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FKA twigs wanted to sing at the Grammys Prince tribute. But she wasn’t asked

FKA twigs and Usher perform a Prince tribute at the 62nd Grammy Awards.
FKA twigs, left, and Usher perform at the 62nd Grammy Awards on Sunday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Why didn’t FKA twigs sing during the Grammys’ tribute to Prince?

Good question.

The energetic celebration led by R&B singer Usher featured a live band and twigs’ impressive pole-dancing skills. But noticeably missing was her voice. The experimental British artist, who’s known for her unique blend of electronic music with pop and R&B, didn’t sing a note during the tribute.

Some people on Twitter expressed their disappointment, perceiving her dance-only performance as a slight.

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Twigs also took to Twitter to respond shortly thereafter, saying she did want to sing at the Grammys. “I wasn’t asked this time but hopefully in the future,” she wrote, calling the experience “an honor.”

As Usher sang Prince’s 1984 hit “When Doves Cry” during the tribute, the camera panned to a pole propped on a small circular stage where twigs spun upside down, showing off some of the moves she trained intensely to achieve.

After dismounting from the pole, twigs danced next to Usher in white lingerie and feathers, jumping into his arms and at one point sassily kicking over his microphone stand. She led a group of other backup dancers. But she didn’t sing.

And Twitter wasn’t happy.

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It’s unclear why the Grammys didn’t ask twigs to sing during the performance, but dance and movement have always been an essential component of her artistry.

Twigs grew up studying dance, and after making her music debut in 2012, she continued training intensely in numerous dance styles including contemporary, vogue, krump and pole dance. Go to any twigs live show and her force as a singer is equally matched by her dance precision and technique.

Growing up in the English countryside, twigs trained in ballet, tap, modern and street dance. At 17, she moved to South London and became a backup dancer for British pop artists including Jessie J and Ed Sheeran.

In the early days, twigs attempted to dissociate herself from dance, telling The Times: “I really did not want to be known as a dancer. I wanted to do some movement onstage and I wanted to express myself a little bit, but I really did not want to put dance into what I do.”

But dance found a way back.

She’s experimented with ways to combine her music with movement, working with Hollywood choreographer Ryan Heffington, voguer Benjamin Milan, krumping troupe Wet Wipez and others from the global dance community.

After writing “Cellophane” in 2018, twigs immediately envisioned a concept of a music video featuring a pole dancer.

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For a year, twigs studied intensely with L.A. choreographer and pole instructor Kelly Yvonne to make the dancing look effortless on camera. And in her recent tour for her new album, “Magdalene,” twigs tap dances and does contemporary dance and the Chinese martial art wushu.

Twigs now hesitates to call herself a dancer, instead preferring the term “movement artist.”

“I used to be a dancer and now I’m a mover and it’s just different,” she said. “I can’t explain how it’s different, but it just is.”


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