Oh, Wow Lalau!
Rising dance choreographer Sienna Lalau got her big break after posting a video of her and friends dancing to a Cardi B song. Today, the former Hawai‘i resident is sharing the stage with some of the world’s top artists.
At just 19 years old, Sienna Lalau has already danced her way onto the stage with some of the world’s biggest stars, including J.Lo, Ciara and the K-pop kings of BTS.
A dancer and choreographer, she describes her style as a combination of hip-hop with a certain swag to it. Her moves tend to be smooth and explosive. Her performances are often fun yet intense, always entertaining, and sure to leave you in awe.
Check her out front and center at the start of BTS’ music video for ON, which she also helped choreograph. Since its release earlier this year, the video has nearly 200 million views (over 43 million of that was in just the first 24 hours of its debut).
She also performed with BTS at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, at Grand Central Terminal in New York City for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and worked with the group on their music video for Dionysus.
“It was so amazing (working with BTS),” says Lalau. “It was super cool to even just be in the environment with them. The guys are so humble, so genuine and down-to-earth. Even though there was a language barrier, they still were so fun to hang around and sometimes when the atmosphere of the rehearsal was a little stressful, we always tried to encourage one another and make sure that we were getting the job done.
“We were going to do something super big with them, but with COVID-19 breaking out, it had to get canceled. I can’t say too much on that, but it was going be so amazing. Hopefully, after everything dies down, we’ll see what they have in store for everybody.”
A huge K-pop fan herself, Lalau admits she also loves Korean dramas (she even got her mom hooked) and is studying the language. She’s been to Korea once to teach a dance workshop at YG Entertainment (whose artists include the popular boy band Big Bang and girl group Blackpink).
“I was so happy,” she says when recalling the trip. “I felt like I was living my dream out. I was able to walk the streets and see all the different things that I’ve watched through Korean variety TV shows. It was so cool. I love Korea. I wish I could go back.”
A natural-born dancer, Lalau started dancing at age 3 with Hypersquad Dance Co. on O‘ahu. She then began choreographing at just 10 years old as a member of the Creative Arts Ministry dance group at Grace Bible Church Pearlside.
As a teenager, she traveled back and forth between Hawai‘i and Los Angeles for various dance classes and competitions, including the prestigious Hip Hop International dance competition with The Lab.
“We were in the varsity division, and we were able to win both the USA and the world competition,” says Lalau, who is of Samoan, Chinese and German ancestry. “From there on, my family and I knew dance is what I’m meant to do. This is my passion. This is what I love to do. So, my parents and my family did everything to support me to help me move to LA.”
While relocating turned out to be the right move, Lalau says it wasn’t easy at first. Her mom needed to quit her job to accompany her, while her dad and three younger siblings stayed in Hawai‘i. Sacrifices were made, and there were financial challenges. But then, an unexpected big break came when she posted a video of her with a couple of friends dancing to Cardi B’s song Bartier Cardi.
“Right from the moment I posted it, there were so many likes, so many views, I was like what is going on?” she remembers. “I was so confused; this was getting way more attention than I had ever thought it would. It went from 500,000 views in the first day and overnight to over a million, and throughout the next day it surpassed over 4 million.
“Some artists were re-posting it, and then Cardi B saw it and she reposted it. It went super viral and from there a lot of people from all around the world from all these different dance studios sent me emails or DMs requesting me to come out and teach at their studios, and share my passion and love for dance with them.”
Lalau would go on to visit more than 20 countries teaching dance classes. She also gained recognition on the TV reality dance competition World of Dance season 1 with her team ImmaBEAST, and returned the next season as one of the main choreographers for The Lab, which took home the championship title and $1 million prize.
She also worked with Ciara on multiple projects, including as a choreographer and performer at the American Music Awards in 2018, a mini concert for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and performance on Good Morning America, as well as a music video.
Last August, she returned from touring with J.Lo, and recently choreographed the visual for Justin Bieber and Summer Walker’s remix of Yummy, featuring The Lab dancers.
During California’s stay-at-home order the past few months, Lalau has been teaching classes online, creating online tutorials and doing a couple of K-pop submissions for choreography. She also was reunited with her family, as they all made the move to LA.
“We’re all together (and) it still feels like a dream,” she says. “That was always the goal for us. We were kind of separated for a whole three years, but thank God we were all able to reconnect with one another again and we’re all here living in LA now.”
As her dancing career continues to skyrocket, Lalau says there are many bigger dreams and goals she wants to accomplish.
Chief among them is a desire to work with Beyoncé one day.
“I want to be able to go on a world tour with a big artist with some of my friends, and then also be able to choreograph for one as well,” Lalau says, noting her part of the tour with J.Lo was in the United States. “Also, being able to choreograph for different award shows, and movies and commercials. There are so many different things that I want to accomplish, but I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, so I’m gonna just keep working hard and making sure I stay consistent in what I do.
“I’ve been very blessed to be able to do the things I’ve been doing. I’m so thankful for everything that I’ve been through, whether good or bad. I feel like I’ve learned so much valuable lessons and the time that I’ve poured out into dance alone has been very rewarding so far.”