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Go Inside Ryan Gosling's 'Euphoric' Oscars Performance with One of the Kens: 'Felt Like the Super Bowl' (Exclusive)

One of the background dancers tells PEOPLE about the "Ken club," what famous faces popped into rehearsals, and how "hands-on" Gosling was throughout the process

<p>PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty</p> Ryan Gosling performs "I

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty

Ryan Gosling performs "I'm Just Ken" from "Barbie" onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 10, 2024

It wasn't Anthony "Kanec" Carr's first time performing on the Oscars stage, but Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken” performance was unlike any other number he’d been in.

The professional dancer, who serves as a choreographer on the upcoming Broadway revival of The Wiz, was one of over 60 dancers in the largest Oscars performance to date, and tells PEOPLE the experience was nothing short of "euphoric."

"I felt like it was the Super Bowl," he says — which says a lot, given he's performed at the big game before (during Katy Perry's Halftime Show in 2015). "It was just really wonderful. We like to call it the Ken-ergy."

While he jokes he was "probably the shortest Ken doll in history," Carr describes the whirlwind experience as not only a remarkable musical feat — "I was really impressed," he says of Gosling, 43 — but also perhaps the most fun he's ever had onstage. "It just was really magical."

Now, as he finds himself singing the Barbie song "12,000 times a day" and missing the "Ken Club," the seasoned dancer, 39, gives PEOPLE an inside look at the behind-the-scenes efforts — and some of the hilarious moments — that went into bringing "I'm Just Ken" to life on Sunday.

Related: Ryan Gosling Says Eva Mendes and Daughters Gave Him ‘Tips' Ahead of ‘I’m Just Ken’ Performance (Exclusive)

What role did Ryan Gosling play in planning?

Gosling was the true ringleader of the effort, Carr says as he describes the actor as "so multi-talented."

“He was very hands-on with the choreographer, and together, giving notation and things to just keep the performance dynamic. They always really have great ideas, so we did a lot of trial and error with a lot of things."

Despite being present from day one of rehearsals and calling many of the shots, the actor was notably low-key.

"When they came around, it wasn't Ryan Gosling, it was a performer with us. It was like Michael [Jackson] and his dancers. He was just cool."

It wasn't lost on Carr either that "you don't always get to see a principal, like Ryan, be so wise and hands-on with everything. Not only just performing — directing it, [the] steps. He’s so multi-talented, it added to it.”

“To me, he's a real performing legend, and I'm really grateful to have got that close exposure and just be a part of that,” he says of the Fall Guy actor. “He did his thing.”

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty</p> Mark Ronson, Ryan Gosling, and Slash perform 'I'm Just Ken' from "Barbie" onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California

Kevin Winter/Getty

Mark Ronson, Ryan Gosling, and Slash perform 'I'm Just Ken' from "Barbie" onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California

Who choreographed the performance?

The number was choreographed by Mandy Moore, who Carr describes as “one of the greatest” choreographers ever. Moore had previously worked with Gosling on La La Land, and the dancer says, "We were just lucky to be in their gravitational pull."

Carr got involved with the performance through Moore, who he had previously worked with on a "passion project" nearly a decade ago. At first, all he knew was that Moore was in charge of the number and it was an Oscars performance. "Then details and the need-to-know happens as time goes on. You get the description of the performance, and then from there you put two and two together."

Given it was Moore choreographing, Carr says he knew he was in for a "variety of things," as she "does lot of styles," and he, like the five dozen other dances, was "just happy to be a part of the performance."

Her and Gosling worked in tandem to bring Ken's vision to life, and Carr says, "It wasn't just dance, it was real entertainment that was memorable. The whole Dolby Theatre was together, singing and swaying. It was simpatico."

Related: Every Incredible Photo from Ryan Gosling's Oscars Performance of 'I'm Just Ken'

Did Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig attend rehearsals?

Greta Gerwig weighed in on things, too, before the tuxedo and pink hat–wearing flash mob hit the stage on Sunday. The Barbie director was “involved in rehearsals, it was lovely,” Carr reveals. “Their team really did their thing, they did really well and they came together, because it was just such a big project.”

He adds, "I remember she had a cool sweatsuit. She's stylish."

Margot Robbie was not part of the rehearsal process, though, which Carr says seemed intentional. "I think it was supposed to be more of a surprise for all of them." Her genuine response to the number happened in real-time. "That reaction was just so priceless, of the smile in the audience. I think she was actually surprised."

<p>Rich Polk/Variety via Getty</p> Scott Evans, Ryan Gosling, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Slash, Mark Ronson, Simu Liu and Ncuti Gatwa perform "I'm Just Ken" at the 96th Annual Oscars held at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Los Angeles, California

Rich Polk/Variety via Getty

Scott Evans, Ryan Gosling, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Slash, Mark Ronson, Simu Liu and Ncuti Gatwa perform "I'm Just Ken" at the 96th Annual Oscars held at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Los Angeles, California

There were also, of course, the “cameo Kens” in the mix: Simu Liu, Scott Evans, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Ncuti Gatwa. The song's producer, Mark Ronson, was also onstage with the dancers — and Guns N' Roses’ Slash made a surprise appearance, though Carr and the troop were aware he'd be there.

“But the rise-up stage, we didn't know that was going to happen with Slash. So talk about performing, but you really want to slow down time and be like, ‘Hey, is that Slash? Wait a minute.’ ”

Carr was positioned on stage left with Liu, 34, for the dance, and describes it as akin to being “at camp with the guy.”

“He's cool. He'll be singing backstage, we'll all be dancing and rehearsing. I love that. It's cool,” Carr says. He also spotted Liu “in his zone” and running through the dance’s steps during a quiet moment backstage. “It’s cool, you see people in their process.”

As for the other Kens, Carr says Evans, 40, “is hilarious,” and Ben-Adir, 37, is super “cool and then he busts out the smile.”

The "cameo Kens" joined rehearsals three days in, and Carr makes sure to applaud how quickly they learned their steps in time for the performance. "They learn it in less time than us and do it with us, so think about how amazing that is."

How long were rehearsals?

There was a quick turnaround between the five dozen dancers meeting Gosling and Moore for the first time, learning the routine and actually performing it at the Oscars.

"We started this past week," Carr says, giving them "literally five days" to rehearse.

The schedule was staggered to bring the dancers into rehearsals in four different groups for the first two days, before bringing everyone together on day three — including all the "cameo Kens."

"Mandy Moore's amazing because she had more than one performance in the show, so when we had maybe an eight-hour rehearsal, she had two eight-hour rehearsals, a 16-hour day," he adds.

As far as the dynamic in rehearsals, Carr was reunited with several familiar faces he'd worked with before, which was an added bonus to an already thrilling experience.

"Everybody — Simu, all the guys were really cool, it did not feel... The only way you would know it's Ryan Gosling is because you might see a name. It was really like all the Avengers together — he was our Captain America."

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty</p> Ryan Gosling performs 'I'm Just Ken' from "Barbie" onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California.

Kevin Winter/Getty

Ryan Gosling performs 'I'm Just Ken' from "Barbie" onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California.

Were there any mishaps or last-minute changes?

"Everything went smooth," Carr says, though he notes some parts were a bit more "chaotic" than others.

"The entrance and exits can be intense because we have to get to set spots, and you have a certain funnel of space to go through, so it was really impressive when you've got 30-something guys going off stage right and left and the rest coming on."

They also had to be "meticulous" during the overhead shot of Gosling dancing among the Barbie heads. With the Busby Berkeley–inspired segment — which they called "the Barbie Berkeley" — "our biggest thing was just really being together and precise."

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