Janet Jackson’s prolific career is marked by her irresistibly catchy dance anthems. And when she first broke through to the top of the charts with 1986’s “Nasty,” she established her own style immediately — not only musically but also through her remarkable dance routines.
The “Nasty” video was choreographed by her pal Paula Abdul, who would subsequently go on to become a renowed choreographer and singer with a few hits of her own (plus, of course, she became an “American Idol” judge)
Jackson’s dance chops have permeated musicvideo culture, influencing performers like Britney Spears (the terp moves seen in Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U” and Jackson’s “Someone to Call My Lover,” released just three months apart, are uncannily similar).
She’s worked with such names as Tina Landon and Michael Kidd.
One of Jackson’s signature dances can be witnessed in “Rhythm Nation 1814,” which won a Grammy Award for longform musicvideo and MTV’s Music Award for choreography.
Longtime collaborator and main choreographer Gil Duldulao says collaborating with Jackson is a joint effort and the two work extremely hard to keep the choreography fresh.
“She’s definitely involved in every way possible. We respect each other’s space, but we’re also on the same page as to the creative and how to execute it,” says Duldulao, who has worked with Jackson for 12 years as a choreographer and 17 as a dancer. “If I have a suggestion, Janet listens to it.”
While Jackson has received criticism for using similar moves and setlists on different tours, Duldulao says it’s difficult to create cohesion and variety for a performer whose artistry practically has eras within itself.
“The thing about Janet is that she does so many videos and so many tours and so much choreography that the public loves, that it reminds them of a certain time. So when creating new tours, I love to keep the signature dances and choreography to certain songs to take the audience back to those memories,” Duldulao says.
It seems that’s something that appeals to audiences who keep coming back to relive those memories repeatedly, as evidence by her tours, which have generated $458 million worldwide.