As Beyhive members the world over submit their own #beforeiletgochallenge videos, a Towson University dance group’s submission received an endorsement from Beyoncé herself Thursday afternoon.
The video features members of Towson’s Vibe Dance Team, a student group dedicated to hip hop dance, performing a routine to Queen Bey’s cover of Frankie Beverly and Maze’s 1981 hit, “Before I Let Go.” The Houston-bred superstar called on fans to submit videos of themselves dancing to the song back in April. She has since shared clips from submissions on her Instagram stories. That’s where the Vibe Dance Team appeared on Thursday.
Marina Cooper, Towson’s vice president of marketing and communications, said that her office reached out to the dance team around the time Beyoncé launched the challenge.
“It came at a time where we're obviously trying to entice prospective students to join, right around [National Decision Day on May 1], and show our vibrant campus life," Cooper said.
“We weren't going to say no to Beyoncé,” said senior Brianna Coleman, who serves as Vibe Dance Team’s secretary and events coordinator.“We thought it would be a great opportunity to do a professional film and figured it would be good publicity for the group.”
She couldn’t have anticipated how far it would reach. Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, initially shared the video on her social media last weekend. That was exciting enough for Cooper and Coleman, who choreographed the routine and appears in the front row with blonde hair. To have the Queen’s endorsement put the whole team “on cloud nine,” Coleman said.
“Before I Let Go” appears as a bonus track on the live album for “Homecoming,” Beyoncé’s recent Netflix concert documentary. The film features sequences from her performance at and preparation for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last year. Both the set and doc paid tribute to the importance and legacy of historically black colleges and universities. Coleman noted that the Vibe Dance Team predominantly consists of black women, whose struggles with racism and patriarchy influence a lot of Beyoncé’s music.
“I grew up watching Beyoncé perform, and I think it’s so important, as a black woman, to have figures like Beyoncé to look up to,” she said. “Beyond just her amazing talent, she works to encourage young women, both those that look like her and don’t, to have a positive influence in their communities and make something work for themselves. We’ve danced to her plenty of times before.”
Coleman added that the majority white university’s decision to highlight the team also influenced the decision to make the video.
“It was very unexpected for Towson to put a video of a group of predominantly African-American women, and that, in itself, was a big reason why I agreed to do the video, because it’s such a big move for them,” she said. “We are the minority at this school, and the initial reaction [from alums] was, ‘Look at all this black girl magic at Towson! Where were these teams when I was there?’ We got amazing feedback from everyone.”