To quote my grandma: Goodness gracious, the members of Shaping Sound are busy busy bees! It feels like we just saw the company give an amazing performance in NYC as part of a super-intense tour—and now it's about to begin yet another tour cycle.
Shaping Sound's (from left) Teddy Forance, Kyle Robinson, Nick Lazzarini and Travis Wall (photo by Joe Toreno for Dance Spirit)
What can we expect from this latest round of Shaping Sound? Well, as co-founder Travis Wall told us a few weeks back, the production will have "the same outline as our first...but it will be an overall cleaner and better show," with two new numbers and a lot of small-but-important improvements. Obviously, TWall will be performing, as will fellow co-founders Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson. A lot of our other favorite SS dancers are also back, including Jaimie Goodwin, Chantel Aguirre, Chelsea Thedinga and Channing Cooke. And there are some exciting new additions to the company, too—notably "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 10 champ Amy Yakima (YAY!).
Um, how stunning does Jaimie Goodwin look in the company's latest campaign image? (via shapingsoundco.com)
The tour will hit 20 cities across the U.S. between October 11 and February 15. Is your city one of them? Click here to find out—then take a look at the high-drama preview video:
In actual life, Kathryn and Chantel (and a host of other former Dance Spirit cover stars, including Melanie Moore) really are members of Tookey's company.
Sure, I'm jealous. But I'm sure a spot will open up in the company—and the friendships—for me soon enough.
In the meantime, I am so into this just-released video from Tookey showcasing a bit of the incredibly talented dancers from Still Motion in Moments Defined.
Last night's episode of "All the Right Moves" was mostly hilarious (Nick compares riding a bike with "Toddlers & Tiaras") with a tiny touch of boy drama (don't kiss your best friend's girl, people) and, naturally, an explosive blow from Taja, who threatened to leave the company. There wasn't enough dancing for my liking, but there was still plenty of action, so let's talk about that, OK?
The 10 Lessons We Learned From “All the Right Moves” Episode 3:
1. The backpacks on this show continue to be amazing. I realize that during the first scene I was supposed to be focused on the blowout between Travis and Taja and the whole "this needs to squash" drama. But really, all I could think was that last week, Travis rocked a black sequined backpack (which appeared again this week before he did his solo), and this week Taja made her exit wearing a yellow fur backpack thing. I would like to pitch a spin-off to Oxygen called "Backpack Shopping with Shaping Sound." I will gladly let Travis and Taja hook me up.
Oh yeah, and Taja quits the company. She says her work ethic is "misunderstood," and this makes Travis sad because he feels like he and Taja have such a long-standing relationship and she would never do this to him. Luckily the other female dancers in the company are pretty much awesome, so I think everyone will be OK.
2. At some point, you have to make a decision: Are we best friends or are we professionals? Obviously leading a company of your peers is going to be challenging, and this came to a head in last night's episode with the Taja/Travis stuff. I think Travis could have come down on Taja a bit harder, honestly, which I know is tough. But by saying, "Enough is enough, shape up or you're out," he would have maintained the upper hand instead of letting her be the one to leave.
Travis made a great point later when he was talking with Jaimie, and it's a point I wish he had made directly to Taja: "You would have never done that with Brian Friedman. You would have never done that on 'X Factor.' " It's so true. Look, I like Taja, I really do, and I get where she's coming from sometimes. But she does act differently around Travis than she does around Nicole Scherzinger, I'm sure, and that's not fair.
Also, Taja's hair bouf gets bigger every week.
3. Jaimie and I have the same bunny onesie. I got it for Christmas. It's really snuggly and wonderful. It's no sequined backpack, but it's still pretty cool.
4. Travis doesn't want to be a dancer. "It may be hard for people to believe, but I don't like dancing as much as I like choreographing," he said last night. I like that he's evolved, and that he's done it consciously and at his own will. It wasn't like he stopped growing as a dancer or got injured or dried up. Travis was always a really good performer. But he realized it wasn't what he wanted to do, and so he took action to transition into choreography, and ultimately he wants to be a director. I give him a lot of credit there.
"My life as a dancer, to me, means nothing," Travis said. It's kind of a bummer because he's really talented and he can do something like 4,200 pirouettes, but hey, if he's not digging all that spinning, why do it? Power to you, Trav, for doing what you want and not just doing what you're already good at.
5. Kyle and Noelle together should be illegal. It's just too much good-looking-ness happening.
6. Chantel Aguirre is my favorite female dancer right now. She doesn't even have to dance. I just think she's so stunning.
7. The whole "Teddy kissed Kyle's girlfriend" thing from the episode previews was just slightly blown out of proportion, don't you think? First of all, it didn't really seem clear to me that Noelle and Kyle were actually dating. Were they? Did I miss that? I don't know. So yeah it's a bit shady that Teddy and Noelle kissed (where were the Oxygen camera crews for that one?), and Teddy says it was all "intense," but the bro code didn't seem quite as broken as the previews indicated.
What have we learned from all this, dancers? Don't drink tequila. It's evil and it ruins lives and friendships.
Also, in the "morning after everyone got drunk and kissed the wrong people" scene, Teddy's Gatorade matches his bright-green shirt. I realize this has little relevancy, but it's something I noticed and appreciated.
8. Nick taking hip hop is the best ever. He walks into Bryan Tanaka's class with a sideways hat and a greeting of "What up, gangsters?" Nick claims he's terrible at hip hop. "I'm stressed out about this!" he exclaims. He says he doesn't like doing hip hop because he's not good at it. I get that—but I thought he looked pretty good! Granted, he was dancing next to Teddy, who crushed the choreography effortlessly, but Nick held his own. Still, Nick doesn't want Shaping Sound to do hip hop in its show, and then he drops a "You go, Glen Coco." Just...yes. Yes, Nick.
Then, Nick and Travis have a heart-to-heart back at the house, which is great. Nick recounts his day of hip hopping, dropping great lines like "Not to mention, Teddy was like DJ Swagaroo." He tells Travis that when he's not good at something, it stresses him out. And that brings us to knee pads...
9. Travis teaches Nick how to ride a bike, but it's about so much more than that. This was, hands down, the most excellent part of the episode. To summarize: Nick agrees to learn to ride a bike (which he refers to as "a machine") if, in turn, Travis will overcome his fear of performing a solo. Travis is practically giddy about getting Nick into knee pads, elbow pads and a helmet and it's so ridiculous to watch.
Nick in a helmet is cute enough, but Travis wanting to teach him to help him "overcome his control issues" is even more precious. Then Nick slams his head into the ground to make sure his helmet works. Now, we all realize this scene wasn't just about learning to ride a bike, right? There's deeper contextual meaning here as Nick "takes one for the team, bites the bullet and tries not to break his face" on the bike. This was about Nick pedaling around ("pushing like a mom from 'Toddlers & Tiaras' ") and overcoming his own fears so Travis could take that energy onstage with him to perform a solo. That's friendship, man. Bromance—brodance—at its best.
10. Kyle is angry. Luckily, anger looks good on him. Everything looks good on him. Teddy confesses that he and Noelle kissed, and Kyle seems a little "kicked while I'm down." He tells Teddy he's "been lost the past couple weeks" and ultimately snaps that he's "over L.A. and over Shaping Sound." But considering he's in the previews for next week's episode, I don't think he's going too far. And I predict he forgives Teddy, because they are besties.
Next week: tWitch is back! Plus, the boys plan to go to NUVO to perform a Shaping Sound piece, but then everyone bails and it is scandalous.
Until then, tell us what you thought of this week's episode!
Unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard that Shaping Sound is coming back on tour with a brand new show this spring. (Remember that brilliant sneak peek on "Ellen"?!) Although the tour doesn't actually kick off for a few weeks, March 1 to be exact, the company has been sharing some lovely behind-the-scenes tidbits. And they're getting us VERY excited.
While no specific plot lines have emerged, the show seems to feature a '20s, Gatsby-esque vibe with lots of fringe-tastic costumes—which is all kinds of 👌—and lots and lots of exciting choreo, as per usual. Plus, it has a stellar cast, aka all our faves (Chantel Aguirre! Gaby Diaz! Kate Harpootlian!), including the original founding trio of heartthrobs: Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini and Teddy Forance.
Check out the recently released official commercial below, plus a few of the other #bts gems cast members have been posting:
A post shared by shapingsoundco (@shapingsoundco) on
A post shared by Chantel Aguirre (@chantelaguirre) on
A post shared by Gaby Diaz (@itsgabydiaz) on
(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.”
Dance Spirit's May/June 2014 issue. Shot by Joe Toreno.
The day I found out Jeremy Hudson and Mark Kanemura were dating, I sprinted across the office and practically shouted to the rest of the Dance Spirit staff, "We have to put them on the cover!" You know Mark from Season 4 of "So You Think You Can Dance," and from his work on Season 10. (The couch piece he did for Jenna Johnson was my favorite of the entire season.) You know Jeremy from...well, everyone knows Jeremy. Commercial dance insiders regularly refer to him as "the most-booked dancer in L.A.," and during our cover shoot last September, Jeremy confessed to me that he hasn't had to audition for a job in years—people just hire him.
Jeremy and Mark have each found incredible successes in their dance careers so far, but put them on a stage together and they light it up. Case in point: just about every Lady Gaga video or tour you've ever seen. (And take a look at this album of outtakes from their shoot. There wasn't a less-than-perfect picture in the entire bunch!)
It's such an honor having these two oh-so-in-love superstars on the cover of our May/June issue. We're in love with their love story. Click here to read it, and enjoy this video from their photo shoot with photographer Joe Toreno in Hollywood.
Of course, Mark and Jeremy aren't the only crazy-hot pair making their mark on the Hollywood dance scene. Dancing power duos are all the rage right now. Once you're done reading about Mark and Jeremy's journey to coupledom, enjoy the sweet stories of Jaimie Goodwin and Bryan Tanaka, Chantel Aguirre and Michael Keefe, Keone and Mari Madrid, Randi Kemper and Hefa Tuita and, of course, our September 2012 cover stars (and newlyweds!), Stephen "tWitch" Boss and Allison Holker.
Prepare to be awwwww-ed by all of it. We certainly were.
Summer's winding down and while you prepare to head back to school and the studio, we're busy gearing up for the 2014 issues of Dance Spirit. But before we decide who will grace next year's pages (and covers!), we want to hear about the dancers and choreographers you're loving right now.
To get you started, we've shared who we're currently obsessing over:
After a summer spent at Nationals, I'm all about the comp kids right now. No matter how crowded the stage, my eyes were glued to Jayci Kalb of The Dance Centre in Tuscaloosa, AL, and Rachel Parkinson from The Dance Club in Orem, UT. On the professional side, I can't get enough of Chantel Aguirre. That girl personifies the meaning of "stunning." Oh and Misha Gabriel. He moves, and I swoon. —Alison Feller, editor in chief
I recently sat in on a rehearsal for Alexander Ekman's Episodes 31 at Joffrey Ballet, which rekindled my love for his high-energy, kooky choreography. (This piece was originally choreographed on The Juilliard School's class of 2012—and they all wore stick-on mustaches!) In terms of dancers, I will now and forever say Ryan Steele. I could watch him in Matilda the Musical a million times and never get bored. —Rachel Zar, managing editor
Tiler Peck and Justin Peck.
I'm a New York City Ballet girl through and through, and right now I'm obsessed with the company's two (unrelated) Pecks: principal Tiler Peck and soloist/choreographer Justin Peck. Not that either of them are all that new to the scene, but have you seen what they've been up to recently? In addition to being a gorgeously musical ballerina, Tiler held her own with jookin' star Lil Buck at the Vail International Dance Festival last weekend. And Justin's kinetically geometric, corps-centric ballets have been wonderful showcases for some of NYCB's most exciting young dancers. —Margaret Fuhrer, associate editor
Every time I open a New York City Ballet program and see the name Lauren Lovette, I get giddy with excitement. Lauren was featured on the September 2010 cover of DS when she was just a NYCB apprentice, and I remember thinking she was so sweet, down-to-earth and drop-dead gorgeous at her shoot. Now a soloist, I can't take my eyes off her whenever she's onstage. She has stunning technique and an almost addictive performance quality—I just can't stop watching her. —Michael Anne Bailey, assistant editor
Right now, I am obsessed with Christopher Wheeldon. His choreography is incredibly musical and romantic, and he creates shapes out of his dancers that I've never, ever seen before. Oh yeah, and his Carousel (A Dance) is set to my most favorite music of all time: "The Carousel Waltz"! —Helen Hope Rolfe, DS intern
Now it's your turn. Tell us which dancers and choreographers you're currently loving in the comments section below. You may just see them in DS!
It’s finally here! The premiere of Shaping Sound’s tour, that is.
We’ve been obsessed with this company—full of so-beautiful-we-can’t-stop-looking-at-them commercial dancers—for quite a while. First, we featured the brand-spanking-new Shaping Sound on our cover last year, then we kept track of the blossoming company with exclusive interviews with the dancers. And now, our baby (OK, we know the company isn't exactly our baby, but it certainly feels like that!) is all grown up.
The Shaping Sound tour kicks off tonight at L.A.’s El Portal Theatre, complete with star-studded red carpet. Who can you expect to see? The cast list includes co-founders Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini and Teddy Forance, along with Kyle Robinson, Chantel Aguirre, Alexa Anderson, Jaimie Goodwin and so many more!
Check out this behind-the-scenes video for a taste of what’s to come:
What are you waiting for? Get your tickets to the tour at shapingsoundco.com before they sell out!