If you thought watching Alex Wong’s tearful goodbye on television was gut-wrenchingly painful, watching it from the audience was 10 times worse.
Along with Alex, Mia, Adam and the dancers’ dancers, a young girl wept inconsolably as her mom tried to comfort her, and even a few hardened journalists, yours truly included, shed unexpected tears. But the oddest moment was once the taping ended, the audience just sat still.
“No one wants to move,” said an upset fan sitting near me in the audience.
Not a single person made for the exits for what felt like an eternity, as we all just watched Alex and the gang hug it out and cry on stage.
“This is awful,” said another fan.
Alex Wong – ‘So You Think You Can Dance‘s frontrunner – had to leave the show Thursday night due to a lacerated Achilles tendon which will require surgery to reattach the tendon to the bone on Tuesday at a Los Angeles hospital. His recovery is expected to take three months and he has an 80% chance of dancing again. Yes, that means that there is 20% chance that the injury, suffered at rehearsal, will end his career.
It was so upsetting that post-show, with the audience there, executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe couldn’t even enjoy the giant birthday cake that was rolled out onstage for him. Instead of celebrating the moment, he took the time to talk to the captive audience about the devastating news.
“It’s terribly sad,” he told the crowd, adding how he believes things happen for a reason and we don’t yet know why this happened to Alex. After a few minutes, and with the audience still stunned in their seats, Nigel quipped, “Can we go home yet?”
Not quite yet. It was press line time! I caught up with the judges and Alex — who was in the bottom three because of his injury along with, surprisingly, two of the best dancers this season, Billy and Ashley – after the show to talk about the night.
Nigel said on the show that Alex could be back next year. “Yeah,” he explained to reporters after the show, “the same as Billy Bell [last year]. In truth, I think we all agree it’s far better that Alex gets better and then sees where he is. He’s always welcome from us, but our wish at this moment in time is that he gets well. He’ll come back to Vegas. He has not completed a series so he’s not an all-star yet. He’s a star, not an all-star. ”
Take a look back at Alex’s introductory video:
Alex wobbled out on crutches to talk as well. Here’s our chat:
Are you in pain? I see you rubbing your leg a bit.
No. My heart is more in pain, not so much physical. Sometimes it is kind of achy…The physical pain is okay. It’s just more the emotional.
Are you up for coming back next year to Vegas?
I would love to. Vegas was really hard, but it’s worth it when you get on the show. It’s a lot to give up, but I would love to be back. I feel like I haven’t finished my journey. I feel like I have so much more to learn. So, yeah, I would love to come back.
So was it just a freak accident?
Yeah. I never really had Achilles problems. I was just jumping and my muscles were really warm and everything. I don’t know why it happened. I landed fine. I didn’t twist anything else. I landed and I heard a crack. I didn’t think it was my body. I thought it the floor. I thought I stepped on something. Yeah, freak accident. It’s unfortunate that it snapped completely in half so I need surgery.
Where were you when you got the news and what was your initial reaction when you got the news?
I was by myself. I was in the emergency room. Then I broke down. All the contestants were on the bus and then I called Kent. Everyone was there and they all found out together.
How scared are you that there is a 20% chance this could end your career?
I am a pretty positive person so that’s not going to happen.
Did you think you could win this like many of us did?
I’m not really a competitive person. What’s important for me is for me to learn…Winning, I mean, doesn’t really mean much. Of course it is great, but it was never my goal.
You left a stable job at the Miami Ballet and had said it was a risk. Do you think it was worth the risk now?
For sure. Fom the experiences that I had here, you can’t get them anywhere else. I just had such an amazing time. I’ve met such amazing people. I’ve worked with such amazing choreographers.
Is there anyone you’re pulling for?
I mean, probably. [Laughs]
We hope to see you back here next year.
How sad are you that Alex is gone? What did you think of the show? Hit the comments.