Beyoncé’s Lead Dancer on What It Takes to Keep Up With Bey

No one knows better than Ashley Everett, who dropped out of Julliard at 17 to join Bey’s back-up team. Over the last nine years, the stunning redhead has worked her way up to lead dancer and captain. Oh, and she also stars in the VH1 scripted series Hit the Floor—about a fictional NBA dance team—which started its third season this week. We got to chat with Ashley about her best therapy, those famous curls, and the trick to staying body confident.

Obviously it’s amazing, otherwise I wouldn’t have stuck around for so long! She’s really an incredible person and an insane artist, plus her work ethic is out of this world. I just love learning from her and being inspired by her.

To always continue to push myself. She’s never comfortable or like “I’m on top,” she’s always trying to outdo herself. Like how she dropped a whole album with no promos and shot secret videos for every one of them, best believe she’s going to outdo that. I think that’s incredible and I just feel like if we all do that, we’ll all succeed somehow, some way.

I will say that the Single Ladies video was definitely a turning point in dance and the music industry. We got a lot of recognition and praise from it. So that’s a favorite for me. I also really love the Heaven video I did on her last album, because I got to do more than just dance. I played her best friend and we got to act and do a lot of fun stuff while we shot. We made a lot of great memories.

The days are still pretty long. Our call times were around 6 am and we wouldn’t wrap until 7 pm. Sometimes we’d learn three or four dances a day, and then shoot more than one dance a day. You definitely had to be on your toes at all times.

Dancing is so therapeutic for me. It gives me the opportunity to express myself the same way a musician does through song, or an artist does through painting. It’s my language. I speak through movement. I lose myself on stage and it’s when I feel the most confident. Kind of like second nature.

I don’t have a specific song, but pretty much anything up-tempo!

When I’m really in the flow of rehearsals that’s usually the only workout I have time for. Other than that, I’ve gotten into CrossFit, which is fun because it changes everyday. And it works with your own bodyweight, which I love. Then I hike and stuff on my own free time. Beyoncé has the best body in the world, so I’m trying to keep up with her and not look crazy.

To keep it healthy, I use DevaCurl Decadence conditioner. When I get out of the shower and my hair’s still wet, I use MoroccanOil Intense Curl Cream. It’s a really thick lotion and it keeps all the moisture that my hair can hold in. I also use Ouidad gel to keep my curls from looking frizzy, and raw coconut oil whenever I feel like it’s getting dry.

I have my days when I feel horrible, but I still have to put on heels and a leotard and go on stage pretending like I’m the hottest thing in the world. Sometimes the other dancers and I will do small group workouts like crunches and squats backstage, and that will make us feel better right before the show. At some point you just have to fake it till you make it.

by Alexis Reliford

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