Photos by Michael Chevas for the book Your Shadow/Courtesy Jacob Jonas
When Kyle Hanagami dances, it’s as if the music were specifically designed for him. Every sound is accentuated with a sharp elbow or a slow tilt of the head, with no nuance left untouched. The feeling of the song sets his choreographic style—hard-hitting and funky to Ludacris’ “How Low,” Fred Astaire–smooth to Michael Bublé’s “Moondance”—but his hop-hop moves are always unique and precise.
At only 25, Kyle has already danced for superstar artists, including Justin Bieber and The Black Eyed Peas, and choreographed for FOX’s “The X Factor.” But while he’s a force to be reckoned with now, a younger Kyle would never have called himself a dancer. “At middle school and high school dances, I was really self-conscious,” says the L.A. native. “I never thought I had rhythm.”
As an economics major at University of California, Berkeley, Kyle befriended dancers and auditioned for their hip-hop team for fun. He made the cut, and started choreographing for the group almost immediately. “As I learned to dance, it felt natural to choreograph as well,” he says. “It helped me listen to the music and use my body in different ways.” Before graduating, Kyle was accepted into the hip-hop company Funkanometry San Francisco, and started teaching their company classes. Post-college, he decided to return to L.A. to test his luck on the professional dance scene. Kyle found that his reputation—as both choreographer and teacher—had preceded him, and the contracts came rolling in. “That’s when I thought, ‘This is something that I want to do for the rest of my life,’ ” he says.
Now, only seven years after his first dance class, Kyle’s credits span more than 50 countries, and he’s started a company, The Lost Kids, with fellow L.A. choreographer Ellen Kim. His classes at Debbie Reynolds Studio and EDGE Performing Arts Center are packed, and you can catch him touring the country with iHollywood Dance convention. But before you step into Kyle’s dance class, be warned: His choreography is only getting more complicated, innovative and precise. “My goal is to make sure I’m not creating movement just for the sake of movement,” he says. “Everything needs to have an intention behind it.”
His best advice for future dancemakers? “Don’t follow choreography trends. If you do, you’ll just fade out with them. The most noted choreographers in history stand out because they were true to themselves, and they weren’t trying to impress anyone.”
Birthday: July 21, 1986
Describe your dance style in one word: Quirky
Non-dance talent: “I’m a really good snowboarder.”
Favorite Food: Pad Thai
Favorite dance movie: The Mask. “The dance scenes are amazing. I love the Broadway feel of it.”
Dream performer to choreograph for: Adele. “There’s no one else with more soul, and she’s not afraid to deviate from the norm.”
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
The 2018 Oscar noms are here. Which is fun and all; we'll never not get excited about a night of glitz and glamor and, when we're lucky, pretty great dancing. But we'd be a heck of a lot more excited if the Academy Awards included a Best Choreography category. And really—why don't they?
Maud Arnold is one of the busiest tap dancers on the planet. As a member of the Syncopated Ladies, Maud—along with her big sis and fellow tapper Chloé Arnold—is on constantly the road for performances, workshops, and master classes. For the average person, that kind of schedule could lead to a serious derailment of healthy habits. But Maud's far from average. Here's how the fit, fierce, flawless tap star stays stage-ready—no matter what time zone she finds herself in.
If you're in need of a piece that's both trendy and sophisticated, look no further than this Só Dança crop top. Featuring elegant long sleeves, a high neckline, and a delicate lace trim, it's both classic and contemporary—perfect for everything from that big audition to a long night in the studio. Enter below for your chance to win it!
Auditioning for summer intensives in person may be the ideal—but for Anna McDowell, a 16-year-old student at Juneau Dance Theatre in Juneau, AK, it's rarely possible. “Living in Alaska, it's difficult to travel to auditions," she says. “It gets way too expensive!" Instead, each year, with help from her teachers and a videographer, she puts together a well-crafted video and submits it to schools around the country. Last year, her high-quality video helped her earn acceptance to nearly every program she applied for. Most summer intensive programs, eager to attract students from far and wide, will accept video auditions from those who can't travel to take class. But major schools look at hundreds of submissions each year, which means video auditioners have just a few minutes—or even seconds—to make a great impression. If you're about to create an audition video, follow these tips from the professionals to put your best digital foot forward.