He turned Britney Spears into a performing icon with unforgettable dance moves in music videos like “I’m A Slave 4 U,” “Overprotected” and “Toxic.” So when Britney was hoping to re-connect with the “old Britney” in her first two music videos for her new Femme Fatale album, it was choreographer Brian Friedman she called up to choreograph “Hold It Against Me” and “Till The World Ends.”
“I got the phone call saying, ‘Britney really wants to get back together with you, are you available?’ ” says Brian, who started working with Britney the day after Christmas to prepare for the videos. “Everyone is definitely in a different place now. We’re grown. When Britney and I worked together before, she was 19, I was in my early 20s. I’m 30 now and she’s a mother with two. We have different goals and energies and priorities. It’s great to see her grown up and she’s got her babies, who mean everything to her. A lot has changed.”
Brian met Britney back when they were first starting out their careers – she had just released her first single and he soon became her back-up dancer, and then choreographer.
“Brian’s the one that’s really behind the genius thing going on!” Britney has said.
After taking a five-year break while Brian pursued other projects, including work on So You Think You Can Dance, judging on X Factor and producing America’s Got Talent, Britney worked with other choreographers.
So how have things changed now that Britney’s grown up?
“She knows what she wants and there’s often a lot of times where she’s like, ‘Uh uh. I’m not doing that,’” Brian says. “It’s not that she doesn’t like [the dance move]. She just says, ‘It doesn’t look good on my body. This would feel better.’ You’ll give another option and then she’ll say, ‘That’s what I like, this is good.’ And being that she’s a dancer, we vibe off of each other on a lot of steps.”
Brian also has learned over the years that the best way to teach Britney, is through humor.
“I feel like a comedian all day when we’re working together,” he tells OK!. “If you do a little squat down to the floor, I always scream, ‘take a poop!’ … I always use analogies with steps because if you remember, ‘take a poop, wipe it off’ then you remember doing a squat and then coming up and doing a hip roll with your hands on your hips.”
After mastering how to get through to pop stars with his unconventional techniques, now Brian is looking to create six icons of his own – the next Britney Spears and Justin Bieber — for a docu-reality-series project called “Discovered.” The audition process begins in L.A. on April 26 (click HERE to find out how to audition!).
“I want to find the people that don’t have their deal done and I want to create them from the ground-floor up, which is why I’m not able to do Britney’s tour,” says Brian, who was a potential candidate for her tour. “It was great to be back with her and I’m definitely there for videos, because videos aren’t as long of a time commitment.”
Brian’s decision to work with young talent over established artists on his show isn’t the first time he’s enjoyed helping future stars. He’s been a longtime choreographer with The Pulse on Tour, a dance workshop that travels the US teaching students the dance moves that he and other respected choreographers (including Lady Gaga’s LaurieAnn Gibson, Janet Jackson’s Tyce Diorio and NSYNC’s Wade Robson) have made famous.
“They called me basically because of my work with Britney Spears, and they said, ‘We would love to have you teach in our one day workshop.’ And I said, ‘Definitely.’ ”
Through the Pulse and his upcoming series, Brian’s hoping to produce the next new crop of talent and teach the choreographers who will work with them. The most common question he gets from the young artists is always the same: “What is it like to work with Britney Spears?” But the answer never changes.
“For me, it’s Britney Spears and it’s just like working with anybody else,” Brian says. “I think it’s important for people to know that you just can’t place them on a pedestal because the second you do, rehearsals will be weird.”
And at the end of the day, Britney Spears may be a pop icon, but in some ways she’s like any other girl.
“Britney’s pretty simple with her requests,” Brain says. “She likes her vanilla candles in her room. And before we would go into any of the work that we would do, her only request was a ham and cheese croissant.”
CHECK OUT THE POSTER BELOW FOR MORE INFO ON BRIAN’S SEARCH FOR THE NEXT BIG THING!