Former Kick It Up A Notch dancer, Mao Kawakami, will perform with Ariana Grande during her upcoming Sweetener World Tour.
The 25 year old dancer received the good news on January 16.
Kawakami trained at Aldergrove’s Kick It Up A Notch dance studios for 3 years during her time at Aldergrove Community Secondary School (ACSS), taking everything from jazz to hip-hop, contemporary and musical theatre.
Kawakami moved to Canada at the age of 15—a choice of her own—from Japan, where she was classically trained in ballet.
“The studio was my home… I would go there after school almost everyday only because I simply loved dancing at the studio with my friends. It was a safe space for all of us just filled with laughter and joy,” said Kawakami.
“I am grateful that Miss Tonya created home for all of us.”
Tonya Wejr founded the dance studio, where she also teaches, located on Fraser Highway and 271 Street in 2007.
After graduating from Langley Secondary School in 2011, Kawakami relocated to L.A. to undertake work as a professional dancer alongside artists including P!NK, Zayn, Beyonce and Iggy Izalea. She was even a featured dancer in the film Pitch Perfect 3.
Though, she still periodically visits Kick It Up A Notch and runs classes for the younger dancers.
“Mao loves Aldergrove, she always tells me that. She feels like it is her home and it grounds her. So she always comes back,” said Wejr, noting that Kawakami was undoubtedly one of the hardest working dancers she’d come across during her years of teaching.
“Dance is something that makes people feel beyond words. It’s an universal language… it’s freedom and it’s in everybody whether they know it or not,” Kawakami said.
“Of course I am grateful that this is my job, but at the end of the day, it is more than that.”
Kawakami will perform on tour with Ariana Grande for her fourth and fifth studio albums beginning March 18 through various cities in North America and Europe.