Since Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve debacle, the singer’s live shows have been under a microscope. Her choreography, specifically, has come under criticism and taken on a new life as a meme. Anthony Burrell, Carey’s former choreographer and creative director, thinks he knows the reason behind the change.
“It’s just typical Mariah,” Burrell told Complex in an interview. “Mariah is clear: When she doesn’t wanna do something, she doesn’t do it. She’s performing with lackluster and no f—s given, and it’s taking away her star.”
Carey ended her working relationship with Burrell after the performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest in New York’s Times Square, Entertainment Tonight reported in January. A source told the outlet that Burrell was no longer on her team for a “number of reasons,” including a stage placement decision he made without approval. Carey’s manager Stella Bulochnikov told EW in January that she blamed the ABC performance issues on producer Producer Dick Clark Productions, which denied the claims.
“Working with an artist like Mariah, who’s not a mover first, it’s always a challenge to get them to think physically and not just vocally,” Burrell said of Carey, who is on tour this summer with Lionel Richie. “You always have to keep in mind that they’re a singer first. The priority is not teaching them 100 counts of eight, or endless routines. I wanted to give Mariah a modern push to revamp her, give her a fresher, more modern feel, make her more aware of her body and her lines, and not look like her feet hurt when she’s walking.”
He also claimed Carey’s team isn’t helping. “You’re a legend, but you don’t care, your team doesn’t care,” he said. “They’re not guiding and directing her. She’s back to where she was before. It’s not like she’s never looked this bad before; I just stepped her game up.”
A rep for Carey did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.
Burrell called Mariah a “world-class artist” and “great person to work with,” but said her team “felt like they were so new at their jobs and had no direction.”
He added: “When you’re green, you’re playing things by trial and error, and there were a lot of errors. I was very vocal about things that weren’t right. When you try to take a shortcut and you don’t know the clues, you’re bound to get fucked up or screwed, because you don’t have the experience of running a tour or a billion-dollar empire. Some of the dancers her team hired are great dancers, but they’re not choreographers or creative directors.”