Ever wondered what it feels like to have an accumulation of millions of views on your dance work? Just ask Tricia Miranda. She has a knack for creating moves that you can’t help but watch over and over (and over!) again. She clearly has a secret formula for virality and makes movement choices that feel good just to look at.
Outside of being a YouTube sensation, Tricia has choreographed for several of the world’s top artists, like Missy Elliot, Jason Derulo and Beyoncé, just to name a few, and has worked side by side with dance legends like Nappytabs, Tyce Diorio and Brian Friedman. If you thought that was a full resumé, then you’d be surprised to learn that Tricia probably choreographed some of your favorite dance moments at the MTV VMA Awards, the Grammys and, of course, on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
We don’t blame you if you’re curious about Miranda’s creative process, what she looks for from dancers, or what she believes it takes to become a successful choreographer. So we’ve got all the answers right here. —Nyamekye Smith
What inspires her in the studio
“Energy and lighting. I can’t create just anywhere. There has to be a certain vibe, specific lighting and a great sound system.”
What inspires her outside of the studio
“What inspires me outside of dance is real estate, property searching, makeup and fashion! I know that sounds so random, but I’m obsessed with beautiful homes, interior design and deal making. Also, most people don’t know this, but I’m a certified makeup artist and graduated from Priscilla Ono Academy. Priscilla Ono is Rihanna’s personal makeup artist and the makeup artist for Fenty Beauty. She’s incredible!”
On her creative process
“For some reason, I always start my choreography process sitting down, with my assistants standing in front of me. I have to visualize the steps and staging in my head and then ask the dancers to try it to see if I like it. I don’t dance or freestyle to create for class or a job, and it’s usually done without mirrors. There are other scenarios when we’re already in the studio with the dancers, artists, production, etc., and having to create or change things on the spot. I’m an extremely quick choreographer in stressful situations and work really well under pressure. So, in those moments I’m just spitting out terminology and staging, and that’s where smart dancers that pick up quickly and retain choreography are a necessity!”
Her most memorable moment as a choreographer
“It would have to be Nicki Minaj’s performance at the Billboard Music Awards in 2017. It was a four-song set including three stages, three additional musical guests, 35-plus dancers, and it was creatively directed by the legendary Jamie King. I was given a say in the talent hired, and we booked so many of the young kids and adult dancers that I mentor. That was a really special moment for all of us. Jamie King was the one person I had dreamed of working with my whole career. Nicki was also a dream artist to choreograph for, and hiring dancers for a major live performance is always the goal when training and mentoring working dancers. Also, bringing on my two assistant choreographers, Cat Rendic and Sohey Sugihara (who I believe are two of the most talented and creative choreographers I’ve ever come across) was the icing on the cake. I will never forget that experience.”
Her advice for future choreographers
“My advice for future choreographers is that you need patience, consistency and branding. There is no one path to becoming a choreographer. It used to be that you started assisting or shadowing a working choreographer, making those relationships, and then eventually that would turn into you breaking away and becoming a working choreographer yourself. But now we live in a social media world where posting your work and building your following gets you booked as a choreographer, whether you have experience or not.There are just so many paths now. I would say try every path and hit it hard!”
Her top 3 favorite pieces that she’s choreographed:
1. The kids’ section of Missy Elliot’s Super Bowl halftime show, because Missy has always been my No.1 dream artist to work for, and creating for the Super Bowl is a huge goal for many dancers and choreographers.
2. My “Party Favors” class choreography on YouTube, because I’m obsessed with the choreography, the song and Diana Matos performing it.
3. My “I Luv This Sh*t” class choreography on YouTube, because some of my favorite styles of hip hop is R&B, and sexy, masculine dancing to a slow or mid-tempo song is definitely my favorite. Not to mention, Denzel Chisolm in the video just makes you love the choreography and song even more. He’s just perfect!”
How she helps students pick up choreography
“When I see a dancer who’s struggling to pick up choreography, I’ll tell them to pull back a bit. Stop looking at the choreography as a whole. That gets overwhelming for some people. Think of it as sections and work section by section. If you are in an advanced class and are struggling to pick up, consider going down a level. Train! Train! Train!”
Her favorite part about being a choreographer
“My favorite part of being a choreographer is that my days, my jobs and my classes are never the same. I love the pressure of having to create on the spot, being able to use my versatile vocabulary of dance based on the artist or client I’m working for, and making my own schedule. The life of a dancer in general can be very exciting.”
Her advice to future choreographers
“To become a successful choreographer, you need to have the knowledge of how to create for an artist or an actor versus just dancers, and how to create for film/television, live stage and commercials. They’re not all the same, and you should know how to create for each, making iconic moments and timeless choreography or pictures. Don’t create to impress the dance community. Create to entertain the regular eye and form a body of work that is easily digestible. I would say the most important thing about becoming a successful choreographer is understanding that it’s a business and knowing how to run a business. It goes beyond just steps.”