Even if you’re not a dancer, you’ve seen Tricia Miranda’s work. She’s behind viral videos like that “Anaconda” dance routine that got nearly 40 million views on YouTube, not to mention Missy Elliot’s 2015 Super Bowl halftime show. So yeah. She’s kind of a big deal. Back in 2004, though, she was one of 1,000 women auditioning for a spot on Beyoncé’s second ever solo tour. “It wasn’t normal. It was the craziest thing,” she told HelloGiggles in a recent interview. But more on that later.
These days, she’s still working with top artists and teaching sold-out classes, and she’s also passionate about empowering women and bringing dance to a bigger audience. One of the ways she’s sharing her craft is through a partnership with Degree Women and DanceOn, a dance video network, which brings free classes to dancers in New York in Los Angeles.
“Anything DanceOn brings me, I’m on board,” she told HelloGiggles after class at Playground L.A. studio last month. “Obviously deodorant plays a big role in everybody’s everyday life, and something that’s for women [in particular], I think it’s really, really cool. There’s not a lot of female hip-hop choreographers that have become successful in the industry. There is—there’s a handful—but it’s really hard to break in. So anything that has to do with women’s empowerment or just women in general, I love to be a part of it.”
After breaking a sweat together, HG sat down with Miranda to talk about that fateful day with Bey, her first memory of dance, and how she went from Missy Elliot stan to Missy Elliot friend.
HelloGiggles: Who inspires you most as a dancer?
Tricia Miranda: What’s funny is that it’s not necessarily dancers that have inspired my career, it’s been business people. So Lucille Ball was always my biggest inspiration growing up. I was a fan before she even died, and she died in ’89 and I was 9 years old when it happened. I remember that whole thing. I’ve always just followed her career, and how she made moves and how people didn’t believe in her craft and what she had to offer, and now she has the longest-running show in history on television.
Then I’m also inspired by Missy Elliot, who’s an artist, but her music has inspired me as dancer and choreographer for my whole career, my whole dance life. She’s the one artist I always wanted to dance for, always wanted to choreograph for. I can literally choreograph to any single one of her songs, and still, to this day, she’s continued to inspire me.
HelloGiggles: Have you ever worked with Missy?
TM: Yeah, we’re actually friends! I did choreography for her 2015 Super Bowl halftime show, and I used to choreograph for her artists. She’ll text me every now and then to ask for new dancers that are out and hot and fresh.
HelloGiggles: What was it like when you first met her after admiring her work for so long?
TM: Uh, terrifying. I was like, ‘Oh my god, is she gonna like me? Is she gonna hate me?’ It was crazy. But she actually found me on YouTube, and then she DM’d me on Twitter and was like, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you about a project,’ and my heart dropped and I was like, ‘This is not real life.’ Yeah. It was terrifying. She pushes me as a choreographer like I never have been pushed before, ever. Just when you think you’re the worst choreographer in the world because she’s like, ‘No, that’s not it. Do it again, you’re better than that,’ and I’m just like, ‘No! She hates me, I’m fired!’ But then she makes you listen to music completely differently, and then you just come out with stuff that you never thought you could do. She’s changed how I choreograph, just by working with her.
HelloGiggles: Incredible. So let me ask, what is your first memory of dance?
TM: I started when I was 4, and I started competing when I was 5. So I would say my first memory, and it’s going to sound really weird and random, but I was a toy soldier in The Nutcracker when I was 8 years old, and I just have a lot of memories of The Nutcracker in general because I started as a ballet dancer and then evolved.
HelloGiggles: Can you describe a time when you felt nervous to dance and how you pushed through that?
TM: For me, as a dancer, I remember my first tour was with Beyoncé in 2004, and it was her solo tour, the Ladies First tour. And I remember that first show; I started offstage, and she started onstage [with] four girls, but I was one of the ones that started off. And I remember when the lights were coming on, and seeing 40,000 people in the audience, I remember feeling like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t do this. I’m so nervous. How am I going to go out there and remember a two-hour show?’ But it was crazy because the second she sang her first note and I heard how the crowd reacted to her and I saw the dancers start their first step, something just calmed me. It’s the weirdest thing. It was like, this is what we’re made to do. I feel like it’s good to be nervous because that shows that you’re still passionate and excited about what you’re doing. I love that feeling, because when the adrenaline kicks in, it’s just the coolest feeling in the world.
HelloGiggles: What was that first song she was singing?
TM: ‘Baby Boy.’ And I died. It was just the craziest feeling in the whole world, and that will forever be the highlight of my dance career.
HelloGiggles: What was it like auditioning for Beyoncé?
TM: So I went in not knowing anybody, and 1,000 girls were auditioning—and they were looking for one. Yeah. Because Carmit [Bachar] from the Pussycat Dolls was [Beyoncé’s] back-up dancer at the time, but they had just signed their record deal for the Pussycat Dolls so she couldn’t dance anymore. So they had to find a replacement for her and had all these auditions for the one girl. I remember going in, and I’m such a hip-hop girl that I remember going in dressed for, like, a Missy Elliot audition—seriously. I had the big hoops, I had booty shorts on, I had this bright, neon New York jacket and Air Force 1 stilettos. I just looked completely different. The other girls were really pretty, hair down, open-toe heels, spaghetti-strap dresses—just so Beyoncé, and I was so not.
I remember going in and I was in the back, it was this huge cattle call, and I was like, ‘Why am I even here? This will never happen.’ And I remember having to leave the audition early, so I went up to the choreographer, Frank Gatson, and I gave him my headshot and I was like, ‘Hey, I have a show, I have to leave.’ And he was like, ‘Well, just go in the first group before you go.’ So he watched me the whole time, and then he asked me what my sign was. I told him I’m a Capricorn and he was like, ‘Okay.’ And then I got a call a few days later saying that there was only 13 girls left, and you’re one of them, and then when I showed up to the callback there was only four of us there. It wasn’t normal. It was the craziest thing. For me, I felt like, ‘I’m not gonna get it anyways,’ so I was just really comfortable, like I’m just gonna live my life. I completely stood out. I was like, ‘No one’s gonna hire this hip-hop girl.’ They’re looking for a Caucasian girl to replace Carmit. And I’m Latin, and just dressed completely different. But I ended up booking it.