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'SYTYCD' exit interview: An honest chat with Nathan Trasoras about Nigel's criticism and more

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“I feel that I was portrayed differently than how I really am,” Nathan Trasoras told EW shortly after his elimination on last night’s So You Think You Can Dance. So who is Trasoras? Find out below in our honest chat, in which the polarizing contestant talks about why he became the judges’ punching bag, his struggle partnering with Mollee, and why he’s not so sad to leave. (Also see our interview with Noelle Marsh.)

EW: So are you bummed out after last night?

NATHAN TRASORAS: No, I’m not. I’m glad I get to be home with my parents. I’m homesick right now.

Looking at the silver lining, huh?

Yeah. I believe it was the right time for me to leave. Because it wasn’t going so well. You hear all this stuff, and a lot’s been happening. If I were to [stay in the competition], I would have to go through the same hard time again. You know what I mean? And also, I believe with Ryan being accepted over me, I wasn’t even upset. That guy deserved it a lot more than I did. He’s a good guy. He’s always helped me out and supported me. Before we’d perform, we’d always pray. It wasn’t praying to win. [But] whatever happens, it’s for a good reason. I’m not even upset. I had a good time. That’s all that really mattered. I just really wanted to showcase what I had. I appreciate all my fans helping me out. I want to let them know that this is not the end. I’m in L.A., so I’m around the industry and all that, so I can start working even more.

I’m not going to lie: I’m a bit surprised to be talking with you. Are you surprised that you were eliminated last night?

I was expecting to go home.

Why?

I feel like the judges do have a — because of their input on certain things that you do, the audience’s opinions get swayed. And also, I feel that I was portrayed differently than how I really am. I had a hard time explaining things on film because I’m more of the personal person, where, like, I have to be personal with someone to talk to them. So when it came down to trying to explain who I am to all of America, it was a lot harder for me.

You were a little bit of a punching bag for the judges this season. Why do you think that was?

I feel like it started after I said, “I feel hot” [after the week 3 salsa with Mollee]. And you know what? It wasn’t an act of being ignorant or arrogant. It’s really harsh to have the audience go through [the judges critiques of the dancers]. You know, the audience is like, “Oh dang, man, he’s getting punched in the face.” And I tried to break the ice. The whole show that day was so serious. And I just wanted to lighten up that whole day.

In my opinion, it didn’t seem like you were being totally disrespectful of Nigel’s opinions.

It’s really interesting, because even if they took it in a disrespectful way, they could have at least given me a chance to explain myself. I thought it could have been handled a lot better. But you never know. One thing could mean something else to someone else. It happens, and I made a mistake and now that I know, it won’t happen again.

Just last week, Adam told you that you needed to be more approachable in your introduction packages. Did you try to take that into account this week?

They had me explain my whole life story. And it wasn’t the smoothest. People thought that me crying was just to get votes and all that, but it was really just explaining about my parents. I was saying a lot more than what was there [in the introduction]. But there’s only a certain amount of time that’s allowed. So I was just talking about my life, and I just ended up getting teary-eyed and all that. It’s nice because going through the show, it makes you realize how far you’ve come, and how much your parents really helped you out. Friends come and go, but your family is always there for you.

So your decision to talk about your parents was not at all unrelated to Adam telling you to be more personable?

It had nothing to do with it. And with the questions of the week — Adam brought up that the jet ski thing wasn’t the best thing, but it was interesting because there were other dancers that [talked about] rock climbing. They said the same thing, but mine was taken a lot harsher. And the question was, “What do you do in your free time?” I do benefits all the time. But that doesn’t mean I do that in my free time. Benefits are normal for me. I always dance for fundraisers and for the poor and all that stuff, because I think it’s nicer to give than take. But there were other people that were doing that also, and if the show heard that the whole time, it wouldn’t be the show all the time. It would be all crying stories, and I just didn’t want to be like that.

Are there any hard feelings between you and the judges?

No, no. It’s a show. You’re only human. I make mistakes saying stuff, Nigel makes mistakes, Adam, Mary, all the contestants — there’s always a mistake you’ve got to make to learn. It’s not hard on me.

You did get very emotional on Tuesday night. Why?

Actually, I was fine on Tuesday. But that was the first time I heard my interview, but right before I danced, when I started crying about my parents, it got me to cry on stage. It just happened that way. It’s not like I cried in order to get more votes. It’s because I heard my interview and I remembered how I felt [talking about my parents]. It just happened that way. I’d rather not cry because it’s kind of embarrassing.

You don’t want your brothers to tease you for that later.

Yeah, exactly. But America wanted me to open up, and that’s what I did. And it was a lot harder, because of how I was raised. I was raised really well, because my family always put me first. When I was doing sports, they would put me in every single sport. I was never good at sports by the way. In school, I did AP classes all the time. I did basically everything so I could get what every teenager should experience.

We’ve been invested in you since season five, when you auditioned for the show as a 17-year-old. Did you know you weren’t old enough at that time?

Yeah.

Why did you decide to audition then?

I like to do something new. I don’t want to be just like anyone else. After this whole thing, I really just want to do something that’s never been done before. And I believe there are amazing dancers who are underage, and I think they should be allowed to compete regardless.

What do you want to do that’s never been done before?

I have a lot of things planned out. I want to travel around the world and teach, but I want to do benefits and all that. To be able to experience different cultures, and I want to do a little experiment where I go and travel to countries, and I teach them to dance, and they teach me their styles, so I can apply it to myself and they can apply it to themselves. Of course it’s going to take a lot of years before I can do that, and I have to be financially ready, but eventually, I want to be able to do that.

Going back to the show, were you confident that you would make the top 20 this year? You had so much buzz going into the season.

No. I did not expect that. That’s my honest opinion. I’m so used to being rejected in my life. So it’s just one of those things. If I would have been rejected also, I wouldn’t be feeling bad because I’m so used to it.

What else have you been rejected from?

Relationships. Just joking. But with competitions and stuff, I’ve been told by my choreographers that I’m never going to make it out here. I went through a lot of drama with [dance] studios, because they were trying to take credit for me learning, and I told them that it wasn’t right for them to take the credit. They could take some credit, but it was my family and friends that helped me out. So I had to deal with drama there. It’s hard. And I was never the winner in the competitions. I didn’t start getting decent awards until I was a junior.

Were you happy when you got Mollee as a partner? You two seemed like the perfect pairing.

It’s interesting, because that was either hit or miss. Us being both young, and our personalities are kind of young also. But with me — in a way, it’s hard to understand me because I don’t react like typical people react when they hear something. Like, if I heard something, I’d be like, “Okay, let me figure out how to make this work.” Rather than, “Okay, we’ve got to get this done!” I’d kick back and try to figure out where this came from. With Mollee, I’m not saying she did anything bad, but we handled things differently.

How so?

My personality tends to be relaxed. And I think a lot of people misinterpreted my personality because they thought that I don’t care about things. Really, it’s just how I was raised. I was raised to be focused. Just because I’m not talking doesn’t mean I don’t care. It just means that I’m really focused and I really want to get everything done.

Was it tough partnering with her then?

It was. Because with a new partner, you have to get to know them. In order to have a good partner, you have to be able to be their friend. In order to make a relationship on stage, you have to make a relationship as friends. And it was kind of difficult. I’m not saying we had problems, but us being young, it’s harder to connect. Even though we do have similar personalities when it came down to it, it was a lot harder because we had to figure out everything on our own.

Prior to being partnered with Mollee, the judges never really seemed to criticize you for dancing immaturely. But afterwards, it seemed that was all they could focus on.

When it came down to the immaturity, I don’t know why they singled me out on it. When it comes down to partnering, you’re only as strong as your weakest. So when they said that, I was kind of like, “Oh, okay. Alright, you’re singling me out.” But I believe we both should have gotten the criticism. I felt like I was getting the criticism more than anyone else. I worked my hardest. This was my thing. It would seem like on camera that I don’t really try to pick up stuff and work hard. But people have to think, like, I worked hard before then. So things do tend to get easier for me to pick up.

Did you and Mollee end up meshing well eventually?

Yeah. It was towards the end. And it kind of sucked, because just as we were getting to know each other and our energies, we had to switch partners.

Did you have a favorite dance this season?

My favorite dance is Bollywood. It’s a very upbeat dance, but it’s also not just about the showcasing of your talent. It’s actually a spiritual dance. So it’s really nice to get to know different cultures, like I said about being able to travel around the world. That’s what I want to do. That’s why I picked Bollywood as my favorite. You get to know what they go through. When I was learning it, [choreographer] Nakul [Dev Majahan] gave me the history about it. It was nice to be able to go outside and experience a different style. But that was definitely my favorite. And I also loved Broadway.

You mentioned you were close with Ryan. Who else did you bond with during the season?

I was close with everyone. Everyone’s close with everyone. But I was only referring to Ryan, because we were both in the bottom, and I got taken down, and he got accepted. So that’s the only reason I actually mentioned him.

Is there someone that you want to win?

No. I think it’s up for America to decide. On my Twitter, people would be like, “I’m not watching this show anymore because you got voted off,” but I tweeted, “Don’t stop watching because of me, you need to watch to support everyone else.” I’m there to support everyone. I don’t think of this as a competition. I think of this as a show. And to showcase dance – that’s why I did this show, to be able to dance. To show how much I love dancing.

Photo Credit: Joe Viles/Fox