How did you get involved with ‘stepping’? Kim Gehrig approached me to discuss a piece inspired by precision-walking. I first came in to comment on the choreographed elements – a meticulous arrangement of people perfectly in time with the HR-V’s movements. Once we entered production, it was my responsibility to recruit the performers before designing and directing the choreography in partnership with Kim.
What did you first think of the concept? It seemed too good to be true. I’d been including elements of Shuudan Koudou [the Japanese name for precision-walking] into my routines for years but this was the first time I’d seen a commercial that focused purely on it.
Tell us about the challenges. We knew our launch timings ruled out a shoot in Japan, so the first challenge was calculating whether we could train local performers to execute to the same calibre – the film required a militaristic level of precision tempered with an organic group posture. Once we committed to using local talent, the biggest challenge was to train the performers individually and as a group, installing the necessary level of focus and self-discipline required of this gruelling performance style. Ultimately, if one person was out of line or at the incorrect pace, the whole performance would suffer.
What did you think of the track used in the spot? The track was a complete surprise – I didn’t expect to hear General Levy on a Honda commercial!
How did you get into dance and choreography? I started as a dancer working in commercial productions and pop promos. I was fortunate enough to be noticed – people spotted that I could perform but also create.
What other campaigns have you worked on? I’ve worked with brands such as Mars, L’Oréal, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Halifax and Marks & Spencer. People often focus on my work for the Volkswagen Golf GTI ("Singing In The Rain") but I’m very proud of my work with J2O ["there’s joy in the blend", in which hip-hop dancers performed to an Irish jig]. I often think that’s the core reason people approach me: my willingness to take on high-risk-factor productions.