Ortega was born in Palo Alto, California. His paternal grandparents were Spanish.[2] Initially known for working with dancer and choreographer Gene Kelly on the film Xanadu, Ortega went on to choreographing the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, and has won awards for choreography in music videos, such as Madonna's "Material Girl". Ortega directed Billy Squier's "Rock Me Tonite" video. Together with Michael Jackson, he created and designed the Dangerous World Tour 1992-1993 and the HIStory World Tour 1996-1997. He choreographed major events such as Super Bowl XXX, the 72nd Academy Awards, the 1996 Summer Olympics (Atlanta) and the 2002 Winter Olympics (Salt Lake City).[3] In addition to choreography, Ortega has directed and choreographed High School Musical, High School Musical 2, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, and was choreographer of the The Cheetah Girls 2.

In 2008 Ortega was honored as one of the most powerful and influential Hispanics in entertainment by the Imagen Foundation.[4]

In May 2009, Ortega began work on the scheduled Michael Jackson 50-date This Is It concert tour, which was cancelled subsequent to Jackson's sudden death.[5] He directed the concert film Michael Jackson's This Is It which was put together from rehearsal footage recorded at the Los Angeles Forum and the Staples Center. The film was released on October 28.

Ortega directed the Michael Jackson Public Memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles memorial service, which was broadcast live on several networks on July 7, 2009. It reached a television audience of 31 million in America, and hundreds of millions (statistics even say billions) more worldwide and via the internet.[6] At the end of the service, he introduced a rendition of Jackson's 1985 charity single "We Are the World" created for the This Is It concerts, featuring Jackson's backing singers on lead vocals with his dancers performing around them.

He was set to direct the Footloose remake starring Gossip Girl actor, Chace Crawford, but dropped out in October 2009.

Filmography and concerts

Year Film Notes
1985 St. Elmo's Fire Choreographer
1986 Pretty in Pink Choreographer
Ferris Bueller's Day Off Choreographer
1987 Dirty Dancing Choreographer
1988 Salsa Choreographer
1989 Shag Choreographer
1992 Newsies Choreographer, Director
1993 Hocus Pocus Director
1995 To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar Choreographer
1998 Quest for Camelot Choreographer
2006 High School Musical Choreographer, Director
2006 The Cheetah Girls 2 Choreographer, Director
2007 High School Musical 2 Choreographer, Director
2008 High School Musical 3: Senior Year Choreographer, Director
2008 Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Choreographer
2009 Michael Jackson's This Is It Choreographer, Director
2010 In the Heights Director
Year Title Notes
1988 Dirty Dancing Director, 2 episodes
1990 Hull High Choreographer, director, 2 episodes
1996 Second Noah Director, 1 episode
1998-1999 Chicago Hope Director, 2 episodes
2000 Resurrection Blvd. Director, 1 episode
2001 Grounded for Life Director, 1 episode
2001-2001 Ally McBeal Director, 3 episodes
2002-2006 Gilmore Girls Director, 12 episodes
Year Title Notes
1989-1990 Cher's Heart of Stone Tour Director
1992-1993 Michael Jackson's Dangerous World Tour Director
1996-1997 Michael Jackson's HIStory World Tour" Director
2006~2007 High School Musical: The Concert" Director
2009 Michael Jackson's This Is It Tour Director

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