WMU News

Student Chopper Platt tours nation as Hip Hop dancer

Oct. 3, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Chopper Platt, a junior in the Department of Dance at Western Michigan University, received a call in January to join Li'l Johnnie (now known as L.J.) as a dancer for his tours and music videos. That phone call initiated a whirlwind eight months of rehearsing, performing, and touring.

While on a month-long hiatus, Chopper recently visited the Department of Dance, which he refers to as "home," to say "Thank you," and "I miss school."

Chopper's most recent tour with NSYNC covered eight cities in three weeks. Prior to the NSYNC tour, Li'l Johnnie and dancers toured with Li'l Bow Wow for two months earlier in the summer. The usual performance schedule runs from Thursday through Sunday and the show is highly aerobic. Chopper wishes that they had the time to eat healthy meals instead they have to eat on the run which means a lot of fast food. While on tour their daily routine is to eat, sleep and dance.

The work is hard. They rehearse from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., five to six days per week. When they are not onstage, they are doing promotional work. The promotional tours music may require flying to three or four cities in a single day.

Chopper and Li'l Johnnie hail from Flint, Mich., and Chopper choreographed and performed on hometown engagements before enrolling at WMU. The two kept in touch and Li'l Johnnie (and his parents) told Chopper that they would contact him if Li'l Johnnie got a contract as a recording artist. They kept their promise and called when Warner Brothers signed Li'l Johnnie.

Chopper thinks that it is fabulous to be able to do what he loves and get paid. He says he got the break because he was willing to work for little or no money in Flint, because he loves to perform, and he says the exposure and experience was beneficial. He plans to move to Los Angeles in January but hopes to return to WMU to complete his degree.

Before joining Li'l Johnnie, Chopper had the opportunity to perform the work of legendary choreographer Donald McKayle, a King-Chavez-Parks Artist in Residence at WMU in 1999. Chopper also performed in music professor David Curwen's "Sextet Duet" during the Fall Concert of Dance in 2000. An active choreographer, Chopper's work was frequently presented on the department's Noon Dance showing.

Some currently enrolled students may have studied Hip Hop dance with Chopper at the WMU Student Recreation Center. The popular classes reached a large number of students.

Media contact: Trudy Cobb at 616 387-5834, trudy.cobb@wmich.edu

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