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So You Think You Can Dance?

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Chris Brown has been wowing crowds with his moves since he was a 3-year old, grooving to the stereo in his living room in Tappahannock, Va. But it was still a thriller moment for him when his high-octane, table-jumping gyrations at the MTV Video Music Awards in September got the music industry on its feet and nabbed a “Damn!” from fleet-footed presenter Justin Timberlake. “I was like, ‘Man!’ That was real cool of him,” says Brown. If the spring in the 18-year-old Brown’s step reminded 26-year-old Timberlake that he is, as he put it, “getting older,” never mind; even the geezers can get by on the dance floor—with a few hints from the free-styling Brown. Asked by PEOPLE for a few steps, the singer—who is following up his double-platinum debut CD with a No. 1 hit, “Kiss Kiss,” off his new album Exclusive, a tour launching Dec. 6 and a role in the movie This Christmas—doesn’t hesitate. Step one: “Just feel the music,” says Brown, who taught himself to dance by watching Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync on TV.

Step two: A good beat is a must. His current favorites are Swizz Beats’ “It’s Me Snitches,” and a song that came out long before he was born, Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” (He’s old-school in his dream dance team too: “A performance with me, Omarion, Usher and Justin all in one. And then the grand finale, Michael would come out!”) Step three: “Just go with it and have fun,” Brown says. And when all else fails, stay on the sidelines and use “the basic nod-your-head [move], yeah, that’s cool.”

There’s just one caveat Brown has for the seriously rhythm-challenged. “Don’t act cocky if you can’t really dance,” he warns. “Some people are just overly confident, like, ‘Yeah, yeah!’ and you’re like, ‘Oh God, what are they doing?'”