Dua Lipa Grammy’s Choreographer Charm La’Donna Unpacks Her Moves
Charm’s dances supercharged Super Bowl halftime and the Grammys. Now? She has her own music.
Charm La’Donna is the choreographer behind many of your favorite stars. From The Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime show to Dua Lipa’s mesmerizing Grammy showcase, La’Donna creates the signature moves that keep an audience entertained while also giving life to potential TikTok routines. She is also a music artist.
La’Donna, originally from Los Angeles, started creating dances for her friends at age 14 or 15 and eventually attended an arts high school. Now after working with a who’s who of music, including Rosalia and Kendrick Lamar and planning Dua Lipa’s Grammy performance, she is prepped to release her own EP this summer. (Queen and West Side already released at the end of February.) The remainder of the EP looks to be strong and upbeat and has “a little West Coast vibe in there as well.”
ZORA talked with La’Donna about her music, her dance moves, and choreography during Covid-19. Here’s what she had to say.
ZORA: I’m still thinking about The Weeknd’s halftime show at the Super Bowl. You did all that? With the masks and the marching? Can you explain it to me?
Charm La’Donna: The story that you saw stems from, you know, The Weeknd and his creative. My part was to come in and help facilitate his wildest dreams and what he wanted to show with the music and the performance. We’re also, you know, putting this show together there during a crazy time. So we had to be extremely strategic, extremely smart, extremely safe, and had to create something that’s on a big scale. Right? Get the creative, get the idea across, and still be safe. I was just a piece of that puzzle for him, and I helped to create the vision of the movement.
Dancers were literally six feet apart. All the same height. Synced. How did you all practice that?
I was having a rehearsal on Zoom … I probably shouldn’t be giving this out right now ’cause I’m pretty sure they’re going to say something. But I think everyone met and got together probably that same day, that Sunday. I was keeping people separate in certain rehearsals. Like this group was over there. This group was over here at this time.
What’s it like working with The Weeknd?
I would describe it as like a creative, um, energy-flowing experience. We both, I think we vibe very well with each other. He respects my voice. I like his voice, and I think that’s what you need in order to create something like what you saw. At least for me, my opinion … I thought we did a beautiful job. I thought it was an excellent performance knowing the things we had to go through to get there.
How did you decide what to do with Dua Lipa on the Grammys stage? It’s much smaller than a football field.
I listen to the new music you listen to, you know? You look at the treatment that the creative (produces) because I’m doing the choreography. That’s, I guess, kind of prep work. Then when I get in this space, I allow all my ingredients to come together, and then I cook.
Everybody is manifesting lately. What’s your stance on that?
My whole take on it, I guess it would fall in line with, you know, is believing what you want is already yours. Right? Like having an idea and following it through completely all the way. Right. It’s not about just sitting in a room and saying, “Hey, I want a new car” but not actually going towards and working for that car. Just hypothetically speaking.
Everything that I’ve asked for and I told myself I want? I worked for it, and I get it. I remember being a dancer at the Super Bowl, and I was up there, and in that moment, I knew I wanted to choreograph the Super Bowl next time. And I did. But it took years of preparation, dedicating myself to my art and my craft to get there. And I put in the work.
Wow. Who did you dance with the first time at the Super Bowl?
The Black Eyed Peas (Super Bowl XLV in 2011). I was a baby.
You are signed to Epic Records. Tell me about your new music. Very vibey.
I released a single called “Queen,” and I haven’t named the whole project yet. For now, I’m just getting the music that I want to release, the stepping stone of who I am, and people understanding this side of me. That’s what you’re hearing when you hear “West Side” and “Queen.” I signed last year in February, and there was a plan and how to release, and then Covid hit in March. At this point, I’m learning just to continue to go and do what you can in the time.
You work with a ton of folks — Selena Gomez, Kendrick Lamar, Rosalia, Meghan Trainor, and many more. Have you ever worked with somebody who has, like, no rhythm?
I worked with people who’ve had their own rhythm. How about that? You know, it’s sometimes it’s hard for me to answer just because you kind of gotta be in a space and, and see. … But yeah, I work with people, and some people have never danced before. And we just find it.
That would scare me half to death.
Do you think you can dance?
Yes. In the club at midnight but not on stage. Nope.
I could teach you some steps.