Ever since he dropped his Lightspeed Champion handle and started making sultry nouveau r&b as Blood Orange, Devonte Hynes has slowly been coming out of his shell. Not necessarily as a musician — by his mid-twenties he already had world tours and a handful of albums under his belt — but as a dancer. Over the course of three LPs, a few singles, and a B side, Hynes has graduated from shy strutter to leaping swan. Ahead of his show at Terminal 5 on October 1, here are a few of our favorite Dev Hynes dance moves, in handy GIF form.
In the video for “Dinner,” side A of a 7″ put out in 2011 by the inaptly named Terrible Records, a 26-year-old Hynes isn’t quite yet confident enough to break out.
But from even the first Blood Orange record, Coastal Grooves, you get a sense the music is almost forcing movement out of his body. The video for lead single “I’m Sorry We Lied” goes from fun and flirty to bloody and murderous at the drop of a dime (literally, peep the sneaky pay phone call), and we finally get a first glimpse of Hynes letting loose, on the dance floor with his smiling temptress.
Next came the video for sophomore album Cupid Deluxe single “Chamakay,” filmed in Hynes’s mother’s native Guyana. It has beautiful backdrops and shows him drawing more than a little from voguing, a form whose angular and intricate stylings start to influence his dancing going forward.
The Gia Coppola-directed video for 2014’s “You’re Not Good Enough” featured increasingly bold Hynes moves, although he’s still still got a controlled, almost muted vibe. Also, some strong Michael Jackson flavor…
…although he also makes clear he is still his own unique brand of weirdo.
The “Time Will Tell” video marked the first time Hynes allows a director to train the camera completely on him while he dances in a music video, and you can tell it’s something he’s worked on and is (rightly) proud to share. Set in a dance studio, it feels like he’s inviting us to witness the many hours he’s spent practicing.
As Hynes began to address his own black experience in his music, the videos followed suit; his background dancers went from mostly being white (as was the case in the beginning of the Blood Orange project) to mostly being brown and black. Catch him in the middle of a deep crew flexing — pretty skillfully, we might add — on the corner in Chinatown with Junglepussy, in the video for one-off single “Sandra’s Smile,” his emotional response to the death of Sandra Bland.
Hynes’s latest LP as Blood Orange, Freetown Sound, is a continuation of where he left off with “Sandra’s Smile,” both musically and visually. In the video for first single “Augustine,” his dancers have gotten more diverse, and that voguing influence shows up again with some tricky hand movements.
But thankfully he never moves away from the move we all love him best for: shredding on guitar like no one else can.
Blood Orange plays Terminal 5 on Saturday. Tickets are sold out but available on the secondary market.