Choreographing is hard. Straight up. Creating any kind of art is a monumentally difficult task. It requires a lot of skill, desire, and most of all- trusting yourself.
And sharing your choreography comes with a whole new set of challenges.
But one man is tackling all of these every day, for one month.
Beau Fournier, creator and director of Maker Empire, has taken on a personal project to release a (new/different) choreography video every. single. day. in July, to commemorate his 32nd birthday. So if you see the hashtag #OperationB32U, this is it.
But a birthday seems hardly a reason to attempt a feat like this- I mean, a dancer celebrating by expressing themselves is not a crazy concept, but the concept behind these concept videos is the crazy concept. Concept.
I sat down for a chat with Beau himself to dig a little deeper, and explore the “Why”s and “How”s behind this endeavor.
A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…
Beau started dancing at 19, arguably “late,” compared to most of his peers or the youth in our community today. But the innocence with which he approached dance was relatively similar- he joined his university’s hip hop team as a hobby, a hobby that eventually snowballed into a career.
“CSUN Hip Hop influenced both my style and attitude. We were known as campus as being the “diverse” team- which was, ironically, a trait that made us a minority in comparison to the other groups. We had an eclectic group of dancers who were weird, quirky, and generally unapologetic both about their movement and their reputation.”
Beau, a few members of CSUN Hip Hop, and a few friends later formed Fanny Pak, making their debut on ABDC in 2011. They were recognized by a nation-wide audience for their unique, avant-garde vision.
The Empire Was Built
“Because Northridge was close to LA, I was exposed to the “industry” before the “community.” But when I did come into this scene, I embodied a director’s mindset. I click most with creation- so I kept practicing it with a few of my friends as a project, called Mischief Makers.
We still had the reputation of being weird, or just different. People either embraced it or didn’t get it, but that never stopped us from being original.”
The team kept building, and Beau’s love of directing the youth sparked the idea of a junior team. In 2012 Trouble Makers came was born, and Rogue Makers followed the year after to accommodate for the older developing dancers. The empire expanded to Baby Makers, and Money Makers shortly after.
“Maker Empire was expanding organically but rapidly. I was juggling a lot personally, but it was evident that I had to be more business-minded as an artist and director.”
It Is A Period Of Civil War…
Juggling industry work, traveling, teaching, Fanny Pak, all while fostering the growth of Maker Empire made it difficult for Beau to develop his personal brand.
“People see Makers, as a company, but it doesn’t always translate to exposure as an director or individual.. I never really record my classes or paid too much attention to YouTube, Instagram, or social media in general. There was always something other than myself.”
How To MAKE Work THEN Produce It.
Within the recent trend, this seems to be sort of a backwards development- in a culture where everyone seems to be eager to be noticed, to get more opportunities, grow their following… they sometimes overlook the fact that you actually have to PUT IN THE WORK and have something substantial to show before attempting to.. show it.
We are the microwave generation, an impatient bunch that is so used to seeing the product of something, not the process. It’s so easy to think that that’s all there is to it: We see wow-moments on stage or beautiful concept videos, and want that. We want that, but don’t always understand how to get it. We see “notoriety” as “success,” but don’t always keep in mind the right things that get you that notoriety: a whole. lot. of work.
So it seems that a lot of younger dancers enter the dance world with a vision- being on stage, teaching this or that workshop, etc. While it’s good to have goals, it’s not good to take shortcuts to them, just because it seems doable. Or worse, diluting your passion in any way because your drive for the end goal overpowers your love of dance.
It’s like going to Disneyland JUST for that Sleeping Beauty Castle picture, instead of enjoying your time there and realizing you should commemorate it with a photo. It’s like doing your hair and makeup JUST for a selfie sesh, instead of catching your sexy self in the mirror and breaking out your phone. Nothing wrong with that, but there’s something more.. real about not planning your successes top-down.
And it’s a relatively new thing, this whole “dance celebrities” “goal.” But as glorified as they seem, those who are “big names” in the community trained and worked and have experienced their share of doubt and rejection, to get to where they are.
And a lot of older dancers (like Beau) started dancing when YouTube wasn’t the thing, dance was the thing. And recording classes or posting 15 seconds, all of it was yet to be introduced. So they focused on dance itself. I personally have endless respect low-key older dancers. And I also admire those who are adapting to the current trends and creating with a lot of thought and heart. To make these videos means that you’re building something that’s sustainable, something that, regardless of the number of views, makes a statement about your work. Work that, you know, was work.
What it really means is paying your dues as a dancer and choreographer, then delving into another realm of creation. With the resources we have today (YouTube, videographers, dancers who are willing), anyone can produce their choreography with a higher artistic vision in mind, but how genuine it will be relies on your trust in your craft, as well as an intention to share, not to grow your IG follower count.
Beau worked with several cinematographers and casts, including Jayvee All-Stars, old friends, crews (like Poreotics), and of course, his dancers on Maker Empire.
“I woke up one day, and decided to just. Do it. After years of dedicating myself to other things, it was time to be a little selfish and make something for myself.
It’s satisfying to have just documented my work. Like “Hey, this is me!”– From selfie solos to elaborate concept videos with fog machines and strobe lights, I created choreography and made that vision come to life– and that’s enough for me. Having an archive of my work for my family to see is really the most rewarding thing, actually. They’re so supportive and proud, but don’t get to see a lot of my material.
Others can love it, hate it, not care about it- but artists create and share, so that’s what I’m doing.
For those who do care, I would want them to be inspired to be unafraid of trying something new and unique. It’s never too late, you’re never too old, the chance to touch people is never gone. I want those who watch these videos to feel empowered to own the creative freedom that they can bestow upon themselves.
Artistically, mine, and Maker Empire’s aesthetic is very specific. It can be weird, dark, confident, quirky… And it’s all about committing to whatever direction you set. I would love to see artists stay true to their vision, and be fearless in having versatile, weird creations, and not pigeonhole themselves into a comfortable set of movements.”
Beau plans on releasing each video at 12 noon every day, starting with “Look At These Hoes” by Santigold to kick-start the project. Every video’s description will tell the story of that one’s specific vision and process.
Subscribe to his channel to see what #OperationB32U is all about!
What do you think about the recent concept video craze? Comment below and share with us!
Creating dance videos requires good intentions, but also a lot of technicalities. We answered your major questions about the process here.