#HairMusicVideo: CG's Exclusive Interview with Bryce Mahlstedt

Bryce Mahlstedt is a Communication Arts: Radio, Film and Television major at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. He is a member and dance captain of a performance group called the Wisconsin Singers that showcases their talent through singing, dancing and a ten piece band. They perform a 90-minute show, which features over 70 songs, to audiences all over Wisconsin and the Midwest.

Mahlstedt’s dream of becoming a choreographer may have just come true with the release of
#HairMusicVideo, a ceeJbee production to Lady Gaga’s popular song “Hair.” He is not only featured as a dancer in the video, Mahlstedt also did all of the choreography.

Soon after the release, Lady Gaga praised the group for their outstanding work with a tweet:
“This is so AMAZING #HairMusicVideo you guys did such an amazing job for #ItGetsBetter. The Choreo! I died!”

Like the YouTube description explains, producer Colton James Boettcher collaborated with Madison’s LGBT community and the It Gets Better Project to create the video about staying true to who you are and really just being yourself. Check out the video to see Boettcher’s work and Mahlstedt’s choreography!

College Gloss’s Liz Stratman had the privilege of doing an exclusive interview with #HairMusicVideo’s choreographer Bryce Mahlstedt! Keep reading to learn more about Mahlstedt, the music video and the It Gets Better Project!

Getting to Know Bryce:

What’s something quirky about you that most people don’t know?
BM: I am constantly choreographing or dancing. It doesn't mater what I am doing. I dance while cleaning, cooking, walking down the street, you name it.

What are your hobbies?
BM: Singing and dancing, but also watching movies, playing video games and shopping, if that is a hobby.

If you could pick one thing in life to do forever, what would you do?
BM: I would dance or choreograph. Nothing is more thrilling than performing and creating.

What’s your all time favorite music video? Why?
BM: It has to be Lady Gaga's “Bad Romance.” It's classic Gaga and was her first extravagant video featuring such amazing choreography that so many people can have fun doing.


When did you first start choreographing? How did you get started?
BM: I first started choreographing when I joined show choir in high school. I was fascinated by the innovative choreography I was learning and was so inspired to create my own. Dance classes and gymnastics before show choir really gave me a technical foundation for understanding choreography and show choir sparked my interest for creating dance.

Where does your inspiration come from?
BM: I get my inspiration from the world around me. Certain songs, images, color, emotions all inspire me. I also get my inspiration from show choir choreography, as well as Lady Gaga and choreography seen on the Internet. I watch a lot of choreographed routines online for inspiration.

What do you hope to achieve as a choreographer?
BM: I hope to create choreography that the world can appreciate and become inspired by. At the end of the day if I choreograph something and people see it, love it and are inspired by it, that is the ultimate achievement as a choreographer.

Are you currently choreographing for any other productions?
BM: I am not at the moment, but since #HairMusicVideo's release, I want to put out my own routines online and maybe start a dance blog.

What choreographers (if any) do you draw inspiration from? Why do you like their style?
BM: I draw inspiration from Laurieann Gibson because her choreography is strong and smart. She choreographs routines that look amazing, but also in the world of Gaga, routines that fans can learn and have fun doing. I also love Dejan Tubic because his choreo is so fast and sharp. It inspires me to push myself. I am also inspired by the major show choir choreographers right now because of their innovative and organic choreography.


When did you first start performing?
BM: I first started performing when I was young. My mom says I could carry a tune before I could speak any words. I was in gymnastics in elementary school, and then in middle school I joined musical theatre and did a few productions. In high school, it took off and I was involved in musical theatre, studio dance as well as competitive show choir. Now in college, I am continuing performing with the Wisconsin Singers.

Where’s the most exciting place you’ve ever performed?
BM: Definitely the Overture Center this year with Wisconsin Singers. We performed our show to 2,000 screaming people. It was unreal, and not to mention, the Overture was the most beautiful theatre I ever performed in.

Describe your best performance.
BM: My best performance was my performance at the Overture Center. Being in front of all of those screaming people seriously made me feel that I could do anything, and I danced and sang better than I ever had before.

What do you do to keep your spirits up if a performance doesn’t go as planned?
BM: I think ahead to what I can do next to make up for it. What next move, routine or performance can I perform that will be amazing? In the moment, I just keep pushing and smiling, and humor is a big thing. You can't take yourself too seriously, and so I try to find a way to laugh at myself whenever something doesn't go as planned.


How did you get involved with creating this video and doing the choreography?
BM: My friend Colton Boettcher, the director, and I had just finished our first music video to Lady Gaga’s "Dance In The Dark" when "Hair" was released. He heard the song and knew he wanted to make an inspiring video for It Gets Better. He then asked me to create the choreography. I choreographed the song and then taught it to the dancers over a period of eight weeks. Then we filmed in November, and the rest is history.

How long did it take you to choreograph?
BM: A long time. I choreographed about a minute routine to show Colton, and after showing him, I hated it. I then cut everything I had done and started again from scratch and created the choreography seen in the video in about six hours in my living room.

What does the video’s message mean to you? How can you relate?
BM: I am gay myself, and so it is very personal to me. I never came out in high school because I was afraid of being bullied. Once I got to college, my entire life got better, and I was able to come out to an accepting community. After coming out, I met the most amazing people and really discovered who I am. I think I am a great example of how it truly does get better.

What do you hope young people will gain from watching the video?
BM: I hope that young people watching the video gain strength and realize that there is love in the world. It may not be right in front of you at the moment, but it is somewhere. No matter how bad life may be, there is always a better tomorrow. People in the world love and care about you. I also hope that people begin to realize that bullying someone for being different is wrong. I just really hope the video opens up people's eyes to love.

Describe your reaction when you saw Lady Gaga’s tweet about the video.
BM: I screamed for five minutes straight and was jumping up and down, running around my living room. I could not believe it was happening. It was like a dream.

What do you think after reading all of the comments on the video’s YouTube page?
BM: I am so thankful for the overwhelming positive feedback and am so deeply moved at how the video has touched so many people. There are so many people saying the video moved them to tears or inspired them, and that makes me feel so happy. So many people love the choreography as well, and that makes me really happy too.

What was it like having your boyfriend in the video and there with you through the process?
BM: Having him be there through this entire process has been so amazing. It's so cool that I can say that I danced in a video promoting acceptance for the LGBT community with my boyfriend.

Be honest, were you a Gaga fan before this video and her tweet?
BM: Yes, I was. I became a Gaga fan when she performed "Paparazzi" at the 2009 VMA's. Since then, I've loved every song and video she's made. She is truly my idol, not only as an artist, but as a compassionate human being.

It Gets Better:

Describe ‘It Gets Better’ and how you got involved.
BM: It Gets Better is an organization that lets teens who are bullied know that their lives will get better. Celebrities and countless people make videos of inspiration and hope targeted to gay teens to let them know they aren't alone and they are loved. I got involved when I was asked to choreograph #HairMusicVideo for Colton as a part of the It Gets Better campaign.

Why/how are you a supporter of this project?
BM: I am so supportive of this project because it promotes love and I can relate to it on such a personal level. As a gay man myself, I want it to get better. I want to be able to have the same rights as every one else one day and not be discriminated against because of the way God made me. In the words of Gaga, we were all "Born This Way" and no one should be treated as less than equal because of that.

Growing up, did you have a hard time in school because of your sexuality?
BM: Yes. I honestly hated myself. I was so afraid to come out and be me because I was afraid of being bullied. I was afraid of being an outcast. It was hard when I had to walk around and hide who I truly was. I thought I would never be able to openly love someone of the same sex, and it really upset me.

What helped you get through the tough times?
BM: Dancing is what got me through. Dancing and performing were the things that made me happy. I could get on a stage in front of thousands of people, and they would all cheer for me. I would feel so loved, and for those moments on stage, I knew what acceptance and equality felt like. Therefore, dancing kept me going.

What kind of support system do you have?
BM: I have so many people in my life that support me. My family has been 100 percent supportive since I have come out. I've found a whole community in college of people who are loving and supportive of LGBT people. My friends love me for who I am, regardless of my sexual orientation, and every day I feel loved.

What’s the best advice you can give to young people dealing with bullying or hate because of their sexuality?
BM: Speak up and stick it out because it gets better. Stand up and speak out, and if that doesn't work, know that your life will change. However much bullying hurts, know that it is only temporary. Things seriously do get better, and in today's changing world they will get better at a faster rate. Finally, find what makes you happy. For me, it was performing. When you find something that makes you happy, life is so much easier and much more manageable.

Check out the #HairMusicVideo on YouTube!

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  1. Cool! I'm loving the way CG is getting all of these exclusive interviews, I liked this on a lot it reminded me of the Victoria Duffield interview and I liked that a lot! I love getting to know the person. I have not heard of this guy, but I love what he is about. Nice work and great interview :)

  2. I have never heard of this guy, but it is sweet that lady G is a fan. The choreo in the video if pretty sweeeet!

  3. Nice interview, Liz! The choreography in the music video is definitely amazing :)


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