The Army of Kin
An Interview With the Founders of the Kinjaz Dance Group
Kinjaz was born in 2010, when Anthony Lee and Mike Song, dance company directors within the Southern California community, decided to pull together a band of brothers/like-minded movers to do one last project before Anthony began a job in sales. This last project, Anbu Black Ops, was anything but that and catapulted the two men to pursue dance full time and fearlessly uncover and explore the depths of their imagination and purpose. With over 30 total members, this “Artists’ brotherhood,” is known for their signature intricate choreography style and creative storytelling through dance and new media. We were lucky enough to sit down with Anthony and talk to him about his journey, this brotherhood and their mission to change the world through art.
Explain what the Army of Kin means to someone who might not have any idea?
The Army of KIN represents our most loyal and dedicated supporters that also do their part to embody the mantras of Kinjaz. Movement in the Shadows, Respect All…Fear None, and KIN At All Costs. Their support and love for what we do keeps us motivated and inspired to push on as creators.
You have over 30 members in your group now, many of which don't particularly specialize in dance. How do you acquire (and accept) new members?
It’s a SECRET! Just kidding, it really just comes down to life’s beautiful way of building organic connections with people. We’ve always started with a strong family culture and we always strive to maintain that energy. Of course, there are many sectors to our overall company/organization, so some have even joined the Kin by first working in some extension of the company and building authentic relationships that way. Anything is possible.
What does movement mean to the group?
Movement is one of those beautiful words that has more than one meaning. The obvious relates to our dance movement and bodily/physical expressions and interpretation of the music. But of course the second definition highlights the change or development in our community, culture, and society. Whether in our choice to support the dance community, the LGBTQIA+ community, the homeless, or black lives movement. We’ve come to understand that much of life is learning the responsibility of our platform and will continue to do our best to represent a positive movement to others.
It's your mission to positively impact the world through mentality, movement and media. How do those three things bring your mission to life?
Many of the Kinjaz aren’t just dancers, there are directors, teachers, choreographers, filmmakers, and even humanitarians among us. It’s when you bring all of that together that we can create a mission that many around the world can stand behind, not just dancers. Being able to create and, more importantly, share our craft enables us to reach people…and when realizing that you have the ability to reach people, you have the responsibility to share positive and inspirational messaging. Thus, it is important to have great movement, media, and mentality.
You make a note when spotlighting your team members to bring up each person's 'special powers.' How does this simple question encapsulate your brand and your company culture/ethos?
‘Kin at all costs’ embodies this feeling. The ability to put each other first means that we always make the effort to respect and recognize each other’s strengths as well as our own weaknesses. This, overall, makes us a stronger people, humbly willing to allow the person most capable to take on the task at hand…progressing the collective to new heights that individuals, alone, oftentimes find challenging to attain.
After watching a performance, what is one thing you hope your audience takes away?
At the end of it all, the most powerful experience that an audience of us can have is something that inspires them when they walk away. All of us will remember iconic moments in our journey that left us inspired to do more and be more than ourselves. We hope to continue that flow of inspiration.
Why ROW? And what does being in DTLA/Arts District mean for the group?
Los Angeles is our home base, so being in the heart of LA keeps us close to the city’s pulse. Staying within/ahead of the entertainment sphere is important to our mission to remain innovative and impactful.
Is there anything exciting happening with the group that we should know about?
Absolutely. In truth, the pandemic did a number on us as it did with a lot of businesses. But through its crippling and destructive path, it bore new ways to adapt and create a successful and sustainable future. Our most notable new venture includes Kinjabang Noodles, a plant-based product that people can get on Amazon! With projects like these, we strive to evolve and mature the way that people see Kinjaz, from something that was once a dance crew to what is now a multi-faceted brand entity.