What separates back-up dancers from any others is that they’re supposed to brighten up the background. But while the outrageously clad crew onstage with Outkast’s Andre 3000 are technically back-up girls, they always manage to steal a few moments in the spotlight.

“Everything about this particular job is breaking the mold —the choreography, the music, the style,” says Eboni Nichols, the group’s lead dancer. “I think it’s dope.”

This story first appeared in the December 4, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In matching hot pink parkas, earmuffs and giant furry boots, the girls stormed the stage during VH1’s Big in ’03 event. At another show in November, they shook their wares in cheeky cheerleading skirts and varsity sweaters, and they recently toured Europe in tuxedo-striped riding pants and boots. “Changing it up keeps it alive, keeps it going,” says Nichols.

But back-up girls are having a high-profile moment on the big screen, too. In “Honey,” in theaters Friday, Jessica Alba plays a Bronx girl who lands a big break as a back-up dancer in a hip-hop video and eventually becomes the hottest choreographer in town.

After all, it’s not only their campy costumes but the choreography that keeps Outkast a cut above its competition. “You can tell just by watching who is crafted and who is in it to make a buck,” says Nichols.

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