Stealing the spotlight from one of the world’s biggest pop superstars is no easy task. Yet when Mark Kanemura is bending, twisting and contorting behind Lady Gaga, you can’t help but stare—at him. His movement is magnetic and his edgy look is completely captivating. The Hawaii native first gained national fame as a finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 4. Though he flew under the radar in the early weeks, Mark and partner Chelsie Hightower became top contenders after performing a Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo lyrical hip-hop routine to “Bleeding Love.” Mark’s convincing emotion and raw talent gained attention from both judges and audiences, and he remained in the competition until the Top 6.
After he toured with “SYTYCD,” Mark’s career took off almost immediately. He danced in Lil’ Mama’s “Truly in Love” video, followed by a 2009 MTV Video Music Awards performance with Lady Gaga. Now, Mark is a familiar face on the Gaga scene. He was a dancer on her Monster’s Ball tour and appears in her videos for “Telephone,” “Alejandro,” “Born This Way” and “Judas.” He’s featured in Janet Jackson’s “Make Me” music video, has performed with Katy Perry and was a lead dancer in the “Britney/Brittany” episode of “Glee.” Mark also returned to the “SYTYCD” stage as an All Star during Season 7. Read on for The Dirt from Mark!
What did you want to be when you were a teen? A dancer! I would dream of dancing with Janet Jackson and Madonna. Waking up was the worst!
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Prince! That man and his music are something else...
Most-played song on your iPod: It’s a tie: “Heavy Metal Lover” by Lady Gaga and “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. YUM!
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure? Watching “Toddlers & Tiaras.” It’s brilliant, twisted, hilarious and sparkly.
If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be? Hmmm... Maybe a geisha, maybe a zoologist, maybe a pirate? So many fun things to be.
One thing you can’t live without: SWEETS!!!!!!!!... and green tea... and my iPod... OK, that’s three...but they are equally important.
Favorite city in the world: Honolulu. There’s no place like home.
Favorite dancer of all time: I have two (sorry, I’m not following directions): Desmond Richardson (sigh) and Wade Robson (double sigh).
What are your pet peeves? Inconsiderate people, clutter and crayons that lose their sharpness.
Dance-wise, do you have any bad habits? When I first started dancing, I used to pretend I was feeling sick to get out of ballet. I later realized how important ballet is.
(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 on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?