Robinson was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and moved with her family to Los Angeles when she was four. She graduated from high school at the age of 16 with dreams of following in her mother’s footsteps by opening her own hair salon. For a few years, this dream was a reality as Robinson acquired her cosmetology certification and worked as a hair-stylist. But Robinson had other dreams as well, dreams that involved becoming a professional dancer and choreographer. When the opportunity presented itself, Robinson decided to try out for a spot as a dancer in a music video. “An artist was looking for dancers, so my friend and I went on stage at the club with some other girls and won,” she explained at her website, http://www.gofati-ma.com. Even without formal training, Robinson was able to rise quickly from video dancer to video choreographer by spending rehearsal time in the local dance clubs and adding a flavor of her own to popular dance moves.
Robinson received what she called her “big break” in 1992 when movie director, John Singleton, asked her to choreograph a video he was directing. The video turned out to be the short film, “Remember the Time,” by Michael Jackson. Robinson considered that video one of her shining moments even as late as 2000. She also enjoyed working with Jackson, whom she called a perfectionist. “Remember the Time” was, in fact, the break that Robinson needed. Jackson was the measuring stick in the music video industry, and numerous artists in all genres tried to achieve his greatness by hiring his choreographer.
According to Serena Altschul of MTV, you can turn to MTV at any time of the day and catch a glimpse of Robinson’s resume. She started saturating the video market in the early 1990s working with artists like Bobby Brown, Notorious B.I.G., and Aaliyah. She received her first MTV Video Music Award nomination for Best Choreography for Brandy’s “Baby,” in 1995. The nomination started a trend for the artist, for she was nominated each year between 1997 and 2001 for an MTV Video Music Award. To top off 1995, Robinson also choreographed the Mary J. Blige Summer Jam tour.
Robinson’s work in commercials brought recognition from her peers when she was nominated in 2000 for the American Choreography Award for best Choreography in the GAP “khaki soul” ad. She also continued to work in movies, choreographing moves for Aaliyah in Romeo Must Die, in 2000. She reached a wider audience in 2001 with Save the Last Dance, and the critically acclaimed Ali. The exposure also brought the dancer to the attention to those at the Drew Carey Show. She choreographed the season premiere of the show in 2001 and officially moved into the mainstream with her dance style.
While her star was rising, Robinson experienced some joy and pain in her personal life. She celebrated the birth of a son on August 1, 2000, but a year later, she suffered the loss of her close friend and colleague, Aaliyah, on August 25, 2001. Robinson was with Aaliyah in the Bahamas filming the video, “Rock the Boat.” “Since 1995, when I became Aaliyah’s choreographer, she has been like a little sister to me,” she said in a tribute she wrote in Essence. “Although she is gone, I will always cherish the precious memories.”
For future projects, Robinson said she would like to do some interior designing and, more in step with her current role, she would like to direct. She ventured into that field with the Dance and Shout video for Shaggy, Cheatin’ On Me by Kandi, and a few others. After being named on of Entertainment Weekly’s most creative people in entertainment, exploring her love of directing should only reap further benefits for Robinson.