Otani backflips to the national stage

An incredible dancer, performer, and America’s Got Talent (AGT) auditionee, Jaden Otani is a CVHS sophomore with incredible experiences to share. He first started dancing when his sisters, who were dancers, introduced him to the sport and got him interested. He was just seven years old when he joined Michelle’s Dance X-plosion (MDX) in 2014. Two years later, he auditioned for the Warriors Jr. Jam, a selection of 20 young dancers that perform at NBA games. During his time with the group, he performed at 20 home games. 

During his performances on Warriors Jr. Jam, Otani’s role was a tumbler. Tumbling is a form of dance that focuses on agility and gymnastics, and he can be seen doing flips in his many performances.

Otani still dances with MDX, practicing for over five hours before every performance. During these performances, his group follows themes where they dress up in costumes, apply face paint, and tailor their performance to the music. Otani really enjoys dancing and describes it as a hobby.

“My favorite performance was during Halloween where we were given new costumes and zombie face paint,” he said. 

In June of 2021, Jaden Otani and his dance group, the ChapKidz, traveled to Las Vegas and performed on AGT. AGT is a show centered around judging performances in front of a live audience, and is currently on its 17th season. Greg Chapkis, a choreographer and producer, was asked by the producers of AGT if he had a new group to audition with. Otani was able to perform on the show after Chapkis reached out to him and invited him to be a guest performer for his group. 

“Being on America’s Got Talent was a fun learning curve in my life and it was nerve-racking dancing in front of the judges,” reflected Otani. 

For their first performance on AGT, Otani and his group had practiced multiple times per week for months. Their dance routine to Rosalía was described as one of the best performances of the season by Simon Cowell, an AGT judge. The grand prize for winning would be a show in Las Vegas, and although they only made it to the semi-finals, in the end, Otani and the ChapKidz were the winners of an experience of a lifetime.

“If I was invited to participate again, I would, but the [ChapKidz] aren’t planning on returning right now,” shared Otani. 

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