Choreographer and entrepreneur Brian Friedman steals the show in this feature for mf magazine, but not just with his killer dance moves this time…This time, he takes the editorial stage and reveals to us the behind-the-scenes, the soul that he puts into everything he does, and the many ventures he has endeavored. Let me clarify, not only has he taken on every kind of project under the sun from dance, to clothing design, to singing, but he’s conquered each creative avenue as well. As an amazing, award-winning choreographer, Friedman has trained and worked with the best of the best, which is just what he is… As cheesy as it sounds, he’s on top of the world.
Let’s get right down to it. Tell me about some of the big tours you’ve been involved with.
The biggest and most memorable tours were Britney Spears’ Dream Within A Dream & Onyx Hotel. Britney was my muse for many years. It was a beautiful time for both of us in our careers.
In addition to these tours, which talented artists have you particularly enjoyed working with through your career thus far?
My favorite artists I have had the pleasure to work with would definitely be Michael Jackson, Prince, and Janet Jackson. Legends in so many ways...
I love Michael! Any memorable moments you'd like to share?
Two of the most amazing moments I have ever felt on stage were both having to do with Michael Jackson. When I first worked with him I was 15 years old and incredibly star struck. While we were on stage he came over to me at the end of the performance and had a little chat with his arm around my shoulder. I nearly died! The other incredible moment was when I danced with Janet on the MTV VMA tribute to him. The energy that was exuding from all of us on stage and out of the audience was palpable! I swear that Michael’s spirit was in the room with us. It was beautiful!
Tell me about your dance training and gigs throughout your youth including your appearances on shows like "Kids Incorporated."
I started dancing around at home at an early age and even would stand in the back of my mother’s dance classes and try the moves but I didn't actually get into proper classes till I was 11 years old. One year later I was off to LA to attempt a professional career. I did the Disney film, Newsies, and then started a 3 year role on Kids Incorporated. Those were some of the best years of my life. I didn't have the "normal" childhood as a teenager, but I would never have changed a thing. I loved every moment of it!
I understand you also like to sing...
I can't sing to save my life! (He laughs.) I was in a singing group when I was 15 with some friends in the industry. It was myself, Brittany Murphy, Eric Balfour, and Haylie Johnson. It was called Blessed with Soul. This experience taught me so many things... First on the list is that I should never sing!
So that’s when you were 15… Let’s move forward a little bit and talk about when you acquired your dance studio just a year later.
I was too tall to work as a kid in LA and I was too young to work as an adult. I loved to choreograph and teach and sadly the dance studio I was at didn't want me to be a teacher or a choreographer. Maybe it was my age, but nonetheless I knew it was what I wanted to do. My mother was teaching at that dance studio and we decided it was time to go off and do it on our own. My mother had a dance studio in Iowa when she was younger so she knew what she was doing and guided me every step of the way. It was a brilliant time. We trained some really incredible dancers who are very successful now in the entertainment industry. We closed in 2000 so that I could focus full time on my choreography.
Was it difficult having such a heavy responsibility as a teenager?
I left school at 17 because I couldn't balance my career as a studio owner, dance teacher, choreographer, professional dancer, and a student. One thing had to go and I wasn't willing to wait for my career. I think the decision was the right one although I didn't get a prom.
Aw, but you’ve gotten so much more in retrospect… like, you've been nominated for so many awards. Fill me in on some of the work that went into the projects behind them.
Many of the projects I have been nominated for were music videos and I have to say that out of all of them my favorite was Britney Spears’ I'm a Slave 4 U. I loved the whole process of this video. It had such a raw image to it and Britney was speaking her mind for the first time. The record was very close to her heart and she wanted people to hear her voice in a new way. I was such a huge Janet Jackson fan when I was a child and to me this was Britney's version of "Control". I was sad we didn't win the VMA for best choreography but it is still incredible to even be nominated.
Let's talk about your work with some of the Charlie's Angels films.
I worked on the first film and was in a dream sequence with Cameron Diaz. I look like John Travolta in it! My pants were way too tight but I love a bit of dress up. Then I worked on Full Throttle. I actually co-choreographed the Cameron Diaz prom scene and danced with her in that. I love the comedy that Cameron brings to the screen. She truly beams in that scene.
In addition to films, you've choreographed for many television shows. Can you name a few for us?
X Factor, Americas Got Talent, That 70's Show, Will & Grace, Moesha, Ellen Degeneres, Oprah, Letterman, Leno and pretty much every awards show there is.
You also have an instructional dance DVD out, right?
Yes, my DVD is called Freestyle. It is a dance tutorial that teaches the steps from many of the videos I have choreographed.
Any plans to produce others?
Right now I am working on my Dance Application called Brian Friedman idance. That is the new way of doing dance DVDs. This will be the first ever of its kind.
So, what was your time as a judge on "So You Think You Can Dance" and British “X Factor” like?
I love every moment of judging. I am very opinionated! I always have something to say and as a judge it's your duty to help the contestants grow and to educate the viewer. It seems like an easy job but in actuality it is quite difficult.
How do you think you'd do as a choreographer for "Dancing With The Stars"?
I actually choreographed a piece for Macys’ Stars of Dance and it was one of my favorite pieces of work I have done. There's a great energy about that show and you can't help but feel it when creating for it. I think I would do very well.
Okay. Let's get off of dance for a minute and focus on fashion. Tell me about your clothing line.
I have shoe line with Capezio which has done very well and we're about to launch a new collection soon. My clothing line is still in pre-production. It has been a dream of mine for a very long time so there can't be a rush. There is no room for error.
What would you like to accomplish with your clothing label?
I would like for my line to be a household name. I want people to be able to see one of my pieces and know that it was mine without being told. I want it to be legendary and iconic. Dream Big!
So, out of everything you're involved with, what would you say is your main focus right now?
My main focus is being a good person! I need to make sure that while I am trying to rule the world that I enjoy myself while doing it! All work and no play makes me a very sad boy.