Interview Conducted and Written by Kayla Baggerly
Kapono Rokobuludrau, full of vigour and dedication, is an avid ballroom dancer whose years of hard-work have lead him to win several awards and dance for the Westlake High School team and BYU youth team. When he’s not onstage, he can frequently be found practicing samba walks down the school hallway. Driven and ambitious, Kapono is definitely one to keep an eye on. Next time you flick the channel to Dancing with the Stars, you might see him! I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss his life in the ballroom world and where he hopes to go with it.
What first got you into ballroom dancing?
That is very simple. I would have to say a good amount of curiosity. I just wanted to go for it.
What is it like being on a ballroom team?
Well, being on a ballroom team is like being on any other sports team. They have their ups, they have their downs. They sometimes fight, and they sometimes don’t get anything done. But they still love each other like a big, ballroom family. I say being on a team with people you know and dance with is what makes the fun, fun and happy.
What does dance mean to you?
Dance means to me, one a good exercise. Two, it’s also a great way to not only connect with other people, but also to connect with your audience. Not only through music but also with your dance, because when some people do that they don’t really connect with it really good, so they look like they’re just there to dance and not do anything else.
Did anyone in your family dance?
My brother Atu. Me and him actually started around the same day. We were both curious about it and we decided to do it and we started doing it for a couple years.
Did anyone inspire you specifically?
Where do I start? First person that inspired me….mostly, was the people on Dancing with the Stars, really. Because when I started doing ballroom I didn’t quite get the, you know, the feeling that, yeah this is what I need to do, I like doing this. I felt like ‘this is just another dance class that I just needed to go and do.’ But when I saw Dancing with the Stars, I saw not only connection with the audience, but also connection through me and I saw something I’d like to do in the future.
What was your most memorable moment or time you had on stage?
It has to be doing our latin medley. Because that is where you have the most variety of dances in one, and with latin medley it is considered one of the hardest routines because you have to do all these types of things, all these types of formations, and got to be able to switch it. The most important thing with medley’s is that when you dance a medley you need to aim for that facial expression. Once you nail that, you’re good. Once you got that down, you have a good connection with not only you, but your teammates and the audience and the judges.
Along with that, what was your most embarrassing moment dancing?
Haha! That takes me back about four or three years ago. We were at Nationals at BYU. It was freshman’s teams turn and we were doing Newsies. We were doing the last trick where the guy pulls the girl underneath their legs. My partner wasn’t ready yet, so when I pulled my partner, we tripped. We fell at the very end of the dance. Tripped and fell at Nationals. The embarrassing part of it was that it was all caught on tape and on film.
What is your favorite type of dance?
A-O-T. All. Of. Them.
Where do you wanna go with dance in your future?
One, I’ve been doing it for ten years now, so I would want to continue it until I die. I would want to at least be a pro competitor on Dancing with the Stars. I would also want to be a pro dancer on So You Think You Can Dance as well. Do my top two dance shows that I want to try and be in. And also teach, as well.
Do you want to try and be a travelling competitor?
Yes, I would actually want to, next year, compete in Hawaii, San Francisco, Nevada, and also in Idaho.
What would you do if you won something at World Championships?
I want to do what my very first coach has done before. Has gone to a World Championships and at least place in the top three. But I want to at least go there and place in the top two. That is my goal right there.
Is there any advice you’d give to other dancers, particularly those who are new to it?
For people who are thinking about doing it, just do it! (with Shia Labeouf hand motions.) Because one, it’s a good exercise. Two, it’s a good experience. Three, girls like a guy who can dance. And for first time people, they might think, ‘ah this is just something else that I do, this isn’t cool’ or whatever, but once you get used to it, it’s actually really fun and really cool to do. You’ll know what it is, you’ll be able to dance anywhere. Oh, and there’s something I wanna add. In the ballroom world, there’s three types of dancers. The beginner dancers, the hotshot dancers, and the advanced dancers, The beginner dancers are the people who started to do it, people who started to join. And they thirst for that knowledge, thirst for like all the information they can get. The hotshot dancers, now as you can tell from the name that I gave them, they are the people who think they’re all that, think they can choose their partners, that they need to choose a specific partner for this and all that. They think they’re all cool and that. Then there’s the advanced dancers. For these advanced dancers, they’re the same type as the beginner dancers, but they know at least more. They still thirst for that knowledge of things they can do to improve and to work on. They’re willing to dance with anybody, anytime, anywhere. Someone who is like ‘I’m doing it cause I love to do it, not because I was forced to do it or told to it. It’s because I love to dance. There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.