NAME: Jaffar Smith
Male vocal and dance groups are known for putting on a flashy live performances and breaking out some killer dance routines in their music videos, but you know behind every great artist there’s a dance coach who provides them with the moves to bust.
We caught up with Jaffar Smith, choreographer for Warner Bros. recording artist, VFactory (and our new friend!) during their 26-city nation-wide Bandemonium Tour last month to get the details on his start in dance and working with the guys.
Jaffar began dancing at the age of two when his mother sent him with his sister to a dance class, “She didn’t want to get a baby sitter. And it was my sister who danced. So I used to sit there all the time and watched them. Eventually I started dancing in the back and taking classes. Then I was one of the only guys there. I loved all the attention too much!” Jaffar continued to dance before taking a break for two years at the age of 16 to pursue other projects.
His start in choreography came after his move out to California where he and a friend began teaching at Urban Effects in the San Diego area. “We were the ones that were just ready to do something. We wanted to be so different than everyone else that we had to make up our own stuff so it started then and teaching classes and doing it over and over. Six years later, I’m finally choreographing for actual artists.”
Working now with VFactory, Jaffar creates an abundance of swift and clever, yet truly technical moves that leave you guessing how long it would take to learn. “It depends on them sometimes. It depends on how motivated we are or if there’s a time we have to be done by. But normally, a day and a half or two days? Normally two days we would go in and work on something for half a day and make sure we get it down then finish it the next day. Then work on it months after that… the same routine.” But, with a group that’s preparing to release their debut album later this year – even with minor song changes. Jaffar takes his routines back to the workshop. “Round and Round [has been the hardest] because the song has changed like seven times. Then I’d choreograph something and that won’t be there. Then they’ll have an extra chorus and has different words. That would by far be one of the hardest ones. There have been so many versions of that song! I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.”
Of course every artist likes to improve their craft at any given time, even if it’s changing a routine a day before a performance. “I just did that a little earlier! It happens all the time! I’m never satisfied ever and neither are they so we work out great together. Because they’re hungry and they always want to be the best. So we work out, we’re like a big family!”
When he’s not working with the boys, Jaffar still keeps his feet moving at local dance studios in California where he teaches the latest in Hip-Hop dance with his original routines.
Make sure you keep an eye out for VFactory when their single hits radio this summer!
– Courtney Justice, June 2008