Kevin “TOKYO” Inouye is everywhere. A typical week might take this in-demand contemporary teacher and choreographer from Australia to Las Vegas to West Palm Beach, FL, and then to Atlantic City. When he’s not leapfrogging around the globe, TOKYO calls Hollywood home. He teaches at Millennium Dance Complex and his combinations feature contemporary dance hallmarks: solid technique, elongated lines and sinuous transitions. But he also includes surprising details, like carefully choreographed hand movements and undulating torso work—the visible traces of his unconventional career path.
From age 5 until age 17, TOKYO studied martial arts, first at his dad’s training school in Honolulu, HI, then in Mesa, AZ, where his family moved when he was 12. He excelled in a multitude of disciplines, from karate to judo (he holds five different black belts). This is the root of his distinctive dance style. “The hands are used a lot in martial arts,” he says. “The energy comes from the spine and reaches out to the fingertips.”
While he was studying more traditional forms, TOKYO grew interested in mixed martial arts (MMA), also known as cage fighting, and was headed toward a professional MMA career. Then, during his senior year of high school, he needed a PE credit—and the school dance teacher convinced him to fulfill it with her class. He agreed and began dating a classmate whose sister owned a dance studio. They invited him to take a jazz class, then to join their competition company. Three weeks later, TOKYO was performing at his first competition—and he was hooked on dance.
After a couple years of training, TOKYO landed a job dancing in a children’s musical. He spent a year touring with the show—during which time he realized he didn’t love performing—and then moved to Orange County, CA. With his heart set on teaching, he went studio to studio, talking to instructors about their work. His curiosity and commitment landed him a job teaching for Kids Artistic Revue, which led to a job as co-director of Hall of Fame Dance Challenge, where he worked for three years.
At the same time, TOKYO was developing as a choreographer. In 2006, he was invited to create a piece for the Juilliard Centennial Senior Showcase. During a tech rehearsal, TOKYO was sitting near Lawrence Rhodes, director of the school’s dance program. “This guy was performing a solo I choreographed and Lawrence turned to me and said, ‘That arabesque doesn’t make sense,’ ” TOKYO says. The critique stung, but TOKYO learned from it. “He was saying I showed off the arabesque only as a technique,” TOKYO says. “His point was that I should have done movement that released the arabesque. It changed my whole outlook.”
Today, TOKYO’s career is taking off. In addition to his hectic teaching schedule, he has choreographed for Gina Starbuck’s Art4Life American Cancer Society benefit.
Birthday: September 1, 1982
Favorite dance movie: Dirty Dancing
Choreographer role models: Ohad Naharin and Bob Fosse
Favorite TV show: “The Ultimate Fighter”
Favorite book: “I like reading history books: dance history, any kind of history. I like to learn about anything and everything.”
Favorite food: Vietnamese food and sushi
What's more daunting than getting into your dream college dance program? Figuring out how you'll cover the costs of tuition, room and board, incidental expenses and more. Here's the good news: The right scholarship(s) can bring your dream school well within reach.
Look Around, Look Around
Scholarship applications are due between the fall of senior year and graduation time, so familiarize yourself with funding opportunities during the spring of junior year. And there are a lot of opportunities out there, says Kate Walker, chair of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. "A lot of school guidance counselors now have software that automatically matches you with scholarships," she says.
Seek out scholarships on your own, too. According to Walker, "a lot of corporations are required to have some community engagement, including offering scholarships, so research corporations in your community." Your parents' employers might offer assistance too, says Doug Long, an academic and college counselor at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, MI. "They might have scholarships you can apply for just because your parent works there."
Other sources of grant money you won't have to pay back (as you would a loan)? The YoungArts Foundation; competitions/conventions, like New York City Dance Alliance; and the university or dance department you're applying to. Even some scholarships aimed at athletes are open to dancers!
A winning scholarship application involves a fair amount of paperwork, especially if the organization requires you to show financial need. In addition, certain scholarships ask for the College Board's CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which gives the awarding organization a more complete picture of your family finances.
Other ingredients of a successful scholarship application include recommendation letters, a dance and/or academic resumé and an essay or statement of purpose. Treat these components just like college applications: Have multiple trusted adults proofread your materials, and ask for recommendation letters or transcripts long before deadlines.
A note for non-dance scholarships: Including objective measures of achievement can only help you. "List national recognitions, like YoungArts or other competitions," says Long. "That shows the scholarship committees that people at high levels have acknowledged you as an artist of quality." And don't forget who your audience is. "Especially in writing samples, make sure you paint a vivid picture for your reader," Walker says. "Don't assume they know about all the things—like barre every day—that we as dancers take for granted."
No award amount is too small to be worth your time and effort. As Walker says, "Don't pooh-pooh a couple hundred dollars in award money, because any scholarship is funding that you didn't have yesterday."
A version of this story appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "All Aboard the Scholar-ship."
Every ballet dancer knows the time, sweat, and occasional tears the art form demands. But many non-dancers are clueless about just how much work a ballet dancer puts into perfecting his or her dancing. So when the mainstream crowd recognizes our crazy work ethic, we'll accept the round of applause any way it comes—even if it comes via four men in tutus. Yep, we're talking about "The Try Guys Try Ballet" video.
Remember that fabulous old-school clip of dancers tapping in pointe shoes that Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo brought to our attention back in March? As we mentioned then, toe-tap dancing was actually super popular back in the 1920s and 30s—which means there are more videos where that one came from. And because #ToeTapTuesday has a nice ring to it, we thought we'd take this opportunity to introduce you to Dick and Edith Barstow, a toe-tapping brother and sister duo from that era who are nothing short of incredible:
Guess who's back? Back again? The Academy's back! Tell a friend.
After one day at The Academy, the All Stars have successfully taken the Top 100 down to 62. But their work is just getting started: Now they need to keep narrowing the field to a Top 10, ultimately deciding who each will partner with during the live shows.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns is some SERIOUS #goals. Her strength and power onstage borders on superhuman. But what's extra magical about Mearns is that she really puts in the fitness and cross-training work outside of the rehearsal studio. And she's overcome her fair share of injuries. Which is why she was the perfect source for Vogue's latest ballet fitness story.