Kenny Ortega

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Kenny Ortega

Born

4/18/1950, Palo Alto, California, USA

Birth Name

Kenneth John Ortega

Gender

Male

Also Known As

Kenneth Ortega
9.5
out of 10
User Rating
8 votes

Biography

EDIT
Kenneth John Ortega was born in Palo Alto, California on April 18, 1950. He is a director and choreographer, and is well known for choreographing the hit Disney movie, High School Musical and the movie Dirty Dancing. He has also worked with famous stars like Madonna and Elton John.more

Credits

Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • In 1988, Kenny made his screen acting debut in the film And God Created Woman. He was also the choreography consultant.

    • In 1979, Kenny assisted choreographer Toni Basil on his first feature film, The Rose.

    • In 1969, Kenny landed the role of George Berger in the San Francisco company production of "Hair."

    • Kenny appeared in the American Conservatory Theatre production of "The Last Sweet Days of Isaac."

    • While in high school, Kenny was a member of the Hyatt Music Theatre in Burlingame, CA and the Circle Star Theatre in San Carlos, CA, where he appeared in "Oliver."

    • In addition to television, music videos, and movies, Kenny has staged several Las Vegas productions.

    • Kenny has directed television episodes for series such as Gilmore Girls, Ally McBeal, and Grounded For Life, Chicago Hope.

    • Cher noticed Kenny's work at one of The Tubes performances, and invited him to choreograph her upcoming television special.

    • Kenny grew up in Redwood City, California, and attended Sequoia High School.

    • Aside from movies, Kenny's other choreography credits include nearly twenty world tours for artists such as Barbra Streisand, The Pointer Sisters, Cher, Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Kiss, The Tubes and Diana Ross, numerous television specials like the Academy Awards, the Atlanta Summer Olympics, the Super Bowl XXX Half Time Show and the American Music Awards.

    • Kenny began his career at age 13, performing in plays and musicals.

    • Kenny says that his "first love" has always been the theater.

    • If he catches an actor or actress yawning on the set, he forces them to pay him a dollar, which he later donates to the Make a Wish Foundation.

    • Kenny credits Gene Kelly with teaching him to film dance. To this day, Ortega carries with him a director's viewfinder presented to him by Kelly when Kenny choreographed the 1980 Gene Kelly/ Olivia Newton-John movie, Xanadu.

    • Kenny has salt and pepper hair (black and grey hair).

    • Kenny wears eyeglasses.

    • Kenny has a Yorkshire Terrier named Manly.

    • In 2008, Kenny was nominated for a DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children's Programs, for High School Musical 2.
      In 2007, he won a DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children's Programs, for High School Musical.
      In 2007, he won an ALMA Award for Outstanding Director, for High School Musical.
      In 2007, he was nominated for an Imagen Award for Best Director - Film, for The Cheetah Girls 2.
      In 2006, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography for High School Musical.
      In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, for High School Musical.
      In 2004, he won a Career Achievement Award.
      In 2002, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography, for the XIX Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony.
      In 2002, he won an American Choreography Award for Outstanding Achievement in Television, for the XIX Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony.
      In 2001, he was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography, for an episode of Grounded For Life.
      In 1998, he won an American Choreography Award for Outstanding Achievement in Television, for an episode of Chicago Hope.
      In 1997, he won an American Choreography Award for Outstanding Achievement in Television, for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
      In 1991, he was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Main Title Theme Music, for Hull High.

    • Kenny directed the music video for Billy Squire's song, "Rock Me Tonight."
      He directed the music video for "Let's Hear It For The Boy", by Deniece Williams.
      He choreographed Madonna's "Material Girl" music video.

    • Kenny has choreographed the following movies:
      High School Musical 2 (2007)
      The Cheetah Girls 2 (2006)
      The Boys From Oz (2006)
      High School Musical (2006)
      Newsies (1992)
      Dirty Dancing (1987)
      Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
      Pretty in Pink (1986)
      Marilyn: An American Fable (1983)

    • From 1975-1985, Kenny choreographed The Tubes.

    • Kenny performed with The Tubes from 1975-1978.

    • Kenny has worked with Madonna, Cher, Gloria Estefan, and Elton John.

    • Kenny directed the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in 2002.

  • Quotes

    • Kenny: (about the film Salsa) Because of the success of Dirty Dancing on VH-1, we brainstormed and decided on a movie with salsa. There is a connection between salsa and romantic relationships like trust, surrender, patience, and respect. All those are elements for a great story.

    • Kenny: (about High School Musical) I really liked the idea of young people coming to know their own voice, regardless of outside pressure from peers, teachers, parents and society. There's too much bullying that goes on and that causes kids to back off from new ideas they have about themselves.

    • Kenny: A great book and great characters --that's what I care about, not just the size of the production.

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