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Kenny Ortega

Kenny Ortega

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Also Known As: Ken Ortega, Kenneth Ortega Died:
Born: April 18, 1950 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Palo Alto, California, USA Profession: choreographer, producer, director, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An Emmy Award winner, Kenny Ortega in the 1990s and 2000s made himself the most celebrated choreographer and helmsman of filmed and live musical stage shows in America, choreographing some of most famous dance scenes in film, producing live sports-ceremony extravaganzas and stewarding one of most phenomenal musical drama franchises in history. Ortega arrived on the American film scene portentously working with Gene Kelly on his final feature film, the camp classic "Xanadu" (1980), and went on to create the smoldering dance scenes in "Dirty Dancing," direct Disney features and episodic TV, produce Super Bowl halftimes and Olympic ceremonies, and partner with Michael Jackson on his envelope-pushing stage shows. In 2006, he produced and directed The Disney Channel's ballyho d "High School Musical" (2006), whose two sequels would set home-video and even box-office sales records. In the summer of 2009, he was working again with Jackson on his much anticipated "This Is It" comeback tour when the singer died suddenly, after which Ortega produced and directed "This Is It" (2009), a documentary made from the footage of their tour preparations. A creative link between the experimental rock stage shows of the...

An Emmy Award winner, Kenny Ortega in the 1990s and 2000s made himself the most celebrated choreographer and helmsman of filmed and live musical stage shows in America, choreographing some of most famous dance scenes in film, producing live sports-ceremony extravaganzas and stewarding one of most phenomenal musical drama franchises in history. Ortega arrived on the American film scene portentously working with Gene Kelly on his final feature film, the camp classic "Xanadu" (1980), and went on to create the smoldering dance scenes in "Dirty Dancing," direct Disney features and episodic TV, produce Super Bowl halftimes and Olympic ceremonies, and partner with Michael Jackson on his envelope-pushing stage shows. In 2006, he produced and directed The Disney Channel's ballyho d "High School Musical" (2006), whose two sequels would set home-video and even box-office sales records. In the summer of 2009, he was working again with Jackson on his much anticipated "This Is It" comeback tour when the singer died suddenly, after which Ortega produced and directed "This Is It" (2009), a documentary made from the footage of their tour preparations. A creative link between the experimental rock stage shows of the 1970s and the dazzling multimedia entertainments of arena rock; of entertainment and sports; of classic Hollywood musicals and early 21st Century teen culture, Ortega arguably became one of the most influential pop culture purveyors in show business.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
6.
  Hocus Pocus (1993) Director
7.
  Newsies (1992) Director
8.
  Salsa (1988) 2nd Unit Director (2nd Unit)
9.
  Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) 2nd Unit Director (2nd Unit)
10.
  Barbra Streisand -- Timeless (2001) Stage Director

CAST: (feature film)

3.
 Salsa (1988) Himself
4.
 And God Created Woman (1988) Mike
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began working as an actor in local repertory theater at age 13
:
While in high school was a member of the Hyatt Music Theatre in Burlingame, CA and the Circle Star Theatre in San Carlos, CA
1969:
Landed the role of George Berger in San Francisco company of "Hair"
:
Appeared in the American Conservatory Theatre production of "The Last Sweet Days of Isaac"
:
Played George Berger for three years in the national touring company of "Hair"
:
Began working with rock group The Tubes; staged and performed with The Tubes for five world tours
:
Choreographed TV special for "Cher"
1979:
Assisted choreographer Toni Basil on first feature film, "The Rose"
1980:
Debut as film co-choreographer, "Xanadu"
1986:
First film as 2nd unit director (also choreographer), "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
1988:
Screen acting debut in "And God Created Woman" (also choreography consultant)
1988:
First film credit as song performer (also 2nd unit director and choregrapher), "Salsa"
1988:
TV directing debut on "Dirty Dancing" series (also choreographer)
1990:
Directed pilot and several episodes of NBC series, "Hull High" (also co-executive produced and choreographed)
1992:
Feature film directing debut with "Newsies"
1998:
Directed episodes of the CBS medical drama, "Chicago Hope"
2001:
Directed episodes of the FOX series, "Ally McBeal"
2002:
Directed the "XIX Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony"
2002:
Directed several episodes of the WB series, "Gilmore Girls"
2006:
Directed the Disney Channel TV-movie, "High School Musical"
2007:
Helmed the Disney TV-movie, "High School Musical 2"
2008:
Directed the third and final Disney channel TV-movie "High School Musical 3: Senior Year"
2009:
Directed "Michael Jackson: This Is It," compiled from an estimated 80 hours of rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage of his never seen concert
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Education

Sequoia High School: Redwood City , California - 1964 - 1968
Canada College: Redwood City , California - 1968
Canada College: Redwood City , California - 1968

Notes

Ortega pioneered in choreographing music videos and worked on projects featuring such stars as Rod Stewart ("Young Turks", "Love Touch") Fleetwood Mac ("Gypsy"), Billy Joel ("Allentown"), and the Pointer Sisters ("I'm So Excited"). He also directed several of Cher's videos.

Ortega received a NARAS Award and an MTV Award for the video "Material Girl", starring Madonna.

He was awarded MTV Best International Video/Latin for his work with Chayanne.

Ortega was given the Golden Eagle Awards for best choregraphy for "Dirty Dancing" and "Salsa".

He received the American Dance Honors Award for choreographing "Dirty Dancing".

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