Exclusive: Dancer Boy Mackenzie Green
By definition dance is, “to move rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps.” The idea behind the Dancer Boy series is to get inspired by dance, and the men that inspire us through it. Arguably dance has been part of some of the most iconic performances in entertainment. From Britney to Michael Jackson. Chicago and The Lion King on stage. Inescapably dance has elevated itself from just a set sequence of steps; Dance inspires, amazes and affects emotion.
Having been dancing and choreographing since he was a toddler, Mackenzie’s love for dance has only grown. “When I look back at home videos, I was always performing and putting on shows. Movement seemed to be in my blood!”, he recalls. His first real encounter with dance captivated and gripped Mackenzie at just eight years old. “When I was 8 years old,my Mom and I went to an open house at a dance/musical theatre studio where my older sister was involved. It just so happened that on that night there were three male dancers as well as a male instructor. I was mesmerized and before leaving, I insisted that my mom sign me up!.” Craving more of a dance element over that of musical theatre, Mackenzie moved to Martin School of Dance in [his] hometown Regina, Saskatchewan. “I started with a handful of classes and the teachers recognized my desire to perform and enrolled me in my first dance competition. I loved everything about it and seemed to have a natural affinity for dance.”
Your love for dance is abundantly evident…
Almost every day, I would be playing music and choreographing in my basement. Book reports for school became creative performance pieces. I became serious about my dance training, taking every class, workshop available. In my teens, I began travelling to other cities including Los Angeles to train and challenge myself. At age 11, I attended the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for the summer. I attended again a year later and the following summer attended the Banff School of Fine Arts. These experiences helped me develop the discipline, determination and the technique which is the backbone to being a dancer. I fell in love with the craft, the art, and the dedication of dance! And I fell in love with the amazingly talented, hard working, creative dancers that I met! During my last year of High School, I auditioned for the first season of So You Think You can Dance Canada. I missed my graduation ceremony as I made it into the finals and was then cut. As a result of this, I was offered the opportunity to audition for a modern dance company in Vancouver, B.C and left home at age 18 to move from a small city to one that was much larger with many dance opportunities. I worked with a number of modern/contemporary companies. In 2010, I auditioned and was successful in making the top 20 of Season Three So You Think you Can Dance Canada! This was a pivotal moment in launching my career into the commercial dance industry!
You’ve had many amazing moments in your career. Are there any that stand out and are particularly special to you?
Hmm…there are so many and all for different reasons. I believe that every job in a dancer’s career is an opportunity to learn about yourself and the art of dance. Through the challenges and successes I have grown. My personal growth inspired my growth as a dancer. I’ve had the privilege of dancing for many artists, and various movies and television shows. Artists I have loved working for are Meghan Trainor, Paula Abdul, Christina Aguilera, Keke Palmer & Katy Perry. My favourite movie’s/television shows that I’ve worked on were Disney’s “Descendants”, Glee and The Voice. As for live performances, I loved performing with Grimes, and for Nelly Furtado. It’s incredible dancing for artists whose music I have admired!
Many people will recognize you from So you think you can Dance Canada. What was that time like?
So You Think You Can Dance Canada (aka SYTYCD), changed my entire career and trajectory for my future. I was only 20 when I was on the show, but I remember it vividly. After a few years dancing professionally and making the big transition from living at home, I auditioned for the third season of SYTYCD, as I felt even more determined to stretch and grow and wanting to explore the possibilities of the commercial entertainment industry. When I was cast in the top 20, the feeling was surreal, as I had watched SYTYCD USA since Season 1. It was an incredible show to be a part of as it has been a major platform for showcasing some of the world’s top talent in different styles in dance and choreography. I was fortunate to place in the top three male dancer on season 3. I formed deep friendships, faced many challenges, worked with a host of incredible dancers and choreographers and a multitude of dedicated people who make such shows come to life!
Do you think you’ve grown because of it?
The show pushes you to learn, grow, push boundaries and go further than you thought possible physically, mentally and emotionally!I learned about and developed resilience, stamina and perseverance. I will forever be grateful for the experience and the lessons learned! I learned that dance is an art form, a vehicle of expression, a creative endeavour, an individual and collaborative experience. As a dancer, I must remain focused, dedicated and dare greatly to realize and achieve my goals and dreams while remaining true to my values and myself!
How was moving to Los Angeles, living here the last three years, and being a part of the LA dance scene?
Moving to Los Angeles, was a major step in my development as both an artist and an individual. When I look back 3 years ago , I feel a tremendous amount of pride and gratitude for the opportunity to call this city home! The large numbers of creative, motivated people here pursuing their dreams, is inspiring and motivating to me. Shortly after moving here, I began rehearsing for a European tour called Art On Ice working with artists such as Nelly Furtado, Tom Odell, Loreen and Hurts. Soon after, I booked the Emmy Award show & had a blast working on the final season of Glee. The LA dance scene is so inspiring and I feel grateful to have been working consistently in LA. Everyday I meet new dancers & choreographers from around the world sharing the same love and passion for dance that I have! I have learned so much about the other sides of this creative industry and the power of working with others!
As a dancer there are obviously times when you have to show off your body, is that something that feels natural to you? Where does that confidence to show off your skin come from?
I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin. My family plays a huge part in this. I always grew up with the mentality that I am enough, and I don’t need to be anybody but myself. There is no such thing as perfection in any area of life. You can only focus on being the best version of yourself. In the dance industry, talent is a major factor and physical fitness, however other factors such as height, body, hair color etc. also are important determining factors during the casting process. You can only do your part, as there are some factors which you don’t have any control over. Bottom line- do your best and be true to yourself! If you try to be something you’re not, you will always read as inauthentic.
You’ve also got some nice ink! What’s the story behind some of your favourite pieces? As a dancer does it ever get in the way of any jobs?
Thanks! Nice of you to say! I do have quite a bit of ink! I got my first tattoo when I was 19. Since then, I’ve continued to get a tattoo or 2 once a year. I have 3 that are my favourites. On my left outer forearm it says “Two roads diverged in a wood– I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”- Robert Frost. My left forearm is a tattoo of a sketch of man with a shadow behind him. This symbolizes the raw sketch or fundamental of myself as a person and what I aspire to be like and also who I am becoming. My first tattoo was the all seeing eye done in a mechanical design. Around the triangle it says Diligo (Health), Vale-tudo (Love), and “Cogito Ergo Sum” (I think therefore I am). I hope to get more tattoos to represent my evolution and hope to start working on a sleeve in the near future! Tattoos don’t usually get in the way of jobs. If I’m auditioning for something that requires a more ‘clean cut’ look, I just wear long sleeved shirts and try to hide my tattoos as best I can.
It’s clear you stay in great shape. Is that something that you find especially important being a dancer and how do you try to maintain a healthy mind and body?
I appreciate you saying that. Thank you! I’ve always enjoyed exercising and staying in shape. I worked out frequently at different gyms in Vancouver. However, I feel that I became much more dedicated to weight training once I moved to LA. As a dancer it is important to stay in peak physical shape. Not only is it a vital component to your physical capabilities but it’s essential for preventing injuries. When I’m training, I am not only working on my physical health but also my mental health. Exercising, whether it’s taking a dance or yoga class, or spending some time at the gym, it focuses my energy on something productive and healthy. Those moments when you’re about to give up are the moments when you’re about to have a break through to another level! Exercising is an excellent way to dispel anxiety and promotes those ‘feel good’ endorphins. It is something I will continue throughout my life. In addition to physical training, I would like to start practicing meditation. I am impressed by the power of the mind and have a deeper understanding about what “mind over matter” means in terms of setting and achieving my goals!
What’s one thing you wish people could know about you that they maybe don’t get to see all that often?
My sense of humour and silliness. I love to make people laugh, and to see others smile. I’m a Pisces so, I’m definitely sensitive to energies. I always enjoy people with unique personalities and good energy and keep these people close in my life. I am committed to being a caring person and helping others out. In the entertainment industry you have to learn to not sweat the small stuff, have a good sense of humour especially towards yourself and know how to fall down, get up and keep going forward.
If you could go back 10 years and give yourself any advice what would it be?
Listen to your heart, your mind, and what YOU want out of life. Nobody is ever going to tell you when you’ve “made it”. Even if they did, would it matter if it wasn’t something you always dreamt of doing? Whatever it is, follow your dream- not someone else’s version of what they think your dream is. Goals keep changing as we grow. You are the creator of your story! Be courageous, humble, and always continue to be a student in your art. If you tune out your inner student, there’s no room for growth. A friend of mine wrote “Stop complaining about how long it’s taking, let your cup create space to be filled!” -Mykell Wilson
Finally, when can we see you dance next?
I just performed in Katy Perry’s performance for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards to her new single “Chained To The Rhythm.” It was my first time dancing in the Grammy’s, and another milestone reached and another memory I won’t forget. I will continue dancing, training and being open to all that the universe has to offer. I plan to make it a great one!
Dancer: Mackenzie Green
Photographer: Travis Lane
Concept/Styling: Craig Andrew James
Styling: Sisco Gomez