HOLLYWOOD — Beyoncé Knowles hasn't always been an A-lister — she spent a chunk of her childhood auditioning, mostly for pageants or singing gigs.
"It's always the most nerve-racking thing," she recalled Monday. "There's certain people who are intimidating people there."
Beyoncé paused and glanced around a studio crammed with amateur dancers. "I'm pretty sure I'm one of those people now."
By 10 p.m., the Destiny's Child singer and choreographers Frank Gatson and Lavelle Smith had auditioned more than 800 dancers vying to be a part of Knowles' videos and performances, including the first clip from her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, due July 8.
Beyoncé has professionals lining up for miles to work with her, but she wanted to search for undiscovered talent, even if it meant a sleepless night in Hollywood.
"I feel there are so many hungry, talented people, new faces that haven't gotten the opportunity," Knowles explained. "The new excitement and hunger is refreshing to me and something that is necessary for me to be around, because it keeps me hungry. And it keeps me excited about my life and my blessings."
Perched in a director's chair, surrounded by friends, Beyoncé offered comments to the dancers, and hugged many of the children there. She applauded freestyle moves and colorful outfits, and was smitten by Melissa, Amanda and Alison Bordin, 18-year-old triplets from Boston.
"If she wants the choreography to be in sync, we can provide that!" Alison said. "We even think alike," Amanda chimed in.
Gatson, who along with Smith won two MTV Video Music Awards for Best Choreography in the '90s, said they were looking for dancers who come off as professional, but funky. "Ghetto Broadway!" he said.
Beyoncé added she is looking for dancers with a magical spark she can't explain, as well as a welcoming personality.
"I don't want any divas on the road," she said. "I don't want anybody who's going to cause any drama. I just need somebody who's happy to dance and happy with the opportunity, like me. When dancers who are all happy and excited about what they do are on the stage together, the combination of all those people is so incredible."
The 20 dancers selected this week (the decision was supposed to be made Tuesday, but the enormous turnout pushed the schedule back) will first appear in Knowles' video for "Crazy in Love."
" 'Crazy in Love,' is very different from anything I've done and very different from most R&B songs," Beyoncé said of the single. "The beat is so hard it hurts your heart when you listen to it. And the song is about a person who is in a relationship and they are at the point where they are so in love they are looking kind of crazy, doing things they don't normally do. They're planting themselves, but they don't really care, 'cause they're so in love, they're just open."
The song features an appearance from Knowles' own long-rumored love interest, Jay-Z (see "Destiny's Child Attack The Movies, Broadway; Plan New Album").
Other artists Beyoncé has recorded with include Outkast, Lil' Kim, R. Kelly and
Sean Paul (see "Jigga Who? Beyonce Shares Fantasies With Sean Paul On 'Bonnie & Clyde' Sequel"). A track list, however, has not been finalized.
"My album is a good balance of really beautiful ballads and great mid-tempos with just ridin'-in-your-car feels, to a lot of great up-tempo club songs, to really sexy songs, to songs that make you feel emotional," the singer said. "It's a nice mixture of different types of tracks."
Beyoncé will be promoting Dangerously in Love with several televised performances, including "Saturday Night Live" May 17, "The Late Show With David Letterman" June 14, "The Today Show" June 27, "The Early Show" July 8 and "The View" July 9.
The singer will also star in her first Pay-Per-View special on June 14. "Ford Presents Beyoncé, Friends & Family" will include appearances by Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, Solange Knowles, Swedish pop group Play and gospel group Ramiyah.