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'So You Think You Can Dance' exit interview: Legacy Perez on elimination, technique, and rumored romance

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He might not have won the entire competition, but Legacy certainly was the sentimental favorite of SYTYCD‘s season 6. How could you not like the b-boy? He was less technically advanced than the other contestants, yet brought us some of the seasons most memorable performances. (The caveman hip-hop, Travis’ Mr. and Mrs. Smith contemporary routine, etc.) And though we were surprised — and sad — to see him go, the b-boy opted to take a zen approach to his ouster. Shortly after being eliminated, Legacy called up EW to talk about why he wasn’t sad to be eliminated, why he missed Mia Michaels and that rumored romance with partner Kathryn.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You feeling okay today?

LEGACY PEREZ: I’m feeling good, feeling great, feeling fresh. How are you?

Good, thanks! But tell me: What went wrong last night? Everyone I know figured you were a lock for the top 6.

I don’t know who everyone you talk to is who thought I was in the top 6. I don’t think anything went wrong. I think everything happens the way it does for a reason, and I was even surprised to still be in the competition at this point.

Really?

Yeah, of course. Coming into this competition, I never knew what my capacity of performing or learning the pieces were. So just the fact that I’m here in the top eight—I just felt like it was a blessing. I didn’t think anything was wrong. I think something shifted in the votes because of certain reasons, but I think it was cool and fair and it was a nice gesture that the husband and wife are getting to dance together in the top six.

So are you saying that the votes shifted because of Ryan’s plea on Tuesday night?

Well, the thing is, they shifted logistically because he was in the bottom every week. And this week he had more votes. So something slightly shifted.

Are you surprised you went home?

I’m in between. There was a part of me that wanted Ryan to go before me, and there was a part of me that wanted him to stay in the competition. It’s obviously the competitive edge, and really understanding and trying to really feel what his desire was to dance with his wife in the top 6. It was a mutual thing, because we all care about each other. It’s not a competition for us. It’s more like a journey for us.

Your solo last night was amazing — do you wish you would’ve performed it on Tuesday instead of the cell phone solo?

No. Last night’s solo, for me, like every good obstacle, if you approach it the right way, you reveal miracles from it. So a lot of my songs didn’t get cleared for that solo. And I was going crazy trying to figure out what I was going to do for my solo, and one of the music guys was like, “This is the only song that I have that’s similar to whatever you want.” And I was like, oh man. So I got the song and said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” And I sat in my room about 15 minutes and thought, well, what can I do that’s different to that song? And it came out on stage.

So why did you bring out the cell phone on Tuesday?

The thing about that is I’ve always done head spins with a basketball in my hand. And when I battled people outside of this in breaking competitions, I always bring a cell phone out and I’m like, “Hey, someone’s calling you. They say I beat you.” It was just funny things that I was like, yeah, I’m going to do that because that’s part of my character. That’s what I do. And I’m one of the few people that know how to do a move like that. And the whole thing when I finished and Cat was like, “Who was it Legacy?” I had no idea what I was going to say. All I could think of at the moment was “America.” And I laughed inside because it was so stupid and funny.

You were probably the most sentimental dancer of the bunch. Are you always that emotional, or was it the show that brought the emotions out?

I’ve always been emotional. I’m a strong person, but once you realize that there’s a bigger picture, rather than just what you’re doing, you tend to open up more. My way of expressing myself — if it’s not through dance, it’s emotionally.

You’re not trained like the rest of the dancers — did you think you’d make it into the top 20?

The fact that I don’t have the training, I don’t feel like it stopped me from auditioning. I feel that if I approached it with the same mentality as I did when I was a kid—like, don’t stop, keep going and persevere, and try to get to the ultimate goal, which was not winning. My ultimate goal was sharing my talent with the world. I always had so much energy and I felt like I wanted to express it to millions of people. And I never had a vehicle to do that. And SYTYCD was that vehicle for me.

During the auditions, you seemed to form a bond with Mia Michaels. Are you bummed she wasn’t choreographing this season?

I was. I was. But I found that she was the one who kind of introduced me to that contemporary movement, as far as when I auditioned on that show in Vegas. I was like, okay, what is this? You can mess up in the movement that you’re doing, because it’s contemporary. But your emotion has to be real. For me, that was amazing, because my movement is not perfect, but where it came from was a place of, like, I loved what I was doing, and I didn’t care that I couldn’t point my foot at that moment, or I couldn’t turn at one point. But I still tried it. She opened up my mind to want to pursue that way to express myself. It was a bond between us like that, and I thought she was going to be on the show. But the thing was, I understand that she had to do other stuff and all that, but through Travis Wall and Stacey Tookey and the other great choreographers on the show, I was able to feel that.

And your partner, who was a contemporary dancer. Were you stoked to get Kathryn as a partner?

At first, I knew people and knew how they danced, but I wasn’t like, who’s the better dancer? Who do I want? I was more like, whoever it is who I have, I’m going to form a bond with them and make sure we have the best chemistry on stage. That we’re connecting with each other, and that we’re having fun together. It wasn’t me thinking that I’m going to win a competition or be a better dancer than anybody else.

You two have such different styles — how did you make it work?

One funny thing is that she’s very technical. And she has her placement of movement, which is perfect. So my placement and movement wasn’t perfect. I was an unfinished dancer. But what I did was perform the pieces more than anything else, because that’s all I had to hold onto. She taught me movement placement, and I taught her performance.

Did you have a favorite dance of the season?

I’m going to say that all of them were my favorites, just because they were so difficult. Obviously, contemporary touches me, so the Travis Wall piece that I did and the Stacey Tookey piece I did in the beginning with Kathryn.

Will you pursue contemporary more after the competition?

Absolutely. I’m going to train, obviously, but it’s a little difficult, because those pieces are finished, and they are done by choreographers who know how to do a piece from top to bottom. It’s going to be hard to replicate that, but I’m going to be open to learning more technical stuff, and stretching, and pointing my feet better, just because I love the movement.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently during the season?

Absolutely not. If I can change one thing, it would be my shoes on one of the solos. Everything happens the way it’s supposed to. And I feel that it’s cool. I’m happy with the result, I gave it my all at every point. I never once said, “I’m defeated.” I always looked ahead and kept my head up. Even though people did like me, and people didn’t like me, I still went for it. I always say: I do it for the people that love me, and I do it for the people that hate me.

What’s next for you?

I like to be very articulate, and I love choreographing. I love directing and producing and obviously performing. I think I want to pursue acting, more dancing, more performing. I want to start directing, I want to start choreographing. Just continue, actually. Because I always tried to do it, but I never had any means to. Like, there weren’t any opportunities for me to do it. Now, there are a lot of doors that have opened. I’ve learned so much being on this amazing show, that it shows the world what we do and who we are.

And we don’t get b-boys often on SYTYCD.

Absolutely. My other b-boy friends, they were all like, “What is he doing?” But the funny thing is, it’s like with everything else. Somebody says to me one thing, and then I do the opposite, because I want to be different. I want to show people that things are possible, and I know that I’ve inspired a lot of b-boys in the underground scene to be like, “Wow, he’s doing this. And this is what he’s getting back from it.” It’s sharing. They call me and say, “Wow, you have no idea what you’ve done for us.”

That must feel good.

Yeah, it feels amazing! First, they think, he’s selling out, he’s on TV doing all this other stuff. But the truth is, if I had it my way, I wouldn’t just be a b-boy. Now I’ve had the opportunity to be a dancer. Like, understand dancing for what it is. Not, “I can spin on my head and that’s it.” Now, if you notice, I try to spin on my head on beat. I try to do it to the rhythm. I try to spin on my back when there’s a violin playing. I think that’s dancing as opposed to spinning really fast and flying and flipping. I do everything for a purpose. And I think learning this before and being able to perform it on stage in front of millions of people is such a merit.

I have to ask: There’s a rumor that there’s something going on between you and Kathryn. Fact or fiction?

That is amazing. Everybody loves the Kathacy vibe, because we actually are amazing friends. And the bond that has formed between us because of our performing — we’ve helped each other remain in the competition in many ways. So we have a certain love for each other. But, yeah, it is a rumor.

Is there someone you hope wins the whole thing?

The person that wins — that doesn’t even matter. It doesn’t matter, because I see beyond that. The picture of everything is the people that were in the top 20 and top 10, they have a small spark of light that everybody needs to see. They’re hand-chosen specifically to show the world what they are made of, and what they have. It’s a beautiful thing. Whoever wins, wins. But everyone knows deep down inside that it’s not about the winning. It’s about what you did in your journey, and how you did it. And how you feel about it. But I want to thank all the people that voted for me, and left me messages telling me how much I inspired them. Not even in dancing, but they said just because I dove head-in without knowing that I could do it, that I’ve changed their lives because they see they can apply that in their real life. So that’s a huge thing for me.

Are you dancing in the finale?

I am. I’m not sure 100 percent what we’re doing, but we all get to dance together one last time.

Photo Credit: Joe Viles/Fox

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