensive about fully opening up to her. She was talking one day about having kids and I asked her: ‘What would you do if your child was to tell you that they are gay?’ She looked at me and was like, ‘Then they would be gay. That would be no big deal. It’s not something that I would think about. I would love them and support them with whatever they wanted to do’. At that point, I pointed out: ‘It’s important that you let people know that you feel this way’. Taylor is just so about love.”
Todrick on accusations regarding alleged non-payment of performers and the treatment of a former employee, that has reportedly now been resolved:
“My fans have stood beside me, and they know my heart and my integrity, and they know what type of person I am. They know that I would never intentionally do some of these things, any of these things that are being said about me. [I will] be more careful about who I allow into my circle. My show is full of love and I focus on that every night… when some kid comes and tells me that because of my music and my message they didn’t take their own life, that they are now wearing heels at school, and they are winning prom queens. I’ll sleep with one eye open, but what I’m not going to stop doing is inspiring kids.”
The advice RuPaul gave Todrick:
“Ru said, ‘Trust me, this will blow over, they aimed at you because you’re kind-hearted and socially conscious. They knew they’d get a reaction out of you and affect you. Most people suspect that they don’t really exist unless they’re affecting someone else. The only way they can feel themselves is through other people’s feelings, good, bad or otherwise. Hear this: when your actions [are] coming from a place of love, never worry about how it is perceived by others, know that your intention is love and nothing is wrong with that. XO, Mom’.”
“RuPaul has opened the doors for so many people and he’s the most loving, kind, caring, considerate soul I’ve met. The fact the people in our own community attempt to bring him down, even though all he’s ever done is give us a platform and a ground to stand on, for people to hear our voices and our stories, it makes me sad but [it] lets me know that no one is exempt from this.”
Todrick on his love of the UK:
“One of the main reasons why I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being in the UK and why I want to move here is because I love [its] open-minded nature. Racism, homophobia and sexism are issues all over the world but I feel them less here. I put tickets on sale and the Palladium sells out because people are like, ‘We don’t care that he’s African, we don’t care what his sexual orientation is, we don’t care what his background is’.”
GRAZIANO DI PRIMA
Dancer Graziano Di Prima made headlines when he joined best friend Johannes Radebe (for whom he will be best man when he weds in the summer) in Strictly Come Dancing’s first same-sex dance routine. He tells Attitude about the story behind the big moment and why he pays no heed to the small number of haters who complained.
Graziano on the same-sex dance routine:
“It was a new thing for the audience but for us, it was normal. Afterwards, we were crying and laughing. It’s one of those things that I’ll remember for ever. I had the chance to dance with my friend and to dance with him was the best thing. At the end of the day, you don’t need to have a female and a male to dance; as long as you love dancing. Dance is love, that’s it.
Graziano on being asked to join Johannes in the same-sex dance:
“When they asked me, they said, ‘Your friendship with Johannes is really true and strong. Would you like to dance with him?’ I replied: ‘Absolutely yes, I would love to’. When Jason [Gilkison] was choreographing that number, he said to us, ‘Instead of thinking about dancing as a male and female, just think about dancing as friends’. The three days before the show, when we choreographed the number, were beautiful. We stayed there for hours and we were smiling from ear to ear. We were dancing together as friends and it was a new feeling, of freedom. And when we were performing, it was beautiful. We didn’t notice the audience in the room, we were just in our own space. … It was just like a breath of happiness: two friends, who happen to be men, dancing together.”
Graziano on the 200 complaints the BBC received about the routine:
“We weren’t worried about it. OK, there were 200 complaints, but there were millions of people writing to us, sending us videos saying thank you and celebrating our friendship. And for [Johannes], as a gay man, it means the world… There were thousands and thousands of people saying: ‘Thank you guys for doing that, it means the world’. Why should I care about 200 people? Are you kidding me? Those 200 people, you will see that in the future they will change their minds. It is such a silly thing because dancing is for everyone. As long as you feel the energy that dance can give to you, you can dance with whoever you want.”
Todrick Hall photographed by Conor Clinch
Graziano Di Prima photographed by Joseph Sinclair