les twins are beyonce's dancers with genes so nice they made them twice
Parisian dancers Laurent and Larry Bourgeois, more commonly known as Les Twins, are Beyoncé’s dancers of choice. Since meeting her in 2011, the brothers have toured the world with Queen Bey and worked with Missy Elliott, Timbaland and Dr Dre. Laurent...
Born and bred, as two of nine siblings, in the rough-n-tough northern Parisian suburb of Sarcelles, dancers and choreographers Laurent and Larry prove that while haters gon' hate, winners gon' win. "Sarcelles is known for being dangerous, yes, but it's also my hometown, my hood, so for me it's great," says 25-year-old Larry in his thick French accent. Sarcelles might be known as a "crime-ridden, gang-infested ghetto", but for the boys, growing up there has been part-inspiration and part-motivation. "The negative side is that nobody can see past the ghetto," Larry continues. "The ghetto is the priority; everything has to stay here and happen here. Nobody wants to grow up and be someone. You just have to 'work and be a man and a father'. The positive side is that I've got a lot of haters, and that makes me want to work more."
The pair have worked extremely hard over the years to stand out in a profession that is renowned for anonymity; with rare exception (In Bed With Madonna's Donna and Niki), it's the pop star who's credited with choreography, while the dancers are all but ignored. However, Larry and Laurent are now a recognisable and integral part of urban culture, despite having had no formal training. How did they learn? MTV? Street dancers? Michael Jackson? "I woke up like this," says Larry with an intelligent wink. "It was natural. I was dancing before walking, before talking. It was something that was always there." The pair have been creating and perfecting their craft on the chaussées of Sarcelles since young kids. "It's hard because when you dance in the street, you dance all the time, you dance, you dance, you dance. You start with one school, one team, one crew, and then it's school by school, crew after crew," Larry, also known as Ca-Blaze, says. "But you want to be the king of your city. It's really hard because haters don't act like a dancer after that, they want to act like a gangster," he adds enigmatically. "But I have a coach and he's cool; he's the one who saved me."
"There is no one more talented than Beyoncé right now. When you see a powerful woman like her on stage and you hear her say, 'Give it up for Les Twins, they kill it!' every night… it blows your mind!"
After creating a name for themselves locally, they put themselves on the national map with Incroyable Talent, the French version of Britain's Got Talent. Their performance on the 2010 World of Dance tour went viral (over 24m views and counting), and it's not hard to see why. Their dance performance is part-art, part-gravity-defying gymnastics, as they push the body beyond the boundaries of possibility. It's impossible to argue with their assertion that they really did wake up like this; Larry and Laurent's ingenuity and innovation is astounding. It wasn't long before a certain woman known for her love of dance came knocking. Beyoncé finally tracked the boys down three years ago, insisting that they dance with her at the 2011 Billboard Awards. "She was looking for us for like two years. When she found us, she really went crazy," Larry remembers. "We were just supposed to meet her, but she said that we had to dance with her, and she grabbed us there and then. Since that day, we haven't stopped working with her."
The pair have grown close to Yoncé, who treats them as much more than mere dancers. "There is no one more talented than she is right now," says Larry. "She's the only one who can do Elvis Presley on stage; she's the only one who can do Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner... After Beyoncé, nobody can do Beyoncé. She has an epic and beautiful voice and it's the same with her body. And when you hear a powerful woman like her say, 'Give it up for Les Twins, they kill it,' every night… She respects us so much. When you work with other artists you feel like you can't stay with them because you feel [bigger] than them. Dr Dre, Missy, Jay, they're all great too and they really respect you, but not all artists treat you that way. I have to learn to be treated like a dancer, but I will never be a dancer." For Larry and Laurent, it's so much more than just "dance". "The most difficult thing we face is making everybody believe that dance is not only a background job."
Currently on the road with Beyoncé and Jay Z for the On The Run tour, the pair are respectfully discreet about their bosses. They find it difficult to even pick a particular memory or moment from their time spent with the most famous family on the planet. "Every day is a memory. The other day we were at a dinner, maybe five or six of us at the table. We talk about anything; she's really cool. When we're together, with her baby [Blue Ivy] and Jay… I mean, he's Jay - it's cool. So I don't know, there's always something happening." Their life right now, says Larry, is an unending whirlwind, whether flawlessly dancing to Flawless or modelling for Jean Paul Gaultier. "I don't have a day off. I leave the hotel and go to the stadium with Beyoncé and Jay Z, we rehearse, we eat, we pray, we go on stage, we kill it. After that, people drink, people smoke, I don't drink or smoke, but we talk with people, then we fly to LA, go to another hotel, go to a meeting, we perform and answer questions and then we leave to go to the stadium, do the show, do another meeting after the show… Then we go out, we go to 1 OAK and we don't leave until 7 a.m. because there is an after party. We see Chris Brown, take his number because it changes all the time. After that, take the luggage, sleep two hours, get in a cab, go on an another plane, go to Houston, do press, go to the stadium… it's just ridiculous. I think my hobby is my job, I think that's enough for me," Larry laughs.
The twins are identical; watch them in Bey's Run The World [Girls] video and it's impossible to tell them apart, so mellifluously in sync do they move. How does a stranger tell who is who? "Well. I'm Larry, he's Laurent," Larry grins. "The easiest way to tell is that my brother has got space between his teeth and his hair is not that big." They move in harmony like no other pair, anticipating each other's every move, but they're reluctant to put their success down to the fact they're twins. "People wish that it could be about that, but it's not," Larry insists. "They say 'Oh, it's because you're twins, you're beautiful, you're famous' blah. But you know, even by myself, I kick all of your butts, one by one. And my brother does the same thing, in any city, in any place. We don't have to be together to do that." From Larry's point of view, it's their mutually competitive spirit that has been a large part of their success and helped them introduce dance to a wider audience. "My brother and I are working all day, all day, all day because we're in competition together and I have to kill him. I have to be better than him. So I've got someone close to me 24/7 who wants to be greater than me, and he knows I want the same thing, so we don't know how to stop. The day we don't want to be the best, maybe then Les Twins will be done," he says. "But for now? No way. All we want to do is dance better than we've danced before."
Text Hattie Collins
Photography Jerome Corpuz
Styling Zara Zachrisson
Hair Andrea Grabher.
Make-up Kanako Takase.
Photography assistance Darren Hall, Bailey Roberts.
Styling assistance Xenia Settel.