For quality bonding time, you can’t beat Mario Lopez and wife Courtney Laine Mazza’s tradition of creating choreographed dance routines with their three kids.
“Our family dance routines started during the pandemic. My 12-year-old daughter, Gia, loves to dance, and my wife is a great dancer, so it was just a lot of fun,” says Mario, whose other half is Courtney, a Broadway dancer, actress, and producer known for her performance in A Chorus Line on Broadway and TV shows, including Love & Salsa.
While the TV star aims for a weekly family dance sesh, with busy kid schedules and his own hosting responsibilities on Access Hollywood, they keep it loose. “We try to keep it up!” he says. “We made the most of our time being cooped up in the house, and we bonded as a family with our little dances. We don’t take it too seriously; we come up with a dance, have fun with it, and record it.”
All the Right Moves
Dancer DNA runs strong in the Lopez-Mazza family. Not only is Courtney a pro, but Mario started lessons in tap and jazz at age 3 and is a Dancing with the Stars veteran. Gia and her 9-year-old brother, Dominic, are clearly following in their footsteps. “All of a sudden, our daughter started moving in a way we had no idea she could move. We were like, ‘Oh, jeez!’ We were really, really surprised at how naturally it came to her, and our son Dominic keeps up.”
As for Santino, the littlest Lopez? “Our 3-year-old has no clue right now!” admits Courtney with a laugh. So they get creative to make sure he’s included: In one video, viewers are treated to the toddler driving an electric kiddie car through the dance scene.
Not only is the routine a great way for Courtney and Mario to spend quality time with the kids, it’s an opportunity for sibling bonding. “Gia usually works with Dominic. She’ll show him everything because he might take a minute. Once she shows him, then she’ll show us and we’ll pick it up,” says Mario. “I think anytime you do something as a family, it’s liberating and bonding. Dance is obviously fun for many reasons. It makes you feel good. You’re getting exercise. You’re expressing yourself. It works for us!”
“Mario and I love to dance, were both on Dancing with the Stars, and are both budding TikTok stars (okay, maybe not that last one). I love a family who dances together!”—Jonathan
Pump Up the Volume
When it comes to the soundtrack, everyone gets a say. According to Mario, “It’s all collaborative. Sometimes the kids will make a request. Our son loves ‘Enemy’ by Imagine Dragons.” Adds Courtney, “We haven’t danced to that one though. We just put that on our list. And our daughter is a big fan of Jason Derulo.”
Still, the parents do sneak in some picks. “Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, old-school stuff from the ’80s—we’ll mix it up. That’s such a great era with artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and New Edition,” says Mario. “We also play a lot of yacht rock around the house and the kids dig that; we have pretty eclectic taste.”
Thankfully, the kids don’t mind the throwback tunes. “Dominic will sing songs from the ’80s because they’re always playing in our house,” Mario says. He admits he’s not a fan of a quiet house. “There’s a speaker in every room—so there’s always music playing,” he says.
Once the family has picked a tune and rehearsed the moves, it’s time to record; you can see their videos on TikTok and on Mario’s YouTube channel. “We love watching the final video,” says Courtney. And Mario is appreciative of the memories they’re making. “When the kids are older, it’ll be nice to look back on,” he says. “But for now, it’s a way to laugh and smile together, and it puts everyone in a good mood.”
Their fans adore it too—whether it’s their Halloween routine set to “Thriller” or their Christmas-themed dance shot in front of their tree, their videos are viral hits of the happiest sort. “It’s nice to see it make other people happy and inspire them to try dancing with their own families,” says Mario.
What to Watch: ‘Tis the Season
Love a good holiday movie? We do, too! And you’re in luck because Mario, who has starred in a string of holiday flicks for Lifetime, is back with yet another festive flick airing this season. The movie is called Steppin’ Into the Holiday and it costars Jana Kramer—plus Courtney is in it too! The plot revolves around a former Broadway star’s budding romance with a dance-studio owner. Expect lots of feel-good moments with some sweet romance—and plenty of dancing!
By Laura Morgan | Lopez headshot by Getty Images | All other images courtesy of the subjects
This article originally appeared in the Holiday 2022 issue of Drew + Jonathan Reveal, Drew & Jonathan’s home and lifestyle magazine.