Check out our interview with Dondraico Johnson, one of the entertainment industry’s best choreographers.
From the age of 17, Johnson has been working in the music industry and has since then paved a way for himself as one of the most notable choreographers of our time. He’s trained with TLC’s Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes, Danced with Kanye, Michael, Janet and Miley and choreographs for WGN’s television show The Undrground. We caught up with Draico to find out about his latest endeavor, choreographing the new Ghostbusters remake. Check out the interview below and enjoy!
How did you become involved with the film Ghostbusters? Actually a friend of mine, another choreographer friend of mine- his name is Steven -called me and was like something came up and I might need you to work on it with me, I was like I’m free and so he said there’s a new ghostbusters coming up I want you to be a part of it and I’m like Hell yeah let’s do this. I was super excited then and you know he set up some meetings and stuff, met up with Paul and got a call in the middle of the night and was like sign me up for Ghostbusters, that’s gonna be iconic. Sign me up.
How was it working with Paul and the rest of the cast?I choreographed a lot of movies before but from the first day I went on set with Paul and like all the girls, it’s been laughter and fun. From day one, as soon as I stepped on set Paul was super dope. Paul’s got to be one of the most dapper, fresh, most well-dressed directors that I’ve ever worked with. Every day he had on a three-piece suit like G’d up, he was pretty fly. I got there and everything was – all the girls – everyone was a comedian so – I felt like I wasn’t really going to work, it felt like I was at a stand-up comedy. It was pretty amazing.
So what was your favorite scene to choreograph in the film?It was this one huge scene where Chris Hemsworth gets hypnotized by this little ghost and he picks over Times Square with all these police officers running after him and out of nowhere all of these officers were doing this huge dance. There were 150 police officers, huge Saturday night fever type dance. That was my favorite part.
Now you’ve choreographed for different tv shows as well as musical artists, so can you tell us how was choreographing for a film like Ghostbusters different from choreographing for a television show like Underground or a music artist?
Yes, it’s completely different. When you choreograph for a film like Ghostbusters, everything is scripted, you get the script and you read the scene and you try to get a visual of how you think it should go and then –first of all you have to figure out who the actors are then you have to see can they dance or are they acting so you have to make moves. Sometimes you get actors that can dance and some that really can’t do it and nobody wants to dance terrible so when you’re doing film it’s kind of like it scripted, you know what it is, you meet with the directors and producers and they give you some inspirational clips of how they think it should go and you have to create. The really cool part about that is that instead of doing it with an artist, it’s their music and their visual, most of the time artists have more rehearsals, we’re doing it over and over and over instead of doing it for film, you do it that one night or maybe shoot the scene for two or three days and then it’s done, but like with an artist you’re going to be doing the same dance for five years or something.
You began in your teens you began working with Left Eye, who has this legacy, can you tell us how you came to work with left eye and what do you remember most about him?
Yeah that’s a really cool story. I had just gotten to Atlanta, I was going to Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia. Some friends of mine talked me into going to this audition for Left Eye. He actually has this production company, Left Eye Productions. I was going mostly just to support my friends. So I got there and I watched the routine and the choreography and I was like ‘I think I can do this.’ My friends were like get up and try it, so I got up and danced and knew I could do it and hours later they’re making all the cuts and trying to pick all the people they want to use and at the time I was only 17. She had was an adult squad of dancers that were 21 and older that she was going to stick with all her artists that she had coming out and had a high school squad, but I kind of fell in the middle. I wasn’t in high school, I was already in college, but I wasn’t 21, I was 17 so she kept me as an alternate so then from there – literally within the next couple of months she was putting out her group, she had a group called Black at the time, which was another three girl group just like TLC and I was the same age as the lead singer of the group and she immediately stuck me with them and from there everything just kind of took off. She molded me she introduced me to the industry, she put me on to my first artist. I learned a lot from her.
Who has been your favorite artist to work with, along with Left Eye?
My favorite artist has to be, The Super Bowl with Janet Jackson was an out-of-body experience. She was really cool. Kanye West was amazing, I performed with him a couple times for Jesus Walks and I’m going to say Miley Cyrus was pretty fly.
Can you tell us about working with Michael, as a choreographer?
That was definitely a dream come true. When I got that call – I only worked with him for three days, but it was like walking into a moving movie already. There was so much going on and he was super super nice and a man who got exactly what he wanted in his career and he was an icon, he was a legend. We were in there moving and dancing and he caught on quick and added his own little thing to it and it made sense why he was such an icon. He had the ability to make it his own, it was like he did it himself.
Can we expect an appearance in Ghostbusters soon from you?
I did a little one-two step for you guy. If you look very closely, you might see a familiar face. I was up in there.
What upcoming projects can we expect from you?
I’m working with a couple artists right now that are coming up. I’m working with one artist named Laura Marano from the t.v. show Austin and Ally, I’m prepping her for some stuff and hopefully this next season of the underground will be amazing. I’ll be posting a lot about that on my social media really soon.
Where can we find you on social media?
My Instagram and Twitter are @Draico