The woman who taught Beyoncé and Solange how to dance dishes on #Beychella
Beyoncé rocked the world with a history-making Coachella performance on Saturday that’s being dubbed the greatest show of all time by viewers like Chance the Rapper — but her childhood dance teacher remembers when Queen Bey was a young, soft-spoken wallflower.
Darlette Johnson-Bailey, the founder and creative director of the Kids in Dance studio outside Houston, told Moneyish that little Bey was “incredibly shy. Backstage, she would hold onto me for dear life.
“Beyoncé was quiet and reserved and didn’t say much, but on the dance floor she was a force to be reckoned with,” added Johnson-Bailey, 52. “And she had a golden voice.”
And she remembers telling an 8-year-old Beyonce that one day, she’d run the world.
“She was sitting on the floor — she had on a pink top and pink shorts and her pink tights — and I told her, ‘You are gonna be a world star. You are gonna be so big, the whole world is gonna know you,’” said Johnson-Bailey, her voice cracking. “And she just looked up at me and grinned, and said, ‘I am?’ And I said, ‘Yes you are.’
“And every time I think about that, I get teary-eyed,” she added. “I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to be an important person in their (Beyonce and Solange’s) lives. I am so thankful to God for that.”
Johnson-Bailey’s classes clearly shook the future Sasha Fierce out of her shell, as Beyoncé has grown up to become one of the most powerful women in entertainment, and Forbes’ highest paid woman in music after pulling in $105 million pretax in 2016 with her “Lemonade” album and the Formation World Tour.
Powerful! @Beyonce singing James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Every Voice and Sing" during her historic performance as the first Black woman to headline #Coachella ✊🏾#BlackNationalAnthem #becauseofthemwecan pic.twitter.com/pCDaY9XOba
— #becauseofthemwecan (@Becauseofthem) April 15, 2018
As the first black woman to headline the music festival in the California desert, Beyoncé turned Coachella into “Beychella” on Saturday by strutting out with a 200-piece marching band and 100 backup dancers. The “Irreplaceable” singer blew minds the world over with an epic two-hour set that included singing America’s black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” reuniting with Destiny’s Child for the first time since the 2013 Super Bowl halftime show, singing surprise duets with husband Jay-Z — and pulling sister Solange onstage for a dance-off that drew a Kids in Dance shout-out from their mother.
— . (@goddessyonce) April 15, 2018
“Soo glad to see Solange and Beyoncé dancing together again,” Tina Larson wrote on Instagram with a clip of her daughters shaking it on stage. “I felt like I was back at Ms. Darlette’s Dance Academy in Houston and those little Knowles Girls were dancing twice as hard as everyone else.”
And Miss Darlette herself remembers both girls standing out in her classes. “Beyoncé always, always danced the hardest, no matter what. She put her all into it, ripping her costumes (as she did at Coachella) from dancing so hard. She was the quietest one in class, but on that stage, oh my God, she was a beast.”
She said that Solange also burned up the floor. “Solange was tough. You didn’t mess with Solange!” laughed Johnson-Bailey. “And she was sassy and bold. It was so good to see them both dancing (at Coachella) again. My heart filled with so much joy.”
And the Knowles Girls haven’t forgotten their dance teacher, either; they come by to see her whenever they are in Houston, Johnson-Bailey said. And yes, they give her front row tickets and access to the VIP lounge.
“I’m front row, right where I can touch her, or I’m backstage where Blue Ivy is, and her mom and Jay-Z and her dad, and Solange will hug on me, and we’re just regular,” she said. “They don’t owe me anything. They don’t have to do that. But they can be real with me. Yeah, Beyoncé is a world icon, but I’m just Miss Darlette to her. She can be barefoot and getting dressed, and she doesn’t have to put on a front or anything with me.”
And Johnson-Bailey is still teaching every day, including the 50 girls enrolled in her studio, as well as the sessions she teaches — often for free — at schools in the area. And while she has some serious street cred for being Beyoncé’s teacher, she tells the next generation of dancing queens that she’s not going to make them into the next Bey.
“The first thing I do is tell them that they are not going to become a Beyoncé. There is only one Beyoncé,” she said. “I want them to come into their own destiny, into who God made them to be. Because there is only one of them, too, and all of my girls have amazing stories.”
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