The two sisters, who are six years apart, are probably most known for their tap dancing and choreography. Together, they perform with their all-women tap dance group Syncopated Ladies and they perform as a duo, doing workshops and performances around the world.
Their tap dance videos, which have gained millions of views, have gotten the attention of people like Beyoncé, who brought the two to London to perform at her Ivy Park clothing line launch in 2016.
For ten years, Chloe and Maud have also organized the DC Tap Festival under Chloe and Maud Productions in their hometown of Washington D.C. It has grown to become the biggest tap dance festival in the world.
All these things are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chloe and Maud’s accomplishments, and they have much more planned in the future.
We spoke with the two artists soon after Chloe’s Emmy nomination for choreographing a segment of The Late Late Show With James Corden. The two talked about their humble beginnings in D.C. and how Debbie Allen helped them expand their creative talents early on in their career (at one point, the two even lived with Allen every summer to train).
The years that followed were filled with lessons that contribute to Chloe and Maud’s amazing journey.
So can you both start out by describing the biggest obstacles you had to face starting in dance?
Maud: One of the obstacles was growing up poor. Usually, if you’re poor, things are set up so that you stay poor and you stay where you’re from and you don’t elevate out of that situation. Luckily, our mom is extremely illustrious and she read the newspaper and never allowed a lack of money to stop us from going after what we worked for in life. Another obstacle was people forgetting about tap dance.
Chloe: Our artform was marginalized in the world of dance and in the general public. Then within that art form, African American women are marginalized. As we’re leveling up, we did receive resistance from some of the gatekeepers and men in our field. When we started to assert our own voice and our own style, it shook up the status quo and there was some resistance. That was probably the most disappointing because you hope that the people who are seeing you work your butt off are excited for you when you start to make it happen. But what Maud and I really learned from that is that no matter what, you have to stay positive.
How did Debbie Allen play a role in your career?
Chloe: As a teenager and for Maud’s preteens, Debbie Allen became our guiding voice and kind of awakened our possibilities. She taught us to learn everything about the arts that you possibly want to know and then it’ll be there in your foundation down the road. So that’s how we expanded to learn all styles and she encouraged us to act, and study film, and to sing. Literally anything you’re feeling artisticly, she encouraged you to do.
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And then after years of dancing and putting in work, Beyoncé eventually came into the picture. You shot a “Beyoncé Tap Salute” that she shared on her Facebook. Then you put out a “Formation” tribute video that she shared again?
Chloe: Well the second time Beyonce shared our video, it was on her Facebook page and it was on the homepage of Beyoncé.com for several weeks. That catapulted us to at least 20 million or something views for the video. And then she hired us to go to London to launch her clothing line Ivy Park. We have not stopped working since that.
Chloe: It’s just absolutely incredible, and Maud and I always say it’s a testament to what happens when women really believe in sisterhood, support it and elevate it. It makes the difference because not only has Beyoncé elevated all of the lives in Syncopated Ladies, but then that funnels to all of our students and all of the people online that are looking to us. So for all the people who watch our videos, it becomes this translation of the importance of sisterhood and lifting each other up, and believing and sharing your platform when you have it.
Was there anything that surprised you when working with a particular artist like Beyoncé’s team or James Corden?
Chloe: Interesting enough, I’m constantly inspired by the kindness of the teams of the people that we’ve worked with, and finding a serious parallel between excellence and kindness. So Beyoncé’s team…they were so kind. Like truly kind. When I got nominated for an Emmy, they all congratulated me. Like they’re busy, they were on tour. But the fact that they’re constantly kind — I’m just very thankful that the universe has been placing us around like-minded people with a common sense of values.
Now that you all have gained this new level of success, what are your biggest obstacles now?
Maud: I would say now our biggest issue is time management. Now, we need to expand because we have so much work coming in that we’re excited about. We want to make T.V. shows, and sell them and write them. It’s about finding that time to do all of those things.
Chloe: I think it’s a matter of getting the investors too, so that we can build the infrastructure needed so that our time can be divided. Because we do everything. So being able to have Chloe and Maud Productions hire employees. Creating more partnerships with brands and opportunities to help build our infrastructure so that we can get more hands on deck.