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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 15, 2002

Hawai'i-born dancer has Janet moving to his beat

By Esme Infante Nii
Advertiser Assistant Features Editor

Dancer Gil Duldulao is a co-choreographer for the Hawai'i concert.

Advertiser library photo • 1999

When Hawai'i's Gil Duldulao took his bow at Aloha Stadium as one of the elite dancers in Janet Jackson's "Velvet Rope" concert in January 1999, he couldn't help being overcome with tears — after more than 200 performances before 10 million-plus fans worldwide, it was the tour's final stop, and the hometown crowd, including his mom, gave the former Kalihi boy with the rags-to-riches story a wild ovation.

That moment was loaded with significance, but this Saturday's show will have more.

Duldulao, now 22, returns with "Janet Jackson: All for You: Live in Concert from Hawai'i" not only as a dancer, but as co-choreographer. He is responsible for the funky moves the audience will see in the numbers "Trust to Try" and "Son of a Gun," and he collaborated with the three co-choreographers on many of the other eye-popping dance routines in the show.

The Aloha Stadium production, which is being taped for an HBO special to be shown Sunday, will again be the tour's last. Jackson has told MTV this also might be her last concert tour, at least "for a long time."

And this might be Duldulao's last turn as a dancer.

Duldulao is performing at the top of his game, but he said he wants to shift focus to the behind-the-scenes job of designing dances. "I can't be a dancer all my life," he said last week from New York. "Not to say that I've done much, but I've done enough for me to be satisfied. I could stay (dancing on stage) longer, but I think I would eventually become burned out."

He also wants to turn his energy toward new possible career paths, including acting, singing and fashion design.

Duldulao is arguably the Hawai'i contemporary dancer to reach the highest level of commercial success. Besides his extensive tour and video work with Jackson, his credits include dancing in the concert tours of Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez, and music videos by Spears, Prince and Tina Turner; serving as co-choreographer for Turner's "Twenty Four Seven World Tour 2000" tour and choreographer for last year's MTV movie "Carmen Brown," starring Beyonce Knowles of Destiny's Child; and assisting in choreography for videos by Lopez and Ricky Martin, and for live shows by Martin and Christina Aguilera.

Designing numbers for the "All for You" tour, however, posed an unusual challenge. Jackson is no longer just Duldulao's employer; over the years the two have become close friends. "She's cosmically my soul sister," Duldulao says. "So it was nerve-wracking: First, she's my friend, but she's also this legend and artist. That's what I had to live up to. ... I was always thinking, 'She's not going to like this (choreography). But the first time I showed it to her, she loved it all. I'm really happy."

Tomorrow will be the first time Duldulao's older brother, Ralph, and many other relatives will see him dance live.

The 1999 show came to Hawai'i partly at Duldulao's prodding, but the location for tomorrow's concert was purely Jackson's choice. "She surprised me. She said, 'Guess where we're going? Hawai'i!'" Duldulao said. "The last time we were here, she had a great turnout, and there were just really warm, loving people."

Some surprise guests and extra numbers will be added for the special, Duldulao said, but he couldn't elaborate.

While there is bound to be controversy over some Jackson songs for their sexual content, "all in all, this is a family show, happy and light," and mostly appropriate even for young fans, Duldulao said.

In fact, the "All for You" tour has seemed unusually well-received, Duldulao said. He thinks it's because of the nation's high emotions since Sept. 11.

"The audience has been more appreciative. ... They've needed a release. A lot of what's been going on in the world keeps us humans stiff, in fear. But when you get to a concert like this ... I think it takes them away from what's going on reality just for a moment."

Duldulao plans to relax here at home for a few weeks after the concert, and hopes to speak at schools and teach some dance classes (he can be reached through his Web site at geocities.com/gilsource).