(Photo by Joe Toreno)

Choreographer Kyle Hanagami rarely holds casting calls: He’s already got an awesome crew of seven dancers who star in his frequently viral dance videos. This spring, five of those dancers—Whitney Bezzant, Guero Charles, Brandon Dumlao, Haley Fitzgerald and Ashley Gonzales—gathered at L.A.’s Movement Lifestyle dance studio to shoot a new video, set to the song “Youth,” by Daughter. (The missing two had good excuses: They were off shooting VH1’s “Hit the Floor” and touring with Taylor Swift!)

(All photos by Joe Toreno)

Though Hanagami often shoots straight choreography vids—his most popular being “Yoncé,” an ode to Queen Bey that’s gotten more than 9 million views—this shoot was for one of his high-concept pieces, which are more like short films. “It was based around the idea of how frustrating life can be,” Hanagami says. “I walked in knowing some of the camera shots, the lighting I wanted and the feel of the song, but I had zero choreography. We just got in the studio and did what felt natural.”

(Photo by Joe Toreno)

The outcome? An emotional, intense exploration of relationships, which Bezzant calls “darker and more personal” than anything Hanagami has done before. The look of the video fits the mood: Most of the shots were filmed against the black walls of the studio, and the lighting was minimal. “We wanted a candid, Blair Witch-meets-American Apparel feel,” Hanagami says.

(Photo by Joe Toreno)

The dancers went to a pretty dark place, too. One scene required them to yell and scream at each other, which was a challenge for the close-knit bunch. “It took us a while to get it,” Bezzant admits. But the resulting footage is powerful.

(Photo by Joe Toreno)

What’s the secret to Hanagami’s YouTube success? Passion. “Many people don’t realize that most of the dancers who are popular on YouTube don’t do it to become famous,” Hanagami says. “They have a vision they want to share with people.”

Click here to watch "Youth."

Latest Posts


All photos by Jayme Thornton. Wardrobe styling throughout by Chloë Chadá Van for The QUIRK Group.

Lizzo's Leading Ladies: Meet the Big Grrrls

Rising pop superstar Lizzo is changing the game in all kinds of ways. (A singer who also raps and plays the flute? You'd better believe it.) But she's become an especially important leader in the body-positivity revolution. And that emphasis on diversity and self-love extends to her fabulous group of backup dancers, known as The Big Grrrls.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Because there's never been a better time to get your TikTok on. (Getty Images/TikTok)

7 of the Best TikTok Dance Challenges to Learn While Stuck at Home

Right now, a lot of us are social-distancing. Which is a good thing for the community. But for dancers, being at home—read: not in the studio—can be especially tough.

Enter TikTok. The app is blowing up right now, with everyone from Hailey Bieber to LeBron James to former Bachelorette (and "Dancing with the Stars" champ) Hannah Brown making accounts to stave off the stir-craziness.

To get you started on your TikTok journey, Dance Spirit rounded up seven of the best dances for you to learn. And when you're ready to share the fruits of your TikTok labors, be sure to tag us @dancespiritmagazine—we'll repost some of our faves!

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

Margaret

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search