DaniLeigh Is Shaking Things Up

DaniLeigh Is Shaking Things Up

Moving and shaking in this fall's hottest Technicolor, R&B's resident fly girl reps the second coming of full-body choreography.

Moving and shaking in this fall's hottest Technicolor, R&B's resident fly girl reps the second coming of full-body choreography.

Photography: Christelle De Castro

Styling: Anna Trevelyan

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

This article appears in the pages of V122: on newsstands November 7. Pre-order your copy on November 4 at shop.vmagazine.com.

Today’s pop stars need not be singing and dancing double threats, with complicated choreography routines increasingly becoming a thing of the past. After all, last year Drake launched a viral dance “challenge” after barely moving a muscle. But 25-year-old DaniLeigh is, quite literally, shaking things up.

A former backup dancer for Daddy Yankee and Pitbull, the R&B singer is known for her fiery choreography. She says of her new single “Cravin” with G-Eazy, “It’s definitely a choreography video, and I know that people will be teaching it at dance studios. It has that vibe to it…it’s all about exuding confidence and saying, ‘I’m the shit.’”

Now residing in Los Angeles, DaniLeigh was raised in Florida by Dominican parents who had previously lived in New York City’s Washington Heights. For a time her mom participated in the neighborhood’s gauntlet-style street dancing scene. “I’ve always been a hard worker and a go-getter, and my mom is like that, too,” she says, adding that her older brother and younger sister are also musically inclined. “But then my dad was where we got our singing from.”

When DaniLeigh was 16, she moved to L.A. with her mother. “We rented a room for a month, and literally ended up staying for the rest of the year,” she recalls. There she picked up gigs as a backup dancer for various musicians, before a producer invited her to sing. “I stopped dancing for other artists when I was like, 19,” she says. “I was like, I need to focus on one thing. And music was really what I wanted to do.” But the transition wasn’t easy. “With my being a dancer, a lot of people didn’t respect me at first because they thought I was just a little dancer,” she says. “Just stepping into the music scene was the first challenge. But the [setbacks] were just a chance to say, ‘What’s next?’” That determination only continues to pay off, like in September when DaniLeigh placed on Rolling Stone’s list of 25 breakthrough artists. “That definitely meant a lot,” she reports. “Things like that—like the Rolling Stone thing—make me think, Wow, I’m doing it. I’m winning by working hard.”

In addition to executing her own street-infused moves (as she did recently for V) DaniLeigh partakes in more online-based forms of dance, from re-uploading less-established dancers’ routines to her social feeds (Her 2018 hit “Lil Bebe” is a favorite among the YouTube dance community) to putting her spin on the “Kiki Challenge,” a viral chain of short dance videos set to Drake’s “In My Feelings.” Unlike most who participated, DaniLeigh’s Kiki footwork was the first step in forging a creative connection: “After that, Drake and I became cool,” she says. “Working with him is definitely [a] goal.” Being the quick-on-her-feet talent she is, it’s just one of many: “I just want to continue seeing wins, and be the best me I can be.”

 

Top and pants GCDS, Bra Desigual, Jewelry her own

Top Natasha Zinko, Jacket and pants Desigual, Choker (worn in hair) GCDS, Jewelry her own

Credits: Makeup Maki Royke (Streeters) Hair Latisha Chong Manicurist Eichi Matsunaga Photo assistants Douglas Segars, John Daniel Powers Stylist assistants Kristtian Chévere, Jalil Johnson Production Sara Zion

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