Charles “Lil Buck” Riley is a movement artist known for bringing Memphis jookin’—a freestyle-based street dance involving intricate footwork—to mainstream audiences across the world. Raised in Memphis (TN), he was introduced to the urban street dance style around the age of 13; after moving up in the jookin’ ranks, he studied ballet for two years on scholarship. He quickly made a niche for himself by adding his own style and imagination to create signature moves—which include gliding across space as if gravity doesn’t exist.
In 2011, Lil Buck performed with Yo-Yo Ma to his rendition of Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Swan. Spike Jonze happened to be in the audience and was so taken by the performance that he taped it on his phone and posted it on the internet. The video quickly went viral with over 3 million views on YouTube. Since then, Lil Buck has performed with Cirque du Soleil, Benjamin Millepied, Janelle Monáe, and Madonna, to name a few.
The combination of Lil Buck’s dancing abilities with his unique sense of style has also made him a fashion icon. He was awarded the Wall Street Journal’s Innovator Award in 2014. In 2015, he collaborated alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov in a campaign for Rag & Bone’s fall/winter campaign and he has appeared in ads for brands including Jordan, Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel, Kaporal Jeans, and Gap. He also designed a capsule collection for Versace.
Lil Buck continues to defy gravity in Apple’s AirPods commercial, which garnered over 8 million views on YouTube within two weeks. He also starred in Lexus’ 2017 Super Bowl commercial, and you can see some of his moves through the role of the “Mouse King” in Disney’s feature film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
Buck is co-founder of Movement Art Is, an organization focused on using movement artistry to inspire change in the world. Lil Buck collaborated with dancer Jon Boogz and artist Alexa Meade to create Color of Reality, a short film addressing gun violence. The film won CNN’s Great Big Story Art as Impact Award, was selected the Toronto Short Festival’s Best Experimental Film, and was nominated for World of Dance’s Concept Video of the Year. Lil Buck also starred in the nature-inspired short film Honor Thy Mother, which addresses the need for humans to take better care of our planet. He continues to share his art, activism, and one-of-a-kind style of movement with the world.