Kenny Ortega, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Guest Judge: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Kenny Ortega is a legend in the industry of dance as an Emmy award-winning director and choreographer. Tonight he will appear on Dancing With the Stars as part of the judging panel. Read on for the interesting facts on Ortega and his impressive career.

1. Ortega Is Guest Judging on “American Icons Night”

For the theme on tonight’s show, the couples will each dance two routines to iconic American Songs for “American Icons Night.” Because of Ortega’s long resume working with legends in the industry, tonight is the perfect night for him to appear as a guest judge. Tonight’s show is also the semi-finals, so the pressure is higher than ever. One couple will go home tonight and the remaining contestants will move on to the finals.

According to Broadway World: Ortega has been the recipient of three Emmy Awards, a DGA Award, an Imagen Creative Achievement Award and an American Choreography Lifetime Achievement Award, among many others … He has choreographed such landmark films such as Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, and To Wong Foo. He has also directed and choreographed the films Newsies and Hocus Pocus.

2. This Won’t be Ortega’s First Time on Dancing With the Stars

Whether you realized it or not, Kenny Ortega has been a part of Dancing With the Stars in the past. Have a look at this Macy’s Stars of Dance performance featuring former contestant Corbin Bleu. Ortega absolutely had his hand in that choreography.

3. You May Have Seen Him in Michael Jackson’s This Is It Film

Throughout his career, Ortega partnered with as well as choreographed for the late legend Michael Jackson for over two decades. You can even watch Ortega work with MJ in This Is It, the documentary film, showing Jackson’s last days in life, preparing for his final tour. Broadway World gives the rundown on Ortega’s career with MJ and how This Is It came to fruition:

He directed both the “Dangerous” and “HIStory” world tours in the 1990’s. Their creative partnership came to an abrupt end as they were working together on what was to be their greatest effort to date. Jackson’s untimely death brought the production and the world to a stunned halt. Left with over 100 hours of rehearsal footage, Ortega, along with his close collaborators, assembled a two-hour feature film celebrating Jackson’s talent.

4. Ortega Is Well-Known for the High School Musical Franchise

Ortega directed Disney’s High School Musical, High School Musical 2, High School Musical 3: Senior Year. He’s also moved on to direct more Disney Channel projects including Descendants. Have a look at the above clip from one of the musical numbers from the High School Musical franchise.

5. Gene Kelly Was His Mentor

The legendary Gene Kelly was actually Ortega’s mentor, so it’s no wonder he’s so successful. Ortega originally worked with Gene Kelly on the film Xanadu. In addition to working for Michael Jackson, Ortega’s list of celebrities he’s worked with includes Bette Midler, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, and Elton John.

In some big news, Ortega will direct a remake of the original Dirty Dancing.


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