Keone and Mari Madrid Are Going Beyond Viral Videos
Boy meets girl. Boy and girl start dancing together. They fall in love, create epic dance collaborations, go viral on YouTube, get married and perform together on Times Square billboards.
Though it's not the most common love and success story, it's the story of Keone and Mariel (Mari) Madrid. Often compared to commercial choreographers (and fellow husband-and-wife team) Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo for their sweet lyrical, hip-hop style, Keone, 26, and Mari, 29, have grown a worldwide fan base and become darlings of the urban choreography industry. Their YouTube videos have garnered several million views, capturing the attention of people like Ellen DeGeneres, who invited them to perform on her show.
It all began when Keone's students at San Diego's Culture Shock Dance Center filmed his combinations and posted them on YouTube. “I thought YouTube was just for comedy videos and cute kittens," Keone says. “Neither Mari nor I uploaded our first video." It was essentially because of those early videos that Keone and Mari finally met. After seeing their work online, the dance workshop Urban Legends invited both of them to teach in Temecula, California. Afterwards, Keone asked Mari to teach for Future Shock San Diego, a competitive crew he had danced in, and the pair eventually began dating. But it wasn't until six months into their relationship that they began collaborating. “Our styles meshed surprisingly well," Keone says.
Keone and Mari's popularity surged when videos of them teaching together were posted on Movement Lifestyle's YouTube channel (which serves to bring additional exposure to working choreographers). In May 2010, they conceptualized, choreographed and professionally shot their first video, “Smooth Operator," which utilizes large-frame shooting in lieu of quick cuts and fancy angles. The zoomed-out camera lets viewers see the whole picture as they would during a stage production—Keone and Mari passing a single rose back and forth as they alternate between intricate footwork and seductive slow dancing.
Soon, Keone and Mari started posting more videos on their shared channel, and their popularity steadily progressed over the next few years. In 2013, their video to Michael Jackson's “Dangerous" quickly went viral after it was posted on Urban Dance Camp's channel. “Getting a million views at the time was unreal," Keone says. It prompted an e-mail from—and eventual live performance on—“The Ellen DeGeneres Show." “That was when we realized our viral reach," Keone says. “From there, the jobs kept coming."
At first, they were mostly booking teaching gigs. The duo teaches each summer at Urban Dance Camp and also gets calls from conventions and studio owners who want the pair to choreograph their family-friendly material on their students. “People call us and reference our videos," Keone says. “Our work online is like our resumé." They've also booked Korean pop videos and a Hyundai commercial and choreographed for “So You Think You Can Dance."
“Their style was very smooth, very lyrical, with hard-hitting movements and creative storytelling," says “SYTYCD" executive producer Jeff Thacker, who hired them after seeing the pair online. “But Keone and Mari had no egos, no drama. They created something that was still uniquely them and was right for the show."
It's easy to see why the world is drawn to their videos: Watching their choreography is often like watching two people fall in love over and over again. In their “Is This Love" routine, they portray an old couple, linking arms as they transition from basic step-touches to perky, interlocked or mirrored partner work. “We're not just dancing together—we have a life outside, too," Mari says. “A general person will be like, 'Oh yeah, the married couple that dances!' “ says Keone. “It's an easy thing for people to connect with."
Keone and Mari's choreography became a hit in an industry where partnering is often basic and predictable—and rare. “Many partner pieces in the urban dance realm were very traditional," Keone says. “The dancers would just do opposite choreography facing each other. We wanted to try and do something different with the technicalities and intricacies in our choreography.
Yet that partnering remains wholesome and all-age-appropriate, in part because of their shared faith. “We're both Christian, and there are certain things we don't want to do," Mari says. “This is genuinely who we are."
Keone and Mari's next venture takes their videos to a more personal level: They just opened a private studio called Building Block in San Diego. The goal is to offer private intensives to individuals or small groups. “Like personal training for dancers," Keone says.
In the future, Keone and Mari say they would love to get into theater and film projects, or work with a musical artist. And they don't plan to stop dancing anytime soon. “We're going to be dancers as long as we can—as long as our bodies allow," says Keone. “Even if that just means dancing together in our living room," Mari says.
- Keone and Mari - YouTube ›
- Watch Keone and Mari Madrid's Stunning Dance Tribute to Immigrants ›
- Keone and Mari Madrid Take 'World of Dance' by Storm - NBC ... ›
When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
Daphne Lee was dancing with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennessee, when she received two difficult pieces of news: Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, and her father had Parkinson's disease, affecting his mobility and mental faculties.
The New Jersey native's reaction: "I really need to move home."
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
Get Dance Magazine in your inbox
It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.