Dua Lipa dance

How Dua Lipa finally learnt to dance, an investigation

We’ve come a long way from THAT viral 2019 video

To put it bluntly, Dua Lipa’s dance moves used to be the laughing stock of the internet. It all started in 2018 when a video of her performing One Kiss at a festival went viral after her insanely rapid hip twists were compared to a manically swivelling pencil sharpener on Twitter/X. She swiftly quit the app.

As savage as online critics can be, its evident Dua took the criticism on board. Cut to 2024, and almost all of Dua’s content leading up to the release of her new album, Radical Optimism, has been choreography coded: Leotards for Training Season’s promo pics and mirrored rooms in Houdini’s video. So, as her latest single Illusion is on the brink of release with yet another complicated dance routine attached to it, let’s investigate: How exactly did Dua Lipa go from a total novice to natural mover?

Step 1: Taking Twitter’s criticism to heart – then doing something about it

Dua Lipa dancing

Credit: INS News Agency Ltd/Shutterstock

While chatting to Rolling Stone this year, Dua revealed the memes of her dancing had hit a serious nerve. “I found it really painful because I was like, ‘I’m finally getting to do something that I love to do, and I’m being shut down, that I just can’t seem to do anything right,” she said.

“There was this one little dance routine that I did when I was performing, and people took that one little snippet and decided to base my whole stage presence and who I was as a performer on stage,” Dua added to NPR of accusations she was a “lazy” performer. And so, a momental training season began.

Dua Lipa dancing

Credit: American Express

After haters got on Dua’s last nerve, she knuckled down and got on with her first full album: Future Nostalgia. But, because the album dropped during the Covid-19 lockdown, her tour was cancelled and nobody had any idea the amount of work she’d been putting in to her on-stage performance.

To overcome the isolation hurdle, Dua came up with Studio 2054: four concert-esque live streams, which were part of American Express’ Unstaged series, to support the release of her debut record. Clad in a black and white sheer unitard with six back up performers, the insane improvement in Dua’s dancing was instantly evident. She’d enlisted the help of choreographer Charm La’Donna – commonly thought of as “one of the most sought-after dancers and creative directors of her generation” (She’s also worked with Rosalía, Selena Gomez and won two VMAs) and, evidently, was put to work.

And just as a tiny little “fuck you” to everyone sat watching at home on the internet, what move did Dua close the show with? That’s right, the pencil sharpener.

Step 3: Strength training and rescheduling the Future Nostalgia tour

Dua Lipa dance

Credit: AMCK Dance

Thanks to the pandemic, the postponing of Dua’s Future Nostalgia tour didn’t end there and it was rescheduled several more times until final dates between April and June 2022 were announced— Two years after the shows were originally intended to take place.

What followed was the most polished series of performances the pop world had seen for years. Dua had prepared with “yoga, pilates and strength training” (remember when she went viral for doing a flawless headstand in heels?!) but revealed to Refinery29 she preferred to “leave my cardio workout to dancing”.

Dua kept Charm La’Donna on as the tour’s choreographer and added Dance Captain Sharon June to her team, as well as an ensemble of highly trained dancers to keep up with. The Guardian called her a “pop star for the ages” in their review of the tour, while The Independent added the show “proves she can dance, actually”.

Amid her training, Dua thanked all her online critics on Instagram: “Getting bullied online…made me want to dance my ass off and just really get better,” she wrote on her story. “So, thank you so much— for all things good and bad, for helping me grow.”

Step 4: Making dance her entire personality and inspiring the whole of TikTok to move with her

Dua Lipa dancing

Credit: Warner Music Group

As soon as Dua started to promote Radical Optimism, it was clear dance was the underlying theme of her new era. In promo pics for Training Season, she swung from a pole in a black leotard. For Houdini’s music video, she darted around a mirrored studio – choreographed once again by Charm and joined by Sharon and her ensemble – hours of gruelling rehearsal videos were posted to her TikTok.

After she performed her Training Season choreography in a jaw-dropping Grammys performance the moves went viral on TikTok, with users struggling to keep up with Charm’s intricate choreography. Where the internet had once mocked Dua’s moves, it now wanted to imitate her.

As she told fans in her spoof Vogue cover accompanying video: “For as long as I can remember, people have said to me: Dua, we’ll never be able to dance as beautifully as you. And I want to say to you today: no, you’re right, you almost certainly never will. But that’s no reason not to try.”

Step 5: Really fucking hard work, basically

From strength training, to hiring the best choreographers in the business, to hours and hours of relentless rehearsal, Dua went from a mock-worthy to awe-inspiring dancer simply by being the “hardest working person”, as her Dance Captain called her.

And, as her new single Illusion is just round the corner, the routines aren’t stopping. Already, behind the scenes footage of the next Dua dance drop has been teased on her TikTok. Now, the internet it loving it. As one fan wrote: “She got her masters in cuntology with a concentration in motherlogical studies from the university of servington.”

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• This wild TikTok conspiracy theory completely turns the Dua Lipa Levitating lawsuit on its head

Featured image credit via INS News Agency Ltd/Shutterstock/Anthony Harvey/Warner Music Group