Nu-Stylz: One, Two, Step

Olisa Thompson and Cicely Bradley, known to many as Nu Stylz, are behind the colorful choreography of several Missy Elliot videos, and they are rapidly expanding their repertoire. Fresh off of a tour with Olivia, Nu-Stylz is looking to grow in 2006, transcending music genres through dance and, true to their name, break new styles.

When they were only 15-years-old, the duo from Queens, New York got their start with Ralph Tresvant from New Edition. They have won awards for their moves with Mario and Missy Elliot, have worked with the likes of Mary J. Blige and Tweet, and have even crossed into Reggaeton with Daddy Yankee. Nu-Stylz is continually evolving their focus to stay on top of the game, and strive to bring freshness that can make music videos shine.

Recently Olisa was cast in the upcoming movie Step, and Nu-Stylz was picked up for a Nike commercial. Despite their hectic schedule, the ladies took some time to speak with us about their diverse choreography background and future endeavors. Alternatives: How did you guys get started with Ralph Tresvant from New Edition?

Olisa Thompson: We actually auditioned for him, and he picked me and Cicely, and Cicely’s brother and his best friend. And it was crazy ‘cause like 500 people auditioned all together. So we auditioned, did our own little routine, he liked it and we got put on with him. We ended up touring for about six years off-and-on from about ’91 to ‘97.

AHHA: When did you decide move into doing more serious choreography?

Cicely Bradley: We were always dancing in talent shows, in our schools, and college campuses. We always did our own routines, and we didn’t even realize that we were choreographers.

Olisa: But we’ve always done our own choreography, but professionally it was like, “Oh ok, we can do this professionally.”

AHHA: Who was the first artist you choreographed for?

Olisa: Cecily’s brother did most of the stuff for Ralph, and then we would just add our own little thing to it, so I guess you can say Ralph.

Cicely: And we don’t really even think about it, because it was so long ago and so small…I don’t even remember getting paid for it.

Olisa: Before we got Missy, she let us choreograph Nicole Wray. [We did] the video “Eyes Better Not Wonder”, and then we did “I Got What You Want”

Cicely: Then Lil Mo, and then we also did an artist named Cory Carter, and then finally moved on to Missy.

AHHA: Who have enjoyed working with the most?

Cicely: Tweet is one, and Ralph is one. We have fun with all our artists. Everybody has given us a piece of the business in all types of ways, and personally we become friends with a lot of artist.

Olisa: I agree. I enjoyed working with Mya and Olivia too.

AHHA: What video are you most proud of?

Olisa: Damn that’s a good question. I would have to say Mario [“Let Me Love You”] and “Pass That Dutch”, because it won the award.

Cicely: Mario and “One Minute Man”.

AHHA: You guys won the American Choreography award for “Pass That Dutch,” where did you get the influence for that dance?

Olisa: Missy asked if we could make a dance because her song is called the “Pass That Dutch” so we combined that Dutch type Riverdancing and came up with the “Dutch Dance”.

AHHA: Since the release of the Dave LaChappelle movie Rize, everybody has been jumping on the Crumpin’ and Clowin’ bandwagon, how do you guys feel about that?

Olisa: Unless someone requests it, we don’t really go into the crumping. We try to stick to and create our own style.

Cicely: I like it, it’s nice. There is a dance that comes out every year or every couple of years. I like it all, it’s a party of Hip-Hop – it’s a part of dancing. But for us, in particular as choreographers, we try to create also, so we don’t necessarily like to do the dance styles that are out.

AHHA: Who are the artists you guys have your eyes on?

Olisa: Janet! Definitely Janet, because she can dance and really gets into it. [laughs]

AHHA: Ha! Any new, new artists?

Olisa: Anybody that can dance really, any artist that’s willing to dance, willing to learn and go above the mark. Chris Brown is an amazing dancer, and you can tell is definitely willing to learn

Cicely: Hopefully we are going to land a gig with Shakira, and she’s another one that’s really good at what she does

AHHA: Isn’t that a whole other genre of dancing for you guys?

Olisa: Definitely, but she wants Hip-Hop incorporated with other styles, like capoeira and tribal dancing. The thing about me and Cicely is that we can actually make up a variety of dances, we’re not just Hip-Hop.

AHHA: Where can I get some dance classes, so I can bust a move?

Olisa: It’s a training facility that we have, we train people from the ages of 7 to 30 to become that best that they can be. We may use some of them for videos if possible, but it’s not just dancing – it’s more of training in a variety of styles.

AHHA: Have you ever had an artist who you really had to teach how to dance – they just came in with no knowledge?

Cicely: Well most celebrities have no dance training or background whatsoever. So we always have to teach them to do what we do, that’s part of what we do.

AHHA: What are your plans for 2006?

Olisa: [laughs] To make money! Really, just to broaden… to work with various artists and just be in the mix of things. We’re there, but we’re not quite there yet.

Cicely: We’re working on an instructional entertainment DVD for 2006, and we’ve been working with Daddy Yankee for the past two months doing several of his videos.

AHHA: Sounds like you are going to be busy.

Cicely: That’s the only way to be.

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