Interview with Choreographer Tanisha Scott
Updated: Feb 23
Tanisha Scott a three-time MTV VMA-nominated choreographer best known for her work with Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Sean Paul and Beyoncé. Tanisha Scott was born in Toronto, Ontario. Her entry to dance was greatly influenced by her Jamaican roots. Her father owned a sound system and that inspired her love of music and movement. While she was enrolled at the University of Windsor on a track scholarship, she joined the local hip-hop dance troupe Do Dat. Scott auditioned for a backup dancer slot on Mya’s tour and was selected for the gig by Sho-Tyme, the singer’s then-choreographer. Director Hype Williams booked Scott as a dancer for various videos early in her career, including a FUBU commercial featuring LL Cool J. She earned her first choreography credit for the Little X-directed video “Gimme The Light” for Sean Paul and continues as the artist's choreographer and creative director for tours and videos
In 2003, Vibe magazine's Rob Kenner wrote that Scott's choreography for Sean Paul's "Gimme The Light" video "introduced the latest Jamaican dances to the MTV crowd." The next year, she was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award in the Best Choreography category for Sean Paul's "Like Glue." She was nominated again in 2006 for Sean Paul's "Temperature" and in 2007 for rapper Eve's "Tambourine."
A 2008 Billboard magazine issue included Scott in its 30 Under 30 list; the article noted that Scott was chosen to choreograph Beyoncé's "Baby Boy" video based on her previous work with Sean Paul. Scott later worked with Beyoncé on her "Upgrade U" and "Check on It" videos. Her body of work, largely influenced by her Jamaican roots, attracted Rihanna's camp as they hired Scott for the Loud Tour, which featured heavy reggae basslines on songs such as "Rude Boy," "What's My Name?" and "Man Down." Scott went on to be the lead choreographer and movement coach behind the singer's “We Found Love” video. She worked with the singer during the Rated R, Loud and Talk That Talk albums and choreographed the "What's My Name," "Rude Boy" and "You Da One" videos in addition to choreographing Rihanna's tours. Scott took part in Rihanna's Countdown to TTT, a behind-the-scenes documentary that lead up to the Talk That Talk LP's release in November 2011. She also demonstrated dance moves in the Making of We Found Love documentary." Scott choreographed the videos for Whitney Houston's "I Look to You" and "Million Dollar Bill," Elephant Man's "Pon De River," Nas' "Bridging the Gap," and Amerie's "1 Thing." Scott also serves as the coach for the NBA's Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Troupe. American Express profiled Scott in a 2015 commercial series. She danced with and choreographed the rapper Drake in his much lauded—and much parodied—video for 2015's "Hotline Bling." Rihanna assigned Scott to her ANTI World Tour and she appears in the singer's "Work" video. Focused and always great energy to be around we are honored to highlight and interview Tanisha Scott.
1. Please tell us what made Tanisha Scott want to follow dance?
That’s a great question, I would say it was done before I had a choice in the matter. I grew up in a family that listened to music around the clock all day, pretty much everyday. My Mother told me I would dance in her womb whenever music played. I remember as a child My Father spinning records all the time and I would be right there dancing while he played his music.
2. What is something that you always wanted to do in your career but have not had the time to yet?
I would love to do a Vegas Show
3. Who are some dancers or choreographers that inspired you early on in your career?
Early in my career I was inspired by street dancers. I had so many influences in Toronto (where I was born and raised) but there are also those I saw on tv that inspired me too. One very popular dancer was Leslie Segal known as Big Lez. I saw her in just about every music video that I loved, and often times featured as a soloist. She was powerful dynamic fluid and flexible. Another was Josie Harris, she was my favorite Fly Girl and who can’t remember her featured moment in MJ’s Remember the time and Janet’s That’s the way love goes. Those two are just some of my favs.
4. Tell us what catches your eye when looking for dancers you want to work with. What are some key things that are important to you ?
When it comes to looking for dancers, I like to work with those that are trained in more than one style, but have a strong freestyle! I like those dancers because they tend to be able to adapt to anything easily and more importantly can hold their own because of their individuality.
5. If you didn't pursue dance what would be your next career choice?
If I didn’t pursue dance I would be an occupational therapist working with athletes
6. What are some other styles of dance you wish you trained in but never did?
I wish I trained in tap dance. Just the concept alone of making music with my feet blows my mind
7. Top 3 Favorite Music Videos ( Dance Wise )
Top 3 Favorite Dance Videos are.... Janet Jackson Pleasure Principal, Feist 1234, Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal. I have about 10 that I love equally but felt these showed 3 separate things that I love are all all different.
8. Who is your favorite choreographer and why.
I actually don’t have a favorite Choreographer, but I can tell you that I admire those that choreograph with feeling than just mere steps.
9. Who did you start out dancing with in Toronto?
My Crew in Toronto was and still is Do Dat. Lead and choreographed by Luther Brown.
10. If you had to compare your dance style to a superhero who would it be?
If I had to compare myself to a SuperHero it would be MORPH. He is a shapeshifter in Marvel. In addition to being able to change his form, Morph can also change his size and voice. I don’t limit myself to one type of genre, and I do my best to always change up my style and love to work in different mediums.
Here are some videos Tanisha has choreographed
Cardi B ft. Bruno Mars"Please Me"
Drake"In My Feelings"
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller
Beyonce ft. Jay-Z"Upgrade U"
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