Who is Leon Burns?
Leon “Kida” Burns is an American professional hip-hop dancer and the winner of America’s Favorite Dancer title in the 13th season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, also known as ‘So You Think You Can Dance: Next Generation’. He is more popular by his several stage names, including Kida the Great and Lil Kida. A California native, Burns grew up emulating his father, who was a professional dancer himself. He received his initial training from his elder brother and began dancing at an early age. After setting up a Vine account, he began to upload six-second videos of his performances and soon garnered a loyal following. His Instagram account has been equally successful. He has over 1.7 million followers on the platform. In 2016, Burns emerged as the champion on ‘So You Think You Can Dance: Next Generation’. That year, he also performed alongside Usher at the 2016 BET Awards.
The Meteoric Rise to Fame
Leon Burns started dancing when he was four years old. In 2009, he was crowned the Best Kid Dancer at the Sacramento Music Festival. A year later, he earned the title of Best Kid Dancer at the Sacramento State Fair.
His journey to fame and fortune began on the short-form video hosting site Vine. He soon became popular with his six-second-long hip-hop dance performances. As a child, he used to watch the film ‘Breakin' and the ‘Step Up’ film series with his father. He later stated that those films had a significant effect on him.
In 2010, the video of Burns performing alongside the crew of The Art of Teknique went viral and music celebrities like Ludacris and Tyrese reposted it. He was even invited to perform on Ellen DeGeneres’s show after this.
His online popularity resulted in his first appearance on a fictional television show, in Kiefer Sutherland’s short-lived Fox drama series ‘Touch’ in 2012. He also had a small part in the 2012 musical drama ‘Battlefield America’. In September 2014, he received wide recognition for a viral video in which he was seen performing in a dance battle. He was crowned as the Most Inspirational Dancer, which led to appearances on ‘The Queen Latifah Show’ and ‘The Rachel Ray Show’.
Burns’ ever-growing popularity caught the attention of the producers of Fox’s dance reality show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. They had planned that the season 13 would be about under-18 dancers. Burns gave a successful audition, earning standing ovations from all three judges, and went on to win the competition itself. He received the grand prize of $250,000 and the title ‘America’s Favorite Dancer’ for the year 2016. That year, Burns was also featured in the video short ‘Sing It Out’. He has been highly active since his ‘So You Think You Can Dance: Next Generation’ win and is presently involved in numerous dance and choreography projects.
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Leon Burns was born on April 8, 2002, in Sacramento, California, United States, to Leon Akida Burns and Tanisha Burns, née Hunter. He has two brothers and four sisters, including Shaheem Sanchez and Savannah. All the members of his family love to dance. His father was a professional dancer himself. In 2014, Leon Burns Sr. died due to complications caused by H1N1 flu.
Shaheem Sanchez, who went deaf at the age of four because of bad nerves in his inner ears, is an accomplished dancer in his own right. He has his own YouTube channel where he posts videos of his performances. Burns received his initial training from Sanchez, who not only helped him learn the intricate steps of hip-hop dancing but also introduced him to the rich heritage of the dance form.