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Q&A: Kupono Aweau


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POSTED: Friday, December 11, 2009

Kupono Aweau, the second dancer from Hawaii to make the top 20 on “;So You Think You Can Dance,”; will take the stage at Leeward Community College Theatre this weekend. He began dancing at the age of 16, training at 24-7 Danceforce, where Mark Kanemura (the first dancer to land a spot in the “;So You Think You Can Dance”; top 20) was Aweau's instructor.

Since Aweau's stint on the show, the young dancer has traveled the nation, making stops in 40 cities where he was able to showcase his talents. Now, he hopes he can bring that same star quality back to the islands.

QUESTION: How was the “;So You Think You Can Dance?”; tour?

ANSWER: The tour was the most ridiculous thing ever ... it was absolutely amazing. It was like a paid vacation with friends. We went to 40 different cities. I love traveling, so it was a dream for me.

You always think you have to go outside of the United States to get to awesome destinations, but we have some kickass cities. Boston was one of our first cities and I fell in love with it. Chicago was phenomenal, too ... New York, Miami. Portland, Or., and San Francisco had great shopping. I would have never gone to half of these places.

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Q: Was the schedule grueling? Did you have downtime?

A: It was really nonstop, literally from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. was just work, work, work on most days. They gave us days off in the best cities, though. If our venue was in a smaller town, they would relocate us for a night in a bigger city, so it was really nice.

Q: What do you think you will miss most about the experience?

A: I'm going to miss the convenience. On the show, it was different because it's a competition, it's intense.

But after that, with the tour, you're a rockstar. It's like a freaking dream. We had catering and runners to get things for you. We stayed in some of the best hotels. Everything was so convenient. You are doing something you love, so it was never a hassle. There was really no reason to complain.

Now, life starts, which is daunting. These people are like my bestest friends, if not like family. I'm definitely going to miss them, too. The good majority of them moved to L.A., so I'm sure I will see them at auditions and other gigs. It's definitely not good-bye.

Q: Is there anything you would have done differently?

A: I would definitely have saved more money during the tour. Really, I feel like I wouldn't have done anything differently. I had a really good run. I got to work with some of the best choreographers. I got the best of the best.

Q: Do people treat you differently now?

A: If you go to certain places or venues, you get noticed a bit more. People are definitely contacting me from the past—people that haven't spoken to me in years.

Some people were not the kindest to me in the past. All of sudden, they are interested in me or they are intrigued by what's going on. It's almost insulting. I'm still the same person. I may be an improved version and more mature, but I'm exactly the same person.

Now, because of the show, they started to care. Oh well.

Q: What is the craziest thing that happened on tour?

A: For Halloween, the girls decided to decorate the boys' bus for us. I was really excited. I'm all about decorating. When we got on the bus, all they had done was take spider webs and hung it on anything and everything. I had this grand idea that it would be like a cool haunted house thing. I was a bit disappointed.

To show them how they should have decorated, during our longest bus ride from Utah to L.A., I threw a party on the girls' bus. I made all these invitations. We had a security guard in the front, VIP stamps. I covered the bus in white linens, put in some lighting. We had a disco ball, a fog machine and turned the bus into a posh nightclub. That was the best bus ride we ever had.

The spider webs were a feeble attempt to decorate. So I made sure I showed them how you are supposed to decorate, how you are supposed to throw a party. So, it was fun.

Q: What kind of doors have opened for you?

A: We just finished the tour about a week and a half ago. Kat Deely's manager is going to be working with me in January. I'm coming home for the holidays. I'll be making the big move to L.A. after that. So, we will see what happens.

I feel like I got really good speaking parts during the tour. I may be hosting things. I'm hoping that it opens some sort of acting endeavor.

Q: You decided to return to Hawaii for the Nutcracker production. Are you more nervous coming back home to perform?

A: I don't know if I'm ready for this. I haven't done ballet for a long time.

I'm nervous in general. After being on the show, there are set expectations whether I like it or not. They were set by myself on the show. I'm concerned that I may not meet those expectations. I've made a personal goal to exceed anything ... go beyond what they thought I could do.

My main motivation—Anything I did on the show, I want to be able to do times 4,000. Judgments will be cast. It comes with the territory. It's so daunting because people are constantly watching me. I don't want to disappoint anyone.

Q: During one television interview, you mentioned that you didn't want to lose yourself along the way. Have you been successful?

A: I had to focus on the task at hand, what I'm doing at the moment. That helped keep me sane. I had the understanding that this was a competition and a TV show, so there are certain things that come with that like politics are involved. That's just the name of the game. I signed up for that, so I kept that in mind with everything. I didn't take anything too personal because that's when you start to question your self worth. We were clearly capable of doing it, or we wouldn't be there.

A lot of the contestants got caught up in it—what people were saying about them. The tour was a dream gig, so I made sure to take advantage of that, every step of the way. I feel like I had the best time of my life.

I have great friends and an amazing family and that's all I need. It's amazing how supportive they are. There's no way I could have done this without them, so I constantly keep that in mind, too.

Q: What's next? Do you hope to open your own studio, work on choreography or venture into film?

A: Mark Kanemura is the reason that I decided to do the show. He is on tour with Lady Gaga, as we speak. I'm really hoping to get in with her before she becomes too big or untouchable.

My main goal for 2010 is to work with Lady Gaga, whether it's on a music video, live performance or a tour. That's my main mission.