Person of the Week: Kenny Ortega

Although the cast sings "We're all in this together" in the popular song from Disney's "High School Musical," most people credit the success of the surprise hit movie to one man -- director and choreographer Kenny Ortega.

The highly anticipated sequel to "High School Musical" premieres tonight on the Disney Channel, which is owned by ABC News' parent company, Disney. The first movie was nothing short of a phenomenon.

"It has become, in many ways, everything I've always dreamed to be a part of," Ortega said.

The original movie debuted last year with little fanfare, but as one critic said, it quickly "blindsided the entire industry." The original "High School Musical" became a megahit, seen by more than 170 million people and spawning the No. 1 selling album of last year.

"I think it's been so successful because … we've created a world where you can dream, a world where you can hope, a world where you can be courageous, a world where you don't have to stick to the status quo to define who you are as a young person," Ortega said.

The Beginning

Ortega began performing and choreographing when he was in high school in California.

"For a long while there I thought maybe I'd missed the boat in terms of being born at the wrong time -- musicals not being a current sort of way of entertaining," he said.

But in the 1970s he met the legendary Gene Kelly and worked with him on the set of the movie "Xanadu," launching Ortega's career to superstardom.

He went on to choreograph some of the most memorable dance sequences of the 1980s in the films "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Dirty Dancing" and the video for Madonna's "Material Girl."

'Dance Is Everywhere'

Despite his legendary successes over two decades ago, the brightest time in Ortega's career may be right now.

"I don't know that dance has ever been bigger," he said. "I wasn't here in the golden age of movie musicals but dance is everywhere [now]."

Whether it's on hit television shows like ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" or FOX's "So You Think You Can Dance" or in movies like "Hairspray," dance is all over the media.

"We need to escape sometimes and I think dance offers us a wonderful way to do that," Ortega said.

And the director and choreographer has offered children and tweens around the world an opportunity to do just that -- escape into the world of "High School Musical."

"To know that you've given something that matters and has inspired and that moves a child in this capacity is truly awesome," Ortega said. "I'm wonderfully proud of that."

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