The first cut is always the deepest. It’s never easy to lose talent in a reality competition, especially on one full of some of the best of the best. Last night’s elimination on So You Think You Can Dance was no exception to the rule. With a new format change, limiting group numbers, duo performances, eliminations and possible “Dance For Your Life” segments to just two hours, the judges chose to save one guy and one girl from the bottom 6 determined by America’s votes from the previous week. Chehon Wespi-Tschopp and Whitney Carson were saved by the judges and will be performing next week. Sadly, that left us losing Daniel Baker, Nick Bloxsom-Carter, Jayana French, and Alexa Anderson from the competition. We got to sit in on a chat with Daniel, Nick and Jayana earlier today to get their thoughts on the season, the new format, and see what their hopes are for the future.
*Note, Alexa was unable to attend today’s call.
On finding his way to the world of SYTYCD, viewers were led to believe that Daniel quit his professional job with the San Francisco Ballet Company to try out for the show. However, we were told today that this was in fact “embellished” and that he has not quit his job. Daniel is actually hoping to have used SYTYCD as a bridge into the promotional dance world, exploring new things at his age before he “gets any older,” he noted with a chuckle. He does have plans to get back into the ballet world. Until then, he plans to “dabble [his] feet with new things.”
All three of these dancers could not stop with the praise of working with the various choreographers on the show. It was clear that the group routines hold a special part in each heart, as well as the experience on the show as a whole. A significant part of the show, however, is partner dancing. Both Nick and Daniel had mentions from the judges about their roles as partners on the show. Nick felt as if he played his role perfectly. “The guy is the frame and the woman is the picture,” he mentioned in regards to Nigel Lythgoe’s critiques from last night’s Argentine Tango. While Daniel and Jayana loved working with their partners, they both seemed to think that swapping partners might have been beneficial in terms of exploring chemistry with other people and using that opportunity to shine more on stage. Daniel did mention how his bathtub performance with Alexa was toned down by the network and he “was trying to tastefully do it” and make it family friendly. He felt that if he could have dove in all the way into the piece, it may have altered how it was received.
Now, as expected, much of the chat was centered around the show’s new format. To our surprise, these dancers seemed to enjoy and appreciate the new format. Jayana was clear to note that they did not get to work with the old format, but in comparison to what they were used to, they liked it. Nick noted that to the dancers it was a friendly format because they “were on stage a lot,” and “were able to perform more.” Daniel did note, however, that the format might have sacrificed their chance to dance for their lives in hopes to sway the judge’s minds at last minute. One point of concern from Janaya’s standpoint was how she sort of “popped onto” our televisions after not having as much camera time previous to the live shows, so it was harder for her to show America who she was with one hour cut off from the show each week. They do agree that the shortening of the packages that show the dancers personalities may have hurt them to a certain extent.
Last night, Nigel Lythgoe gave us viewers a little insight as to how the voting is now happening with the new format. The judges actually find out the bottom 6 dancers the morning of the show. Based on those results tabulated from last week’s performances, Nigel and Mary are able to chat with the guest judge and choreographers from the previous week, as well as the judge and choreographers from this week. Through those discussions, the decision to save a guy and a girl is made. Nick seems OK with this because “they know who is in the bottom three, so your performance can sway their mind towards a good side or bad side.” The dancers have the power to “change what they think of [you] in a positive way.” On the flip side, the whole idea didn’t cross Janaya’s mind because she had a lot to think about, focusing on her piece for the night. She “wanted to prove that she was capable” of a great performance and she believes she was more successful this week. However, the point from comments the dancers have read online of manipulation of critiques to those going home was brought up and puts an interesting spin on the public’s perception of the eliminations.
Thinking about the eliminations can be done in “so many ways,” Daniel noted and was kind of surprised to see two of the three ballet dancers in the bottom six this week. Performing live also proved to be a little stressful for the dancers in clouding their head with thinking about so many things to worry about, so as not to disappoint each other, judges, and the viewers. “After doing the show, you HAVE to keep your mind in a positive area, be mentally strong to do the show. If you have any doubt, it will show,” Nick noted as something he learned from performing live. Even working through time restrictions, they all agreed that it was a great learning experience and look forward to what the future holds.
As for these talented dancers futures, Janaya believes that this experience will help them with their future endeavors. These three dancers were all appreciative of their time on the show. Janaya plans to go back with what she was doing previous to the show. This experience “lit a fire underneath me and helped me realize this was exactly what I wanted to do.” As for Nick, previous to the show, he was studying business management involving dance and plans to continue auditioning and incorporate his studies with dance production in the future. He hopes it will help him “know what it means to put on a good show.” Until then, don’t discount catching nick on Jason Gilkison’s “Burn The Floor” or even “Dancing With the Stars.” You never know. As for Daniel, he plans to continue with choreography and exploring the promotional dance world. But before all that, Daniel plans on hopping in a car to drive to Mexico to clear his head. We’re wondering how many might want to hijack that car ride to join him.
On their interactions with the show’s talented and award winning choreographers, Janaya admits that the show has given her a “hunger” to go and attend more classes in different genres. That’s part of why she is disappointed the experience ended early because she “wanted to get into the things that were so challenging like Bollywood and ballroom.” She is looking forward to branching out and seeing how they can help her in her career. Daniel’s all-time favorite choreographer is Mia Michaels and she has expressed interest to work with him outside of the Top 20. He is looking forward to work with her outside of the show now. As for Jayana, she feels so blessed to work with all of the people she has already worked with in just the few weeks she’s been on the show. She does wish that she had a chance to work with Jason Gilkison as he “made learning ballroom dancing eaiser” and wishes she could have done a duet routine with Stacey.
On a personal note, we enjoyed talking to this talented bunch today and wish them the best on their future endeavors!