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'SYTYCD' exit interview: Jakob talks about almost winning

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Though he barely received any airtime prior to landing a spot in the top 20 of So You Think You Can Dance, Jakob Karr climbed his way into our hearts—and into the top two. Here, the most technically advanced dancer of the season talks to EW about partner Ashleigh, staying uninjured and being this close to the win.

You got so close, Jakob. So close. But you know what? I’m so happy for Russell, and I’m really feeling great.

Did you think you would win, or did you think Russell had it in the bag? As it started to get closer to the finale, I had a feeling it would come down between the two of us. No matter what, I knew that whatever happened was happening because that’s what was meant to be. I couldn’t be happier, and it was an amazing experience.

Going into the top 20, we hadn’t seen all that much of you. Were you worried that lack of airtime would hurt you? That’s always a concern. But once the show started, they were really good about covering all of us equally. It was a concern going into it, but it ended up being great.

Did you think you would make the top 20? No. I mean, at my first audition, all I wanted to do was just make it to Vegas. Once I got through Vegas, then I started making more goals for myself. “Now I just want to be in the top 20, now I just want to be in the top 10, now I just want to be in the top 8.”

Did you go to Jeanine for advice? She’s been great the whole time. She’s helped me prepare for what my body and mind were going to go through. She’s been good as far as keeping me sane through the whole thing.

Was she one of the reasons you auditioned? I’ve always wanted to audition, but seeing her on the show was a really big push for me. The fact that she is one of my best friends—it’s great to see one of your friends making it. It made it kind of feel like it was something I could do with myself if I tried. So that was a big inspiration for going out.

You got paired with one of the least technically advanced dancers in your genre, Ashleigh. How did you feel about that? I really could not have asked for a better partnership than what I had with Ashleigh, because we were able to help each other so much. She was so sweet about it, and every time we did my style, it was really easy for me to help her through because there was never any tension, never any anger between the two of us. And once we did her style, she did everything in her power to bring me to her level. She was so sweet the whole time.

Answer honestly: Did you get tired of all those tour jetés after awhile? Never. I love doing that. That’s what I’m used to doing. I love jumping and throwing my legs up.

Did you have a favorite dance of the season? Actually, yeah. My favorite dance was the cha-cha Ashleigh and I did. I know it’s surprising, but for me it was amazing because it was the first time I got to see her do her own style, and she was so passionate, and she was so fiery at it. It was such a great thing to see her in her comfort zone. She really brought me up to her level.

That was probably the most challenging dance for you. It was the hardest thing I think I had ever done.

You never landed in the bottom—did you expect that to happen? I didn’t really realize that until the top 8 episode, when that was the last time there was a bottom. And Ashleigh and I looked at each other and we said, “We have never been in the bottom.”

I loved your solos. Were you bummed you weren’t able to do one this week? Yeah, I definitely was, but with the way that the show went, I think we were all showcased really well. So it worked out.

Nigel essentially begged you to take your talents to Broadway, or a dance company. Will you follow his advice? Absolutely. I live in New York, so I plan on going out and auditioning for everything and anything that I can.

Any company in particular? I would love to dance with Complexions, Desmond Richardson’s company.

You already have an in! I got to work with him, so it was a big dream come true to be in the same room as him.

Any other plans for the future? For the immediate future, I’m literally going to go home to my house in Florida and sit for a week and not move my body.

You all must be so burned out. I was really lucky because I was the only one out of the top six that did not sustain an injury the whole season. I don’t’ know how it happened, but somehow I stayed in one piece. Of course, I had cuts and scrapes and bruises, but as far as having to sit out of anything, I never had to do that.

Was there anyone you particularly connected with this season? Ellenore and I are so close. We’re both kind of strange and out there sometimes. So it was nice to have someone who was like me.

Photo Credit: Joe Viles/Fox