Next month, America’s Got Talent (AGT) will celebrate its tenth anniversary season!
Throughout this milestone season, I will catch up with some of the most celebrated acts from past seasons.
Up first, the man who elevated the art of dance when he first appeared on Season Eight!
Season Eight winner Kenichi Ebina’s groundbreaking audition led to outstanding performances that brought the judges and the audiences at both Radio City Music Hall and at home to their feet.
In addition to winning the show’s coveted $1,000,000 prize, Mr. Ebina traveled around the world and headlined the AGT nationwide tour.
Mr. Ebina took time out of his schedule to talk about his time on America’s Got Talent and how he transitioned from dancer and entertainer.
Jacob Elyachar: How have you grown as a dancer since your time on “America’s Got Talent”?
Kenichi Ebina: First of all, many people think I am a “dancer”, but I consider myself more as “performer,” because I infuse dance, mime, and magic and multimedia technology. As a “dancer” for your question, my dance skill is not that good and it has not improved even since America’s Got Talent and I have not got engagements as a “dancer”. But as a “performer,” I have been hired for many events, TV shows around the world and I premiered my two-hour one-man show in 2014, which was one of my goals (smiles).
JE: You created countless of memorable performance pieces on “AGT.” Could you please share your creation process from its inception to stage with my readers?
KE: When I am creating performance pieces, I will start with a story. Next, I search for materials including music, images, tricks and choreography to use for the performance piece. Other times, I would come up with an idea using a piece of music, a piece of technology or a prop and built around a performance around those materials.
JE: What are some of the challenges that you faced as a performer in the entertainment industry? How did you overcome them?
KE: One of the greatest challenges that I faced as a performer was when I transitioned from being a dancer to an entertainer. In the 2000s, I auditioned to become a back-up dancer and to become a member of dance companies. But at the time…there was no chance for me, because casting directors cared more about my looks than my skills. While I showcased more confidence when I was on America’s Got Talent, it was hard for me at the time to realize that no one would hire me as a back-up dancer, even if I were a director or producer of artist, I wouldn’t hire me, no way! (Laughs) So I changed my direction soon after first few auditions. I tried to be a “one” other than “best” and I started performing solo pieces around 2003 in the way no other “dancer” was doing back then. Then, I started being accepted and getting gigs!
JE: How has social media helped you connect with your fans since your departure on “AGT”?
KE: In all honesty, I am not very social media friendly. But, when I started America’s Got Talent, I made my Facebook page and Twitter account. I am really bad at Twitter, but I have kept posting upcoming events on the Facebook page and I believe it has been helpful to keep connected to my fans.
JE: If you had the chance to meet with dancers who want to audition for “AGT,” what advice would you share with him?
KE: Try to be different from other dancers by bringing the surprise factor each time. Also, they should probably showcase a different artistic direction every time because on America’s Got Talent, you have to perform many times until you are crowned the winner. Dancers have a huge disadvantage compared to singers and bands because people get used to seeing and get bored with “Visual” presentation much faster than “Sound” presentation.
Also, dance technique and skill is important of course, but it’s not a dance competition such as So You Think You Can Dance which judgment is more up to skill. You are not showing that your skill to a dance expert, but to the general public. Many people see you if it’s simply “entertaining” or not rather than “how skillful you are” in dance. Sometimes, very difficult techniques or harder movements are not necessary appealing to the general public and might lose to simple and easy movements, so it is important to have “general public” perspective in yourself when you check your performance.