Photo by Little Shao/Urban Dance Showcase
Watching Keone Madrid on the dance floor, it’s no surprise the 24-year-old’s first love was basketball: He exudes athleticism. But look closer and you’ll see hints of Michael Jackson and even Gene Kelly. This juxtaposition is true of his choreography, too. He uses music ranging from hardcore hip hop to Adele, and alternates between syncopated hits and smooth control, with the occasional Fosse-esque isolation.
Keone grew up a self-proclaimed jock in San Diego, CA. He was always a fan of dance, reenacting Michael Jackson and *NSYNC videos with friends. But he didn’t train formally until age 15, when he followed a friend to a hip-hop class taught by KJ Gonzales. “I started taking that one class every week, but it wasn’t enough,” he says. “I would go home and choreograph on my own so I could dance more.”
A natural mover, Keone found that performance opportunities came quickly. Soon after his first class, he joined Future Shock San Diego (the apprentice crew of Culture Shock San Diego) and eventually became its director. There, he trained with Jabbawockeez member Rynan Paguio and began to expand his skill set from “’90s party dancing” to include jazz, contemporary and even salsa and tango. After Keone graduated from high school, his FSSD students started encouraging him to get his choreography out into the world. At first, he resisted posting videos online, but one of his students started uploading clips from class that garnered Keone fans around the world—and earned him his first international gig, teaching workshop classes in Norway.
Soon, the offers began flooding in. Keone traveled the world, including much of Europe and Asia—eventually meeting his dance partner, collaborator and wife, Mariel, at Urban Legends in Temecula, CA, where she was also teaching. He joined the San Diego–based dance crew Choreo Cookies, which he now co-directs, and choreographed for musical artists in the U.S. and Asia.
Today, Keone and Mari (who were married in June) have signed with Go 2 Talent Agency as a choreographic team and are well on their way to becoming the next Nappytabs. Their collaborations are not only packed with smooth, intricately woven moves, but the narratives behind them are heartfelt and relatable, often leaving you feeling as though you’ve just watched a romantic comedy rather than a dance number. The duo have also put humanitarian plans in motion, founding Kingdom Made, an arts charity that sells clothing and accessories to fund its international missions, during which they plan to build homes and offer dance and art workshops for the locals. “I’ve been given so much through dance,” Keone says. “It’s time to give back.”
Birthday: June 30, 1988
Favorite food: Korean barbecue
Most-played on his iPod: “At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of Frank Ocean. And I’m pretty sure MJ is the top-played artist on my iTunes.”
Artists he’d love to work with: “Justin Timberlake Chris Brown, Usher—all those guys who can really get down.”
His style in three words: “Athletic, smooth, experimental”
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.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.