A few lucky Ailey/Fordham BFA students were in for a treat when late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien took over one of their Ailey dance classes. O’Brien, who usually films his program on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California, hosted a special week of shows live from New York at the Apollo Theater. As part of this special week of programming, O’Brien stopped by several famous New York locations, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Derick Mckoy, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ‘19, was one of the Fordham students who got to dance with the late night comedian. “When he first entered the studio, he was already in character,” Mckoy said. “He was so focused and persistent with the personality he was trying to portray that after the taping, when he broke character, we did not really know if he was still acting.” Marcel Wilson, FCLC ‘18, agreed with Mckoy, adding “Conan was a super fun person to have in class with us! He was so positive about what he was doing and worked really hard.”
According to Mckoy, the dancers who appeared in the video were not there by accident. “[We] were invited via email, a couple days before, to participate in the taping,” Mckoy explained.
Taking a dance class with a celebrity is not something that happens everyday. It gave the Ailey dancers the opportunity to learn more about O’Brien than what viewers could gather from just watching him on a television screen. “[Conan] was more sassy, and comical than anything…he was also a lot taller than anyone thought he would be,” Mckoy said of the talk show host. Wilson added, “Conan was a very kind person. He understood the hard work that goes into what we do as dancers and didn’t try to say that it was easy.” In reference to his dance skills, Wilson did say that “he could use a few more classes to fine tune his ‘talent’.”
When the cameras stopped rolling, Mckoy said O’Brien expressed his gratitude to all Ailey members involved. “He thanked us, and then complimented our dancing and hard work.” When the time came for O’Brien to leave, many Ailey students couldn’t help but ask the famous comedian for photos to remember the experience. “He wasn’t rude when he got ambushed for photos and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy his experience at The Ailey School,” Wilson said.