(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.
Wendy Whelan (by Henry Leutwyler)
Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet
“One of my most memorable performances took place at the Palais Garnier in Paris in 2008, alongside dancers of the Paris Opéra Ballet. I danced the ballerina role in the second movement of George Balanchine’s Symphony in C. It took a lot of mental preparation for me to get ready for that moment—dancing this monumental role at probably the most famous opera house in the world, where Symphony in C actually had its premiere in 1947.
On a more personal note, my childhood ballet teacher was a dancer with POB. She was the first person who believed in me. She told me I had the potential to make something of myself as a dancer. I proudly danced that performance of Symphony in C in her honor. I still have my pointe shoes from that night. It’s the only pair of shoes I’ve ever saved from a performance.”
(Courtesy LINES ballet)
Alonzo King LINES Ballet
“One performance that remains clear in my memory was in Vaison-la-Romaine, in the Provence region of France. LINES danced there at an ancient open-air amphitheater. We were performing a collaboration with some of the Shaolin monks, and the feeling of being onstage with them, with ancient columns and worn bricks surrounding me and constellations in sight whenever I looked up, was overwhelmingly beautiful.”
(L to R) Jennifer Di Noia, Afra Hines, Nathan Peck
Ghost: The Musical on Broadway
“My most memorable performance was my Broadway debut in Wicked in 2006. Growing up I was primarily a dancer—I didn’t sing or act. So doing Wicked on Broadway opened a whole new world to me. Now I’m in my third Broadway show, and I love it.”
Megan Branch (courtesy Celebrity Dance Competitions)
“Last summer, I competed for the last time at West Coast Dance Explosion Nationals with my studio, Dance Connection 2. I improvised my solo, and it placed in the top three. It was a little nerve-racking knowing I would be on my own the next year pursuing my dance career, but it felt really good to take the stage that last time and give it my all.”
Kenny Wormald (far right) with Timberlake (second from left) and dancers
“When I was performing on tour with Justin Timberlake, we did a show in Boston, MA, at the TD Banknorth Garden. I’m from Boston, and just a few years prior to the performance, I’d been back home in my living room trying to learn JT’s choreography. To return to my hometown performing with my favorite artist in the world was amazing. It taught me that anything is possible!”
Alicia Graf_Mack (by Andrew Eccles)
Alicia Graf Mack
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
“I performed Memoria this last New York season—it’s a piece choreographed by Alvin Ailey that I have loved since I was young. Memoria takes its lead dancer on a journey: She hears calls to go to heaven and ascends to another world. Groups of dancers move around her for much of the piece, so it feels like you’re dancing in a swirl of light. It was my first season back after not dancing for three years because of a knee injury and arthritis, so the plot of transcendence was close to my heart.”
Jacalyn Tatro (Michele Welsh/Inspirations Photography)
Student, Inspire School of Dance in Naperville, IL
“Last year, I performed a dance called ‘The Lost Soldier’ at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals. Because it was on the Fourth of July, I felt a deep connection to what soldiers go through. I think all of us were able to move people in the audience even more than we usually do at competitions.”
Melinda Sullivan (center) (by Richard Termine)
“This past October, I performed with the New York Song & Dance Company at the Career Transition for Dancers Gala in NYC. I was featured as a vocalist and tap dancer in a number called ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin.’ I looked into the wings during the performance and saw Chita Rivera sitting there, smiling at us. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m singing and dancing for one of the world’s greatest song and dance women!’ After the show I had the chance to meet Chita. We had an exchange I’ll never forget. She was just like, ‘Do your thing, girl!’ ”
Hefa (left) and his brothers on the "DWTS" set
“Recently, my brothers and I performed a piece that I choreographed on “Dancing with the Stars.” To share that moment on the stage with my brothers—to be on TV in front of thousands of people with the people I love most—was so beautiful to me. The energy was kind of spiritual; it almost brought tears to my eyes.”