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Nicki Minaj’s Backup Dancer, Genise Ruidiaz, Opens Up About a Snake Biting Her During Rehearsals

Nicki Minaj
Michael Buckner, Getty Images

Ouch! Genise Ruidiaz, the backup dancer bit by a snake while rehearsing for Nicki Minaj‘s 2014 MTV VMAs performance, is coming forward to explain what happened.

In an interview with MTV, Ruidiaz answered all of the important questions, like how she felt about dancing with the snake, how the bite occurred and, of course, why she chose to continue working with the reptile after the incident.

First things first: Ruidiaz knew from the start that she might have to work with a snake. She admitted that at the time she was worried, but couldn’t pass up such a big opportunity.

“This was definitely my first time [performing with an animal], but I thought – when are you ever going to have this experience? When are you ever going to have a snake wrapped around you, while doing some of your contortion moves?” she said.

Ruidiaz overcame her fear by speaking to Rocky, the snake, like he was a human.

“The feeling of having this creature – this reptile that is all muscle — work his way around my body was insane,” she recalled. “I was so happy I did it, it was an incredible feeling. I felt so comfortable.”

Of course, things ultimately went awry. Ruidiaz described the getting bitten by a snake:

“On Friday, the day that it happened, I was practicing the tricks with another contortionist and coming up with an alternate poses, and the snake was fine,” she said. “We did it about four times before the incident happened and he was gripping me the way he was supposed to, but I felt like he was getting tired and didn’t want to hold on much.”

Ruidiaz continued: “The trainers told me the only reason a snake would attack, is if they felt like they were at harm, so I tried to readjust to make sure that he felt safe on me. But right when I did one trick, I guess he must’ve felt I wasn’t holding onto him, so he went ahead and took a nice little bite out of my left arm.”

The dancer notes that Nicki was one of the first people by her side after Rocky bit her, adding, “And that was the one thing that I really appreciated because some people can’t handle blood or an incident like that – especially when it’s their big performance – so the fact that she was one of the first people that I saw, I was really thankful.”

Ruidiaz initially agreed to go back to work without the snake, but Nicki wanted the reptile included in the performance.

“I’d just overcome one of my biggest fears and it actually happened, so I told them I needed some time to think about it,” she said. “I called my mom and she said, ‘You’re a professional dancer, and you committed to something, you have to be brave, you have to do this.’”

Ruidiaz went back to work, this time to dance with another snake named Archie. However, after 30 seconds of being on her, the dancer says he bit his trainer. Ultimately, dancing with a snake was deemed too high-risk for the VMAs — and Ruidiaz seemed relieved.

She only had positive things to say about Rocky, noting, “You can’t train a reptile fully. There’s only so much that you can do when it comes to working with any kind of animal, so I was glad that I have the opportunity to work with such a professional animal. He’s 15 years in and he’s never bitten anyone.”

Read her full account of what happened here.

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