Mao Kawakami | Inspiring No Boundaries Through Art

Credit_Trellis Evans.jpg2Photo Credit: Trellis-Evans

Dance Mogul: What inspired you to start dancing
Mao Kawakami: It was a natural thing for me. I was dancing all day in the living room when I was 2 years old. All my family members thought I was crazy, so my mom put me into a ballet studio. Apparently, it turned out very well. Since then, I haven’t stopped dancing. Music just makes my body move wherever I go.

Dance Mogul: How did you develop a work ethic to train?
Mao Kawakami: Most of my training comes from ballet. Until I moved to Canada at the age of 15, I went to ballet school in Japan. I also flew myself to New York and trained myself at Steps on Broadway in the summer. As many people know, ballet seeks perfection. I practiced until I got the steps and texture right. I still have the same mindset. It also has to come from a genuine place in my heart. Being inspired by amazing dancers and artists definitely motivates me to train more and push myself to be better. Work ethic is necessary to work as a professional dancer. 

Credit_Trellis Evans

Photo Credit: Trellis-Evans

Dance Mogul: When was your big break?
Mao Kawakami: It was a little after I got my artist visa at the end of last year. I did the iHeart Radio Awards with Zayn. After that, work became more consistent thanks to Oththan Burnside and Amy Allen. They have helped me a lot, in regards to putting me out in the industry. I’m still feeling the good waves that I’m riding on, to be honest. That’s how I know I have to keep pushing myself more and more. There are so many ups and downs by working in this industry. You’re booked for a couple of months, and you’re not guaranteed after that. The relationships you build with choreographers are important. Once they work with you and trust you in your work ethic, there is a good possibility that you will work with them again. That’s why it is important to be a consistent dancer.

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Photo Credit: Trellis-Evans

Dance Mogul: What have been some of your memorable moments on stage?
Mao Kawakami: Whenever the audience gives me back the energy to us performers, I always feel alive. The stage is when all your hard work in rehearsals shows. Also, it is like an adrenaline rush. Energy is the biggest thing to me, so there is nothing that compares to performing on the stage with good people in front of huge crowds. 

Dance Mogul: Based on your experience now what would you tell your younger self?
Mao Kawakami: Keep training and know your surroundings; You never know who is watching you; Never settle in one place. There is always room to get better. Also, research the good works of others because a lot of good things are not always seen in mainstream media. Know what you’re looking at. It’s always good to have knowledge wherever you go. 

Credit_Dario Minaya

Photo Credit: Dario-Minaya

Credit_Trellis Evans.jpg3

Photo Credit: Trellis-Evans

Dance Mogul: What is it like dancing for a major artist on a regular basis?
Mao Kawakami: Every artist is different, but working with good-hearted artists definitely inspires me. At the end of the day, what matters is good humanity. Great energy creates great work. There is something about watching the process of creating from a blank canvas. There are so many elements that go into creating a three-minute performance. Sound, lightings, staging, angles, costumes, steps, stories.  All the hard work and talents we put in one creation makes it ART.  

Teen Choice Awards - _Look But Don't Touch_ Serayah

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Teen-Choice-Awards 2016-_Look-But-Dont-Touch_-Serayah

Dance Mogul: Where do you see your brand in the dance community in the next 10 years?
Mao Kawakami: I hope to gain more experience every day and teach the younger generation about life through dance whether it is teaching or branding myself more in media. As a foreigner that came to the states with dreams, if I can use dance as a tool to inspire people in the world and show them that there are no boundaries in art, that would be my ideal thing. 

Dance Mogul: What advice do you have for the younger generation of dancers?
Mao Kawakami: Be consistent and be smart. When you work as a professional dancer, you need a brain to figure things out by yourself, whether it’s a step that you need to do in the opposite way or different formation that you need to create. You need skills to figure it all out without a choreographer telling you what to do. Also, open your eyes and perspectives. That’s what makes you different from others. I am not saying that you should “try” to be different. You definitely should stay true to yourself. Dance shows your true self. Get out of your house and gain life experience. Subconsciously, those experiences will change how you dance and make you unique. Nothing worthy will go smooth in life, so keep pushing towards your dream and you shall get it! 

Dance Mogul: Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Mao Kawakami: Yes, my family and all my friends that helped me grow physically and mentally in this crazy journey. I also like to thank two of my mentors that helped me get to where I am today. Tonya Wejr from my old dance studio in Canada for teaching me about work ethic, morals, and kindness in my teenage years.  Also, I would like to thank Dana Foglia. She taught me more about work ethic and the right mindset to work in the industry. She pushes and inspires me to be myself truthfully every day.  At last, thank you, Dance Mogul, for giving me an opportunity to share my story! 

Credit_Andrew Kruse

Photo Credit: Andrew-Kruse


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