Johnathan Brown didn’t know how to dance.
It wasn’t something he was interested in learning, but he was very interested in meeting pop singer Beyoncé Knowles.
When, while checking e-mails during his nephew’s birthday party, he ran across Pepsi’s Dance for a Chance contest, with a grand prize of creating a music video and meeting the singer, Brown decided to give it a shot.
“I said this is Beyoncé. I’ll do anything for her, so I’m going to go for it,” he said.
He was one of eight dancers from across the country chosen to make the Pepsi “Super Fan” video, choreographed by Beyoncé’s choreographer Chris Grant, and to meet Beyoncé backstage at a concert in New York.
Brown, who graduated from T.W. Josey High School in 2007 and works at Wal-Mart, creates videos as a hobby.
For the contest, he locked himself in his room and worked on his video entry, discarding the first video and submitting the second just under the deadline.
He was shocked to later learn that he had won.
He was at the library working on one of his video projects when he checked his e-mails and found one from Pepsi telling him the good news.
“I had to put my hand over my mouth because I didn’t want to get kicked out of the library,” he said. “You never think it would actually happen to you.”
He flew to New York Aug. 2 for a very busy weekend of sightseeing and dancing.
Brown said most of the other winners had a background in dance, and he was very self-conscious about his own lack of experience. But Grant and the other dancers quickly put him at ease.
He also learned that dancing is hard work.
“(Grant’s) breaking down routines and I was like, ‘Oh my God, what did I get myself into,’” he said. “He was like, ‘Don’t worry about it. You’ve got it. You’ll get it.’ He was very patient with everyone.”
The moment Brown had been waiting for arrived Aug. 4.
Beyoncé met with the winners backstage at her concert at the Barclays Center.
“The time I walked in, she’s like right in front of me. She’s just looking gorgeous, pretty as always,” Brown said.
“The first thing she said to me was, ‘Hi. It’s nice to meet you.’ I was totally at a loss for words.”
Beyoncé hugged all of the winners, then sat down to watch the video they had made. Brown said Beyoncé told them she was amazed at the job they had done, and then she posed for pictures with them.
Before she left them, Brown, timidly asked Beyoncé for one more hug.
“She couldn’t help but laugh,” he said.
He got his second hug.
“I could have melted on the floor right then,” he said. “This was just out of ths world. I had a wonderful, wonderful experience.”
The experience also inspired him to pursue his dream of a career in video editing or cinematography.
He said he had an opportunity to spend a few minutes talking with the director of the “Super Fan” video, who offered encouraging words about Brown’s video entry.
“That was like an A-plus for me,” he said.
Though he isn’t enrolled in college right now, he is researching schools that offer programs in graphic design or video editing.
“You never know what may come next for me,” he said.