Another week, another elimination for the So You Think You Can Dance contestants. Just two weeks into the Top 20 and Ashley Valerio and Max Kapitannikov were sent packing. Their departure last night also marks the first elimination to split up two couples, leaving their respective partners, Kupono Aweau and Kayla Radomski as the show’s newest team. How will they fare? “Phenomenal” is the word Ashley chose when she and Max spoke to Fancast earlier today. We may not have gotten to know either dancer all that well, but forget the “coulda, woulda, shouldas,” there are definitely no regrets here. And for Ashley especially, just making the show was a long time coming – it was her fourth year trying out! Read on for their take on what happened on the dance floor and what comes next…
A lot of the dancers in the bottom were dancers who struggled with Shane Sparks’ routines. Were you happy with the dance he gave you? Where do you think it went wrong?
You know what? I actually felt like me and Kupono performed that dance the best that we possibly could. I re-watched it, just to kind of see where we went wrong, and what we could have done better. I think there’s always room for improvement but I think we looked great. I really don’t have any regrets about what we did. I got a lot of good comments and feedback from other professional dancers that thought that dance was really, really good, and high energy. So some people like you and some people don’t. And it’s all a judgment game.
How do you think Kayla and Kupono will do as a team?
I think Kayla and Kupono are going to be phenomenal together. I know working with Kupono that he is a great, great person, and a great partner. He always made me smile and we were always laughing and I think he’ll bring out the best in Kayla.
The judges noted that they were not unanimous in their decision. Do you think you know how it might have broken down?
I have no idea. I really don’t know. I’m really clueless to that decision. I was really confident last night and I really enjoyed doing solo and felt great about it so I have no clue.
What did you learn on the show and what’s next for you?
I tried out for the past three years and I think this might be the 4th year. I came into this competition kind of selfish and all about me. I want to get Top 20. I wanna do this. But being around all those phenomenal dancers I really grew to love them. What I’m going to take away is I’m going to be a better dancer than when I came in, but it’s the friendships that really changed who I was, and I love them a lot and I’ll take that with me and have that forever. Right now I feel like I’m on top of the world because I got to work with two of my most favorite choreographers – Wade Robson and Mia Michaels – and they both pushed me past my limit and made me a stronger person and a stronger dancer and I’m excited to take on more things. I want to just go out and audition. A lot. For anything. I’d like to dance for Justin Timberlake; I think that would be the ultimate.
Do you guys get much downtime? What are the antics like in the house?
When we’re not dancing we try to really separate ourselves from the competition feel because it really can stress you out. We were always up laughing and being really goofy when we weren’t in intense mode. So I loved when we did have down time because someone was always making me laugh.
The routines are so different week to week; is it really just luck of the draw?
Most definitely. I think that the pieces that you’re given are crucial to your position on the show. I think that Shane’s piece was awesome, I really do. Unfortunately dance is a judging game. Some people can absolutely love something and the next person can absolutely hate it. It’s all about other people’s views. You can’t please everybody and I really felt like we did a great job. So if you have great choreography and the choreographer showcases you, you have better chances for sure.
Was the thirty second limit on the solo frustrating given your subtle start?
Growing up, I’ve always been in my own world when I dance. I don’t like to do what’s expected of me. I don’t like to lift my leg up and make a million turns; I think that gets tiresome. I just really wanted to be me and do what I do when I do solos. I didn’t want to sell out and do something that everyone wanted me to do. I just really wanted to be me and that’s what I do, and I loved it, it was fun. I wanted to be creative with my song and how I wanted to be perceived where I was going with my dance. We all had the freedom to do whatever we wanted and I wanted to step out of the box and do something different and not just have cute hair and pretty makeup. I really wanted to be different.
How early did ballroom dancing come to you? And did your strong background in it make other styles on the show that much more exciting or difficult?
I was born in Russia and I started ballroom when I was 13 when I came to the US. When I came to the show some of the dance styles were pretty difficult. But I did ballroom, samba, and jazz pop.
How shocked were you, given that just before Mary Murphy had said you were on the “hot tamale train”? Did you expect to be safe?
Well, doing pop jazz was something out of my comfort zone. I really didn’t know what to expect. I had some good remarks from the judges. They were surprised to see me do that routine. I wouldn’t do anything different. In fact I think I did pretty great.
What was going through your head during elimination?
I could say I’m pretty focused when I’m on stage. There are a thousand thoughts running through your head but you just have to focus on what you’re about to do and visualize everything and just go for it. I kind of predicted that I was going to leave just because of what the judges said when they gave us our comments. But I don’t have any regrets. I think Kupono is a good dancer and Jason is good guy on the show and they deserve to be there.
Your mom was a ballet dancer; was she the one to introduce you to dancing?
Yeah definitely. Growing up back in Russia I would go to school where she would teach and I had to join the class and spend a lot of time there and it gave me a good background. But its kind of different when a parent teaches their kid as opposed to teaching a regular student. She is so used to holding the class in her own way, but she has to be different with me because she was a teacher and a mom at same time, so it was a difficult task for her, I think. But it was still equal treatment.
Who are you rooting for now?
I’m rooting for everyone. I think everyone has an equal opportunity to win the show so may the best man win. I’m going to keep watching and voting for the ones who stand out.
What will you take away and what’s next?
Everything that I learned. I hopefully will keep on proving myself and I won’t forget all the comments from the judges and choreographers that I was able to take away and I’m grateful for that. I will just keep on taking classes and auditioning for other things. We’ll see. I haven’t really thought about it yet.