Galen Hooks Hopes Her New Dance Film Will Make People See Dancers in a Whole New Light

September 12, 2017

You know Galen Hooks as the choreographer who creates the stellar dance moves for dozens of viral videos, and the dancer who’s performed for everyone fromthe Biebs to Rihanna. But now she’s gearing up for two different roles; director and composer.

Hooks’ new dance film, “Wait for Me,” was written, composed, directed, styled, and choreographed by the versatile artist. And though the overachiever could’ve easily danced in it, too, she chose instead to feature an army of all-star dancers including Ashley Everett, Jasmine Harper, Kyle Robinson, Melinda Sullivan, and Kenny Wormald. Read our exclusive interview with Hooks and discover what prompted this shift towards directing.

What was your favorite part about directing “Wait for Me?”

I actually really loved not being in it, which is weird to say. Instead of trying to do double duty, it was amazing to just watch the monitor and everything come to life.

One moment that was pretty exciting was when we closed down a street in Beverly Hills. That was a big deal. There were police blocking off the street.

What was the toughest part of this project?

I shot the whole film in one day at two locations, so we just did one or two takes of each scene. That was hard, but since I had such a great cast, they were able to really nail it. It was amazing to see these talented dancers deliver.

Photo by Jeffrey Mac-Nack

What made you transition towards directing?

I’ve had a very long fulfilling career in front of the camera and am extremely satisfied with that. Now I’m getting a lot of joy watching people bring dance to life and helping them with that process.

I also wanted to challenge myself. To create a song and do all these things that I’m not used to doing gave me the opportunity to have full ownership of something, that’s 100 percent me and my intellectual property. I knew that I was capable of doing more, and I wanted to be prepared to make that transition. This video is that opportunity.

Every time I choreograph a combination, the routine in my head is more extensive. I can picture wardrobe, lighting, camera angles. It’s only natural to want to fully realize that creation.

How did being a choreographer prepare you for directing?

Actually, being a choreographer is very much like being a director. In fact, most choreographers would refer to themselves as directors, because we’re the ones creating order in a scene, counting out where and when movement happens. The timing, the placement of people in a routine, that’s all the choreographer’s job. So the role of director is just like a choreographer’s, except on a larger scale. Running a set felt natural.

Photo by Jeffrey Mac-Nack

Do you have any advice for young dancers looking to become choreographers and or directors?

Choreographing is so much more than making up steps. It really is. It’s about people skills, knowing how to execute your vision, and getting people to fight for that vision. You have to take charge, pick your battles, and develop an aptitude for teamwork and leadership. You have to be a really good leader. I would encourage people to pay attention to what the choreographer is doing when they’re not at the front of the class. That’s where the real work is.

What do you hope people take away from “Wait for Me”?

I really liked showing that these artists are more than dancers. The dance is almost secondary to the expressions. Dancers can be extremely compelling onscreen, without showing off technique. Their charisma alone can bring a lot to a character and I wanted to show that aspect of the artistry. When people watch “Wait for Me,” I want them to go, ‘That girl’s a star.’ Not just, ‘That’s a really good dancer.’ I want the audience to see these dancers in a new light—to see beyond the movement.