Catching Up With Mark Kanemura


By Gregory Miller

Are you ever hesitant about the costumes? The skirts?
No, I'm very open. Like I said, I love theater and I love all of that. So, when I came to work with Gaga, at first it was like, Oh my gosh, these costumes are crazy. But it was really exciting for me because it was something a little different for dancers in a sense. We were getting all these amazing costumes with like hair on them, or costumes that could fit in the palm of your hand and you're supposed to wear them. I've definitely worn some of the craziest things in this group. It's awesome. It's always exciting to see what we're going to wear.

What is your favorite song on Born This Way?
Before the album came out and she just released [the 'Born This Way' single] it really, really inspired me. It was kind of one of the reasons I came back to tour with her. I had taken a break from her to come back for So You Think You Can Dance [as an All-Star, last season]. Then, I got invited this past January to be a part of the music video for 'Born This Way.' When Laurieann played the song for us, I got so excited that there was an anthem for people that felt different in any way, for people that needed a song to attach themselves to and represent them as a group. When I heard the song, I [clung] right to it. I really believed in the message. It inspired everything else after that, which was going back on tour with her and continuing everything else. It really puts a lot of meaning into that. That album is just so filthy and so dirty and nasty and I just -- I love all of it. I keep listening to 'The Edge of Glory.' I keep listening to 'Bad Kids,' and she has those nasty dance tracks 'Government Hooker' and 'Schei'e,' which are incredible. The whole album -- I can't stop listening to it.

When 'Born this Way' dropped, you wrote a post on your blog, and it sounded like you were about to either say you were gay or declare some sort of connection to the gay community. But that didn't happen. What is your connection?
I'm a part of the gay community. From a very young age, I was always surrounded by it. I'm really blessed to have parents who are so open to it and so supportive of it. Growing up in musical theater, there [were] a lot of gay people around me. I always felt so comfortable in musical theater, in general, because it was like a big family and everyone was there because they loved it. We didn't get paid for community theater, so it was all out of passion. Ever since then, it's just been nice to grow up in that. I've had really amazing role models and people to look up to that have really successful, happy lives, and they're living the lives that they live. It made me feel really comfortable in my own skin, especially going into middle school -- that was probably one of the roughest times for me. Musical theater came at the perfect time. I feel like I've always been open about it. I don't go around announcing it to the world, but I don't hide anything.

We couldn't find a confirmation of it. Was that intentional because of So You Think You Can Dance?
No, no one ever asked. I think that it's not something I have to say or announce, necessarily. I am living a life that I want to be living right now, and I'm not hiding in any way. It's really nice for me to be able to be open and honest. The nice thing about touring with Gaga and working with Laurieann is that they're so supportive of you as an artist and you as a person. They allow you to be the person that you are when you're dancing. I think I've just been really blessed to be surrounded by so many people that have been supportive of who I am.

With the new season of So You Think You Can Dance airing right now, what advice would you give to the finalists who will soon be trying to transition into a successful post-show career, like you have?
For myself, what I learned is that you're going to have to hustle just as hard as the next working dancer. I guess what I'm saying is you might think the show will provide you with jobs, which it will at times. But at other times, you're going to have to hustle just as hard, or harder, as the other working dancers. There are so many dancers in L.A. that are all fighting to get the same jobs. When you step into an audition or a casting room, you're going to get one of two responses, which is 'Hey, you're from So You Think You Can Dance, you were great!' or 'Hey, you're from So You Think You Can Dance, prove yourself. We've seen you on the show, so let's see what you can do with this.' So it's good in some ways, and it's a little tough in certain situations.

What's up next for you?
I'm continuing my work with Gaga right now. I'm just rolling with the amazing ride that's been my life so far. I'm just kind of taking things as they come, and we'll see what happens from here.

Follow Mark on Twitter to catch all of his upcoming performances. The current season of So You Think You Can Dance airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on FOX.