Uploaded by DS2DIO on 29.06.2012

GALEN HOOKS: Footloose, Madonna, the Step Up film franchise, the one thing they all
have in common is Jamal Sims, one of the most sought after choreographers in our industry.
He got his big break when he was just seventeen and was cast as a background dancer in Michael
Jackson's video for Remember the Time. And since then his career has recently come full
circle. He helped choreograph Circe du Soleil's Immortal, their tribute to the late King
of Pop. I am your host, Galen Hooks. Jamal, welcome to the show. JAMAL SIMS: Hi, thank
you. GALEN HOOKS: I'm so excited you're here. JAMAL SIMS: I know, it's crazy, right?
GALEN HOOKS: So you do these huge projects and in the midst of it all you always seem to have
this great sense of humility that I love and I assume that comes from your upbringing.
So let's start from there. What was it like growing up in Rancho Cucamonga?
JAMAL SIMS: It was it was really really ah humble beginnings. We didn't have a lot out there. We had
to kind of create our own fun. GALEN HOOKS: Cool. JAMAL SIMS: Ah whether it be like out
in the field riding dirt bikes and stuff like that. GALEN HOOKS: Did you start taking dance
classes, or what got you into dance? JAMAL SIMS: Thriller came out, and that's what made
me dance. GALEN HOOKS: Why do I feel like you had a jacket? You had a
Thriller jacket, didn't you? JAMAL SIMS: I had, I had a raggedy Thriller jacket. It
was it wasn't quite leather, it was pleather. GALEN HOOKS: Oh my gosh.
JAMAL SIMS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was terrible. So Thriller came out on MTV. I wanted to do
it for my talent show. So I was in seventh grade, and I was like I have to do, I have
to perform this. So I learned everything the opposite way, right, the TV way. So when you
learn things off of TV, I didn't have any dance training. I didn't know to turn around
and learn it the other way, right? So. GALEN HOOKS You didn't put it in the mirror and
then… JAMAL SIMS: No no, I didn't put it in the mirror, I wasn't that advanced,
GALEN HOOKS: Now you know. JAMAL SIMS: Now I know. But back then I wasn't that advanced.
So I learned it off the TV. Um I asked like all my friends
if they would come in and dance. They're like no man, you know dancing ain't cool, you
know dadada. So the dudes weren't doing it, but the girls, ah I got a couple of my
girlfriends to do it and they came up and they you know dressed as the monsters or whatever.
So I performed Thriller. But the only thing is that I needed a glove. Even though he didn't
wear a glove in Thriller, I wanted a glove for for myself GALEN HOOKS: That's hilarious.
JAMAL SIMS: Right, right? So I called my grandmother, and we called her Grandma
Dear. I was like you know, "Grandma Dear I need a glove," cause I thought, you know, she's I
thought she was like a seamstress or something like that. She had she had a whole bunch of
stuff she made. Um so I asked her if she would make me a a glove for my show. And she
she's like, oh yeah, sure. Well come day of the show, she's like, "I'm bringing it,
I'm bringing it, I'm bringing it." I get it, and she puts it in a box, and she gives it
to me. And it's a garden glove and um. GALEN HOOKS: Oh my gosh, Jamal. JAMAL SIMS: And she
and she she put nickels and dimes, she put anything that was shiny GALEN HOOKS: What?
JAMAL SIMS: on this glove, right. So I had to perform with this raggedy glove and do
Thriller. But and the funny part about it is that it was falling apart the whole
time I was dancing you know in this number. But that was like my Michael Jackson moment.
But the number was amazing and from that point I felt like I was popular
because people you know would be like, "Oh you're that dude that was dancing" and, you know,
in the talent show and this and that thing and... GALEN HOOKS: Cool. So how did that
then turn into a career? JAMAL SIMS: Well I wanted to sing, like that's what, I wanted
to be a singer, right? So I can't sing, but GALEN HOOKS: Oh I'm sure you can.
JAMAL SIMS: No no, I can do a tune or two, but but it s not like that...
GALEN HOOKS: A tune or two. JAMAL SIMS: Yeah, a tune or two.
But then there was a show called Putting on the Hits and, you know, you could lip sync. So there
was a group called New Edition, and that I loved. GALEN HOOKS: New Edition, yes. JAMAL
SIMS: New Edition that's where it all started. And then I was like, "I wanna,
I have to be in that group." And so my dad was like, "Well you should start your own group,
and let's call it Fresh Attractions." So there's New Edition and there's Fresh Attractions.
GALEN HOOKS: Okay. JAMAL SIMS: Right? So I was like, "Okay, cool." GALEN HOOKS: Go dad. JAMAL
SIMS: Yeah, yeah. So me and my brothers we all, me and my brothers and a cousin
we put together a group, and we went on, and we auditioned, and we got pretty
far. We got a record deal for… GALEN HOOKS: What? JAMAL SIMS: Yeah, I know. I couldn't I
wasn't the singer of the group. GALEN HOOKS: Jamal. JAMAL SIMS: I definitely wasn't the singer. I know.
GALEN HOOKS: Were you the rapper? JAMAL SIMS: I was the one that would
be like, "Yeah baby," so… GALEN HOOKS: Oooh yes! You were the talker. Yes, nice. I can see that.
JAMAL SIMS: Yeah, that was me. So then but but meanwhile
I'm doing all the choreography for the group. GALEN HOOKS: Okay. JAMAL SIMS: I would do all
the steps and I was the dancer of the group, you know what I mean? So if there wasn't
any time that no one was singing I was in the front dancing the hardest, you know?
JAMAL SIMS: So I think that you know I didn't know there was an actual job that
was called choreographer. I just felt like it was just making up the steps, you know?
So I think that's really where, you know, I started working as a choreographer. But
that was just so we could do our singing group. GALEN HOOKS: So you were really
a choreographer before a dancer? JAMAL SIMS: Yes, yeah. But I didn't know it.
Because I guess in school in the career center there wasn't, I didn't see a thing,
anything that said choreographer. GALEN HOOKS: Right. JAMAL SIMS: You know what
I mean? GALEN HOOKS: Yeah. JAMAL SIMS: Like I just didn't, didn't see it.
GALEN HOOKS: Yeah that's not on the list of things they give you. JAMAL SIMS: No, no, no, no.
JAMAL SIMS: It was doctor, lawyer. GALEN HOOKS: Yeah.
JAMAL SIMS: There was no choreographer. GALEN HOOKS: No choreographer. JAMAL SIMS: So we did the
singing group, we got a record deal, we did a video. And I was like, "Oh this is it," you
know. And the month that the video was released the record company shut down. And
something crazy happened, and we lost our deal, and the album didn't do anything,
and we were just, so I was like "I don't know what to do." GALEN HOOKS: While Jamal's singing
career may have come to an end, his passion for dance was about to take him somewhere
completely unexpected: to open auditions for the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
JAMAL SIMS: So I went down there, actually, the whole group went down there. We all went
down there to to audition for this thing. And I walked in, and I remember seeing all
of like the dancers that we see in videos, and I was star struck by them.
GALEN HOOKS: Cool. JAMAL SIMS: You know walking into this audition I was like, "Dang, that's such and
such in that video or… GALEN HOOKS: Wow. JAMAL SIMS: Or he was in Bobby Brown, you know whatever.
So I'm looking around so I'm kind of star struck. And then Fatima Robinson, she was
the choreographer, and I was like, and I didn't know her at the time.
And so I, you know, I was just like okay, cool. I see her teaching the steps,
I learn the steps and we come and they cut it down, they narrow it down. Well long story
short, I got the job. GALEN HOOKS: Yes. JAMAL SIMS: And that was my first job ever. And um,
that's where I started. I was seventeen and dancing. GALEN HOOKS: Cool, so what was
the job like? I mean that's your first job, and it's with Michael Jackson. What what...
JAMAL SIMS: I know, it s crazy. GALEN HOOKS: Do you remember, do you remember
every second of it? JAMAL SIMS: I remember every second.
I remember walking in and doing it and doing the choreography for Michael. They separated
us four by four. So four people at a time. And he's sitting there like Indian style watching this.
And so when I dance, you know, I do a lot of facial expressions. I don't know
if that's good, but you know I just kind of you know give a little extra. You know
GALEN HOOKS: You're just feeling it, yeah. JAMAL SIMS: Just a little performance level.
So I'm in there like doing all that stuff. And every time, every time I like do it,
Mike will be like, he was kind of like mimicking, you know. So I'm feeling
like he's kind of feeling it, you know what I mean? Like he gets where I'm at, you know.
So we finish and our group goes, I go sit down and I look up and he looked
across the room and he was like... GALEN HOOKS: Oh, how sweet.
JAMAL SIMS: And that was it. That s all I needed. GALEN HOOKS: Oh do you have that like
freeze framed in your head? JAMAL SIMS: Yeah, that's my, that's the memory
that I keep, you know? GALEN HOOKS: Oh my gosh, that's amazing. JAMAL SIMS: Yeah, so
it was kinda, after that I was like well… GALEN HOOKS: Stamp of approval, man. JAMAL SIMS: I'm
done. You know, no. Well, that's what I thought, I was done. And then… GALEN HOOKS: Well you
weren't done. JAMAL SIMS: I realized once I got done with that video I was back on
the grind, and I realized that there's so much more I had to learn. GALEN HOOKS: As luck would
have it Jamal turned out to be a quick study. His career started taking off, allowing him
to choreograph projects including Footloose, Dancing with the Stars and all four movies
in the Step Up film franchise.
GALEN HOOKS: In the end, you love what you do, there are so many fantastic
things. What are some of the things you love about being a choreographer? JAMAL SIMS: I
love, I love dancers. So those are, they're my best, like like all of my friends are dancers,
for some reason. You know, I mean, I think that they're the best, like… GALEN HOOKS: They're
awesome. JAMAL SIMS: People, no, no, no. And and I'm not just saying this cause I don't
wanna be corny, but I do wanna say that GALEN HOOKS: They are. JAMAL SIMS: They just,
they inspire me, you know from the way they dress to the way they talk to the music
that they listen to. And so I just enjoy being around dancers. They just give me energy and
and all that kind of stuff. So that's that's one of my favorite parts. And then,
you know, being able to create things that will last from when I'm gone, you know
the… GALEN HOOKS: Yup. JAMAL SIMS: The videos and the memories and stuff like that, like
that's really cool too, you know. GALEN HOOKS: So do you, speaking of things living on, do
you look back at your early work and think like, "Yeah I was awesome," or do you look back
like, "Yikes?" JAMAL SIMS: Not so much. GALEN HOOKS: Not so much.
JAMAL SIMS: Every time I'm like, "Yooikes." You know it's, I always, I'm hard on myself.
I don't like to see myself. GALEN HOOKS: Awwww. JAMAL SIMS: And like I probably won't watch
this cause I… GALEN HOOKS: Aww, come on. JAMAL SIMS: You know, not it's just hard, it's
so hard for me to see see myself do things and to take myself too serious. So you know
I don't really, so when I watch stuff I cringe. GALEN HOOKS: Awww, Jamal. JAMAL
SIMS: But, you know, though I always like you know when
when people say, "Oh I like such and such." That always makes me feel good. GALEN HOOKS: Cool.
JAMAL SIMS: So yeah, yeah. GALEN HOOKS: Do you normally walk away feeling
like you accomplished what you wanted to?
JAMAL SIMS: No, well… No I don't.
GALEN HOOKS: No? JAMAL SIMS: No, I always feel like there wasn't enough time or you
know um, there's few, there's like live TV shows, like sometimes like there'll
be moments where we shoot and it is what it is, and I'm very happy, you know.
But sometimes, like a lot of times, you know, as you know we we get in these time constraints,
and we don't get to get everything that we wanna get. And usually that is the problem.
You know I mean I'm like, "Oh man, but we had adjusted this" or you know. GALEN HOOKS: Has
there ever been a time where you walked away feeling like that was a good one, like there's
nothing I would change? JAMAL SIMS: I, when I danced on the Dancing with the Stars
last year, I walked away like thinking, "Okay, we did," you know what I mean? Like that was
it, that was, yeah yeah. GALEN HOOKS: You did that.
JAMAL SIMS: Yeah we did that right there, yeah. No I felt like that. Cause you know
it was like one of the first few times that they allowed me total creative freedom. And
they said, you know, they gave me a theme and I, and they said you know, "Just do something
American." GALEN HOOKS: So let's round this out by asking you why do you love dance?
JAMAL SIMS: Dance, it always reminds me of being young. And because when I when I was like
two or three, I can remember you know my mom and dad having dinner parties and stuff like
that and with the family reunions and be like, "Oh Jamal, do that thing, do that
thing, do that thing that you did, you know and dadada." And I would do it and you
know to see you know their faces and everybody applaud you know applausing, you know giving
me applause. It was like amazing, you know. So I always, I always like when I start
dancing I kind of feel that joy that I did when I was younger. You know I'm a lot older
than that now. But you know I do, I still every time, that's the joy that it gives me.
GALEN HOOKS: Great. Well, thank you for being here, Jamal.
It was such a pleasure. Yay. Hugging you. Yeah that was awesome.
GALEN HOOKS: I'm so happy you were here, and we got to know a lot more about
the man behind the moves. Everybody out there don't forget to click "Subscribe" and you can
keep up with people like Jamal and our other top choreographers in the entire world and
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Thanks guys, see you next time.