Warning: This article contains spoilers from the Pose premiere. Read at your own risk!
One of the most emotional and exhilarating moments in the premiere of FX’s Pose is the final moments when Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain) auditions for dance school. He’s totally unprepared but passionate and manages to crush a performance set to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”
Swain takes EW through the rehearsal and filming of this epic sequence, which was choreographed by Ryan Heffington, who did Sia’s iconic “Chandelier” video.
“It was an accelerated week,” says Swain. “I went to L.A. and worked with Ryan Heffington. I guess the first two days we were trying to figure out the beginning aspect of ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ which was like two minutes and then the remaining one minute and 45 seconds. And then just going through it. That was a week and then I didn’t touch it for a few months. Came back to it when we were about to film, felt all of the feelings, all of the fatigue, all of the aerobics of the movement, and just the expansiveness and the joy and the emotions. It was an eight-hour shoot with just me, dancing, all day.
“Our costume designer, Lou Eyrich (American Horror Story), makes a joke every time when Ryan would say ‘Cut,’ she had to wring me out and tie the tank top tighter because I was just going, and going and going and going. The beauty of that moment is, you get to see what dance is supposed to be and what dance can be, which is transcendent emotionally. It is communication beyond words, And we see that culminating moment, him out of breath, literally giving everything he possibly could, and myself giving everything that I possibly could in that rehearsal and that working it out process and trying to figure out the movement. What this movement means, what this position means, all of these different things. Because it’s not just the dance, it’s an experience, it’s communication, it’s life, it’s language.”
Pose airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on FX.