Crazy in Love: Hollywood's Dance Power Couples
(Photo by Joe Toreno)
Mark Kanemura & Jeremy Hudson
It’s the day before Valentine’s Day, and Mark Kanemura and Jeremy Hudson are holding hands at an L.A. coffee shop. The pair are talking excitedly about their plans for the holiday, which include a Newport Beach whale-watching excursion and a possible trip to Disneyland (one of their favorite places). The upcoming whirlwind weekend is just the latest in a long list of romantic adventures for Mark and Jeremy, who’ve followed a carpe diem approach throughout their five-year relationship.
They’ve certainly seized their days together, not only personally but also professionally—taking on dance jobs in tandem, like Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball and Born This Way Ball world tours, as well as many of her music videos, including “Telephone” and “Marry The Night.” Dying to know more? So were we.
How did your love story start?
Mark: When I was a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 4, Jeremy was assisting choreographer Tyce Diorio. That was the first time we met.
Jeremy: It was really quick—“hi” and “bye,” “nice to meet you.” But once Mark moved out to L.A. from Hawaii after the show, we started seeing each other a lot, and one night we exchanged numbers, just being friendly. After we’d been talking for a while, I said, “We need to go on a date.” We planned something for the following week, but we weren’t sure it would happen because of our work schedules—and then we ended up on the same job! It was a big Macy’s Stars of Dance number for “Dancing with the Stars.”
Fate! So what was your first date?
Jeremy: Our first date was during that job, in 2009. We went out for sushi and then to my friend’s house. Afterward, we sat in my car and talked for two hours. We hit it off right away, and we also started booking more jobs together. After a while, people started recognizing us as a pair and wanting us to work together.
Mark and Jeremy performing with Lady Gaga (courtesy Mark Kanemura and Jeremy Hudson)
A great example of that is your longtime work with Lady Gaga. Did being on tour together accelerate your relationship?
Mark: When we booked the first tour, we were just starting to get to know each other. If only one of us had gone, the relationship might not have worked out; it was so new.
Jeremy: Dancing and traveling together and sharing everything really speeds up the dating process. We’ve been together for five years, but it feels like longer.
Your tour travels have taken you all over the world together. Any memorable adventures?
Jeremy: We’re both super-big Disney nerds, so our mission for the Born This Way Ball tour was to see all the Disney parks around the world—Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, Florida. In Paris, I surprised Mark for his birthday. We got this amazing room in the Disneyland hotel with a view of the castle and watched the fireworks show from our balcony.
Mark and Jeremy are self-described "super-big Disney nerds." (courtesy Mark Kanemura and Jeremy Hudson)
Who’s the romantic one?
Mark: I don’t like getting surprised, but I love surprising people! I took Jeremy to Hawaii, where I’m from. It’s a special place for me, and I wanted him to experience it.
Jeremy: Last year, Mark surprised me with a trip to Disney World in Florida. We stayed in the Animal Kingdom resort, and it was so awesome. A friend of a friend got us VIP treatment, so we got to meet all the characters. Amsterdam was another romantic memory—I surprised Mark by renting a boat on the canals, and we shared birthday cake with two friends from tour.
There are hordes of Tumblr pages devoted to your relationship. Is that weird?
Jeremy: One person has a tattoo of Mark’s face, so once that happens, you’re not shocked anymore! It’s kind of weird knowing people are up in your personal life, but fans can also be supportive and super-awesome. People send us things—one of our fans sent a Christmas package with cookies.
Mark: At Disney, we get recognized a lot, even by the workers there. Gaga’s fans tend to recognize us both. The diehard ones are very passionate.
What do you guys like to do on dates?
Mark: We enjoy finding good healthy places to eat, and we’re boba tea fanatics.
Jeremy: We’ll drive 30 minutes for a boba tea date!
Mark: We like to explore parts of L.A. we’ve never been to—now that we’re home from tour, we can actually discover the city we live in. For my birthday last year, Jeremy took me to Santa Barbara with a bunch of friends for a wine tasting. I was completely blown away that a vineyard existed just an hour outside the city.
What's your place in L.A. like?
(Photo by Joe Toreno)
Jeremy: We turned one of our three bedrooms into a mini dance studio—it’s a really great space with lots of natural light. That’s where Mark created his “SYTYCD” couch routine for Jenna Johnson last season.
Mark: In our kitchen, we play out this fantasy of being ballroom dancers. We’ll put on music…
Jeremy: …and do a full-on cha-cha. Mark’s a really good partner and he’ll put me in awesome lifts!
Speaking of partnering, things can get pretty racy onstage. Do you ever get jealous?
Jeremy: I might be a little jealous sometimes. Everyone loves Mark! I don’t trust other people, but I do trust him.
Mark: I don’t get jealous when Jeremy’s partnering, but the industry can be tough in general. Since Jeremy and I are two guys, sometimes we go out for the same parts and it can create tension. Jeremy gets a lot of commercial work; I’m not as strong with my look. That took a while to get used to, but in the end, being supportive of each other really does help. You learn not to take things personally.
What attracts you two to each other?
Mark: I’m very intense and very serious. I’ve always been mature for my age. Jeremy reminds me to make light of things, to not take life so seriously. My head gets a little crazy, and he provides a good balance.
Jeremy: What attracted me to Mark right off the bat is that he’s uniquely himself and doesn’t try to be something he’s not. A lot of people in L.A. conform to something, and Mark doesn’t do that for anyone. He amazes me with the things that happen in his brain and his visions—it always draws me in.
(Photo by Nicole Lewis)
Keone & Mari Madrid
Maybe you’ve seen them dancing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” or choreographing on “The X Factor,” or perhaps you’ve spent hours watching the addictive videos on their YouTube channel. One thing’s for sure: If you’ve seen them in action, there’s no denying Mari and Keone’s chemistry.
The couple first met in 2008 while teaching a workshop and quickly bonded over a shared love of the movie Anchorman, as well as their passion for dance. “Dance is such a big thing to have in common,” says Keone. “We automatically have so much to talk about, and we understand each other in an artistic, emotional and physical way.”
That electric connection was cemented when Keone planned an epic surprise proposal for Mari in 2011. “Keone acted like we were just going to lunch, then dropped me off at a pho place and told me to go inside alone,” Mari says. “Two minutes later, one of my best friends walked in and took over for the day.”
That “day” included a surprise appearance by her parents and a stroll on the beach in San Diego, which culminated in a romantic cliffside proposal by the ocean. After Keone proposed, the pair danced to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” (a meaningful song for Mari, who used to watch her parents dance to it as a kid). “As if that wasn’t enough, he had organized a surprise party to celebrate with a bunch of our family and closest friends,” Mari says. “It was so much more than I ever expected.”
The love fest continued at their La Jolla wedding, which Keone calls the “happiest day of my life.” “The top moment for me was when Mari walked down the aisle—I broke down crying like a little girl,” he says.
(courtesy Jamie Goodwin and Bryan Tanaka)
Jaimie Goodwin & Bryan Tanaka
This amazingly talented twosome first met through mutual dance friends, then made the romantic connection when Bryan taught a master class at Jaimie’s hometown studio in Virginia. “After we met in the studio, we went to The Cheesecake Factory, and there was a lot of flirting,” Bryan says. “The seed was planted.”
That seed grew a few months later, when Jaimie was rehearsing with the Bad Boys of Dance in Washington, D.C., and saw Bryan perform with Beyoncé. “He got me tickets to the show, and I was hypnotized by his good looks and charm,” says Jaimie. “We went out for tapas afterward, and now here we are.”
That was in 2009, and it’s been true love ever since—even though their hectic travel schedules make it hard for them to see each other. Both teach for various conventions, and Bryan was gone for months at a time while touring with Rihanna and Beyoncé. “That was a doozy. We had to rely on Skype,” says Bryan. “Luckily, when she was on tour with Shaping Sound, I was able to travel to see her in five or six different cities.”
It’s clear the glue that holds them together is strong. “Our moral values and spiritual beliefs are very similar,” says Jaimie. “I feel like I’m always learning when I’m around him—it’s never boring.” Bryan agrees: “She’s continuously a reminder of what it is to be an awesome human being. She makes me want to step up and be a better man.”
(courtesy Randi Kemper and Hefa Tuita)
Randi Kemper & Hefa Tuita
This pair was a match made in commercial dance heaven: Randi and Hefa first met in 2010 while doing an MTV Video Music Awards gig with Usher, then encountered each other again when they both landed jobs touring with Chris Brown. “We got really close on the Chris tour,” Hefa says. “Randi was dance captain for the girls, and I was dance captain for the boys—it was inevitable that we would become best friends.”
After several years of touring together, “friends” turned into more, and they made their relationship official in early 2013. “I love Hef because he’s a really genuine, kind person who puts family first,” Randi says. Hefa reciprocates the admiration: “I can trust her with anything, and we’re basically the same person. It almost felt wrong not to be together.”
Now these two are tackling the dance world as one, taking on teaching and choreography gigs together. They recently choreographed a music video for K-pop group Cross Gene, and they’re teaching together at NUVO and JUMP conventions. “We’re trying to promote ourselves as a team,” Randi says. “Our point of view when it comes to dance and choreography is very similar—it’s wonderful to create a career with someone you love.”
(courtesy Chantel Aguirre and Michael Keefe)
Chantel Aguirre & Michael Keefe
From hiking to watching movies to taking trips, fun is the name of the game for Chantel and Michael. “We’ve known each other since I was 17 and he was 19,” Chantel says. “He’s my best friend—our relationship is just like friends hanging out all the time.”
They’ve found a way to translate that personal connection to the professional sphere: They spent last summer traveling to studios across the country as guest teachers and choreographers. “When you’re by yourself in those situations, it can be overwhelming,but when we’re together, we can help each other relax and talk through it,” says Michael. “Also, our dance styles are so different—Chantel has long, beautiful lines, and I’m more staccato and rhythmic, so the combination translates to a really cool way of moving.”
Allison and tWitch—with Weslie following close behind—at their wedding. (courtesy Allison Holker and tWitch Boss)
Stephen “tWitch” Boss & Allison Holker
You know tWitch and Allison not only as “SYTYCD” contestants and All-Stars, but also from our most popular cover story ever (September 2012)! “Seeing ourselves on the cover was incredibly surreal,” says tWitch. “I’ve been reading Dance Spirit since I started dancing, and to be on the cover, as corny as it may sound, was a dream come true.”
Allison and tWitch’s love story has entered yet another exciting chapter since we last checked in: They’re now Mr. and Mrs. Boss! In December, they tied the knot at Nigel Lythgoe’s Villa San-Juliette Winery in front of a roster of dance friends including Lythgoe, Travis Wall, Teddy Forance, Comfort Fedoke, Courtney Galiano, Jaimie Goodwin and Bryan Tanaka. Needless to say, the dance floor was on fire all evening. “Our first dance was to ‘One and Only,’ by Adele, and we did a special performance with Allison’s 6-year-old daughter, Weslie, to Justin Bieber’s ‘Somebody to Love,’ ” tWitch says.
Now “the Boss tribe” (as they call it) is ready for happily ever after. Says Allison, “We were always a happy couple before marriage, but now I feel as though our family is complete.”
The French dance film that made waves at last year's Venice Film Festival is heading stateside: Polina opens in theaters on July 21. The story follows a young Russian ballerina-in-the-making, played by dancer Anastasia Shevtsova, who's performed with the Mariinsky Ballet.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)