He's dance-ish on air

He's dance-ish on air

Japan's Kenichi Ebina took America by storm, but whatever you do, don't call him a dancer

It's important for any performer to think outside the box, but Japanese artist Kenichi Ebina, winner of the latest season of America's Got Talent, takes this idea to the extreme.

Ebina, 39, wowed fans of the reality show with performances that saw him dancing alongside giant monsters on a big screen onstage. His dance routines also saw him dodging sucker punches and fighting villains as if he were part of a video game.

His moves have been inspired in part by The Matrix, but despite his success, Ebina still doesn't consider himself a proper dancer.

"I'm good at cheating people," he said while in town to perform at Pacific Place. "If a professional dancer sees my dancing, they are going to laugh at me. But for the general public, they don't know the difference. That's the trick."

Not that Ebina is some sort of con artist. He just considers himself more of an all-round performer. For example, he also records himself acting as the characters he dances with on the giant screen during his shows.

But dancing, he says, is still a big part of his act. Ebina took a keen interest in dance when he moved to America for university in his 20s. One time, he was invited to a party hosted by his college and some local students. Before long, the students had started dancing in a circle.

"I was shy at that time, so I was on the outside of the circle, watching other people dancing," Ebina said. "But we reached a point where it was my turn to be in the middle."

At that moment, Ebina remembered a good friend from high school who used to teach him some simple moves. Before long, Ebina had transformed from a quiet observer to the life of the party, entertaining the crowd with the only move he knew: the running man.

"I did the move in the circle and people cheered for me. It was fun and felt really good," he said.

It was this encouragement that persuaded Ebina to take his interest further and he started to learn new dance moves by watching videos.

Not wanting to be restricted to dance, when Ebina did his audition for America's Got Talent, he told the judges that he was going to do a "dance-ish" performance.

"It's not just a dance. It's a performance, entertainment," he says. "I started with dancing, and it's dance-based, but I don't want to get stuck with only dancing."

One new area he is exploring is magic, which he's beginning to add to his shows."It's good to have a little surprise moment in a performance. Since I don't say: 'OK, I'm a magician and here's some magic', people usually don't expect to see any in my performances. This increases the surprise element. That's the kind of trick I like," he said.

For the time being, Ebina is mostly performing short gigs that last somewhere between 15 minutes and half an hour, but his goal is to eventually develop a full one-man show.

This format will allow him to include all the different elements he's interested in, including dance, computer visuals, martial arts and magic.

"I am working on it now, and I am hoping to tour the world with my own one-man show soon," he said.

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