Dancer Conor McKenzie has made a name for himself by putting his own mark on some of today's hottest hits. Take, for example, his most famous Instagram post—a dance video he shot to the Ariana Grande tune "Thank U, Next"—which netted nearly 1 million views across the social media platform and caught the attention of Grande herself, who shared the clip on her own Instagram.
Now the Insta-famous dancer is focused on expanding his reach with a brand new stretch-along fitness program and his very own dance class in NYC—the latter of which is happening this weekend (May 4).
I imagine the key is to really find a niche you can offer something to, no? How did you build your following?
CONOR MCKENZIE: When I first got Instagram, it definitely was for more of a fun purpose in the sense that I used it to socialize with friends and didn’t think twice about what I was posting. Then I started focusing on posting my dancing and other fun content and it just kind of blew up from there. I’ve always tried to post things that are authentic to who I am as a person and send a positive message to others to live their life to the fullest and as authentically as possible.
Let's talk about your Ariana Grande dance video, which went viral... Were you shocked when she shared it?
CM: I’m still not over it to be honest. It was such a dream come true to have her acknowledge it and have enjoyed it. The response to the video has honestly been mind blowing. In my wildest dreams I never imagined it would reach the amount of people that it has. Out of all of my videos though, I am so happy it was that one because of the positivity it preaches. It just speaks to the fact that people thrive off of positive energy and need a pick-me-up sometimes.
Be honest with me, how many times do you have to reshoot your Instagram videos until they're perfect?
CM: It depends on the type of video! I typically try to get at least a few takes so I have some options to work with. Some I’m able to get in one or two takes and others take several tries. It’s the name of the game, but I enjoy it so it’s all good fun.
You surprised us, not too long ago, when you dropped a video with Drag Race alum Laganja Estranja. Are there any other people you'd love to dance with?
CM: Filming that video was such a blast. Laganja is actually the nicest person I’ve ever met and I’m lucky to call them a friend. As for others, there are too many to name, but some at the top of my list Julianne Hough, Lizzo and Brian Friedman.
People will get a chance to meet you and take your dance class in New York City this Saturday, what should they expect?
CM: A good time! We are gonna be thriving and dancing our hearts out! There will be some stretching, strutting and sexy combo work. I encourage anyone to come who loves dancing and wants to thrive in their most fun heels fantasy.
You also have a great stretch-along program that people can partake in from home.
CM: I do! It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever done/created and it’s been so fun to educate people on the benefits of stretching and that it’s not just for dancers. Stretching has so many benefits for the body and watching people’s progress from doing my program is one of the biggest rewards. I would suggest it to anyone who is interested in a healthy lifestyle.
When you have downtime, where can we catch you hanging out in the city?
CM: Most definitely will find me cheering for my favorite NYC Drag queens! My favorites are Stephanie’s Child, Brita Filter, Lemon and Skye Walker. They can turn a party and it’s always nice to go to their shows and just be entertained by their talent.
Photography by Lee Gumbs Photography