Shooting a George Michael VideoBy Emma Slater - Added 28th of February 2007
(Above) Oleksii, Lisa, Ben & Emma run through the routines at the shoot base camp
On a night a few weeks ago, my Dad was sitting at the computer with his sister. He had promised to do a letter for his niece, and he was late doing it so his sister was telling him to hurry up. Just about then the front door bell rang and the house telephone rang at the same time. My sister Kelly went to the front and I answered the house phone. The person at the front door wanted Dad and the person on the phone was for Dad. Just when he didn't know which way to turn next his mobile went off in his pocket. He pondered whether to answer it or not but did in the end. Good job as this was the casting director for George Michael's new video.
Dad talked in disbelief at first, but it seems that Dancesportinfo had given our number to the director who wanted to cast six couples to do a 'Jive' on George's new video 'Round Here'. Anyway we were invited to audition on the Thursday at the fabulous Pineapple Dance Studios in Covent Garden, London, along with hundreds of other hopefuls. Ben and I found out more about what they wanted on the audition day. It seemed they wanted 1950's long skirts, bobby socks and sharp suits, and more of a Lindy Hop than a dancesport jive. We were led into the studio and asked to jive for two minutes or so while they video'd us. There were so many other dancers we didn't think we stood a chance. They told us that they would let us know Monday morning, for rehearsals on Tuesday and shoot day on Thursday. On the Sunday Ben and I were having a lesson in Sheffield with Darren and Lilia when my Dad got a call from the Director.
He said he loved the way we danced and he had chosen us to be one of the couples. Darren and Lilia, Ben and I went mad, it was a brilliant feeling. Tuesday morning came and we were back at Pineapple running through the 50's number (George has asked us not to go into detail about the video but we are allowed to say there are dances from different music ages... and it's a fabulous song!). When we got into the studio we found we knew most of the other couples. Derek Hough and Rosa Filippello, Oleksii Ivanets and Lisa Bellinger-Ivanets, Andrew Cuerden and Hanna Haarala, Mario Di Somma and Katarzyna Osinska, and Stephen Thomas and Inga Haas - a truly international line-up. Anyway we worked all morning until lunch; it was hard work but really great fun. In the afternoon we all had to go to the BBC Costume Department in the West End to be fitted out. Again can't say too much at the moment... it will spoil the surprise : but that was really great fun too.
While we were driving home we had another call from the director who had watched the video of that days rehearsals and he asked if Ben and I could dance another music age, and could we go down to Pineapple the next day for rehearsals. Neither Ben or myself had even heard of this music age let alone danced it (can't say which music age... sorry). We looked at the internet that night to do some research, and my Dad showed us a little of what he knew. It's worth pointing out that it was at this stage I realised that I get my dance skill from my Mom... sorry Dad! Anyway back down to Pineapple for a long days rehearsals followed by an early night in a Docklands hotel, where we were treated like superstars.
The shoot morning came and we were directed to the shoot site, then bussed to a base site about a mile away where the hair/make-up/wardrobe trucks were along with dressing rooms, catering trucks, crew trucks etc. This did attract a lot of attention from the locals and at one point there were hundreds of people around the camp. The camp director told them we were shooting a Fairy Liquid commercial, they all seemed to leave quite quickly after that for some reason? : Also George was seen by a local shopkeeper close to the shoot site - the video director told the locals it was a 'Look-a-like' competition, which they all believed. Make-up, hair and wardrobe was at 9 o'clock in the morning, and shooting didn't start until 6 o'clock in the afternoon, so there was plenty of time to chat with friends and run through routines.
The location was fabulous with cameras and lights everywhere. George was really lovely to us and he came and told us how much he appreciated the hard work we were putting in for his video. The shoot went on until 3am on the Friday morning which was tiring but we could have done it all over again.