Royston is an entertainment industry expert who has worked as a successful dancer in the USA and choreographed dance routines for some of the biggest music artists including Rita Ora, Ray BLK, and MNEK. He also owns RnD Creatives, a talent agency for people working in the arts.
Neon Music caught up with Royston to find out about what it takes to make a music video, which music artist has surprised him most while learning a dance routine and much more. He has also created a playlist especially for Neon Music readers with his favourite tracks to get you dancing.
Who was your inspiration on your road to becoming a dancer and choreographer?
Growing up I was in love with The Jacksons, Michael & Janet specifically. I was constantly glued to the TV screen, you could not keep me away from The Box, MTV and Top of the Pops.
How many hours per day of rehearsals and training does it take to reach the level you are on today?
That’s too hard to say! The key is training, training, training. Do that as much as you can, and you are still constantly learning to be a stronger dancer. I’m still learning today! I’m surrounded by amazing talent and that still inspires me daily.
What was your big breakthrough?
There were a few moments that I can recall being a big deal for growth in both my own career and RnD Creatives. One was winning Choice FM (now Capital Xtra’s) talent show Rapology. Another was being blessed to meet Priscilla Samuels (Massive Creation) who took a chance on me very early on.
Before starting a new project, what’s the first place you look for inspiration?
Inspiration comes from so many places. I personally love watching old videos and shows to be inspired. Vibing out with the music also helps me envision what elements I want to bring to life. If I’m working with an artist, I also love to get/feel their vision and incorporate that into the strategy.
Walk me through the process of making a music video?
Videos are always great, I love the challenge! Making a music video has so many interesting elements, there’s always a track and a treatment. Then I, the artist and the director get creative and figure out how to enhance the track by marrying visuals. It’s a brainstorming session, whether in person or by email/text, with reference images, videos, and ideas going back and forth.
Once we lock in on an idea, I create storyboards and the routine, proceeding to teach the dancers whilst working with the video production department. A few rehearsals, a few fittings and voila, magic happens!
You have worked with many famous artists and choreographed dance routines for some of the biggest A-list celebs such as Rita Ora, Ray BLK, and MNEK. Were some artists easier to work with than others? Who has surprised you and why?
I have been fortunate in that all of the artists I have worked with have been easy and engaging; they have a clear picture and understanding of who they are as an artist and the direction they want to go in. This has made my job so much easier. One artist that surprised me was Stefflon Don, she jumps right in and is completely unafraid, she holds no prisoners… it’s great to watch.
Favourite track of 2018 guaranteed to get you moving?
That’s a tough one but right now it has to be Janet Jackson’s ‘Made for Now’.
Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet but would love to?
I feel like I’ve mentioned their name quite a few times already, but I’d love to work with Janet Jackson. I had the pleasure of singing the Earth Song with Michael at the World Music Awards so working with Janet would be the cherry on top!
How do you go about communicating with artists and their different brands and identities through dance?
Communicating who an artist is through dance is a dance onto itself. You are making sure they are within their comfort zone, but also pushing them physically and artistically. There needs to be a progression from what they have done, but a familiarity at the same time, so the routine feels organic. This way every move and placement sits well in their skin and the movement becomes second nature.
Who were some of your favourite dancers on today’s hip-hop/street dance scene?
I’m constantly being introduced to new talent from all over the world so it’s truly impossible to pick favourites. There is so much emerging and established talent out there, it’s one of the reasons I created my talent agency RnD Creatives.
If you weren’t a dancer and choreographer what else do you think you would be doing?
I would still be working within the entertainment industry, I’m addicted to it! I already sing and write songs in addition to acting, so I guess I would be doing more of those things.
What choreography in a music video do you wish you had created?
I would have to say ‘Remember the Time’ by Michael Jackson originally choreographed by Fatima Robison. Also, Usher’s ‘You Make Me Wanna’, choreographed by Jamal Simms and Rosero.
Who would play you in a movie and why?
I’ll say right now it would have to be Algee Smith, he’s super talented and watching him play Ralph Tresvant from New Edition was amazing. He’s an incredible triple threat.
Is there anything you collect?
I love collecting trainers. My habit is really bad and I have way too many pairs that I’ve collected while travelling the world.
What advice would you give for someone just wanting to start out?
It’s important to keep nurturing your craft and be around people that inspire you. Always be on top of your business, if you don’t know ask and lastly, train, train, train!
Check out Royston’s dance playlist exclusively curated for Neon Music.