I had this crazy ambitious dream that I, Allison Venezio, had what it took to be a Fly Girl.
Childhood is awesome for building up such lofty ambition, wasn’t it?
We all had dreams and ambitions, folks. Mine was to dance in a bra and jeans with Jennifer Lopez on the same stage, and it not be deemed weird.
No lie, when I was eight years old, I wanted to be a Fly Girl. And not just a “fly girl,” but an actual Fly Girl, as in the dancers who performed at the beginning and before commercial breaks on In Living Color. In reality, my talent early 1990s dance life pretty much proved that would never have happened. As the many videos on You Tube have shown me (not to mention the actual watching of the show), those girls have more talent in their pinky toenail than I had in my uncoordinated, awkward child body in the 1990s.
As an adult taking Hip Hop for six-and-a-half years, all that awkwardness was extinct, and I really did get my “dream” to be the Fly Girl I wanted to be. And then I busted my ankle and took up writing about nostalgia. I now live the dream doing something I didn’t realize I loved until I had the opportunity to really work on it. At night. And before work. And during my lunchbreak.
I have a day job, folks. The writing thing, like the dance thing, is not that day job. And I’m kinda depressed for even admitting any of this.
Anyway, childhood ambition, I knew it well. And I did get to live it for a little bit.
Those Girls Are Fly!
Every decade had its dance troupe of sorts. Whether it was the teenagers on American Bandstand, the Golddiggers on The Dean Martin Show, Goldie Hawn in a bikini on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, The Solid Gold dancers, or anyone who got in the Soul Train line, there were plenty of shows that spotlighted people hoofin’ it up to trendy music. There is a perfectly good cable access show on some obscure local network that offers this kind of entertainment, except the dancers look like Soul Train grandparents. I have no clue what it is called, or even if it is still on. All I know is that I saw it while clicking through channels one night. I may have watched it.
The Fly Girls were the dance group that introduced episodes and danced before commercials during the entire five-season run of In Living Color. The dancers were a diverse group of younger women, all clad in costuming of early 90s glory. I mentioned bras as tanks with jeans, right? Oh, they wore them. The girls also got involved in sketches, usually as extras or as part of gags.
Their moves came at a time when Hip Hop (as a dance form) was not mainstream like it is today, and the dancers themselves were classically-trained and technical dancers.
Could’ve fooled me.
The Girls (And Choreographers Who Make Them Fly!)
The girls were choreographed during the first four seasons by Rosie Perez (who herself had danced the Soul Train line in her dance life. Perhaps you’ve seen her in action?
Uploaded by MrBo131
In the fifth and final season, choreography was done by Arthur Rainer, with Lisa Joann Thompson (herself a Fly Girl during seasons four and five) and Diedre Lang (a veteran of all five seasons) as Assistant Choreographers.
While most of the faces may not be familiar to you, you obviously know Jennifer Lopez, and if you watch a little show called Dancing with the Stars, you’ve seen Carrie Ann Inaba.
And if you’re a MSTie, or have just seen Hobgoblins, Cari French was not only of the original Fly Girls, but she did this in Hobgoblins.
From this move every little kid did in their dance recital to introducing Keenan Ivory Wayans. I wonder what ever happened to Cari…
…and I just looked up Hobgoblins. The spelling of the first name is different. PLEASE tell me this is the same person! This HAS to be her!
Seeing Them Fly!
I hunted around for some “fly” videos of the girls in action, and You Tube, it turns out, does not disappoint.
If you really want to see how amazing the Girls are, this unbelievable 20-minute video pretty much sums it all up.
Kudos to You Tube User Jim Leonard for this unbelievable editing job!!!
After watching this video (and logging all these hours of Very Important Research), I’d like to think that I finally did live my dream of being a Fly Girl, even if that opportunity came many years after the actual Fly Girls were a part of pop culture history.
The Fly Girls were of a time when Hip Hop dance was not mainstream, and we have Rosie Perez to thank for bringing this style of dance to the forefront. in 2017, kids love taking Hip Hop classes in dance school, and the studio I went to offers master classes and workshops. My former dance instructor, Sam Chisholm, has his own Hip Hop group, L3gacy, and the videos…just wow. I am truly lucky to not only have a group of dancers I just happened to love watching growing up, but also to have an instructor who helped me “live my dream” for seven years.
Lofty ambitions…I lived them well.