Only a week after the trailer dropped, Netflix released Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé. The highly anticipated (at least for the last seven days or so, as this is how long we’ve had to process the news) documentary offers fans an intimate, in-depth look at what really went on in the months leading up to her incredible 2018 Coachella performance.
The Formation singer – who made history as the first female black artist to headline the annual music festival in California – wrote, directed and produced the film and like anything Beyoncé Knowles-Carter does, the documentary does not disappoint.
For about 2.5 hours, Homecoming explores everything from the three sound stages for rehearsals to the design of the costumes (did we mention they’re custom Balmain), whilst finally showing footage of her jaw-dropping performance. In brief, there’s a lot to get into, so here are the most important takeaways.
‘Homecoming’ is a celebration of black creativity
It was really important for Beyoncé to have a black orchestra. Her ‘Homecoming’-themed set was inspired by HBCU traditions and included roughly 200 musicians, background singers and dancers, all recruited from historically black colleges and universities.
‘I wanted different characters; I didn’t want us all doing the same thing,’ she states in her documentary. ‘The things that these young people can do with their bodies and the music they can play, and the drumrolls, and the haircuts, and the bodies. It’s just so much damn swag. It’s just gorgeous, and it makes me proud.’
The performance took months of preparation
‘When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella,’ she explains. ‘There was a four-month period of rehearsals with Derek [Pixie] and the band before we started the four months of dance rehearsals. The music and those vocal rehearsals – that’s the heartbeat of the show.’
She handpicked every single detail of the set
Beyoncé personally selected all the details. From each dancer and every light, to the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid and even the material on the steps.
Talking about the incredible costumes (the entire crew had two completely different sets of outfits for each weekend of Coachella), she reveals: ‘every tiny detail had an intention. There were so many meetings with Olivier [Rousteing].’
Beyoncé was supposed to headline in 2017
Beyoncé was originally set to headline at Coachella the year prior, but she got pregnant unexpectedly. ‘It ended up being twins, which was even more of a surprise. My body went through more that I knew it could,’ she shares openly.
‘I had an extremely difficult pregnancy. I had high blood pressure. I developed toxaemia, preeclampsia and, in the womb, one of my babies’ heartbeat paused a few times so I had to get an emergency C-section.’
She followed a very strict diet to get into shape
This performance was the singer’s first time back on the stage after giving birth to Rumi and Sir Carter, and she struggled to get back into shape. ‘I’m creating my own homecoming. And it’s hard,’ Beyoncé admits.
‘There were days that I thought I’d never be the same. I’d never be the same physically; my strength and endurance would never be the same. She shares that she had to rebuild her body: ‘It me a while to feel confident enough to freak [the performance] and give it my own personality.’
Beyoncé was dedicated – cutting out bread, carbs, sugar, dairy, meat, fish and alcohol, in order for her to meet her goal. ‘I definitely pushed myself further than I knew I could,’ she says, ‘and I’ve learned a very valuable lesson. I will never push myself that far again.’
Even Queen B struggles to balance her work and personal life
Taking on a performance like this when you’ve just given birth to twins, isn’t an easy task. Beyoncé is very honest about how, when they first started rehearsing, her mind was not there, but with her children. ‘What people don’t see is the sacrifice,’ she says. ‘I would dance, a go off to the trailer and breastfeed the babies.’
‘It was a lot to juggle,’ she confesses. ‘Just trying to figure out how to balance being a mother of a six-year-old and of twins that need me, and giving myself creatively and physically. It’s not like before when I could rehearse 15 hours straight. I have children. I have a husband. I have to take care of my body.’
To quote Netflix (or should we say Beyflix, as the streaming service changed its name for a day to celebrate the premier of the documentary), what a time to be alive. Homecoming is incredible film, and Beyoncé is an incredible artist. That’s something every music fan, whether or not you’re part of the Beyhive, will have to admit after watching this groundbreaking performance.
So sit back and enjoy.