At the ripe age of 28, Ashley Everett, has become Beyoncé’s longest running backup dancer and dance captain. Known for slaying and choreographing saucy dance moves and her red tresses, she recalls the beginning as well shares what it’s like to work beside this generation’s greatest entertainer, Queen Bey.
Born in a small Northern California town and an only child, she remained active in many sports, including soccer, gymnastics, and dance. Dance stuck with her and at the tender age of 15 her parents made a life-changing decision and moved the family to New York to invest in Ashley’s dance career. She was enrolled at the Professional Children’s School in Manhattan, an arts school well known for educating the likes of Macaulay Culkin, Scarlet Johanssen and Sara Michelle Gellar. In a recent interview, she recalls auditioning for Beyonce, her first tour and more. Peep the excerpts below.
On working with Beyonce:
I’m 28, so she’s 7 years older than I am. I would consider her almost like a big sister. She’s been a big sister or mentor, whether she knows it or not. I’ve learned so much just being around her, because she’s so intelligent and she knows so much about this industry.
On auditioning for Beyonce at age 17:
There were thousands and thousands of people in lines that twisted down the block, around the corner, and down a few more blocks, right in the middle of New York City. Every dancer from every studio I knew was there. But it just so happened that a few weeks before, I had met her choreographer Frank Gatson at another audition. He remembered seeing me dance, so he made sure I got in and would be seen by B. I can barely remember dancing for her, it was so surreal. I was so nervous, and young, and green to the industry! I just remember being so ready, following whatever instructions I got. ‘You want me to stay? Come for a callback? Dance until all hours of the night? No problem!’ That was the last open call audition that Beyonce has had since.
On her first tour:
I missed my family, of course,. But I was just so excited. Everyone handles being on tour differently, but I’ve always tried to just soak it all in as much as possible. The first tour was supposed to end at the beginning of September, a week before I was headed to my dream school, Julliard. And then they extended the Beyoncé Experience four more months. I had to make a decision: Go after the lifelong dream that had been on my bucket list my entire life, or stick it out with a legend, with no idea of what would happen next. I took a leap of faith and stayed on the tour. Obviously, it paid off!
On being recognized from the “Single Ladies” video:
That’s when people started recognizing me. Before that, only the hardcore fans knew me from her first tour. But after ‘Single Ladies,’ people would point at me on the street, or come up to me and say that they were Ashley Everett fans. When we filmed that video, I was just doing my job and so excited to be a part of it. I had no idea it would blow up like it did. But I was so grateful.
On being promoted to dance captain at age 19:
I definitely felt like a lot of the dancers were looking at me like, girl, you’re only 19, you don’t know what you’re talking about. It was tough, because there were a lot of dancers on the team that I looked up to, and I didn’t want to be overly bossy. But I was experienced, I knew all the routines and I was the most fluent in this Beyoncé language.
On Beyonce dropping her surprise album:
We usually know when something’s coming, but with the Beyoncé album, I didn’t know it was dropping until the night that it dropped. WE had just done a show and got on the tour bus and everyone’s phones were blowing up, like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me the album was coming out?’ And I was just like, ‘Whoa, wait. What are you talking about? It came out? We can talk about it now? Great. I’m in eight videos!’ So yea, we get surprised, too. Even like we did the Superbowl and performed ‘Formation’ — that was a whole new song that no one had heard. And then right after that she announced the Formation tour. and we were like, ‘Okay, cool. So there is going to be a tour.’ Because we didn’t know, for real!
On her surprise proposal:
It was like my personal life collided with my professional life, so I felt really vulnerable. Everyone asked how I was able to start dancing again right after that, but that was the easy part! It was such an amazing moment.