Dave Mateo, a Kendama USA Pro and professional dancer, has passed away. Several tributes have poured in following his death at just 32 years old. While an official cause of death has not been announced, two sources tell Monsters & Critics that the Kendama Pro died by suicide. However, M&C has not independently confirmed this information.
Dave Mateo was born in Sacramento, California and became a Kendama Pro in 2016. Mateo is credited with popularizing Kendama by incorporating dance techniques with the Japanese toy. He helped build the Kendama community in Las Vegas where the dancer relocated to several years ago.
Following news of his death, several tributes poured in for Dave.
RIP DAVE MATEO, LOVE YOU.
— ☼SUN°SAGE☼ (@WormBoyAdvanced) October 13, 2019
My heart is broken. Dave Mateo I love you bro! We got super close in Japan. Those drunk nights and top rock sessions I will cherish forever! There are many questions, but at least I know you’re at peace. Rest Easy my friend. Until we meet again RIP
— Danny (@NerdyMusik) October 13, 2019
May one of the world’s brightest, talented, and most inspirational spirits shine his light on us from above. Rest In Peace, Dave Mateo.
— Chris Mateo (@chrismateo) October 13, 2019
RIP Dave Mateo
— steph (@StephLuss) October 13, 2019
What is Kendama?
Kendama USA defines it as “an extremely addictive wooden skill toy that comes from Japan. It strengthens hand-eye coordination, balance, and reflex. It can be played by young and old alike. There are endless trick possibilities for both the beginner and the seasoned master.”
The toy allows players to perform various tricks with the ball and three-cup handle which is connected by a string. The video below features Mateo performing various moves with the Kendama in the impressive highlight reel.
Dave has over 25,000 followers on Instagram and was last active in August. In his last post, over a month ago, Dave thanked Underground Flow for putting on an event where he performed.
The late Kendama Pro also had a Twitter account with a bio that reads “Stay true to yourself and do what you believe, you will find you can do more than you have ever imagined.” Matro was not very active on his Twitter profile as his last tweet was in 2016.
“Spike hard, catch low” was Mateo’s catchphrase for using the Kendama and it also exemplifies his technique. Mateo is remembered for his contributions to dance, music, and Kendama. He was 32 years old and is survived by his family and friends.