[Exclusive] Back2Back Convo with Dancing Couple Mariel Martin and Keone Madrid

Intro:
Taeyang made a massive hit in KPOP industry with his songs “I Need A Girl”, “Wedding Dress” and “Where U At” from his recently hot selling album “Solar. Due to the imminent response given to his album “Solar” in iTunes, they have released an international album with “I’ll be There” as its title track. Taeyang’s dancing is also one of his biggest assets. The dance moves are seemed to be perfectly designed for him. If you’re a YG Family fan, you should know by now that behind those Taeyang’s Solar Dancing Moves are Shaun Evaristo and Lyle Beniga.

I’ve previously interviewed Shaun Evaristo and Aimee Lucas. (You may look for them here at the site.) Aimee is the woman involved in spectacular events of Bigbang mainly Taeyang and G-dragon. But, her name is widely linked with G-dragon’s “Shine A Light” hot performance which I think you would have heard of. Shaun Evaristo and Aimee Lucas are one of the couples who find each other in the world of dancing and fall in love.

Now, I get an opportunity to get to know another dancing couple who have worked also with YG Family artists who recently released an album. The man who is responsible for Se7en’s awesome sleek moves of his recently released album “Digital Bounce” and the woman behind 2NE1’s fresh choreography of their title tracks “Clap Your Hands”, “Go Away” and “Can’t Nobody” from their first full album “To Anyone“.

Mariel Martin and Keone Madrid

Yes, they are Mariel Martin and Keone Madrid. Let’s start to get to know them better as they share their views and experiences in the world full of movement and more!

Note: Texts in color Green are the personal opinion of the writer. Texts in color Purple are Mariel Martin’s answer while texts in color Blue are Keone Madrid’s answer.

Question: Can you talk briefly about your background? Like studies and experiences?
Mari : I started dancing at age 13 in my hometown Boulder, Colorado. When I was 17 I moved to the Bay Area (San Francisco/Oakland) and danced there with a team called Funkanometry SF. That’s actually when I met Shaun Evaristo for the first time and at that time never thought I would work with him like now. When I was 23, I moved to San Diego, which is my current home, and am now part of Choreo Cookies (dance company) and Movement Lifestyle (management company).
Keone : Well I started dancing at age 15 in San Diego, CA. I actually played basketball for 10 years and that was my first passion until dance soon took over as my new passion. A friend of mine in high school invited me to take a dance class with him because I always enjoyed dancing. I always learn from N’Sync, Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Michael Jackson music videos haha. But then it became something I wanted to get better in and be one of the best (of course with my competitive sports background)! My first dance director/coach was Rainen Paguio (Jabbawockeez) and Belle Paguio. They both taught me so much and along the way I got to learn from some of the BEST dancers in the world! I did attend college for 1 1/2 years, but then I was given the many opportunities to travel and teach around the world :).

Question: What are 3 adjectives that will best describe you as a person?
Keone : Hard working, passionate, goofy
Mari : Genuine, Passionate, Caring according to my boyfriend Keone haha.

Question: When is your birthday?
Keone : June 30, 1988
Mari : November 3rd  1985, I’m going to be 25 Ahhhhh!
***another noona-dongseng love.. =)

Question: What do you want to receive as a gift?
Mari : Nothing, I am already blessed with so much I don’t want anything more.
Keone : The YG cafeteria and chefs. haha the food is GREAT!

Question: Are you right-handed or left-handed?
Mari : Left
Keone : Right
***Left and right go along well with each other. They go hand in hand. 😄

Question: What are the three material belongings that are most valuable for you?
Mari : My Bible, a stuffed animal from Keone, and a scarf my mom made me.
Keone : Bible, iphone, longboard,(car). It had to be those 4 I couldn’t leave any out! Haha
***Wow! You guys also value the same thing, Bible. =)

Question: What is your favorite food?
Keone : Meat and rice. 🙂
Mari : Too hard! There are too many, but I love Asian food, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Singaporean, you name it. The flavors in Asian food are so diverse and complex.

Question: What is your latest favorite movie?
Keone : Inception, Kick-Ass, and Scott-Pilgrim vs. the World. (Sorry I can’t pick one!)
Mari : Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
***You guys are totally a compatible couple, you even like the same movie. You must have watch it together. 😄

Question: What is your favorite color?
Keone : I don’t have one :(. I like so many colors!
Mari : Don’t have one, just like food, too many 
***Same answer too. =)

Question: Are you afraid of anything?
Mari : Plane turbulence!
Keone : Heights!!!

Choreo Cookies "Blind-folded" Performance at "Body Rock" show in San Diego

Question: Did you really plan to have dancing and choreography as your career ever since when?
Mari : Nope. I never did. I always just danced because I love it. I still do! Choreo Cookies isn’t a job, it’s the team I’m on and Keone and I don’t get paid to be there. I was always dancing and maybe about 5 or 6 years ago I got my first teaching job, just a little weekend thing. From there other opportunities came about until it eventually became enough to sustain myself with. When I graduated college in 2008 I was getting just barely enough work to pay the bills, but it’s picked up and now I do it as my career. At least for now and I feel very blessed to be doing it. Very grateful.
Keone : Dancing as a career, really just fell into my lap. I never planned it, it just happened! I always dreamed of dancing for an artist because that was the only way you could make money as a dancer before. But now I love my job even more because there are more opportunities! I get to work with artists and teach around the world. It’s so great being able to meet so many great people too!

Question: What inspired you to dance? Or who are your inspirations in the world of dancing and choreography?
Keone : There was this group back before I started dancing called Culture Shock SD. They had members of Jabbawockeez before they were Jabbawockeez. They were so amazing!! Also KJ Gonzales, who was the very first teacher that I learned from. Tessandra Chavez (who recently worked for BoA) is someone I looked up to as a young dancer and still today. My newest inspirations are Mariel Martin, my dance crew Choreo Cookies, S**t Kingz, and Movement Lifestyle(founded by Shaun Evaristo)! Someone who inspires me a lot in my dancing, but is not a dancer, is Kobe Bryant. I take a lot of what he does in basketball and apply it to my dancing, because he’s the best!!!
Mari : Well I actually didn’t want to dance at first. My mom signed me up, but as soon as I got in there and started learning I was hooked. There are so many people that inspire me. It’s like asking me my favorite food or color. I’ve learned from so many amazing people in my dance career and each person teaches me something different. When I was younger I was really inspired by Gary Kendall, and my peers, Christa Lewis, Ellen Kim. And it hasn’t changed; it’s the people around me that I feed off of. Keone Madrid has been a huge influence to me for the past couple years and all my teammates on Choreo Cookies. More recently people like Lyle Beniga, Vinh Nguyen, and Dana Wilson have been lights to me. But not only other dancers, just things in life inspire me, acts of God, big or small. There’s so much substance around us to make our art with, so I feel like it’s kind of limitless.
***Yes, Art has no boundaries. =)

Question: Besides dancing, what do you usually do? Like hobbies or stuff you do for leisure…
Keone : Basketball! Longboard skateboarding! I’m a huge San Diego Charger (American football) and Los Angeles Lakers fan. But I do love sports in general. Also we are lucky to have beautiful weather and beaches in San Diego so going to the beach is a must 🙂
Mari : I enjoy cooking, eating haha, riding my bike, reading, hanging out with Keone, and with friends and family.

Question: Is there any career you would like to take besides dancing and choreography?
Keone : I’d love to work in Sports medicine 🙂
Mari : I am thinking about pursuing Nursing when this dance career fades out if it does. If I can find a way to keep working in the field of dance without having to dance so much I would love to do that. I wish I could dance forever, but bodies get older. I’m really just seeing what God has planned for me and know that’s going to be the best plan.
***So both of you want to take something in the field of health or medicine if ever. That’s great! Then, Nurse Mari will be assisting Dr.Keone. Couple really thinks alike. 😄

Question: Is this the first time you’ve worked with an artist?
Mari : Yes 
Keone : I got to choreograph with Shaun for TaeYang “Just a feeling”, but Se7en was the first hands on experience because it was basically just me.

Mari and Keone dancing at REACT in Alicante, Spain

Question: How does it feel working with an artist?
Keone : It was an amazing experience! At first, I was a little worried because of the pressure. It was my first time working with an artist, it was se7en’s first comeback in 4 years, we only had 4 days, etc. But after I got to settle in the first couple days I was able to get comfortable and just do what I do! I definitely learned a lot during this time.
Mari : At first I was really intimidated and nervous. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I had never met them or worked on a project of this nature. It was totally out of my comfort zone. But once I got there and met the girls and we all started getting into the flow of things I felt more at ease. I was still trying to wrap my head around it all as I was there, but Shaun was a big help to me. He was always there to give his artistic opinion, which was very very helpful. Honestly, I still think it hasn’t hit me what I actually got to do. Just because I know how big they are from how friends of mine react, but I’m waiting for their comeback to understand it fully haha. It’s almost like it was a dream!

Question: How where you able to get into YG Entertainment? Did someone recommend you to them?
Mari : I am part of Movement Lifestyle, the company that Shaun Evaristo founded. Shaun recommended both Keone and I to YG and that’s how it happened!
Keone : Basically YG was looking for someone who is taller and dances big, to work with Se7en. He asked Shaun Evaristo, and Shaun was able to show him some of my work and YG enjoyed it! Thank you Shaun!

Question: Have you known Se7en (Choi Dong Wook) even before you get to work with him?
Keone : I actually heard a little about him because I knew he was big in Korea. I knew that Twitch and Marty was able to work with him before too. I was just excited to meet him, because I had a feeling he was excited to get back in the game. His music was great before, but after hearing his new stuff I already knew he wanted to come out fresh and new.

Question: What is your first impression of Se7en when you met him in person?
Keone : I thought, wow he speaks great English! haha. He’s a really cool guy and really nice. Not intimidating or diva-like at all.

Question: What is your basis in creating a concept for choreography?
Mari : Well, it was very difficult to prepare something for 2ne1 when I worked with them because I hadn’t met them yet. All I had to go off of was the internet and some info from Shaun. I had ideas before we went to Seoul, but when we got there we ended up changing things around, making things work for them and highlight them as individuals. I definitely learned how important that is. I’m so used to just dancing for myself, but working with 2ne1 I had to be making stuff for them both as a group and as separate personalities and strengths, so it was different.
Keone : The first thing I think of is, “how does the song make me feel?”. I believe feeling is so important and if it doesn’t “feel” right then it usually doesn’t look right. For Se7en I wanted him to feel comfortable, but fresh at the same time. I knew he hadn’t come out in a long time so I had to do something right for HIM.

Question: Have you known 2NE1 even before you get to work with them?
Mari : I didn’t. I knew Shaun worked with artists in Korea, but didn’t know much about it. I always vaguely knew about K-pop and knew it was big, but I didn’t know how big it was. When I found out we were going over there I began to research them and see just how big they are. I was nervous to meet them and unsure about how it would be to work with them, but when I finally met them, they were awesome, really down to earth and great to work with.

Question: What are your first impressions about each of 2NE1 members?
Mari : CL (Lee Chaerin) – Dedicated, Sandara Park – Experienced, Gong Minji – Animated, Park Bom – Shy
Keone : 2ne1 is definitely a dope group of girls. They are all different too! CL has got the swag and the personality. Dara is the cute Korean girl that can hold it down as much as the dudes. Minji can move as well as any dancer in LA. Bom definitely has some dope vocals!

Question: Now, that you get to meet and work with 2NE1, does your first impression change?
Mari : No, it didn’t change, I only got to know them better as the time went on 

Q: What can you say about Se7en?
Mari : Keone and I got to get acquainted with Se7en the most. He is super cool, a great person who is very seasoned in what he does. He is so talented and he has this incredible voice. He’s always singing! Haha and we’re always listening like, “shoot this guy is good.”
Keone : As an artist he is definitely talented! When we would be taking a break or just hanging out he was always singing! Whether it would be fun or serious everyone in the room was thinking, “damn this guys good” haha. As a person he’s really down to earth. Doesn’t act too cool or anything. In fact, our last night he went out of his way to come visit me, Shaun, and Mari at the NB club just to say bye. Although it’s a small gesture it means a lot that he would come out of his way, especially on a day when he had rehearsal and filming for the teasers.

Question: What can you say about 2NE1?
Keone : 2ne1 those girls are awesome! And very hard working. I’m excited for their comeback too. I’m expecting big things from them!
Mari : CL is definitely the leader of the group. She is very focused and really motivates her fellow group members, and her style is so dope and edgy. Dara is like a beautiful butterfly haha, she is so delicate, but at the same time she knows how to be strong in terms of holding herself and her presence as a performer. Minji is the sweetest thing I’ve ever met; she adapts very well, very quickly, and has this awesome energy. She’s quiet about it, but it really shines, I love it! Bom is very cute and girly, a little shy sometimes, but when she sings you can hear her inner-power come out.

Question: How is it working them?
Keone : Working with Se7en is great! He helped me out a lot and we communicated to each other very well. If something did or didn’t work he was always willing to try it out. He also helped translate a lot for me to the other dancers who couldn’t understand English too well.
Mari : It was exciting. It was so cool for me to be doing something like that. Helping another artist get to where they wanted to be was such a new thing for me. It was challenging at first, but utilizing each one’s strengths made the turn out great.

Question: What can we expect for 2NE1’s comeback? Is it different from their previous choreography and style?
Mari : I would say expect great music, a lot of 2ne1 attitude and character and some new style in there from me! Girl power!

Question: Do you have remarkable moments with them that you would like to share?
Keone : During the first couple of days Se7en hurt his back. He had to get shots and was taking pain killers. I was a bit worried because he wasn’t able to dance or learn the choreography as he would just sit and watch. But on the first day he was able to dance he came right in and didn’t miss a beat. I was amazed! I was reminded at that moment how much of a professional and a veteran he is. After that all my biggest worries were gone because I had no question that I was working with someone who knows what he’s doing.
Mari : Just being able to talk to them all individually; it was awesome to find out more about them and talk to them in a casual way.
Keone : I had a great moment with Young Bae. The first night we got there we went to the studio at around 10/11 at night. It was actually my birthday the next day, so right when it was 12, YB dimmed the lights in the studio and sang me happy birthday. It was great! I think everyone will see it once we have the Movement Lifestyle/YG documentary go up on YouTube :). The teaser is already online so you can see it at youtube.com/user/movementlifestyle

Question: Have you met BigBang during your trip to Korea?
Mari : I didn’t, I only got a little glimpse of G-D.
Keone : No, only Taeyang and GD

Question: What can you say about BigBang?
Keone : As a group I’m not sure, but I hear that they all support each other very much! And I think that’s very important as a group. I know that they’re one of the biggest ever in Korean music so when they get back together it’s going to be DOPE! Hopefully I can be of help to them in the future 🙂

Question: Who are the other YG Artists whom you’ve met and get acquainted with?
Keone : Taeyang, G-dragon, 2ne1, Teddy
Mari : Keone was working with Se7en and Shaun with Taeyang while we were there so I also got to meet them. And of course Teddy was always there keeping up with their progress.

Question: What can you say about them (other YG artist they’ve met)?
Mari : Teddy is the man! We got to see him up in the recording studio a little bit. Just watching him mess around with beats was so sick. His ear for music is so fine-tuned, he’s truly gifted. Taeyang too. We didn’t get to hang out with him as much, but he’s also really friendly and very talented.
Keone : Taeyang is a really cool guy. He’s my Christian brother! He’s definitely one of the hardest working artists and is so talented! G-dragon is such a stylish person. I can tell his model steez haha. I didn’t get to talk with him too much, but I hear great things.
Mari : Umm, the first time we met Taeyang he was rehearsing for a show the next day so we got to see him in work mode first. Teddy intimidated me at first, he’s got that hard rapper persona, but he’s really nice. He’s always making sure everyone’s on top of their game.

Mari and Keone on the move for REACT in Alicante, Spain

Question: How do you find the entertainment industry?
Mari : Different. Different to what I’m used to. I’m a “community” dancer, I come from the group of people who just rehearse with our teams, teach at studios, and perform at shows. So going to Seoul was a whole different world for me. It was very impressive and professional and I got to see how hard people on that end work. To me it seems like all the YG artists work their butts off. They were always doing something, rehearsing with us, or in the recording studio, at a performance, at a shoot, etc. Everything was very on the move, not as mellow as teaching, but I found it invigorating. It pushed me to want to work harder, not only there, but in everything I do.
Keone : Like anything else it has its ups and downs. Unfortunately dancers are one of the least paid out of all the entertainers, but dancing is such an expression and feels way too good to turn down. It’s my passion! I know dancers are getting more recognition, but I believe it’ll grow even more :).

Question: What can you say about Korean Music Entertainment?
Mari : I really love the K-pop scene. I love that people learn the dance moves and do them in the clubs. I wish people in the U.S. did that. I feel like K-pop appreciates the whole production of what goes on with the artist. Mostly in the U.S. dancers aren’t typically recognized, except for in the dance scene, but I love that all these K-pop artists are dancing too. Not only that, but that K-pop fans respond to it and enjoy it. Singing while dancing is a very difficult thing to do and just to know that people appreciate that aspect is very gratifying. And the music is good. I wish I knew Korean so I could sing along.
Keone : Korean pop is such an amazing environment. I’ve always heard about it, especially from seeing Shaun’s work with TaeYang. But experiencing it for yourself is a whole different thing. I truly believe that the Kpop scene is going to blow up even more in the future. I’m glad that I can say that I’ve worked with Kpop artists and I hope to still have a relationship with even more! It was crazy to see the response that our artists received and still get. We had fans waiting outside the YG building for hours and hours! To me it has as much worth as the music scene in America. And Korea cares about the dancing of the artist too!

Question: What is the song you love dancing to the most lately?
Keone : Earth, Wind, & Fire – Gratitude. It’s such a funky song and it just makes you want to dance! I love me some old school. Plus it is one of my newer choreography 🙂
Mari : Ummmm, too hard to say. There’s a song I recently found, but I gotta keep it a secret for future projects  hehe. But my summer song was definitely “I Need a Girl” by Taeyang. K-pop is so addicting!

Question: Have you visited other countries because of dancing and choreography besides South Korea?
Keone : Yes. I’ve taught and/or performed in Japan, Italy, Spain, Germany, Norway, Finland, Poland, Switzerland, UK, Canada, Singapore, and of course back home in the States
Mari : Yes. Keone and I have been all over Europe, all over Canada and the U.S. I’ve been to South America, and as far as Asia we’ve been to Japan and Singapore.

Question: Do you have any unforgettable or memorable experience working as a choreographer? Would you like to share it with us?
Keone : There are so many great memories that I have being able to work with so many people. I know one of the best was working with YG entertainment. 🙂
Mari : I know for Keone and I our whole trip to Seoul was a memorable experience. It was our first time working with artists, let alone such successful and big-name people. It felt very official. There were so many moments, but I do have to say as an overall experience, getting to meet all these people, be in the YG building, seeing how everything gets put together, and seeing everything that goes behind making a final product was something I’ll never forget.

Question: What are you currently working on?
Keone : Currently I am working on a new piece with Mariel for a big charity show in San Diego called “Dance for a Wish”. Also rehearsing with my crew Choreo Cookies (check out our latest performance at Body Rock 2010 :)). I am also teaching classes weekly and just worked with a brand new upcoming artist in America.
Mari : We’ve been working on a putting together a project for a charity show here in San Diego. That and being with Choreo Cookies, getting ready for the upcoming shows here in Southern California.

Question: Future plans?
Keone : I’ll still be traveling, teaching in different countries around the world while working with my crew back home. Hopefully you’ll also see me working more with other Korean artists as well the same YG ones too 😉 .
Mari : Just to keep dancing until I can’t anymore! I want to keep working hard with Movement Lifestyle and help get the company’s name out there. And of course be working hard with Cookies. Like I said before, whatever God’s plans are for me, those are the best ones.

Lastly, is there anything you would like to share with us?
Mari : Thank you for interviewing me! Keone and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to peek into the K-pop world and work with some incredible artists. YG family is where it’s at! And I hope more of the world will recognize and see the things that K-pop is doing. God bless!
Keone : Thanks for any support you guys have shown me. I’m very blessed to do what I do while having others enjoy it as well. I love Korea so much!! You can follow me at twitter.com/keonemadrid. Also be on the look out for Movement Lifestyle choreographers becoming more involved in the Korean scene! themovementlifestyle.com for all of our networks and other info :). God bless!!!!!

Bonus! Thanks to Keone!

From Left to Right: Shaun Evaristo, Keone Madrid, Se7en, and Mari Martin

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Please follow me in my twitter too! http://twitter.com/Lyna4u

Hope you love reading it! Please don’t forget to leave a comment. Thanks! ~Lyna

Photo Credits to Keone, Mari and http://themovementlifestyle.com/
Written and posted by Lyna4u.

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17 thoughts on “[Exclusive] Back2Back Convo with Dancing Couple Mariel Martin and Keone Madrid

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  5. This is so amazing! I knew of Mariel Martin a few years go on Youtube, and I’m so glad to see how well she’s doing for herself! Both Mari and Keone did amazing work with the YG artists that they worked with 😉 2NE1’s choreo is amazing, and SE7EN, well he’s not one of the top dancers for nothing. 😉

    And Twitch? I remember him saying something about how he worked in Korea for a few years and somehow I just knew it had to be kpop, or more specifically YG related 😉

    Great interview!

  6. thank you for this interview. they are my favorite couple choreographers/dancers! 🙂 mariel martin is one of the my deepest inspirations. glad that Shaun got them into ML and YG! mari working with 2ne1 was a dream come true for me. hopefully keone gets to work with youngbae soon! that is my 2nd dream. hahaha ! thanks again.

    im a filipino and a dancer so keone, mari, lyle, aimee and all these dope choreographers who have filipino blood in them makes me feel proud. 🙂 i look up to them so much.

    kpop! yeah. ❤

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  8. Great interview. Thank you so much! They sound like such wonderful people, I’m happy that they got to work with the YG Family…Hopefully we’ll see more of their choreography with YG artists because I love their work. ^_^

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