Kenny Ortega is the acclaimed Emmy Award-winning executive producer, director and choreographer of the upcoming Disney Channel Original Movie "Descendants 2," the sequel to the global smash hit "Descendants."
Ortega served as director and choreographer on Disney's "Descendants" and the hit "High School Musical" franchise, which launched the entertainment careers of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. Additionally, he directed Walt Disney Pictures films "Newsies" and "Hocus Pocus."
Ortega designed and created Michael Jackson's Dangerous (1992-1993) and HIStory (1996-1997) world tours. He reunited with Jackson in 2009 for his "This Is It" world tour, which was cancelled after Jackson's untimely passing. Subsequently, Ortega directed the concert film "Michael Jackson's This Is It" which featured rehearsal footage from the tour.
Ortega also created and directed the sold-out Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Best of Both Worlds concert tour with special guests, Jonas Brothers. Spanning 70 dates and 58 cities in fall 2007 and winter 2008, the concert was filmed in state-of-the-art 3D at several venues including Salt Lake City and St. Louis. The Walt Disney Pictures' 3D-film featured Ortega as he worked with the young artists to prepare for the tour. The film opened to record-breaking numbers as the biggest weekend box office opening on Super Bowl at that time.
Born to first generation Spanish parents in Redwood City, California, Ortega began his career at age 13 in the San Francisco Bay area, performing in plays and musicals, including the production of "Oliver" with Georgia Brown.
In the 1980s, Ortega became known for his stage direction and choreography of the A&M recording artists, The Tubes. It was a Tubes performance in Los Angeles that caught the attention of singer Cher, who asked Ortega to choreograph her television special. Soon Ortega became the most sought-after choreographer for the industry's biggest musical artists, including Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Elton John, Bette Midler and The Pointer Sisters.
When Ortega made the transition from stage choreography to film choreography, he had the honor of working with the legendary Gene Kelly on the feature film "Xanadu," and then again on Francis Ford Coppola's "One from the Heart." Kelly soon became Ortega's mentor and taught him how to design choreography for the camera. Ortega is the choreographer of the hit films "Dirty Dancing," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Pretty in Pink" and "St. Elmo's Fire."
For television, he served as director on episodes of "Gilmore Girls" and directed "Ally McBeal," "Chicago Hope" and "Grounded for Life," which garnered him an Emmy nomination. Ortega also directed the television remake of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Ortega previously won two Emmy Awards for directing and choreographing the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He received the career achievement honor at the American Choreography Awards in 2004. Ortega has also won the DGA Award for outstanding choreography in Disney Channel's "High School Musical." In addition, the Imagen Foundation, whose award recognizes the positive portrayal of Latinos in media, honored Ortega with a Creative Achievement Award for his body of work.
He currently resides in Los Angeles.