Swarovski’s new #athleisurebeatsvideo campaign is kicking up some serious energy in the fashion industry, fusing the worlds of glamour-wear with active-wear as it does classical ballet with hip-hop. Creative movement director Normann Shay is a driving inspiration behind the project. Indeed, who else could it have been?
His exceptional dance talent—discovered and nurtured by no less than Madonna—kick-started a genre-defining career that has seen him step seamlessly into a self-invented role choreographing movement for high-fashion videos and runway shows. It’s a truly unique way of operating, so we wanted to get some behind-the-scenes insight into how he created the #athleisurebeatsdance-off videos, working with Chicago’s Hiplets troupe and NYC’s X Factory dancers, all styled in crystallizedclothing from 13 top sportswear brands.
How did the fusion of dance and fashion happen for you?
Normann Shay (NS): “I was in London trying to make it as a professional dancer. That’s where I met Madonna in 2004. She asked me to teach her my style of dance, House Dance, which formed the basis of her Hung Up video. Once we had finished, she invited me to the MTV awards, and I haven’t stopped since: LA, Tokyo, and more. I worked for her for 12 years. Next up, photographer Steven Klein asked me to choreograph a music video; then it was a Vera Wang photo shoot; then Balenciaga, Balmain… that’s when I became a “creative movement director”!
So, the challenge of making the moves work with the clothes is something in which you’ve become an expert?
Looking at the Swarovski Athleisure Collaboration Spring/Summer 2018—crystallized lounge-luxe and action couture from leading sport and leisure brands such as Caraa, Juicy Couture, Ultracor, Kappa, No Ka’Oi, Roxy, Victoria Sport, Pretty Ballerinas, Marc Cain, Mizuno, Holster, Mariam Seddiq, and PRSR—there are some stunning visual elements, including bling-blitzed retro-sportswear and street-culture motifs.
NS: “Everything clicked once I had the music and the vision of how to put the dance styles together. I love to mix it up. It wasn’t the first time I’ve mixed styles, but it was the first time I had worked with the Hiplets and seen their “hip-hop meets classical pointe” approach. It was actually amazing, beautiful, and I really enjoyed it.”
Tell us more about what it was like for you to work with the next generation of dancers?
After all, the Hiplets from the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center and NYC’s X Factory dancers really are an inspirational group of young people. Their ethos is impressive, summed up in their own words: “This is the era of comfortable and socially progressive glamour. We demand to be free, to be active, to be part of a diverse community—and all while looking fabulous.” This explains why Swarovski is so pleased to have the opportunity to support both schools.
NS: “The video was pretty stress-free because the kids were all very good dancers and learned fast. Okay, kids always like to have fun—although in my position you want to make sure it’s clean and professional—but I tried to make work fun, too! The outcome looks amazing.”
Don’t miss Normann Shay’s mesmerizing video, which launches the Swarovski Athleisure Collection SS18. Fizzing with lightning-quick energy and part of the #athleisurebeats campaign, catch it online in February!