Catching Up With Mark Kanemura


By Gregory Miller

How did you first get involved with Lady Gaga?
That whole experience was crazy. There was an audition that came through, it was actually not for Lady Gaga, it was for another artist -- the choreographer for Lady Gaga, Laurieann Gibson. So I got this audition notice, and I called my agent immediately and was like, 'Oh my gosh, I need to get into this audition because I know who she choreographs for. It's not for that job yet, but I need to get in there to just show her what I can do." So I ended up doing this audition, and I booked the job, which was great. I got to work on this music video for like a week or so with Laurieann, which was amazing. And then, a month later, the audition came through for the MTV VMAs for Lady Gaga, when she did that 'Paparazzi' performance. Oddly enough, I was not [in L.A. for that audition], I was actually teaching out in Nebraska, and I was really, really, really devastated that I couldn't go. So I talked to my agent and I was like, "I really, really want to do this job -- you know how much this means to me." I mean, me and my agent kind of share this love for Gaga, like before even the dancing was there. So she completely understood, and she was like, 'OK, I'm going to really, really try and get you in there.' Basically she really did her job successfully and kept on pitching my name to them.

How did you find out you got it?
I ended up getting this call in Nebraska from my agent, the same week as the audition. I kept on calling her and being like, 'OK, what do you know? What's happening with the audition? I need to know.' She kept updating me, and finally, she called me while I was walking in downtown Nebraska or something, and she was like, 'Okay, so you're going to need to sit down.' So I sat down, and she was like, 'OK, so you booked the job for Lady Gaga at the VMAs.' Oh my gosh, the memory is so vivid for me. I literally started running up and down the street crying and screaming. It was such a dream for me. The song 'Just Dance' kind of carried me through So You Think You Can Dance. It was a song that I listened to constantly, before a lot of people knew who Lady Gaga was. So it had a lot of meaning for me. I burst into tears, I called my mom, I was screaming on the phone.

So from there did you just keep auditioning for more and more things that she was doing?
The thing with Laurieann is once she starts hiring you, and once she finds a solid group of dancers that she can work with and whatnot, she starts to hire you for other things. That's one of the things I'm really, really grateful for. She's really believed in me a lot, and she's hired me for a lot of other projects as well. It was just crazy, because after that I did another project for her, and then a month or two later I got the call to join the Monster Ball Tour, and I was literally beyond myself and so, so, so excited. And ever since then, it's been an amazing whirlwind.

You're always right up on Gaga in the performances. What's that about?
[Laughs] I don't know, it happens I guess. I don't really have an explanation for it.

Do you have any sort of relationship with Lady Gaga? Do you talk? Do you rehearse together?
Ummm. [pauses] Sorry, I'm trying to think of' I mean, uhhh. I mean, she's always' I don't know if I can answer this question, basically.

You do see her'?
Yeah, I mean, she works really, really, really hard. She's always, like, sweating right with us. She's a really hard worker.

But you can't talk about her specifically?

How much do you rehearse?
It depends on what our schedule allows. Because she's so busy with -- she has so much going on right now. It just kind of depends when we can fit rehearsal into the schedule. For something like a tour, we're going to have to rehearse a lot more. I mean, for a music video, it just depends how much dancing is involved in the video. But we do put in a lot of time.