Choreographer Mikey Minden first met Pussycat Dolls creator Robin Antin when he was just 16-years-old, and they’ve been good friends ever since. Minden has worked on the choreography for the girl group over the years, while also planning out moves for artists like Usher. Now, on the CW’s Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious, he’ll be teaching 15 wannabe dancers how to move like the pros as they compete for a spot in the new girl group.
BuddyTV sat down with Mikey to talk about the crazy people who auditioned for the series, the catfights among the finalists, and what sort of drama we can expect when the show premieres on Monday, February 18.
Hi, this is Don from BuddyTV, and today I’m talking to Mikey Minden, the choreographer for The Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious. To get us started, I was wondering if you could give us some of your history as a choreographer and how you got started with that.
Of course, sure. I started actually out in the business when I was seven years old, and I was a child actor and singer and dancer. I did everything from TV and film and commercials, and I actually went and did Broadway for a year. I did Beauty and the Beast, and I was Chip the teacup, which was really awesome. Then I just started dancing and really training in New York and trained with Alvin Ailey [Dance Theater], and just sort of got some really intense training from the best people. Then when I was 14, I started assisting choreographers and really started to work my way up in the ranks and just learn about choreography, how to do it right. I got my first choreography agent when I was 15, and then I actually met Robin when I was 16, and she was still choreographing and stuff. Our agencies hooked us up because we have the same agent up to this day, and we just kind of matched, really got along, vibed well, and we became friends. Here we are, six or seven years later and we’re just doing big things together. It’s really exciting.
The new show premieres on the 18th. How did it differ for you from the first season?
Well, I would say the first season was really fun and we had a great time. We kind of were just going with the flow, we didn’t really know what to expect. I kind of describe it as the first season was like a warm up, and then this season is the reveal. Last time we had great girls, and they had really great personalities, and everyone could dance and sing — well, mostly everyone could dance. It was just different, we had a different caliber of girls this time. Me and Robin really saw all types of girls, all ages, we saw strippers, we saw old women, we saw guys dressed in drag. We really saw crazy, crazy, crazy characters, but throughout the auditions we just tried to keep in mind what we thought Girlicious was gonna turn into.
When I talked to Robin she mentioned one particularly memorable catfight. Is that something you witnessed?
Oh my God, I can’t even remember. There were so many catfights. Did she say which one?
No, she didn’t.
There were so many catfights this season throughout the girls, just like certain things. One girl wouldn’t let another girl borrow her boots, or one girl didn’t tell the girls to come down to rehearsal on time. It’s just like, this season they are cutthroat, and they will do anything to be me and Robin’s favorite. They just really want it this season. It was really exciting to see, because you could just tell that they really wanted it, and this was something that they really wanted to go for. So the catfights, you’re definitely going to see tons of catfights, and I guess you could say for me I am bitchier than ever this season. I guess you could say the bitch is back, because someone has to really smack it down on them. You know, Robin’s character is definitely a little bit more. . .she’s the creator, and she definitely looks at everything overall. But for me, it’s like I just hate the bulls–t and the drama and all the girls fighting over nothing. We’re here to work, we’re here to be the fiercest we can be, and I just crack the whip on them.
Since Girlicious is a different style from The Pussycat Dolls, did that present any challenge in choreographing that?
In the performances, this time we did something really fun and interesting, which you’ll see, where we have different themes and different characters for each song and for each week. That kind of adds a challenge because we really had to think outside the box and come up with a lot of different choreography styles for the TV show. What you’re gonna see with the winners, with Girlicious, is definitely a lot more urban and funky, which I love. I come from that hip hop background and stuff like that, so blending Robin’s whole sexy thing with my whole urban hip hop thing, it really creates a whole new lane for Girlicious. Definitely when you see at the end of the season, the way Girlicious moves when they perform, and we’re working on that right now, is definitely going to be something different than what you see out there right now. They don’t look like The Pussycat Dolls, they’re not dancing at all like The Pussycat Dolls, it’s completely different. It’s definitely more of like a TLC, underground, hip hop, Atlanta type of vibe, but of course it’s still sexy and all that, because we gotta keep it sexy. Girlicious definitely has their own lane in the music scene right now to come out and really smash on everyone. All the other girl groups out there better watch out. Danity Kane, they need to step back.
When the girls come in to audition, what is it you look for in their dance skills?
Well, the first thing I look for, honestly, just to be blunt, when we’re casting and we’re looking at girls all around the world, is I look to see if they’re hot, and if they have a good face, and if they’re pretty. The dancing and singing, they can usually all sing and dance, most of them, but you can’t change someone’s face. Well, you can, but not on the TV show we can’t. I look for right away, are they hot, are they sexy, are they young? We don’t want any old hags on Girlicious. We definitely look for if they’re young, they’re hot, they’re sexy, then I of course go straight to their dancing. Can they dance? Can they move? Sometimes you’ll get someone who dances club style, and that’s kind of cool because they have that natural sexy vibe, but can they really dance? Can they learn the choreography, the fundamentals, can they remember it? Can they pick it up and perform it? Sometimes that’s hard, so you kind of look for a whole bunch of things.
There are other girls who can pick up the choreography and remember it and do it like a robot, but they have no vibe, they have no style, they’re not sexy, they’re not giving us anything. It’s really about just really being picky about finding girls who just have it all. Then we move on from that, and it’s can they sing? Can they sing, can they sort of sing? It’s a hard package to find. First of all it’s hard to find girls that can sing and dance really well, and then find if they’re hot and sexy and young on top of that. You’re really looking for three things, so it’s different from American Idol and those other dance shows, because on there they’re just looking for one thing. Can you sing, can you dance, or that. We’re looking for the whole package: sing, dance, hot, sexy, young. We have a lot to look for in these girls, and that’s why we were really, really selective this time. Everyone you’re going to see is really talented, which is exciting for us because it gives the show credibility.
Aside from the show, do you have any projects coming up that you wanted to talk about?
Right now I just choreographed a couple of commercials, and meanwhile have been working on another girl group with Interscope called The Paradiso Girls that’s about to come out soon. It’s kind of like Pussycat Dolls for international. It’s more dance music, that type of a thing, really high energy. So we’re working on that right now. Those girls are all from different parts of the country. One’s from Sweden, one’s from France, one’s from the UK, different stuff like that, Philippines. So we’re working on that right now, and obviously just really excited that the show’s coming out again. It gives us the opportunity to be out there in the scene, and you know, this is what we love to do. This is what we do on a normal day’s work, only it’s televised and we get to be fun characters and stuff like that.
– Interview conducted by Don Williams
(Image courtesy of ViewImages.com)