How Choreographer Kyle Hanagami Is Uniting the Dance and Music Industries, One YouTube Video at a Time


Billboard premieres his video for Shawn Mendes’ “Particular Taste,” costarring Nina Dobrev.

Earlier this 12 months, Kyle Hanagami bought phrase that the Las Vegas present he had been choreographing for Britney Spears’ Domination residency had been referred to as off — Spears was on an indefinite work hiatus because of her father’s well being. “We had been very sympathetic,” recollects the 32-year-old. Luckily, he had loads of different tasks ready.

If you’re not aware of Hanagami, you’ve possible seen his work. Whether by means of his choreography on the new BLACKPINK video — he’s labored on 4, together with their 2018 smash “Ddu-du Ddu-du” — or an occasional award present efficiency, like Nick Jonas’ “Find You” on the 2017 American Music Awards. Hanagami is among the trade’s most sought-after choreographers, working with celebrity shoppers equivalent to Jennifer Lopez and BTS, and taking cost behind the scenes of hit reveals together with Dancing With the Stars and World of Dance. He’s presently targeted on his position as artistic director for Simon Fuller’s new 14-person worldwide pop group, Now United, which just lately wrapped a world tour and is recording its debut album with producer PurpleOne.

When Hanagami just isn’t on a job, he creates dances to in the present day’s pop favorites (currently, Ariana Grande’s “Bloodline” and Sam Smith and Normani’s “Dancing With a Stranger”) and shares them on his standard YouTube channel, which now has three.7 million subscribers and greater than 559 million views mixed. The movies — filmed at his real-life lessons in Los Angeles’ Millennium Dance Complex — have develop into extra than simply viral sensations, inspiring what he calls “digital dance,” making the routines accessible for anybody watching.

“Kids [can] sit of their rooms and watch a video both on a pc display or a mobile phone and be taught [a dance],” Hanagami says. “Think in regards to the child who doesn’t have the cash or sources to go take a dance class — it’s type of opened up type of a brand new trade.”

YouTube is coincidentally how Hanagami’s profession took off throughout his sophomore 12 months at University of California, Berkeley, when he started sharing his dance movies on the then-brand-new web site, extra for his household and associates to see than to realize recognition. Before he knew it, he had presents from studio heads around the globe to come back train lessons, just because they’d seen his movies. Determined to complete faculty ("My life was very academically oriented,” he says), Hanagami would go to class Monday by means of Thursday, then spend his weekends in Europe, Japan and Indonesia instructing dances. Even crazier, Hanagami wasn’t pursuing an arts-related diploma: he double-majored in economics and psychology.

“I genuinely thought I’d be working in an workplace,” Hanagami, a Los Angeles native, says. “I used to be like, 'Well, I’m majoring in financial psychology, it’s going to be a boring life.'”

He had by no means even danced previous to his freshman 12 months, when certainly one of his buddies launched him to a dance crew and opened his eyes to the artwork of dancing. In reality, Hanagami grew up considering dance was boring — however as soon as he realized he might make it extra modern together with his personal strikes, he was impressed to alter different folks’s minds, too. “My objective as a choreographer has develop into, ‘How do I make dance fascinating for individuals who don't perceive it?’” says Hanagami. “It’s about [making] moments folks can latch onto. It's actually about getting them to fall in love with the music.”

He attributes that mindset to his success. The method additionally applies to the way in which he choreographs, implementing what he calls a “viral mentality”: strikes that get caught in your head, but in addition ones that anyone can do. Though Hanagami doesn’t sometimes star in his movies himself, his ardour interprets by means of emotion-based strikes which can be fluid with the rhythm, but sharp with the beat of every track. While hip-hop performs a task in inspiring the strikes, Hanagami insists that his work is a fusion of various kinds, and what it in the end comes all the way down to is “the way you interpret the music.”

Actress Nina Dobrev skilled Hanagami’s relatable technique when the 2 labored collectively final summer time, filming a sassy routine to Shawn Mendes’ album reduce “Particular Taste,” which is premiering on Billboard in the present day (March 14). Though she doesn’t have a whole lot of dance background herself, Dobrev — who met Hanagami by means of greatest buddy dancer Julianne Hough — says Hanagami immediately made her really feel snug doing the strikes he’d designed for her.

“He [has] a heat power that’s very inviting,” provides Dobrev, who was impressed to work with Hanagami after seeing his emotional video for Sam Smith’s “Him.” “His perspective is so recent, distinctive and modern. It’s nearly futuristic.”

“Particular Taste” is Hanagami's third Shawn Mendes dance video. He appears for songs which have a tangibility to them, explaining that "Particular Taste" has a unusual really feel that match Dobrev's charismatic vibe. Hanagami says he's most intrigued by artists who make nice movies, like Ed Sheeran and Billie Eilish (“fucking all the things she places out music video-wise is phenomenal,” he gushes), since he’s attaching his personal visible to their music. Ariana Grande is seemingly the shining instance of a visible artist: Hanagami has choreographed seven of her songs, together with a routine for her current smash “7 Rings."

Eli Chitayat, senior director of content material technique for Republic Recordshas labored intently with Hanagami throughout Grande's Sweetener album launch. Hanagami’s impassioned choreography brings one other layer to followers feeling the emotion of songs, Chitayat suggests, additional connecting followers to the artist themselves — and in flip, bringing his work virtually full-circle. “The great thing about working with Kyle is that he’ll by no means make a video for a track he’s not personally invested in,” says Chitayat.

Whether he’s working with A-list stars or novices, or inspiring a brand new wave of dancers from their bedrooms, Hanagami’s distinctive method clearly has a long-lasting influence on everybody he dances with. Though he doesn’t typically take into consideration his affect within the dance world, Hanagami acknowledges how far he’s come since envisioning a profession behind a desk.

“When I first began choreographing it wasn't to work with an artist or be the most important choreographer round. It was, ‘How do I make cool shit?’” he laughs. “Now, there’s individuals who will come to my lessons and say, ‘I began dancing due to your movies.’ It’s loopy to consider that.”