Photography by Cassandra Plavoukos Photography shot onsite at Playground LA

What does an Inside Dance cover shoot look like?

Let September/October 2021 Cover Star Kenny Wormald show you!

Work harder than anyone in the room. Be a good person. Remain humble. Go with the flow. Be open to new experiences. Surround yourself with like minded people. Enjoy the ride!

I am very fortunate to come from a good family and an amazing dance studio that pushed me to be great. With a good work ethic, and polite behavior, you can go far in this world. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, if you’re difficult to work with, no one will want to hire you. 

I can attest the reinvention to being open to new experiences. I never want to be bored with my work. I like new challenges and when you’re open to new things, you never know what could happen. It’s the beauty of this industry. – Kenny Wormald

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Kenny Wormald – Keeping It Real

The movement, the mood and the music behind Wormald’s unending and inspiring realm of possibilities.

On a sunny August morning in Los Angeles, we stroll down famed Melrose Avenue toward Playground LA for a 10:30 am call time for our photo shoot with dance icon Kenny Wormald. A crisp breeze in the air has trees swaying in what almost looks like a choreographed pattern as we pass one outdoor cafe after another, each filled with creative types consuming their morning fuel for the day. A block away, the ever-so-familiar bright red Playground LA logo pops off an unassuming building, perched in between a couple of those cafes and eateries. 

Just before the pandemic, we were at this exact spot, taking in one of Wormald’s jam-packed, high-energy classes, live drummer and all. On that day, passerbyers stopped in their tracks to peer in the windows, some even asking to come in to take a photo with the insta-famous PLAY block letters that sit perched against the back brick wall in the studio. Frenetic energy abounds. 

Today, it’s just a small crew in the studio for the shoot, yet the same creative spark fills the studio. And you’d expect nothing less. The plan for the day is a collaborative process, just the type we love. 

Sharing stories of experiences and memorable moments throughout the shoot, we cover a lot of territory – from his early days in dance (yes, the famous tale of his mom putting him in dance class after he danced along to New Kids on the Block videos that even has made its way to his Wikipedia page, is indeed true!) to some of his favorite jobs (Justin Timberlake) to what’s next (could it be Playground London?). 

What stands out most throughout the day is the heart Wormald pours into all he does and his genuine authenticity. As we get in a few questions on video it feels more like a conversation with a good friend than an interview. And as he moves around the studio as Leon Bridges’ River plays in the background (hand selected by Wormald), the outside world slips away for a moment as the music, the movement and the mood transport you to another realm. That’s the power of Kenny Wormald. 

Inside Dance: Kenny, Can you share your perspective on both the benefits and the drawbacks from being so visible and having so much dance content across multiple platforms?

The clear benefit of all this dance content is the access young dancers have compared to when I was growing up. Traveling the country and seeing the new generation of dancers crushing choreography at a level that easily surpasses my generation at that age – is so exciting and inspiring! I used to record music videos and award show performances on my parents’ VHS tapes, then watch them a million times to learn the steps! Now kids have every music video, award show performance, and even dance class videos at their fingertips. 

I think that if dance was this popular when I was in school, I definitely wouldn’t have been bullied and made fun of for dancing. It’s exciting that dance is “cool” and accepted by everyone now. I think that has inspired a lot more boys to start dancing. Which is amazing. 

Posting dance class videos has become a valuable tool not just for exposure but for hiring dancers as well. Every time I am hiring new talent, I search through instagram to see how they dance, to see if they can do more than one style. To see if they seem like an arrogant or humble person. It’s such a valuable tool that we didn’t have 15 years ago.

However, I will say when I moved to LA, I had the freedom of training without a video camera in every class. I think it’s important to remember it’s okay to mess up in class. My generation grew from our mistakes. Sometimes I see dancers putting too much value on having a perfect video. I’m glad I experienced life before social media, but also have been able to use it to my advantage. I think just like everything in life, a balance is important.

You can see the full interview in the September/October issue of Inside Dance!