This is it folks. We’re one week out from the finale of So You Think You Can Dance where we’ll find out just who is America’s Favorite Dancer. But it seems that it won’t be Melissa Sandvig or Ade Obayomi who were booted from the competition last night. Although, according to judge Nigel Lythgoe on Thursday night, there are no losers on this competition. Just a bunch of people who won’t win, right? Fancast spoke to these fan favorites, who were one of this season’s most memorable couples, and re-teamed last week for the dare-you-not-to-cry emotional routine about a breast cancer survivor. For Melissa, it’s been an inspirational journey to ballerinas everywhere (and can you believe she made it this entire time without one hip-hop duet??) and according to Ade, there are no regrets. Except for maybe those hot red cha cha pants…
You’re the first ballerina to make it this far in the competition; what was it like taking on such different styles?
I’m so, so proud of myself! Every style was out of my comfort zone. A lot of the ballroom was really challenging, just to learn a completely different technique. The jazz I did with Sonia was really hard and I’ve never rolled on the floor and jumped and fallen so many times. And I had a contemporary in the beginning with Mandy Moore, just to move my body differently was a challenge. With Tyce’s [Breast Cancer] piece of this woman’s work, that was so much more of an acting and emotional piece; I really connected with that and the response that Ade and I got was amazing and one of the high points of this whole process.
What do you think of Kayla and Jeanine as the final two women?
They’re both so young and have so much ahead of them but they move totally different. Kayla is very long and flowing with her movement, and Jeanine is just a little powerhouse and has a crazy personality. It will be interesting who America chooses between them and the boys. But the three of us girls were so different it was great working with them.
Do you think you’ve inspired other ballerinas by taking on such different movements?
I tried to. I’ve been in this ballet world for so long and we always just do what we’re told and put on a smile and make it look easy. So it was really fun to kind of throw that away a little bit and put some more personality and sass into it all. And just not be scared of trying new things; that’s how I’ve been for a long time and it’s pretty amazing to see what you can do when you step out of your comfort zone. I think ballet requires the most discipline and every movement is so precise, there’s not a lot of interpretation. Learning how to do ballet and having that discipline can take you into other styles of dance because you know what you’re doing with your body. So working on posture, flexibility, and just technique in general can help with other styles of dance.
How did it feel to finally get ballet one week?
I was so surprised that I pulled it out of the hat. If anything, I didn’t think I would get ballet, that seems unfair. But contemporary dancers get contemporary, hip hop get hip hop, and I was so excited to put my pointe shoes on and actually do what I do. And Romeo and Juliet is my favorite ballet, so it was a dream come true.
Tell us about your chemistry with Ade; even after the final 10 split up partners you were teamed up yet again. How did you enjoy working with him?
At the beginning of the competition Ade and I were kind of unknown. We didn’t get a whole lot of press and didn’t really know each other very well. But we instantly got along. He’s a really funny, laid back guy, and I’m really laid back too and our chemistry worked right away. We’re both technical dancers and strong dancers and that allowed us do some of the crazy lifts we did in some of those numbers. But, yeah, it was really easy to pretend I was in love with him, and have him be my Romeo, and do the rhumba with, so I was very lucky to have him as a partner and I think we complemented each other very well.
What was your experience like with Evan this week? Did height really play a big factor?
I had a great time this week with Evan as well. Height was a factor just with partnering and having to change my posture for the ballroom stuff. That was a challenge but like in the Broadway we had a great time. He was so much fun and was great to work with. So was Brandon. Brandon’s about the same height too and working with different bodies is always a challenger in partnering but we figured it out.
You managed to make it all the way through without having to do a hip hop duet. Was that the style you were most afraid of?
I know, isn’t that crazy? That was the thing I dreaded the most. I feared it and took classes right before the competition went under way just in case. But as the competition was going, I kind of wanted hip hop, just to prove I could do it. Once we did it in the group number, Tabitha and Naploean kind of gave me the confidence that I was capable, and I was actually hoping for hip hop. But I never got it, it’s so funny. I did almost every style that I was hoping for, mainly contemporary, I wanted to give that a go. I wanted to work with Mia Michaels and that didn’t happen except for a group piece or two, but hopefully in the future I’ll get to work with her again. Broadway is always fun, ballroom I was a little nervous about because it’s challenging and very technical, but I had a great time with all of those as well.
What’s next for you? Will you go back to ballet or are you inspired to take up new practices after this?
I have danced in a ballet company already so I can kind of check that off my list. I don’t know if I’ll go back to ballet. It’s always going to be a part of me but I would love to transfer over to the other styles. Maybe some TV and film, broadway, whatever doors open, I’d be happy to try anything right now.
What do you think of Evan and Brandon as the final two men, and as dancers?
I love how they’re so different. Evan is broadway and Brandon is just this nonstop contemporary dancer who powers his way through everything. I just love the dynamic between those two and I think them being in the finale is going to be such a good show. They’ll switch it up and be different and not the same so I’m excited to see who’s going to take it.
The breast cancer piece was a real highlight this season. Did you anticipate that would be such the hit that it was?
Well, right off the bat, me and Melissa knew this piece was going to be amazing and touch certain people just because of the subject matter. And actually seeing the responses from the judges and audience members, and all the people at home that we’ve gotten through emails and messages has been incredible. And I don’t think we could ask for anything better. We are privileged to have done this piece and share it with the world and bring it to the stage and we’re pretty happy that it was successful and we’ve gotten so much praise about it because of the subject matter alone. It was great to be a part of it. I’m happy.
You have a side hobby of DJing, how did that come about?
I started DJing in high school; it’s a passion of mine. I love music so anything do with that I’m all about. And I’ve looked into sound engineering for television shows or tours or anything musical. It’s always been kind of my backup passion. And with dance, it kind of goes hand in hand. I don’t know if I make up the moves first and then create the music or if I create the music and make up the moves. it kind of goes back and forth and inspires each other. I have to hit all the beats in the song or I have a movement and have to create the music sort of thing. It’s not unusual to add those “Tom Jones” moves in from Fresh Prince. Kills me. I love to throw in that move.
Leaving right before the finale is so bittersweet; looking back is there anything you would have done differently or are you content the whole way through? How shocked were you at the elimination?
You know, I think I did my best to my fullest. I tried to dance from the heart and left it on the stage that night and I’m glad America has liked me up to this point. I’m sure it was close with votes and I’m happy I made it to top six considering all the dancers that tried out. We kind of prepare for going home week in, week out, that maybe it’s my turn this week. I was with Evan and he’s never been in the bottom so I didn’t know how to take it; I had a 50 50 chance here, and thought I had a little glimmer of hope. But I was cool leaving; the other two dancers are fire and will kill it in the top four. I’m just happy I made top six.
I’m sure you’re sad to see Melissa go too, but does it kind of feel like you two have come full circle, entering the competition together as partners, and leaving together?
I was actually kind of happy that she left with me, I wouldn’t have asked for anyone else, just because we’ve been through the ups and downs of the whole competition and we’ve been in it since day one. It’s kind of nice; definitely full circle to end it with her, and do all of these interviews with her. That’s a plus.
Is it an inspiration to see all these past dancers come back for routines?
It’s always great to see them come back. It’s like a huge family. We saw everyone from the first season all the way up to fourth, so when they come back and show that they’re still dancing and still killing it, we kind of look up to them because we’ve seen the show in the past. It’s great and they tell us about the experience and that they would do it again, and even though it’s hard when we’re in it, when you leave it, you miss it. It’s nice to hear that because we kind of get so tired and wrapped up that we forget we have this amazing opportunity.
Which style that you did on the show was the toughest to pick up?
I’d have to say the cha cha just because the technique is so crazy and so intricate and there’s so much stuff that you have to learn in the short amount of time that they give us. I think that’s the hardest one that I’ve picked out of the hat to date. It was a challenge. And I also can’t pull off red pants so I had to learn the hard way.