By now you may have noticed that Beyonce’s two main backup dancers, Kimberly Gipson and Ashley Everett, rock natural hair. After spotting them on various hair forums, and even receiving requests to track them down, I managed to catch up with Kimberly. Here she talks about her gorgeous fro, and her life as a dancer for Beyonce. Check it out…
Some people might consider your job a ‘dream job’. How did you get a gig doing backup for Beyonce?
K: Dancing with Beyonce is my dream job. I am so blessed to have a career that I love working with people that I love. I auditioned in 2007 for Beyonce and didn’t make it. I told myself I was going to be ready next time around. In between auditions I started working on my self-esteem and developing who I would be on stage. I quit dancing for the 76ers and moved to Atlanta and auditioned there. And the rest is history! Everyone thought I was crazy for not moving to New York or LA. I paid them no mind and did what my spirit was telling me to do. (*whispers* “You can’t share your dreams with everyone. It’s nobody’s place to tell you whether it’s right or wrong. Do what’s in your heart.”)
I’ve noticed that quite a few of Beyonce’s backup dancers and musicians rock their natural curls. Is that something she encourages?
K: We are all very different and I think the underlying tone is self-acceptance and self-love. Your leader always sets the tone and thankfully Beyonce is so empowering and encourages self-expression.
You have a pretty grueling dance schedule, how do you maintain your hair when you’re on the road?
K: A dancer’s schedule is always intense. Between shows, rehearsal and traveling it gets pretty tough. I don’t use a lot of product on my hair. Whenever I wash it I use Tail N’ Maine. Because my hair is so thick, I use so much shampoo. I dilute the conditioner with water and I leave it my hair letting it air dry. I very rarely brush and blow dry. I will have hair balls (more like tumbleweed) flying all over the place! So I separate sections with my fingers and once it dries I can pick it out, braid it or whatever I’m in the mood for.
Kimberly (brown fro) performs End of Time with Beyonce at Good Morning America
What’s your most and least favorite thing about traveling the world, dancing?
K: My favorite thing about traveling the world has to be making new friends. I receive so many messages on Facebook in different languages and I have no idea what they are saying but I feel the love!
My least favorite thing about traveling is definitely the airport procedures. You can only imagine how many times we go through airport security. Each airport in each country is different and I believe I have experienced them all. (lol) You end up becoming a professional traveler but it doesn’t get easier. You just know how to pack your electronics and liquids better and better.
Your hair is gorgeous! Have you always been natural?
K: As a little girl I always had thick kinky hair. My mother would keep it in braids with beads or hot comb it every Sunday evening. When I was about 13 I begged my mother for a perm and she finally let me get one. Only my edges became straight. The center of my hair was still thick as always. Throughout my high school years I wore a lot of ponytails using a whole lot of JAM just to keep my hair “looking” straight. It wasn’t really until I started dancing professionally that truly began to love and embrace the texture of my hair. The more and more I became comfortable in my own skin, the more my confidence grew. I started dancing on the Philadelphia 76ers Dance Team in 2005 and my afro puffs made their debut on the court. I felt so free and I never looked back.
Is all of that glorious hair yours? Or do you use pieces?
K: It really depends on what the performance schedule is. The amount of product, heat, stress of brushing and sweating will undo your natural healthy hair in just a week. If it’s a shorter performance week or rehearsals, I rock my hair because of the limited stress. If it’s a long run, I will braid up parts and add pieces for longevity. My personal secret is rehearsing in my afro puffs. I feel like its keeps me grounded and centered. Gives me power!
What tips or advice would you have for any aspiring dancers in our audience?
K: TIPS! My sole advice for an aspiring dancer or a dreamer is to love yourself. Love your skin. Love your hair. Love your height. Love your weight. Love all that is you. With a foundation of love, there is no limit to your dreams. You can dream as big as you want, knowing in your heart, that you are worth your dreams coming true. I think a lot of people don’t love themselves. They may spend their time trying to change they way they look on the outside, completely neglecting what’s on the inside. That’s wasted energy. Put that energy into achieving your dream. By loving yourself you teach others how to love and respect you. Also, choose your friends carefully. When you are a dreamer you have to surround yourself with positive people, other dreamers like yourself. Leave little to no room for negativity. No Haters!
Do you have any current or upcoming projects?
K: I stay pretty busy traveling, rehearsing and performing and I love it! Whenever I am home or have a day or two off when we are overseas, I teach my motivational dance workshop KiMMESTRY.
KiMMESTRY is more than a dance workshop. It’s a ME movement, using dance as a vehicle on the road of discovering one’s self worth. With all the negative imagery of woman in the media and magazines, it’s difficult to develop a healthy love for who we are. Every woman goes through stages where she wishes she could change “this” or be more of “that.” Some of us learn to love who we are while others never embrace their individuality. My goal with KiMMESTRY is to increase the importance of self-love in the women of our future.
My personal mission is to share my struggle with self-esteem and the journey of overcoming it. My life’s purpose is to comfort the women of our future, assuring them it’s perfectly natural to have image concerns. As we all do. It’s a matter of loving who we are and going for our dreams. If we can teach self-love at an early age to every little girl, the world will be a better place. KiMMESTRY is me, doing my part. Entertaining, encouraging and inspiring…one girl at a time.
Thanks Kimberly for the great interview! You can find Kimmie at the following places;
On Twitter @Kimmiegeedotcom
On Twitter @Kimmestry
On her person website www.kimmiegee.com
At her personal Facebook page
At the Kimmestry Facebook page