Where would Step Up’s MSA crew be without the lovably hilarious Jenny Kido? Since co-starring in Step Up 2: The Streets in 2008, Mari Koda (the real-life Kido) has appeared in each Step Up installment, most recently coming to the crew’s rescue in this summer’s Step Up: All In. Koda, a Rock Steady Crew member who moved from her home in Japan to the U.S. after high school, has toured with World of Dance and travels internationally to lead master classes and workshops. DS spoke with Koda to get the inside scoop on the fifth Step Up—including that beyond-fabulous finale featuring fire dancers, roller skaters and chandelier stunts—and her scariest moment during filming.
(Photo by Hudon Taylor)
Dance Spirit: Who were you closest with while filming?
Mari Koda: Briana Evigan and I have been working together since 2007, and we’re always hanging out. Even when we’re not filming, we’ll hang. I call her whenever I’m in L.A., and she calls me when she comes to NYC. It was also awesome to meet and work with b-boy Kid david from California and Parris Goebel from ReQuest Dance Crew in Australia. Parris and I spent a lot of time together—I was really happy to hear she had an accent, too!
DS: What was it like to film the final dance number?
MK: It was pretty emotional, actually! It’s the best part of the movie, and each crew just looks amazing. But when we were filming in Vancouver, I got hit by a car. I don’t remember exactly what happened—I passed out and was taken to an emergency room. Luckily, I didn’t break any bones; I was just badly bruised. The other dancers were so supportive and stayed with me in the hospital. I was in a lot of pain, but I was there to do a movie, and nothing was going to stop me! I wasn’t able to rehearse much, and I learned my part on set. When we watched the scene after filming it, we were all crying.
DS: What do you love most about Jenny Kido?
MK: She always wants to help her friends, no matter what. If Moose or Andie ever need help, she’ll be there—she’s gone from Baltimore to New York to Miami, and now she’s in L.A. She’ll always show up. I just wish she would fall in love! She hasn’t had a romance in any of the films. Maybe in Step Up 6. I’ll wait for it.
Who We’re Watching this Fall
Move over, “Dance Moms”! “The Road to Nationals,” a new web series that goes behind the closed doors of real dance studio rehearsals, premieres this fall. Follow four gifted dancers from North Carolina studio CC & Co. Dance Complex as they prepare for—and attend—Nationals. You’ll see senior dancers Jake Tribus and Sarah Pippin (a 2014 Cover Model Search finalist!) master their solos for New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in NYC, and watch junior powerhouses Alexa Robertson and Tori Kent kill it at The PULSE On Tour’s Summer NYC finale event. Catch the full series at dancespirit.com/.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:
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Dancers are naturally "in their heads" all the time—but not always in productive ways. Long days of receiving and applying corrections, taking class, and performing can get to even the most composed individuals. What should you do when you feel like your mind is just as busy as your rehearsal schedule? Try meditation. Dance Spirit turned to Adreanna Limbach, a head teacher at NYC-based meditation studio MNDFL, for a breakdown of this highly beneficial practice.
Liz Imperio teaching at Hollywood Vibe, Courtesy of Hollywood Vibe
It's an increasingly common scenario: A talented dancer wins big at a competition, is offered an assistantship with a famous faculty member, and ends up leaving her hometown studio to travel with a convention. Convention-hopping has obvious benefits. Every event generates new content for dancers to post on social media, gives them a better shot at ending up on their favorite choreographers' accounts, lets them learn from the best of the best, and helps them make valuable connections. "Traveling is a great way for dancers to gain admirers around the country," says Jen Jarnot, owner of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Thornton, CO. "That's something every dancer craves." So it's no surprise that weekend FOMO has been blazing through studios like wildfire.
But is this jet-setter lifestyle really the most effective road to take? Can weekends of dancing with top talent truly replace the bread and butter of daily work at your home studio? The answer, according to most industry experts, is no. We asked five pros to explain why.