Los Angeles is home to artists of many mediums, from painters to musicians to actors and actresses. Kyle Hanagami is a visionary in his medium of dance. A native to Los Angeles, he has inspired and influenced the LA dance industry with his distinctly unique choreography and precise movements. Watching Hanagami perform is seeing passion become tangible, elevating him to a level most dancers aspire to be at. Every dance move is meticulously crafted to be in perfect sync with each beat, while remaining polished and fluid. Hanagami draws his inspiration from his environment and from the people he encounters. He’s unafraid of challenges and invites the chance to try something new, rather than follow choreography trends. Because of his innate desire to stay true to himself, he will continue to stand out as one of the most influential choreographers to date. His talent and ambition has led to opportunities to work with powerhouses of the music industry such as Justin Bieber and The Black Eyed Peas, as well as choreographing for entertainment giants such as FOX’s The X-Factor and ABC’s Sing Your Face Off. Hanagami has made a mark in Los Angeles by teaching at three of LA’s top dance studios, where his choreography grows more and more challenging as he continues to push himself and his students. He recently worked as a Supervising Choreographer under the direction of Emmy Award winning choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo, on the Move Live tour with Derek and Julianne Hough. Dance Spirit Magazine named him “Hollywood’s hottest up-and-coming choreographer.” In 2013, Kyle Hanagami started the Letters of Love project, wherein he asked people to write letters that would inspire others. The letters could say anything they wanted, as long as they were about love. In two years, Kyle has received over 30,000 from people world-wide. This year, Kyle and Cuck Fancer are partnering together to spread love across the country. All of the proceeds this year will be donated to Cuck Fancer, a cause very close to Hanagami's heart. Here's 21 questions with Kyle Hanagami.
How would you describe your dance style?
I would describe my dance style as intricate, creative and innovative.
What qualities do you seek out when auditioning dancers?
I want people to know exactly who they are as a dancer. I ultimately look for smart dancers who understand and can execute a concept without being spoon-fed.
What is your biggest challenge as a choreographer?
It is difficult finding jobs that are both challenging and artistically fulfilling.
What is the most rewarding thing as a choreographer?
It is such an incredible feeling seeing your work on stage. The long rehearsals, production meetings and hours of prep time all culminate in a single moment where your work is showcased to the world. That's pretty fucking awesome.
Who are your musical influences? And what are your top 5 albums?
I love anyone who is not cookie cutter. Basically, anyone with a character inspires me. It's difficult finding inspiration in someone who is bland. Top albums are: 19 by Adele, Enema Of The State by Blink 182, Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt, + by Ed Sheeran, Chaos and The Calm by James Bay.
What are your top 3 movies?
El Orfanato (The Orphanage)
Bridesmaids (Can't stop laughing)
Coraline (Visually stunning)
If you could be a superhero for one day, who would you be and how would you change the world (if you could)?
I mean, if it's for one day, I'd obviously be someone who can control time so it'd last for longer than a day. Duh.
What has been the biggest breakthrough in your development as a choreographer?
I feel like I'm always having breakthroughs in different ways. It keeps me pushing to reinvent myself in different jobs as they present themselves.
What would be your dream choreography job?
I don't believe in dream jobs. I think they would narrow my focus to aim for something instead of embracing opportunities that come my way and just kicking ass in general.
What do you feel are the keys to success in the world we live in today?
Hard work... there's no short cuts. Oh, except for Instagram.
You’ve traveled and taught all over the world. Where haven’t you taught at yet that you gravitate toward?
I really want to teach in Brazil. I love how rich their culture is.
What advice would you offer to someone considering a dance career?
Don't do it! Just kidding. I would say be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices. It is not for the faint of heart or people expecting to live glamorous lives. There will be a lot of self promotion, making yourself seem more famous than you are, and a lot of fake people along the way. But if you happen to find yourself amongst a group of truly humble, inspiring, hard working people, consider yourself blessed and stick with them.
Your creative visions and concepts videos have become a new wave for dancers and choreographers to express their visions. Do you see yourself directing?
Hell yes! I think it's the next step for me after choreographing for sure.
The Letters of Love project is an amazing and touching thing for the community of dancers, friends, families, and fans to be apart of. What was your initial reaction after receiving ten of thousand of letters?
I thought: "Fuck ya! This is so cool." Spreading love is one of the most important elements of our lives all around the world, and being [able] to help as much as we can for cancer research is beautiful.
What would you do for love?
Anything. At the end of the day, it's the only thing that really matters.
What cancer organization do you donate to, and if someone wanted to be a part of donating, how would they go about it?
I am donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society this year. You can find more information about donating on their website.
If you could sit front row center at a concert of your choice, in any era of time, who would it be?
I'd want to be center for the 2000 MTV VMAs. Epic.
What is the most adrenaline driven or nerve-racking thing you have done?
Camping in Costa Rica. It was awesome.
Who/what inspires your fashion?
I don't really do huge costume pieces. I draw my inspiration from everyday people.
What dance style would you want to incorporate in your choreography that you haven’t yet?
Ballroom. I'm obsessed.
Who do you look up to?
So many choreographers. My mentors in the industry, Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo, are huge role models to me. They are so knowledgeable about everything from lighting and stage design, to choreography and visuals. I am so lucky to learn from them.
Story & Photos by Jessica Czarnecki