CALGARY, NOVEMBER 2012
Photos & Words by Kate Wotherspoon
Lenny Dela Pena, otherwise known as Lenny Len, was an Island kid from Manila, Philippines and moved to San Fran in the early 80s and then Toronto at the turn of the millennium. You may have seen him as one of the resident judges on MuchMusic’s television show, New Music Live Best Dance Crew or caught one of his highly acclaimed Vimeo videos. He is an established choreographer and Director with Alpine Music Group (NY/LA) and founder of the recognized Flavor Shop in Toronto. Lenny Len is a teacher, entertainer and director that has been elevating the knowledge through movement & dance, music and film over the last twenty years. Some of his credits include Ne-Yo, Rihanna, T-Pain, Ludacris, Melanie Fiona, Jeremih, Jrdn, Esthero, August Rigo, K-Os, Jodie Connor, Ron Sexsmith and he took part in choreographing the 2010 Olympic Closing Ceremonies in Vancouver. Lenny’s vision and work has also extended to his mentorship for artists like Nasri and August Rigo who are renowned for writing #1 hit records for Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Musiq Soulchild, and One Direction.
Yes, the list does go on and amongst all this greatness, I was able to interview Lenny over some breakfast at Galaxy Diner in Calgary. He stopped in for a week to teach classes at Pulse Studios and will be back by the end of the month before he heads to Egypt with his wife, Lauren. Below are some shots of his laidback skater apparel and our interview. Enjoy. xx
Kate W: What is your current state of mind?
Lenny DP: Happiness.
KW: What has been your main inspiration choreography wise?
LDP: Music. Always looking for the right music…good music. Always looking for music that is stimulating, soulful, playful and music that makes me want to boogie. I want to be inspired.
KW: What are your top three songs right now?
LDP: I’m on a slow jam right now…bringing it back to my elementary school days in San Francisco. Milly Vanilli- “Girl I’m Going To Miss You”, Anquette – “I Will Always Be There For You” and Coming Of Age – “I’m Coming Home To Love”.
KW: What is your favourite dance city?
LDP: Toronto, Home of Do Dat Entertainment and School of Luther Brown – I’m a Lutheran!
KW: Do you have any other cities you feed off of for inspiration?
LDP: I always look to New York as the flyest state ever, but being from California and growing up with the beautiful and undeniable energy of the arts in San Francisco is also another mecca for me. Other than San Fran and New York, it’s Toronto, because that’s what shaping me right now.
KW: What are some inspirations of yours, style wise?
LDP: I’ve always had an eye for it…Anything that makes me feel fly as shit. I don’t have a specific style, but I did grow up as a skater, so I feel I have that skater vibe in me, but at the same time I do like shit that fits and because of my ink, I like to express that as well. I like the classics and I’m a big Doc Martin fan.
KW: Do you dress mostly by your mood or the day’s events?
LDP: My mood and weather.
KW: If you were to dance in the outfit you’re wearing right now, would you change anything?
LDP: Probably my Docs, because they’re heavy as shit! I would rock the jeans if it was a performance and it called for it, but if it’s a dance class, I would want to be comfortable and I would change that too. Comfort is huge to me, and the way I feel is the way I’m going to look. If I feel good, I’ll look good and if I look good, I’ll feel good, right?
KW: What’s next for you?
LDP: That’s a good question. What’s next for me is the next level, the next discovery, what am I going to discover next? As a career, I’m always learning and figuring out what the best lane is for me. I’ve been mastering the art of direction where videos and music are concerned but that’s still a long time coming. I’ve been doing it for a minute, but I still have a lot to learn.
KW: What has been your greatest extravagance?
LDP: I think my biggest accomplishment was getting a puppy! Little Jamie Foxx! The way Jamie makes me and my wife feel, gives us a new responsibility, a life threatening responsibility. My puppy is a life form, a life force that I have to be responsible for. Everything else is easy.
KW: Which artist or choreographer would you want to collaborate with the most?
LDP: Well, I would always like to collaborate with my teachers, those who showed me the way, and enabled me to where I am today. I’ve had the best teachers on the planet, so I would always go back to them. From Luther Brown, to the Flow Master, my choir teacher, Norman and my dad. As for an artist, it would be my homeboy, August Rigo from Def Jam/Alpine Music Group, he’s my fav writer and singer in the game.
KW: Black or white?
KW: Which shoes do you wear when you dance?
LDP: Air Force Ones! I used to rock converse and was always wearing all kinds of skater shoes and Luther Brown was the one who told me to get a pair of Air Force Ones. He said “fix your shit” and that changed the game. Now my shoe playlist is on point!
KW: What is your signature drink?
LDP: Diet Pepsi.
KW: Signature breakfast dish?
LDP: Eggs, bacon, tomato slices and white bread with butter on it.
KW: How do you take your coffee?
LDP: Double, double!
KW: What are some of your favourite brands?
LDP: Alexander McQueen, even though I can’t afford it right now because I have a puppy! I used to like Louis a lot, but gear wise I like to support the locals. Gabe Angelo has a new clothing line that I’m feeling, called 4i Clothing and John Varvatos always has some good stuff too. Material wise, it always comes down to comfort and fit. If that shit is right I’ll rock it out. It’s not about a major brand, it’s about if it’s me.
KW: What are some qualities in clothing that stick out to you?
LDP: The fit, graphics are secondary and if it was made nice and the material is comfortable.
KW: What was the last thing you bought?
LDP: Some Nike Air Force Ones from Chinook Mall.
KW: Favorite fashion city?
LDP: NYC, always.
KW: Do you have any fashion idols?
LDP: Pharrell and Kanye. But because I have all this ink, I like to keep it classic when it comes to my clothing. The island and skateboarder style is very laidback and comfortable. It doesn’t matter what I wear, it’s how I wear it and how I feel. My energy will exude and transcend into what I have on.
KW: Thanks so much Lenny!
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