Heart of Honolulu: Local Boy and Former Lady Gaga Dancer Gets The Party Started at Home
Mark Kanemura’s bright moves will get you out of your couch-ella mood and step up your positivity with these fun and free dance classes.
Heart of Honolulu is a collection of stories that feature locals who are performing small acts of kindness and generosity in their community.
Within a span of 48 hours, all of Mark Kanemura’s jobs as a dance professional were canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. Not knowing when “normal life” would return, he was weighed down by uncertainty and fear. Having battled bouts of depression before, Kanemura knew he might go to a dark place if he focused on the negatives. “I live alone in Los Angeles and a lot of people, including myself, were feeling vulnerable,” Kanemura says. “I couldn’t control what was happening, so I wanted to do something positive for people to focus on. For me to focus on.” That’s when the Castle High School graduate started his daily free live dance parties on Instagram.
Kanemura was a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance and spent four years as a dancer for Lady Gaga, so he leaves everything on the dance floor. Or, in these cases, on his living room floor. His easy-to-do routines made me feel alive and empowered. Dance moves including rolling with the homies, scooping the ice cream and painting the sky left me laughing. Kanemura’s mood-lifting outfits are as bright as his smile as he brandishes props including an outlandish amount of confetti and Cher-like wigs. But, with all that said, it’s not the shine of his spandex or the disco balls that stand out the most. It’s his brilliant energy and heartwarming positivity that draws you in, erases what’s going on outside and makes you want to “Just Dance.”
in this house, we take #CutToTheFeelingFriday VERY SERIOUSLY!!! Thank you to all who joined and partied and danced and watched today! And shoutout to @carlyraejepsen who creates music that sparks immense amounts of joy! What an EPIC dance party!!! WE DID 4 SONGS TODAY!!! Woo hoo!!! SO much love and gratitude for each and everyone one of you! See you tomorrow! Same time, same place! Be gentle on yourself! 🤗❤️🌈
“I’ve received a lot of feedback from people saying that the dance videos are their emotional release for the day, that this is their time to feel free and be silly,” Kanemura says, recalling “one follower [who broke] down emotionally because she felt so good after the workout.” The comments come from all over the world: Switzerland, Australia, Colorado, Istanbul, Wai‘anae, Malaysia, the Big Island, Mexico and, of course, Honolulu, which is surreal for this self-proclaimed introvert—he’s simply sharing what he knows and loves.
“I knew I wanted to entertain since I was a kid, dreaming of performing with Janet and Madonna,” Kanemura says. “Every emotion I feel moves through my body when I dance. This space was cultivated for people to release the fears, the sadness, the loneliness. Right now, we need to connect with each other and experience joy.” The incredible smiles and carefree shimmies he sees from 2-year-olds, tūtū and even four-legged friends who pop into the livestream videos are proof he’s right.
Kanemura’s videos appear at 11 a.m. daily on his Instagram stories @mkik808.