He has worked with legendary artists such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, Usher and Michael Jackson. Frank Gatson is a name many in the entertainment industry respect. Gatson continues to provide meaningful work with his latest project. He has teamed with The Foundation for AIDS Research to help groom a new generation of dancers. AmFAR is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to support AIDS research. The new fundraiser, Dance2Cure, is a social media dance challenge where young dance crews raise money for research. The choreographer spoke to the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper about how he is shaping the lives of upcoming dancers.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL NEWSPAPER: How did you begin your journey as a choreographer?
FRANK GATSON: I’m from Wisconsin. I didn’t think I could be in show business honestly. I just thought it was only for chosen people. I eventually went to law school instead. Back in the day, we had something called drill teams. It was a hundred of us who would rehearse before classes. Just imagine junior high and high school students all dancing or stepping. I had a robot solo!
LAS: Robot solo? Like the dance?
GATSON: Yes that one! I was known as the robot guy. I would come out to this song called Scorpio. I would do a Chinese split and feel like a star. I would’ve never realized it would manifest to what I’m doing today. My sister and me would go around and do dance contests but I still didn’t think I could do show business. When I was in college, I met a Swedish girl who wanted me to join her dance team. That was the start of it all. It’s crazy that this all started because I was the robot man in high school!
LAS: What made you want to be involved with Dance2Cure?
GATSON: I was born in 1958. I remember a lot of people dying from AIDS in the eighties. Some of them were good friends and fellow choreographers. I want to be transparent. Back in those days, we thought it was a White boy disease. I lived in New York. I started to notice that Black boys would get it. Family members of the deceased would say don’t tell nobody that they died from AIDS. It was really taboo. I knew Oprah’s brother Jeffrey Lee who was also from Wisconsin who died from it. My godfather died from it. People were dropping like flies.
LAS: That seems like a scary time to live in. What caused you to invest in AIDS research now?
GATSON: Here I am today, even though some of my dancer and choreographer friends have passed away by the disease. When they came to me to be a chairperson and made me involved with the dance team, I was hesitant at first.
LAS: Why hesitant?
GATSON: I was hesitant because I was thought if I would get involved with an AIDS organization, people would assume I have it. But then I stopped thinking that way. I remember dancers like Michael Peters and Michael Bennett, who died from the disease. Michael Peters choreographed Thriller and Beat it. How dare I even think about not honoring those who paved a way for me!
Dance2Cure will continue through next year. For more information on how to become involved, please visit amfar.org for more information.