Snoqualmie teen shrugs off YouTube video craze
July 20, 2011
By Sebastian Moraga
Three and a half million views of his video later, Jonah Duvall remains nonchalant about his newfound fame.
That is, until you mention something really important. Like, for instance, the next Harry Potter movie.
“Yeah!” he said July 14. “We’re going to see it Tuesday!”
The Snoqualmie boy danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in the stands of Safeco Field July 1. The team featured his performance in real time on the stadium’s giant screen.
“Every time I go to a Mariners game, I try to get on the big screen so I dance really, really hard,” he said.
On April 22, he had danced to another tune and landed on the screen, too. That day, the Mariners rewarded him with tickets for the July 1 game, “Turn Back the Clock Night.”
“That’s why ‘Thriller’ was playing,” Danielle Duvall, Jonah’s mom, said.
When “Thriller” came on July 1, Jonah started dancing.
“He just does what he does,” Danielle said. “Which is to shake his booty.”
Soon enough, he was on the big screen again.
“I saw myself on the jumbo screen and I kept going,” Jonah said.
Another teenager in the crowd recorded him and posted the video on YouTube. In two weeks, 3.5 million people, more than half the population of Washington state, had seen the video. The teenager later sent Jonah a DVD of his performance.
“I think it’s very cool,” Jonah said. “I’m lucky to have this privilege.”
Duvall, 12, has been dancing for years. When he turned 8, he received the “Thriller” CD and music video as a birthday present.
“I would watch the video over and over again, I just thought he was awesome,” Jonah said about Michael Jackson. “I would practice the moves. I thought he was so cool.”
He started taking lessons last year at a North Bend studio.
“I wanted to become a better break-dancer, better at doing hip-hop,” he said. “I used to watch videos of people doing it, but I would never know what I was doing wrong. I knew that taking classes would help me a lot.”
A boy taking dancing lessons might be the target of ridicule, but not Jonah. Friends have oohed and ahhed at their pal’s time in the spotlight.
“They just say, ‘Jonah, dude, that’s awesome,’” Jonah said. “And I just feel very lucky when they say that.”
Thanks to Jonah watching his video only once and his mom’s decision to keep him away from YouTube and its comments, Jonah has remained level-headed. That is, unless you talk to him about a certain boy magician.
“He’s been in Harry Potter-marathon mode,” Danielle said. “That has helped.”
Jonah has always had an ability to make people smile, she said. He’s not an attention-seeker, but people respond to him, she added.
“If you were to ask me what his gift is, that’s his gift,” Danielle said, adding that she is OK with his dream of becoming a professional dancer.
“I don’t care what he does, as long as he’s happy,” she said. “And that’s the truth.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or email@example.com.