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Kenny Ortega
KennyOrtega
Judge Profile
Birth Date 19 April 1950 (1950-04-19) (age 69)
Hometown Palo Alto, California

Season(s) Season 18

Kenneth John "Kenny" Ortega is an American producer, director and choreographer.

He served as a guest judge in week 9 of season eighteen of Dancing with the Stars.

Early Life

Ortega was born in Palo Alto, California, the son of Madeline, a waitress, and Octavio "Tibby" Ortega, a factory worker. Both of his parents were also born in Palo Alto, though his paternal grandparents were Spanish immigrants. He attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California, where he was a cheerleader.

Career

Initially, Ortega came out of the San Francisco Arts scene, working with the Tubes. In 1979, Ortega was contracted to work with KISS on their Dynasty Tour. He became more recognized after working with dancer and choreographer Gene Kelly on the film Xanadu, Ortega went on to choreograph the dance for the Menudo video "Hold Me", as well as the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, and has won awards for choreography in music videos, such as Madonna's "Material Girl". He also worked with The Tubes on their stage shows and directed the video for "She's a Beauty". Ortega also did the choreography for Styx's "Mr. Roboto" video.

Ortega directed Billy Squier's "Rock Me Tonite" video, which is often cited as the worst music promo clip ever made and has been blamed by Squier for killing his career. Together with Michael Jackson, he created and designed the Dangerous World Tour (1992–1993) and the HIStory World Tour (1996–1997). He has also choreographed events ranging from Super Bowl XXX, the 72nd Academy Awards, the 1996 Summer Olympics (Atlanta) and the 2002 Winter Olympics (Salt Lake City).

In addition, Ortega has directed and choreographed High School Musical, High School Musical 2, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year, as well as The Cheetah Girls 2.

In May 2009, Ortega began work on the scheduled Michael Jackson fifty-date This Is It concerts, which was cancelled subsequent to Jackson's sudden death. He directed the concert film Michael Jackson's This Is It which was put together from rehearsal footage recorded at the Los Angeles Forum and the Staples Center. The film was released 28 October.

Ortega directed the Michael Jackson Public Memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which was broadcast live on several networks 7 July 2009. It reached a television audience of 31 million in America, and more than one billion worldwide and via the internet. At the end of the service, he introduced a rendition of Jackson's 1985 charity single "We Are the World" created for the This Is It concerts, featuring Jackson's backing singers on lead vocals with his dancers performing around them.

He was set to direct the 2011 Footloose remake, but dropped out in October 2009 due to differences with Paramount over the budget and tone of the film. Ortega was also hired to direct a film adaptation of the Broadway musical In the Heights for Universal, but the studio dropped the project in 2011 due to budgetary and casting issues.

On 9 August 2011, it was announced that Ortega will direct a remake of Dirty Dancing, a project that was later postponed.

On 12 May 2014, Ortega guest-judged on the 18th season of Dancing with the Stars during the semifinals.

Personal Life

Ortega is openly gay, and in a 2014 interview with anti-bullying organization Bystander Revolution, he said that "as a gay man having grown up in the 50s and 60s, I have to say, I'm very proud of the industry that I work in," referring to the acceptance of people with different sexual orientations in show business.

Trivia

  • In 2019, Ortega was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Gallery

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