*In the video above, dance crew Femme Fatale has managed to rack up three million views on Facebook since July 2019. Their moves are to a remixed version of the James Brown 1966 number one R&B ditty “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
The video showcases the international trio – Dassy Lee (Korean), Lily Frias (Mexican), and Marie Poppins (French) – as featured performers at the Arena Dance Competition in Los Angeles (Arena Dance Camp: @arenadancecamp).
EURweb’s head man, Lee Bailey, caught up with the crew in a recent phone interview and they explained how they turned the arguably sexist song into a performance about the power of women.
“We’ve done a lot of shows together but the collaboration on this one was amazing,” said Marie. “It started with a conversation, a subject that comes up a lot in our conversations, which is gender equality. As female street dancers, we are (not really represented) and we thought about our clothes a lot. Street dancers wear more baggy clothing and we were like how about doing a piece where we dress up like guys and then we change and dress more sexy.”
You might be wondering how and why these millennials chose a James Brown song from 1966 (you can also hear Diana Ross’ 1975 number one pop hit “Love Hangover” in the remix) – but they shut that question down quick.
“As dancers, we know our history,” said Lily. “We know our music. We study. All hip hop dancers are cultured. We know that Michael Jackson learned from James Brown and where did James Brown come from? Where does all of this music that we listen to now come from? Where was it sampled from? Music is part of what we do and we dance to every genre. A lot of it was created before we were born, but we study our history.”
Yes, these dancers can be seen all over social media dancing to a variety of music but admit the copyright police are in full force. They said viewers from some countries have been blocked from seeing their James Brown/Diana Ross video and they have a call to action.
“I’m talking for all of the dancers in the world,” said Marie. “We want to use (more songs) but there is a huge problem of copyright. With (James Brown/Diana Ross) it was a gamble because we thought the music would be blocked.”
Marie continued, “We try to work with producers and artists but if they don’t let us use their songs then it is hard to put (videos) together. I would like to create awareness about that. The labels need to figure it out because we give exposure for the new generation. I don’t work for a music label but can you tell them for me? As dancers we cannot be like cross our fingers and hope it doesn’t get blocked. It’s tiring.”
Lily added, “We worked for two months on (James Brown/Diana Ross) and don’t want to gamble anymore.”
With dreams of making it as dancers in the United States, they found each other three years ago in Los Angeles while working as professional dancers and choreographers. The name Femme Fatale seemed like an obvious choice.
“The name is French and for a long time I’ve always liked that expression,” said Marie. “It’s something that we use in French to say that (the way) a woman does things – (how) she is strong with her personality, presence, and in everything that she does.”
Lily added, “I connected with the name because we use our femininity as a weapon. Yes, I’m dancing and working and using my femininity in the moment.”
“I’m obviously not French,” said Dassy, “but South Korean and I somehow knew the word Femme Fatale. It sounded very feminine and powerful and this was the right name.”
If Dassy, real name Inyoung Lee, looks familiar that is because she was the first Korean dancer on the iconic dance show “So You Think You Can Dance,” finishing in the Top 8 in 2017. With her impeccable robotic/hip hop moves, she has worked with artists such as PartyNextDoor, One Republic, Calvin Harris and featured in commercials for FitBit, Timberland, and Mastercard.
Poppins,’ real name Marie Bonnevay, is trained in locking, breaking, house, and of course poppin’. She has worked with artists such as Madonna, Busta Rhymes, Justin Bieber, Ne-Yo, Celine Dion, Snoop Dogg, and Common. She also co-choreographed with Derek Hough on that other top dance show, “Dancing With The Stars,” was in the movie “StreetDance 2,” and has starred in commercials for Google and Microsoft.
Lily Frias (her real name) has jazz, ballet and contemporary dance training. You may have seen her on “America’s Best Dance Crew” (Season 7) with another group called Funkdation Crew. They were the first Mexican crew on the show. She was also the first Mexican dancer on “So You Think You Can Dance” (Season 12 /Top 20 street vs stage). Additionally, she has performed with Cirque Du Soleil, Mya, Bebe Rexha, and as part of the cast in “The Hip Hop Nutcracker.” Her commercials include Old Navy and Acura.
Individually, clearly the ladies are fire and they plan on performing together as Femme Fatale as long as they can. They are confident they can do both.
“The trio helps our individuality and our individuality helps the trio,” said Marie. “Even if the trio takes off, my personal lane is still there. (We) will always shine because we started as individuals.”
With all of them being from different countries, working as an immigrant in the U.S. is no joke. Even though the current White House politics appear to be against immigrants from certain countries, nothing can stop these dancing divas, especially Lily.
“As Mexican, in the political climate that is going on right now, I do see it as an obstacle but it just makes me work more,” said Lily. “I put more time into my dance, into the group, and in all of the goals that I have. So honestly, nothing can stop me. I want to make an impact and inspire other immigrants and other Mexican dancers and to show them that nothing is going to stop us if we have a dream.”
Femme Fatale created “Rising in Motion,” a dance-theater show (see video below) about empowering women and self-esteem. They want to keep it moving with more projects and need your help. Hit them up on Instagram or Facebook if you are the real deal and can promote these talented young women.