The last round of Vegas callbacks was awesome, because we finally got to reveal who my top 10 were. I’m so thrilled that I finally know who my team is — I just got out of my first day of rehearsal and I’m so pumped for Team Stage. It’s going to be amazing.
I don’t think America really knows a few of the dancers on my team, and I’m very excited for next week’s episode — it showcases everyone in their style. Actually, someone’s not in their style, but it showcases what everyone can do.
With the girls, I love Hailee’s look. I think she’s going to be incredible all around. I think she’s going to be great at hip-hop, great at jazz, great at contemporary, and I think she’s going to be able to give the choreographers what they want. At the same time, I think she has a very bright personality, and people are going to pick up on that.
Alexia is a little firecracker. She’s like our Amy Yakima. She’s got so much energy in this little small package, like a little dynamite. She explodes when she comes onto the floor. I’ve known Alexia since she was 12 years old, and she’s always had that fire in her.
Marissa, I think, as far as strength goes, is our strongest female dancer. And I look forward to choreographers like Sonya Tayeh working with Marissa. Especially with Sonya’s jazz pieces — how much strength and endurance and athleticism they require — I think that’s right up Marissa’s alley. I also think Marissa is probably really good at hip-hop, too, so some of the Street girls might have to watch out.
I’m so happy Kate’s on the show. Kate really has had the least amount of exposure out of every single person thus far. She’s definitely a performer. She’s the oldest of the Stage girls, so she brings a lot of maturity to her dancing. She’s an actress, and she is a performer onstage, and I know this because she’s in my dance company, Shaping Sound. And she’s been my best friend since I was about 18 years old. We lived in New York very close to each other, and when I finally got her to move out here, I asked her to join my company. She’s been on tour with us the entire past year, so it’s really cool to have her on the show. Some people think it’s an advantage, but I’m gong to be harder on her than anybody. I think the judges are going to give her a harder time because I’ve known her for so long.
And then Gaby is a tap dancer, and she can do everything. That’s a dancer who’s going to go very far in this competition because everyone’s rooting for you. She can do hip-hop, she can do ballroom, she can still do her tap if they put her in a tap number, she can do contemporary, she can do jazz, and she can work with any choreographer, so I think that she’s going to have a very long journey on this show.
And I think my boys are incredible. I think they are some of the best dancers we’ve ever had on the show — I cannot wait to see how choreographers choreograph on them. They’re kind of chameleons. They can do any position that you can ever dream of, and I can say that literally about every guy.
Obviously I think Jim’s incredible. I think Jim is one of the best dancers we will have on this show. I can’t wait to mentor him, though, in movement. I think he’s very beautiful technically, but I think that I’m going to be able to help him so much on connecting his emotion to the movement. I can’t wait to choreograph on him.
Derek reminds me a lot of Ricky, last year’s winner, with his facility and his flexibility. I’m really excited for Derek to continue to find who he is as a person. I’m going to work with him on pushing his personality forward, because I think everyone will be astounded by his dancing, but I want everyone to know who he is as well.
Moises is so unique, from his dance style to his personal look. He is extraordinary in his musicality. He is extraordinary with the body positions he can put himself into — you wouldn’t think they were human. I’ve known Moises for quite some time. He’s been taking my class since he was 13. He’s an extraordinary student and I can’t wait to see how much he grows this year.
I love Edson because he’s such a strong male dancer. Out of the boys, he definitely dances the strongest as far as partnering. He’s my macho man. I’m really excited for him to be pushed and to see what he can do with a partner.
Darion is another extraordinary ballet dancer, and I think he also has the funniest personality out of all the boys, so I’m excited for America to get to know who he is too. He hasn’t gotten as much exposure, and he’s definitely got a great personality on him.
I kind of saw it coming that Denys would leave the competition. I knew before he went to tell the judges, which is why my reaction on camera was kind of like, “Well, I wish you the best.” We were trying to keep ballroom dancers on the show. His point of view, I guess, was to be with Antonina, but he worded it like we’re not doing as much ballroom, and we are. You still have to do tango and salsa and all of the ballroom styles — you just don’t have to do ballroom in Vegas. If he wanted to leave, that’s great. Please exit the competition and open up a spot. I’m so happy for the person who made it in his place, because he wanted to be there so badly.
With Asaf, my thing is that you have to be able to have rhythm and pick up the steps, because I’d be so nervous, if I were a female dancer on this show, to be put into the arms of someone like Asaf. You don’t know if they’ll be there to catch you. They’re really pushing for Team Street to be able to pick up choreography, because we can’t put someone in danger on this show. There’s a responsibility you have as a dancer and a partner — it’s not So You Think You Have an Amazing Solo. There’s a lot more to it. And I’m gonna be completely honest: I was really upset they let go of Standing O. I really thought she was a contender and she didn’t take a wrong turn anywhere in my book. As a spectator watching at home, I was rooting for her. I still think Team Street’s very strong but, hey, one less on my radar.
Behind the scenes, one of my favorite dancers ever right now — her name is Alyssa Allen, and they were showing a lot of her, but then they never got around to showing what happened. They offered her a spot, because she was definitely number one on everyone’s list, but she just got her acceptance into USC. They’re starting this amazing new dance program at USC, and William Forsythe, our huge European inspiration as a choreographer, is heading up the dance department. Alyssa asked me what she should do, and I wanted her on the show so badly — I could’ve had an awesome shot winning this show with her — but what’s more important was her college education. The amount of training she is going to get is incomparable. We’re happy that she made that decision, and once she’s out of college, I told her to call me up, because she’s got a job in two seconds. Those are the things you have to deal with as a dancer.
But now we’ve started rehearsals, and you could feel it when you walked in today — it was the first day of the rest of the summer. The work starts now.
As told to Kelly Connolly