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Just Dance 2024 interview: how world-class choreography raises the bar

Choreography director Estelle Manas ramped up the spectacle and silliness

The most popular rhythm game of all time enters its 14th year with Just Dance 2024. After launching for the Wii way back in 2009, in a market populated by the likes of Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Audiosurf, it’s one of the last stubborn survivors of an almost forgotten genre. So how has Just Dance managed to stay relevant?

It’s not just because Just Dance 2024 uses AI to rate your moves. The answer lies in its ever-impressive stages, each one pairing world-class choreography to a hit song. And behind them: choreography director Estelle Manas. A former professional dancer who joined the series in 2019, Manas not only orchestrates the moves, but also works with level creators and costume designers to make each track come alive.

Just Dance 2024 Choreography Director Estelle Manas

Just Dance 2024 Choreography Director Estelle Manas

We recently visited Ubisoft Paris and chatted with Manas to learn about the challenges of moving with the times. Head here for our previous Just Dance 2024 interview with creative director Matthew Tomkinson.

GLHF: Is there pressure in each game to outdo your efforts from the previous game?

Estelle Manas: I wouldn't say it's pressure, it's a challenge. Of course, we have to work hard all the time to find new things, new concepts, to surprise players, to let them discover new things, to experience new emotions. The game's been around for 14 years now, so it's good that we're evolving and keeping things interesting for players and for the teams working on the game, but I think it's a given, there's no pressure to do that, it's just a logical thing to do.

What’s the most outrageous or silly dance move that’s made it into Just Dance 2024?

If I have to think of a silly move, I could talk about the SloMo map, which comes to my mind because it's a very difficult map, an extreme level, which uses an official choreography by the original artist Chanel. This map begins with a split porté. So, yes, it may seem a bit crazy to people, but it's also very impressive, and so funny because we tested the map with different types of players, those who want to perform and who absolutely have to get the splits right, and those who are more casual and who find it funny because they're trying to coordinate to do the move, and that makes for some really funny moments.

The stages are really creative. What particular stages do you most enjoy dancing in or choreographing for and why?

Canned Heat by Jamiroquai. In this map, for example, it was fun to work on it because the dancer wasn't alone. He had to dance with a disco ball, one of our story mode characters, which is an animated disco ball that has feelings, that dances, that moves... Obviously, in the dance hall, we're on a greenscreen background when we're rehearsing and shooting, so we have to take into account the elements we can't see. We adapted all the dancer's gazes on the ball, making sure he interacted with it, trying to catch it, we projected ourselves. We didn't revolutionize dance, but in our heads, we said to ourselves, what's going to make this movement cool is that there's going to be the ball with it, so all of a sudden, this movement has a different commitment, a different interest in being done.

Just Dance 2024 performance capture against green screen

The interactions we imagine with the background nourish the character and our dance and can give a movement that seems more conventional or more basic, another hue, another interest.

What are the easiest maps you recommend to beginners in Just Dance 2024?

So, for beginners, I could recommend a map like Despechá by Rosalía, which is a very good start because we tried to do it with lots of repetition, with a progression in energy. The coach is also very sunny, we're on a bit of a vacation, chill vibe, so it’s a great place to start.

A TV displaying Just Dance 2024 Edition

What are the expert maps that only the best dancers will be able to do in Just Dance 2024?

For me, one of the most difficult Extremes Versions would be Say My Name - Extreme Version by ATEEZ, which is a trio with official KPOP choreography. One that's also very difficult at first sight is Wasabi - Extreme Version by Little Mix, but in terms of feeling, it's brilliant. I love the feel of it, I love the style of the dance, I love the way the dancers play with each other and all the interactions.