By Jennifer Clark, 15, Pacific Coast HS
Print This Post

When he was young, Darrin Henson constantly wore out his VCR, rewinding the tape to rehearse Michael Jackson’s video dance moves. He kept reminding himself that the steps he calls "street dancing" had to be just right. Now, Darrin’s teaching the moves to artists like Britney Spears and Enrique Iglesias as their choreographer, helping them get their video dance moves just right.

Darrin received his first big break from his high school theater teacher, Mrs. Scodnick. She employed him and two other boys to perform at a state college. At the show, the 15-year-old was discovered by Lionel Martin, a music video director and choreographer. After being in the business professionally for 12 years, Darrin recalls with a smile curling up under his mustache, "I work twice as hard." This attitude combined with his superb talent has allowed him to fulfill his life long dream of working with Michael Jackson. Darrin was a dancer on the "History" video. Jackson marveled at his moves and asked him to show him some steps. Jackson’s not the only one who has recognized Darrin’s talent—MTV’s Total Request Live, the network’s highest-rated show, has recently dubbed him a "choreographer genius."

Darrin declares that his style is "sharp and clean." Sprawled out in his incense-filled hotel suite with a power smoothie in hand, he bubbled over with exuberance about his work: "I love everything I do." He confessed the key to his moves is, "I do what the music tells me to do" allowing his creative style to merge with the feel of the song. Darrin regularly collaborates with the artist and video director. For example, he collaborated with Jordan Knight in his "Give It to You" video. A great admirer of the late dancer Gene Kelly and musical productions like West Side Story, the Bronx native explained that both he and Knight wanted a Broadway musical feel to the video, and Knight suggested "Grease." The results only not only made a wonderful, light-hearted video with an elaborate dance production, but got Darrin a Best Dance Video nomination at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.

Recently, Darrin was in Los Angeles to choreograph N’Sync’s latest video for the song "Bye Bye Bye." Darrin explained how he gets an average time frame of about two weeks to prepare for a video, so he makes the dance moves fun and easy. He is also choreographing and staging N’Sync’s 1999-2000 World Tour. He explained that staging entails planning every physical movement a performer does on stage and coordinating the lighting and so forth with the dance routines. He will be traveling with the group for only the first few weeks out on tour and he’s humble about his role: "My job is to make the performer look good."

Darren Henson with Britney Spears.

This spring, even you will be able to learn his star moves with his instructional dance video "Darrin’s Dance Grooves," which may make him into what he refers to as "the Billy Blanks of dance."

Darrin is certainly becoming a guru in the performing arts world. Not only can he choreograph and stage direct, but he is featured in the upcoming summer flick Jack of All Trades with Britney Spears and seasoned actor Paul Sorvino. Darrin smirked when revealing that he believes he has the funniest part in the movie.

Darrin sure is a busy man, but when he has down time, he said that he likes relaxing in his Bronx neighborhood. Occasionally, neighbors and old friends will run up to him on the street, encircling their arms around his head, shouting to their moms, "Look! I told you he’s on TV!" Darrin, glowing inside, thinks to himself "I am truly blessed."

If you have watched any music videos lately, chances are you’ve seen Darrin at work. Here’s a partial list of videos Darrin has choreographed:

Christina Aguilera "Genie in a Bottle"
Enrique Iglesias "Bailamos"
Jordan Knight "Give it to You"
N’Sync "Bye Bye Bye"
Britney Spears "Sometimes" and "Crazy"