How to Make A Dance Video

Jul 31, 2014 | 9:05 AM

When I first heard that the Godfather of House Music himself, Frankie Knuckles, and the hip-as-hell Eric Kupper, had agreed to remix my recording of the Motown hit, “Reflections,” –one of the tracks featured on my upcoming album, Trouble in Paradise— I honestly couldn’t envision people dancing to it.


But then I heard their version of it, and now I can’t conceive of the song any other way! It’s available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon if (like my parents) you MUST have it in your collection.





The retro, early-90s sound was seductive, hypnotic, irresistible, and utterly evocative of dancing ’til daybreak at Limelight, then devouring steamed mussels and fries at Florent back when the Meat Packing district still smelled like meat and there were no high-end stores and no High Line and mostly just people who were high.


My managers told me that my PR team couldn’t promote the mix without a video to go with it. I had never made an actual dance video, sooo… in case some of you need to make a dance video, I’ve broken it all down for you.


Step 1: Determine a Concept

After soliciting advice, I decided a GreenScreen shoot would best suit my needs.  This meant that I would be shot against a blank, green background because, for some reason, that’s the specific color that’s used for these things, which is terrific because everyone knows that redheads go great with green.

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Green Screen


The idea was to film me dancing around and looking, in general, mouthwateringly delicious, and then replace the green background with whatever background I wanted, be it a tiki lounge, a tidal wave, or a snippet of elephants crossing the Masa Mara! Sounded great to me: endless possibilities. Hurray!


Step 2: Choose Wardrobe (yay!)

I got together with my brilliant stylist, Lisa von Weise Shaw, and the first thing she recommended was a black and white Tim Ryan fringe bolero. I thought it resembled a dead skunk that had been shredded by wild boars.  Until I put it on… and Glory be to God—it worked!

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See what I mean?

It seemed even more preposterous to pair it with some cheeky royal blue, fringed Norma Kamali shorts. Guess that’s why Lisa is the stylist and I’m just the singer! (Did I mention what a genius she is?)

So. I had one outfit. But a girl like me always needs two. So we revived my dear old friend, the gold Herve Leger dress I wore for a performance at Le Poisson Rouge.

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Step 3: Learn Choreography 

I had exactly one rehearsal with Yotam, our choreographer, at which point I realized that I would not master a new genre of dance — “freestyle” — in one session. I told him to find two fetching studs who were freestyle experts and honestly, I took the stress right out of my life.

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Now, that’s what I call TwoFetching Studs!!!!


Step 4: Show Up On Set 

After a few hours in hair and make-up,  I strutted onto the set (well, I strutted as best as I could given the fact that my fake hair weighed about ten pounds and my eyelashes were long enough to have their own social security code) and gave it my best go.

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Those lashes weren’t for beginners!

We started shooting at 11.

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First Shot of the Day

We finished shooting at 6.

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I was exhausted!!!


I went home and drank a big glass of Chardonnay … and then the real work began.


Step 5: Post Production

A genius team of editors and “After Effects” designers took the footage we’d shot and worked their insane sorcery despite being restrained by the limited footage of my good side.  (And believe me when I say that you do not want to see my other side, which has, on a few occasions, turned gay men to stone.)


Step 6: Release the Final Product


So… What do you think?





6 thoughts on “How to Make A Dance Video”

  1. Gary Fogelman     Reply

    Wow, Isabel…awesome. Retro and fun. But just really well done. I am super impressed!!!

  2. Lisa von Weise     Reply

    I had a blast woking with you as always! Your Reflections re-mix is on heavy rotation in my iPod navigating me though busy NY streets with killa beat and dreamy attitude. Bravo!

  3. Jan     Reply

    Beyond fabulous & multiple Isabel’s!
    But there is only one.
    Have a good weekend!

  4. Corey     Reply

    Great video & song

  5. Merton     Reply

    Isabel, ginger snap, thank you so much for this helpful tutorial. I am, actually, required to make a dance video, next week, as part of my probation. The judge was merciless. Anyway, this Knuckles-Kupper remix, the audacious styling, and those two ripped roués bring me straight back to 1993 and gyrating at Nell’s, back when everyone had a proper eating disorder and not this all-the-rage gluten allergy. Back when you could walk down the street, in broad daylight, with Michael Alig, Amanda Lepore, and Flotilla DeBarge, and people would stare. No one stares anymore. Whatever happened to staring? Anyway, Isabel, twenty years later, here you are, echoing that wonderfully decadent time of Madonna’s pixie cut and Jean Paul Gaultier’s “chic rabbi” collection and the designer debauchery of Susanne Bartsch. Work it.

  6. Pat Wallace     Reply

    You are so wonderful!

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