Wes Craven, Horror Maestro, Dies at 76





Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76.

Craven, whose iconic Freddy Krueger character horrified viewers for years, died at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced. Survivors include his wife, producer and former Disney Studios vice president Iya Labunka.
Craven was a longtime summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard, where he moved permanently three years ago before returning to Los Angeles for work and health reasons.
Craven claimed to have gotten the idea for Elm Street when living next to a cemetery on a street of that name when growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland. The five Nightmare on Elm Street films were released from 1984-89.
Similarly, Craven’s Scream series was a box-office sensation. In those scare-’em-ups, he spoofed the teen horror genre. The movies frequently referenced other horror movies.

Craven’s first feature film was The Last House of the Left, which he wrote, directed and edited in 1972. A rape-revenge movie, it appalled some viewers while generating big box office. Next came another film he wrote and helmed, The Hills Have Eyes (1977).
He invented the youth horror genre again in 1984 with the classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, which he wrote and directed.

He conceived and co-wrote Elm Street III as well, and then after not being involved with the three more sequels, deconstructed the genre a decade after the original, writing and directing Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which was nominated as best feature at the 1995 Spirit Awards.

His own Nightmare players, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, played themselves in the film.

In 1996 Craven reached a new level of success with the release of Scream. The film, which sparked the phenomenal trilogy, grossed more than $100 million domestically, as did Scream 2 (1997).

Between Scream 2 and Scream 3, Craven, offered the opportunity to direct a non-genre film for Miramax, helmed Music of the Heart (1999), a film that earned Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for best actress in the inspirational drama about a teacher in Spanish Harlem.

“We had a very difficult time getting an audience into a theater on my name,” he once said about that film. “In fact, we moved toward downplaying my name a lot on Music of the Heart. The more famous you are for making kinds of outrageous scary films, the crossover audience will say, ‘I don’t think so.’”

Also in 1999, in the midst of directing, he completed his first novel, The Fountain Society, published by Simon & Shuster.

Craven again pushed his genre boundaries with the 2005 psychological thriller, Red Eye, starring Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy and Brian Cox. And in 2006 he wrote and directed a romantic comedy homage to Oscar Wilde featuring Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell as a segment in the French ensemble production, Paris Je T’aime.

Craven then produced remakes of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and The Last House on the Left (2009). Craven’s most recent written and directed film, My Soul to Take (2010), marked his first collaboration with Labunka, who also produced Scream 4.

He directed several other thrillers and horror movies including Swamp Thing (1982), Deadly Friend (1986) and The People Under the Stairs (1991).

Craven had recently signed an overall television deal with Universal Cable Productions and had a number of TV projects in development including The People Under the Stairs with Syfy Networks, Disciples with UCP, We Are All Completely Fine with Syfy / UCP, and Sleepers with Federation Entertainment.

He also was executive producing the new Scream series for MTV.

Craven had recently written atnd was to direct the Thou Shalt Not Kill segment for The Weinstein Co.’s Ten Commandments miniseries for WGN America.

He is listed as an executive producer of The Girl in the Photographs, which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month.

Wesley Earl Craven was born Aug. 2, 1939, in Cleveland. His father died when he was 5. Raised in a strict Baptist household, he graduated from Wheaton College with degrees in English and psychology, then earned a masters in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins.

He briefly taught English at Westminster College and was a humanities professor at Clarkson College, where he served as a disc jockey for the campus radio station.

Craven had an eye for discovering fresh talent. While casting A Nightmare on Elm Street, he discovered Johnny Depp. He cast Sharon Stone in her first starring role, for Deadly Blessing, and he gave Bruce Willis his first featured role in an episode of the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone.

He wed Labunka in 2004, his third marriage. Survivors also include his sister Carol, son Jonathan, daughter Jessica, grandchildren Miles, Max and Myra-Jean and stepdaughter Nina.

Craven was a nature lover and committed bird conservationist, serving as a longtime member of the Audubon California Board of Directors. He penned a monthly column, “Wes Craven’s The Birds,” for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine.

“I come from a blue-collar family, and I’m just glad for the work,” Craven said in an interview with writer-director Mick Garris in October. “I think it is an extraordinary opportunity and gift to be able to make films in general, and to have done it for almost 40 years now is remarkable.

“If I have to do the rest of the films in the [horror] genre, no problem. If I’m going to be a caged bird, I’ll sing the best song I can.

“I can see that I give my audience something. I can see it in their eyes, and they say thank you a lot. You realize you are doing something that means something to people. So shut up and get back to work.



Johnny Depp visits children’s hospital in Australia dressed as pirate Jack Sparrow


This is the day children will always remember as the day they met Jack Sparrow — *Captain* Jack Sparrow.

Johnny Depp and co-star Stephen Graham, who plays pirate Scrum, took a break while filming “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” on Tuesday to surprise patients at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, Australia.

The actors spent more than three hours visiting with children and their families.

The hospital shared exciting details and photos from the visit.

“Two very famous pirates made a special surprise visit to the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital last night,” the hospital staff wrote on Facebook. “Both actors flew in for the visit from the Gold Coast, landing in a helicopter on the hospital’s rooftop.”

Patients and families seemed to enjoy the famous pirates’ company, sharing tales from their visit.

Kossy Halemai, whose daughter Lanais Malia, was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery during Depp’s visit, said she was all smiles.


“For me and my family, it was a fantastic time to meet up and speak with Johnny Depp and put a smile on everyone’s faces, especially my daughter,” Halemai told CBS News. “She’s recovering well and to see her smiling — I was emotional and proud.”

The Halemai family, as well as dozens of others, had no idea the actors were going to make the trip.

“It was a big surprise for all of us,” Halemai said.

Bella Harry, a 12-year-old with osteosarcoma, was another lucky patient who got to meet the actor.


The Benefit4Bella Facebook group, a fundraising page for the young girl, said Depp spent 15 minutes sitting and chatting with the young girl.

“Little did Bella know, through all the excitement, Captain Sparrow would sit and chat with her one on one for 15 minutes,” the fundraising group posted, along with several photos. “An amazing man to brighten up so many kids’ day.”

The famous pirate even gave some of his booty with the crowd, passing out gold coins to patients. Despite the reward, the kids seemed to value Depp’s company more than the gold “money.”

As Captain Jack would say, “Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.”



SYTYCD – Interview with Hayley and Paul, last 2 to be eliminated before the finale!

With the Season 10 of So You Think You Can Dance winding down, with the finale next week… this weeks episode was a great one. There were no bottom 2 guys & bottom 2 girls… they all danced a solo in addition to dancing one routine with an all-star & one being pared up with one of the top 6.

Top 6


Jessie Tyler Ferguson was the guest judge this week & he was not disappointed… especially after we learned he has had a crush on dancer Aaron!! After all the contestants danced their hearts out, Cat Deeley delivered the news of who had made it into next weeks finale… Aaron Turner, Amy Yakima (how can you NOT root for her, she has Yak in her name!!), Fik-Shun & Jasmine Harper made up the top 4… Leaving Paul Karmiryan & Hayley Erbert to say their goodbyes, just short of the finish line.

Paul & Hayley

Going this whole process and getting so close to the finale, what are the emotions like now?  Is it joy because you made it so darn far in the competition and you had so much praise, or is it just frustration that you were one step away from the finale?

Hayley: It’s a really bittersweet moment at this point, because we were so close to the finale.  But I am so proud of Aaron, Fik-Shun, Jasmine, and Amy for making it, because they’re just amazing, obviously at dance, and they’re just like incredible human beings too, because I got so close with them over the week.  But, yes, I’m really upset that I didn’t get to show America my last bit, but I’m still so happy that I even made it this far because I had never expected that I would make it this far to begin with so I’m just so blessed to have even gotten this opportunity at all.

Paul: It’s practically the same thing.  Of course it’s everyone’s goal to make it to the finale and to make it all the way.  But just thinking back to, for me the L.A. auditions and just the journey I made from L.A. to now, it’s amazing even thinking that I’ve come this far.  And I have no regrets, and I think that’s the most important thing, and it’s just been such a great journey and such a great experience and I’ve learned so much and grown as a person.  Of course it is bittersweet, like Hayley said, where you would want to go all the way to the end of the experience and actually have the full potential of dancing each possible dance that you could have on the show, but then again everything happens for a reason and Fik-Shun, Aaron, Amy, and Jasmine, they all deserve to be there, and it really was a hard decision for America, I think.  This season has been so strong, and I wish them the best.  Yes, no regrets.  No regrets.


What are your plans for the future now that you have this experience under your belt?

Hayley: Well, I’m planning on moving out to L.A. to start my dance career and whatnot, and I’m going to try to sign with an agency and just kind of figure out my dancing career in that way.  And also I’ve always wanted to try to get into the acting field and be in movies, or even commercial work or anything, so I would love to go into acting.  But I would also love to be a backup dancer for Justin Bieber or someone, just really anything right now.  The show has opened a ton of doors, but I’m just kind of excited to see what my future is going to be like now after this.

Paul: I would definitely want to continue dancing.  It is something that I love to do.  And I would love to be on Dancing with the Stars or any of the ballroom shows that are going on right now.  And definitely, like Hayley said, I’ve always wanted to act, and I would love to get into acting and just be out in the entertainment industry and just take any opportunity that comes from this.  It’s such a great opportunity to start off your career.  And it’s really not the end, it’s only the beginning.


You guys already discussed the emotions you’re feeling right now, but going back to that night, are you both surprised that you got eliminated?  Paul, the judges mentioned many times this season they could picture you winning the whole thing, and Hayley, they always raved about you.  So what are your thoughts on that?

Paul: For me it wasn’t really a surprise, because going into the top six yesterday, we all just got together and we just discussed that, like everyone just deserved to be there and everyone was such an amazing dancer and such an amazing person.  And I guess going in we just thought of it not as something that was very competitive and that it was the end to something, it was more like we had gone through this journey and we had to think of it as more of a celebration that we had come to the top six.  So it wasn’t a shock.  Definitely Fik-Shun and Aaron deserved to be in the finale and the top six, and so did Jasmine and Amy, but the idea was that everyone did deserve to, and anything that would happen, it happens for a reason, I believe, and it wasn’t a shock to me.  I would love to be in the finale, of course, but they also deserve to be there, so I’m not disappointed.  And especially from the guys, everyone, they’re so talented and I’m just happy for them.

Hayley: Yes, basically exactly what Paul said.  It really wasn’t that much of a shock to me.  I think it was more of a shock to me that I even made it that far to begin with, and so I was not disappointed at all.  I was a little disappointed, because of course everyone wants to make it to the finale and the main goal is to win the show, but it was just so great to be just a part of the show because of the camaraderie that we had.  We were just like a huge family and we were all just so supportive of each other.  So we didn’t really consider it a competition very much.  It was not that big of a surprise at all that I was going home.  And I’m just so, so proud of Jasmine and Amy because they’re just amazing and they deserve it so much I’m just blessed to have made it this far, for sure.


When you both danced the contemporary routine together, Mary Murphy and Nigel cracked a couple of jokes that you’d make a great looking couple and should date in real life.  What was going through your minds at that moment?   And is there any hope of that actually happening down the road?

Paul: That’s so funny.  Throughout the season there have been so many accusations and just relationships that people would want to see.  A lot of people would constantly tell me and Makenzie to get married.  I love Makenzie and I love Hayley, but I don’t know if I love them in that way.  Do you know what I mean?  Really, behind the scenes everyone has their own personality, everyone has their own thing towards who they like and whatever it is, so it could go anyway.  I don’t know.  Relationships just don’t happen because they look right.  There have to be other things that are going on personally.

Hayley: Yes, Paul basically nailed it.  I have a boyfriend right now, so it wouldn’t have happened any time soon if it were to happen.  But yes, like he said we’ve all been trying to get to know each other over these past few weeks and it could be a complete possibility, like anybody in the top 20 could end up being in a relationship.  We’ve just been getting to know each other and so we don’t know everyone’s full personality or anything to go into a serious relationship or any of that.  Paul is a gorgeous person, so that would be great.

Paul: Thank you.

Hayley: …So I guess you never know, but as of right now I don’t really see anything because I have a boyfriend …


Hayley, you had several different partners throughout the competition, Curtis, Nico, last night Paul, not to mention the All Stars, what does working with all these different partners bring to your experience?

Hayley: Dancing with different partners definitely was amazing, because everybody has their own strengths.  And so it was great to experience because there was never once that I was like feeling the same way with a partner.  And in dance you have to connect with a partner really fast, so I think that was kind of to my advantage, because I was just given the opportunity to connect with so many different partners so quickly that I feel like that’s really going to help me out in the future.  Every partner that I worked with was amazing and I had such a great time with all of them, so I think it really just added to my experience throughout the entire thing.  And I wish I could have made it into the finale and gotten to dance with literally all of them, but we’ll all be together for a tour and so you never know what dancers they’ll put in or add in, so I’m really excited for it.


Paul, do you have a favorite moment or a favorite dance routine that you did while you were on the show? 

Paul: That’s a very hard question, because I feel like every week was its own highlight and it was its own moment, really thinking about how each genre literally brought a different aspect to the table and I enjoyed every single genre differently.  And there wasn’t one routine where I was like, “Oh my God, I hate this routine.  I don’t want to do it.”  And I feel like that’s very rare because sometimes there are moments where people just are not content with their genres.  And in my case I really enjoyed all of my genres.
I was thinking about it today, that if I could think about one genre that I like the most which one would it be, I really can’t.  Not even my own genre I can isolate from the other ones.  And in a sense if you want me to give an answer, I would totally say the Edge of Glory dance by Mandy Moore, the contemporary that we did, me and Makenzie, it was our last dance together and it was just one of those, the moment that we shared together on the stage was very genuine and it just meant a lot to us.  But then again, the week after I worked with Witney and we did a cha cha, and then I worked with Comfort and we did a hip hop, and then Kathryn this week, and Hayley, every week was just its own great moment.  And the thing is I had no regrets with any of them, so the whole experience was great as a whole.


You were on So You Think You Can Dance Armenia, and I was wondering how the two experiences compared to each other.

Paul: Armenia’s So You Think You Can Dance brought so many great moments for me, and it was just a life changing experience for me.   It made me grow as a dancer.  I think, because I’ve only been dancing four and a half years, it really made me mature very quickly, and through that experience I strived to participate in So You Think You Can Dance America because I knew that I would grow even more.  Because there’s no doubt that when comparing Armenia and America the level is different, because Armenia’s population is less than Los Angeles’ population and there are different choreographers there and there’s different contestants and competition there, and here it’s on a different level also.  We have choreographers that are known worldwide, although both of these experiences I would never take back and never regret any moment of.  So, yes, there are many differences between Armenia and America.  They were the same show but both of them were completely different in my life as a whole.


Now that the tour will be coming up soon, which dances, whether it’s ones you’ve done or ones that other contestants, other dancers have done, would you like to see featured on the tour?

Paul: I would love to see Mark and Janelle dance the, what is it called, the K-pop or jazz funk.  It was such a unique genre that it was like, I can’t even say what genre, but that’s totally one.  I would love to see Tucker and Robert’s, the medicine dance that they did.  Hayley, anything that you’d want to see?

Hayley: There are so many dances to choose from that were amazing this season.  It’s so hard to say.

Paul: It really is, because it’s like whenever you’re behind the scenes and you just see the growth of the dancers and you see what they become and how amazing each individual, like from the choreographer to the dancers, puts into the dance to create this masterpiece, every one just grows on you because that’s what creates the season, all the different dances.  And there were so many that were so impossible.  Even if the audience didn’t like it, it was very impactful to us.

Hayley: Yes.

Paul: Because you saw the difference of the dance, like, for example, there were so many people that did dances that were out of their genre and it was just very amazing to see them do so great in that genre.  And it made that dance great for me.

Hayley: I think my ideal show would probably be just like to combine every single piece – the entire season, keep like rotating them through, that way it’s not too long.  That would be my ideal show.


Of the dancers that were partnered with the All Stars, is there one dance you would love to dance, is there one routine that either of you would want to dance in place of the All Star?

Hayley: Oh, that’s so hard.

Paul: In place of the All Star, oh my God, this is a hard one.

Hayley: I know.  I honestly cannot pick a dance.  Really any of them would be amazing, because I think this is definitely one of the best seasons.  There hasn’t been a single dance with an All Star that looks weak.  They’re all so strong, and I think that’s just amazing for us.   So I don’t even think I can pick one of those, I feel so indecisive, but this season has been amazing.

Hayley, when you left Topeka in May to go audition in Texas, what you thought you’d be doing right about now is settling into a dorm and starting your freshman year of college instead of preparing for a 42 city tour.  Has it really settled in for you yet how much life has changed for you in just a few months?

Hayley: It is actually so strange.  I auditioned in Austin in January, so I knew that I was going to Vegas for quite a few months until Vegas actually happened, but I never imagined that I was even going to make it through to Vegas, and then when I made it through Vegas I didn’t think I’d make South Pawnee, and then when I made South Pawnee I never thought I’d make it this far.  So it’s just been crazy.
Yes, I was planning on going to Chapman University this fall, and as I just kept going further and further in the show, I was like, okay, I guess I’m not going anymore.  But it’s just kind of crazy to even think about that, because right before I left for the show I was graduating high school and then I was planning on going to college, and now I’m here.  And now I get to go on tour and it’s just completely mind blowing to me because my life has just changed in so many ways, and I think it was for the best.  Like Paul’s been saying, everything happens for a reason, and I truly do believe that so maybe going to college now wasn’t what was meant to be for my life, but we’ll just kind of play it by ear and everything really will happen for a reason.  We’ll just see what God throws at me, I guess.


With the success both you and Fik-Shun have had on Season 10, what’s that say about Kansas being a pretty good breeding ground for topnotch dancers?

Hayley: Yes, I don’t think people think of Kansas as being very, I don’t really know, like very resourceful or anything, so it really proved to people that just because you’re from a small state or a small town that doesn’t mean anything, as long as you put the work and effort into it.  And all of the studios in Kansas are amazing, and I don’t think people really realize that, so it just really does prove to people that you can get training anywhere, as long as you have good training and you have the work ethics that you need to be successful, you’ll be totally fine.


It’s been established that you have a boyfriend and that Curtis took you on a date earlier in the season just to work on your chemistry onstage as partners, and Kat Deeley kind of focused in on that during one episode and made it seem like you two were really dating.  So taking into account that situation and the one about you maybe potentially dating Paul down the road and how you guys would make a cute couple, was that a little frustrating for you at all, or make you a little bit uncomfortable? 

Hayley: I know what’s going down and I know that they’re just pretty much kidding about me and Paul dating.  The Curtis thing was kind of taken out of proportion, but it doesn’t really bother me as much as I think it kind of bothers my boyfriend.  But I’ve told him it’s for the show and he knows that I’m just friends with all of these guys, so I mean, it really hasn’t caused any problems or anything.  I think it’s fine.


Reflecting on both of your performances last week, Paul, you did an awesome job with the hip hop routine and you really surprised the judges – Hayley, you performed that great rumba.  Do you guys have any insight as to why maybe your votes weren’t coming in? 

Paul: Well, the thing with the show is it’s so unpredictable.  I hadn’t fallen to the bottom at all and I had a great run with the hip hop.  And the thing is it’s not always what we’ve come to understand.  It’s not always about America’s best dancers.  It just depends on what America thinks.  It has to do with being a favorite dancer also.  And I guess, like we just … it’s not tragic because Aaron and Fik-shun and Amy and Jasmine, they’re all great people and they’re all great dancers, so it could have gone either way.  And it’s just everything happens for a reason.  So it’s just how America saw it this week and it happened the way it did.

Hayley: I was basically going to say the same thing.  It is all based off of America’s votes, so you never know what’s going to happen.  A lot of times people don’t connect with a ballroom dance because America doesn’t know how cool ballroom truly is, and that could have been a part of it.  But also America obviously loves Amy and Jasmine, and they totally deserve it, so I’m completely content with leaving the finale to them.


Paul, You spent much of the competition dancing alongside Makenzie, and you were an absolutely beautiful couple to watch. She had said that she was so lucky to have you as a partner because you were the reason behind the two of you doing so well.  What is your reaction to that?

Paul: Makenzie is just – I was so shocked that Makenzie got cut so early, not early but she didn’t go all the way, I thought that she definitely deserved to be in the finale at least.  She’s just such an amazing person.  And really working with her was just so different because we connected on a different level.  And we became so close and we became such great friends, and she’s just been so supportive of me through this journey, even after she got cut.  And you know the fact that she is such a great person and such a great dancer, I respect her so much for that.  And I know that it’s not the end, we’re going to be dancing together in the finale and on tour, and I just love working with her and I know that she has such a bright future ahead of her and I know that she will be successful in what she does.
And I just wish that America saw what a great personality she had, because backstage she was so goofy and she was just so fun to be around and not only beautiful in terms of her looks, but beautiful on the inside too.  And I just wish her the best and I thank her for being such a great partner, because the time that I spent with her, we never got our genre, my genre, sorry, we never got Latin ballroom, and we always got contemporary or jazz and it was mainly her genre, and she just helped me so much throughout those genres and made it such a great work process and it was great working with her, and her work ethic is amazing.  And I wish her the best.


Is there anything that either of you have learned, or that you take away from the experience that has either changed you as a person or changed your perspective about dance?

Paul: Well, every single day changed my perspective about dance and changed me as a person, because every single day it was literally this obstacle that we had to succumb and pass and just going through practices that were literally draining of your not only physical self, but also your mental self.  And being able to overcome those challenges and being able to conquer routines that you’ve never really danced before, and being able to just do the best that you can every single day, even though you know that you have no energy in your body, especially this last performance that we had, everyone was really drained, even if we wanted to continue and we had the fight to continue and do our best, our bodies were literally not complying with us.
There were moments where it was like we would fight to finish the routine until the end, but your muscles just give up. We’re still human after all, and the fact that we had to overcome these challenges, it really made us grow and mature as people.  And it’s a great experience, so … an amazing experience, and I truly wish that everyone could experience it, because it makes you grow so much as a person.  And of course it makes you grow as a dancer, but dance, I will be dancing for many years continuing after the show, but I know that what I will take with me even more is how much I grew as a person and the experiences I gained, and the knowledge and maturity I gained throughout the show.  So that’s really one of the biggest things that I know I will remember from the show.


SYTYCD: Interview with The Top 12’s Malece and Alan

We started the Top 12 show off with a very high energy and interesting group Bollywood routine by Nakul Dev Mahajan, followed by Cat Deeley explaining why there were only 11 dancers. We learned dancer Tucker Knox had an infection in his knee which kept him from rehearsing with his partner Jenna Johnson for their routine, but it did not stop him from “Dancing for his life” as he and his partner landed in the bottom six, along with Alan Bernsen, Malece Miller, Nico Greetham and Amy Yackima. The judges gave immediate safety to Jenna & Nico, leaving Alan, Malece, Amy and Tucker to dance in their genre’s hoping to impress the judges enough to make it through to the Top 10, and into the SYTYCD Tour!!

Group Bollywood

The 11 dancers (minus Tucker who could not dance with Jenna this week due to his knee infection preventing him from rehearsing) gave some high energy and breathtaking performances. After the partners performed their routines, we seen a group performance by the Top 5 guys (minus Tucker) dancing a hip hop routine by Nappy Taps and a group performance by the Top 6 girls who danced a beautiful contemporary routine by Stacey Tookey.   Then, before the elimination, Nigel explained how hard the decision was, and the he was going to personally make the suggestion that the one’s eliminated would be allowed to tour with the Top 10 as alternates. Then, Nigel gave the news to Alan & Malece that they would be leaving the competition, which we could all see everyone, including the remaining Top 10 dancers.

Alan & Malece


The Yak got to listen in to the interview conference call this week and here are Malece and Alan’s thoughts on their elimination, fellow dancers and the possibility of going on the SYTYCD tour as alternates…


Malece… You were considered a frontrunner throughout the competition thus far.  The judges always seemed to gush about you.  You had never landed in the bottom six before, but Jenna and Mackenzie both landed in the bottom three times apiece this season and they’re still in it.  Knowing that, were you surprised to get eliminated and how does that make you feel?

Malece: Yes, I was definitely shocked to be eliminated the first time that I was in the bottom, but I adore Mackenzie and Jenna both.  I think they definitely deserve to be there.


Alan, you had landed in the bottom six, three times this season, but just got eliminated this week.  It’s kind of the opposite perspective…  Why do you think the judges were holding on to you?  And because of that track record, did you kind of sense this week was going to be your time to go?

Alan: Yes, I have no idea why the judges were holding on to me.  I’m hoping that they liked the way I danced because they kept keeping me on the show.  Yes, after I heard that I was in the bottom again I sort of expected that I was going to be cut, but I didn’t give up hope.  I still tried my best.


Malece, we just talked a little bit about Jenna and Mackenzie.  Do you have any idea what the judges and choreographers’ fascination with them is?  What do you think they saw in those girls that maybe America was missing, since they weren’t really getting the votes each week?

Malece: I don’t know.  Mackenzie and Jenna are both amazing, technically strong.  I think all six of us girls were great.  So I think no matter what the decision would’ve been hard.


Alan, because you landed in the bottom a few times, what do you think America wasn’t seeing in you?  Do you wish they had seen anything in particular that you believe they were missing?  Can you recall anything you would’ve liked to do on that show that might’ve boosted your votes a little bit that maybe you didn’t get a chance to do?

Alan: Starting from the beginning, I believe I was one of the only people who didn’t get a solo shown from the audition practice.  So people only recognized me starting with the top 20.  While the other dancers already had some fan base from their auditions, I was like starting fresh.  Maybe if I was just shown a little bit more personality towards the beginning America could’ve connected better with me.


Does it kind of worsen the blow of your elimination a little bit more knowing you were just shy of making the So You Think You Can Dance tour?  Are you both considering taking Nigel’s advice in that he suggested audition to be alternates, I think he said?

Malece: I definitely think that made this whole elimination a lot harder knowing that we were just one week away from top ten, but I hope we both get to be alternates on the tour.  I’d love to audition for that.

Alan: Same.  It’s nice to know that we made it this far, but it’s so much harder getting cut right before the tour.  Of course I would love to be on the tour.  So if Nigel could help us out—


In the jazz dance you both performed, it pretty much seemed to be the consensus that you were kind of missing chemistry and the way you executed some of the moves made Nigel disappointed.  He said he was a little uncomfortable watching it.  What’s your reaction to that?  Why did you seem to struggle with that dance?

 Malece: I am a little bit shocked at Nigel’s comments just because Alan and I had so much fun doing that dance together.

Alan: Malece and I connected, I thought, pretty well in the dance.  We had a lot of fun working with each other.  I thought we executed it pretty well.  I think that the judges might’ve just been like nit picking so it would’ve been easier to cut us for that night.


Last week you both received raving reviews for your salsa routine in that the lifts were amazing and you two kept up your energy as best as possible.  As a result, Anna Kendrick noted she’d love for you two to make a baby together.  You both clearly laughed at that.  What went through your mind?  Is there any hope of a little romantic chemistry between you guys or no?

 Alan: I don’t think so.

Malece: I don’t know.  Yes, I don’t know.  I was kind of shocked when she said that.  I didn’t really know how to feel or what to think.

Alan: It was a shock to me as well.  Malece is awesome, but with the height difference our baby might be short.  No, I’m kidding.  Malece is a wonderful girl.

Malece: Yes, I love Alan.


When we talked to Curtis last week he explained he took his partner Hayley out on a date just to work on their connection and chemistry as dancers.  Since that was kind of one of the main critiques you two had, about your chemistry, did that ever cross your minds that maybe spending a little time together outside of the competition might improve your showmanship?

Malece: Yes and no, but we didn’t have a lot of time to do a lot of other things.

Alan: Yes, this week was very hectic.  We didn’t have a lot of time to go out at all.  Also, Hayley and Curtis have been partners since the beginning and Malece and I just started together.


Why did you originally audition for the show?  How many times did you try out before actually making it into the top 20?

Malece: This is my second year trying out.  I didn’t even make it to Vegas last year.


What made you originally want to audition, Malece?

Malece: Just watching it growing up.  Definitely … I was just really obsessed and that’s all I wanted to do my whole life.


And how about you, Alan?

Alan: It’s been a dream to be on this show.  Right when I got the first opportunity to do it I tried out.  This is my first time auditioning.  I really just wanted to dance.  It gave me a great opportunity to learn and dance at the same time.


What’s next for you?  What are your future plans and goals now that you have the strong foundation of the show to build on?

Malece: I just want to continue dancing wherever I can.  I’m hoping to just keep the momentum going and hopefully stay working.

Alan: Same.  I want to use this momentum and move forward with more commercial work.  Maybe not just do ballroom anymore but go outside of my element and dance in other styles as well.

Malece: And maybe we can tour.

Alan: And hopefully we’ll tour.  Hopefully we’ll be on the tour.


Next week as the Top 10 dancers compete, they lose their partners & will now be partnering up with an All-Star veteran dancer from previous seasons. This is always a favorite part of the show… seeing returning favorites mentor the current dancers and it always seems to take on a more intense and passionate feel as the dancers are getting closer to being named “America’s Favorite Dancer!”

SYTYCD – Interview With Eliminated Tappers Alexis Juliano and Curtis Holland

This weeks SYTYCD started out with yet another injury report… seems Curtis Holland injured his shoulder and would not be able to dance this week. Unfortunately for him, he also landed in the bottom six along with  Alexis Juliano, Alan Bersten, Makenzie Dustman,  Nico Greetham and Jasmine Harper. The judges felt they didn’t need to see any of the guys Dance for Their Lives, but did not send them to safety. They did however send Makenzie to safety once again this week and asked the other 2 girls, Alexis and Jasmine to show America their best in their style of dance. 

Then after all the couples danced their routines, they did 2 group numbers at the end that were absolutely amazing. The last group number, which included Jasmine Harper, Alexix Juliano, Paul Karmiryan, Tucker Knox, Du-Shaunt ‘Fik-Shun’ Stegall, Aaron Turner and Amy Yakima was very touching, as it was based on an anti-bullying theme, and was very moving.



After all was said and done, Nigel broke the bad news to tap dancers Alexis & Curtis that they would be leaving the competition that night….

Alexis & Curtis


It seems like, traditionally, tappers tend to leave the competition early.  Was that’s something that you were worried about as you headed into the Top 20.

Alexis: I was definitely concerned that that might have happened.  But I definitely think the run I had on the show was amazing.  Just to make it to Top 14 was an amazing thing for me because I didn’t even think I was going to make Top 20. I think, maybe, tappers don’t normally make it far, but I feel like Top 14 is pretty good.

Curtis: I agree. I think that Top 14 is a big feat.  I think that, sometimes, tappers do get the lower hand, but I think that we’ve had an amazing run because of the dancers and the choreographers that we’ve been able to work with.  So I don’t think that our run was specifically bad and I don’t think, this year, tappers have gotten a bad rap.  I just think that with certain circumstances, two people had to go and they just both happened to be tappers.


Did you have a favorite style or choreographer that you got to work with?

Alexis: I definitely loved my contemporary piece with Sonya, just because she pushes you.  She, like, knows everything about you.  I don’t know; she just knows who you are and the kind of person you are.  Just the way she talks to you, she can definitely change you as a dancer for the better.  To get to do that piece with her was an amazing way to leave the show.  Yes, she’s definitely my favorite and I love contemporary.

Curtis:  I think my favorite piece was – I actually loved them all, I can’t even pick one.  Probably my hip-hop, Chris Scott, because I feel like that was the time that I really got into the groove on the show.  That was my first piece. My other favorite piece would, I think, be Dee Caspary’s piece, just because I feel like I had to reach a farther place than I usually like to go.  Dee helped me bring out something in me that I knew was in there but I was afraid to touch.  So it was good.


Were you surprised to get eliminated, or did you sense it coming beforehand at all?

Alexis: I think once I found out I was in the bottom, I kind of prepared myself for the worst but, you know, hoped for the best.  You never really know, so you just have to hope for the best.  That’s just not what happened that time. But it was still an amazing run.  Jasmine Harper is absolutely amazing.

Curtis:  I don’t think that I knew that it was going to happen, but I definitely, just like Lexie said, I considered it just because I considered the fact that I wasn’t able to show the judges anything this week because of my injury.  I prepared myself for going home, but I always try to be optimistic and look for the better parts in things.


As tap dancers, how much, if any, training did you have in all the other dance genres that are featured on the show?  How difficult was it to learn and pick up on all the other styles throughout the season?  Do you two feel like you two had it especially hard considering you’re tappers?

Alexis: Honestly, I trained in all the other styles, except ballroom, just as much as I trained in tap.  But, I think tap was definitely my strongest suit and just what I really love.  I definitely think the challenge as a tapper was more the partnering work, just because I’m not used to the major lifts that we did on the show.  And to have to connect to a partner because, when you’re tapping, you’re usually by yourself.  You don’t have to connect so much with other people on the stage, just with the audience.

So, it was definitely a struggle.  But having to do the choreo part of it wasn’t too challenging.  It was definitely challenging, but not in the aspect that I’ve never done it before.  Except for the ballroom; that was definitely very challenging because I’d never done it before.

Curtis:  I feel the same way.  I’ve had training also.  I trained at a studio that my dad actually owned since I was four.  So, just like Lexie said, I just liked that more.  It wasn’t specifically hard, but it was just certain techniques and certain things that I usually did not get exposure to because I trained in tap more diligently than I did in the other styles.  So some of the moves were specifically hard, but I think with the work ethic that both Lexie and I have, we were able to try and pick up as much as we could.


How proud are you of tap’s strong showing this season and the role that you two have both played in that?

Alexis: I’m very proud.  Just the fact that there were three tappers this season is so amazing.  We both, Curtis and I, have made it far.  This Top 14 is a big accomplishment, I feel like.  Yes, tap is definitely growing in the world, and I think more people are starting to love it and try it.  It’s amazing to see where tap is going.

Curtis: I think that, also, it’s such a great thing when you go into a competition and you’re not the only one of your style there because you feel like you have other people by your side.  I feel like we’ve all been able to help each other grow.  That’s why, especially in our solos, we’ve been able to help each other.  I think that’s why we’ve been able to make it as far as we did because we had the support of others in our same style.


How much fun was the routine for the Top 20 show with Aaron, set to that Jason Mraz song for you guys to do?

Alexis: That was amazing, just to be able to tap with Curtis and Aaron.  There’s such a feeling that you have on stage with them.  They’re amazing people; they’re just so energetic.  It was just amazing to work with them and Anthony Morigerato and just getting to tap dance on stage is amazing.

Curtis: And the boards were awesome, too.  Sliding all over on the boards was awesome.  It was all about pushing ourselves and it was great to push ourselves and just tap and do what we love because that’s one of the only times that we get to on the show.  So we really tried to take advantage of it.


Which routines that you’ve done throughout the season up until your elimination have pushed you the most, be it emotionally, mentally, or technically?

Alexis: I think the piece that definitely pushed me the most in all those aspects would have had to have been Sonya’s contemporary piece.  Emotionally, that was a very sad and devastating one to have to play the part of someone who’s heartbroken and who’s dying inside.  It definitely hit me emotionally-wise, just getting connected into that character.

But then, also, technically because that contemporary piece was so – it was just so much on the body and it was so full out all the time.  There were a lot of things that you had to do in that piece.  I definitely think it just made me grow as a person and as a performer.

Curtis:  I’ve had two pieces that have pushed me.  The first piece was Dee Caspry’s … piece.  It pushed me emotionally because it made me go to a place where, you know, I don’t usually explore and feelings and thoughts that I don’t usually like to think about.  So it made me be able to be vulnerable and to dance from my heart.

The second piece would have to be, although I didn’t perform it, the Argentine tango, with Leonardo and Miriam.  Technically, it’s very, very, very tough because it’s the Argentine tango.  I really just had to get grounded in the flow and pick up on the technique very quickly.  So it was tough.  I was doing well, but my shoulder gave out on me.


Because there were three tapping in the season, and all of you have such unique styles, how would you describe each other’s tapping style?

Alexis: I think that Curtis’ style is very fun and energetic and just full out all the time.  He’s just so amazing at what he does.  The stuff that he does, even though they’re small, intricate steps, he just makes them so big and so full out that no one’s ever bored watching them. Then, I feel like Aaron’s style is just very – it’s cool, but you’re going to watch him just because he’s so in it with his whole body.  Everything’s always moving.  He’s just a great performer on stage, as well.

Curtis: I think that Lexie’s style is very fast.  Very fast and very clear and crisp.  I think that she’s very smooth and poised with what she does.  She never looks like she’s about to break a sweat and I think that’s a great thing.


Question for Curtis… It was obviously revealed that you asked Hayley out on a date.  Was that just a random idea to really just build your connection as dancers?  Or were you kind of feeling like you both had mutual romantic feelings for one another throughout your time on the show and maybe you felt it was finally time to explore that?

Curtis:  Oh, no.  It was just for our connection on stage.  It was definitely just for our connection on stage because our one piece was about a relationship, and in order for us to actually pretend that we were in a relationship, I felt like we needed to go out on a date and be in a relationship.  So it was all for the piece and it was all just for the piece.


So clearly nothing romantic going on now, it sounds like?

Curtis: No.  She has a boyfriend, actually.


One critique that you kept getting, Curtis, was about your core strength and an issue with your shoulders.  Does that relate to being a tap dancer, since it’s obviously a lot of the lower body that you use more?  Was that something that you really tried hard to correct during rehearsals and performing?  Or were you kind of focused on other things that you thought were more important?

Curtis:  I don’t even think it was because I was a tap dancer, but I wasn’t usually told when I was dancing about my core.  So when I got here and I was told about it, definitely I took that into consideration and I tried to work on that.  That actually was one of my main focuses whenever I was practicing.  I was always trying to just focus on my core and focus on my shoulders and just make sure that everything was solid.

But when you get on stage and you get nervous, sometimes you tend to forget things.  So as I walked away from the show, I just remember to always keep key things like my shoulder and my core in my head as I perform.  That was always on my mind.


Last week the judges, Nigel in particular, had some pretty harsh criticism for both of you and both of your routines.  How much do you think that the judges and what they have to say affects the way America votes?

Alexis: I definitely think they affect the way America thinks about how the dance was and how we portrayed the dance.  They have to give America something to go off of.  So yes, I definitely think when Nigel says you kind of died towards the end, America might not have noticed that at first, but then watching it again maybe they can see oh, wow, I kind of agree with Nigel.

So yes, I definitely think that some of the corrections that we get go into play.  But I also think it’s America’s favorite dancer, so it’s really whoever America wants and if Nigel went a little hard on your favorite dancer, you’ll maybe vote for them a million times more, you know what I mean?  So it just plays both ways.


Curtis… we didn’t hear much about your shoulder injury.  What happened there, and how bad was it?

Curtis: I sprained my rotator cuff in rehearsal about two, three days ago.  I went and I got an x-ray and the x-ray says that there was no bone fracture, so I have to get an MRI, so I’ll be getting one soon.  Then we’ll be able to see from there.

It was just bothering me.  And it was a point of pain that I could not ignore and I could not push through.  So I wasn’t able to dance because of that.


Alexis, you got great reviews from the judges this week following your contemporary routine.  Do you have any idea why you were the one that got eliminated this week?  Do you have any insight into that?

Alexis: Not really. I think it’s more just about how the judges feel about us as dancers.  I think that I was up against amazing dancers and all the girls and the guys are just amazing.  I just think when it comes down between me and Jasmine Harper, Jasmine Harper is just phenomenal.  She’s amazing at her craft and she’s amazing at other things as well.  It’s just however the judges feel.


Alexis, going back to your jive performance last week, the judges’ main critique was that you guys kind of lost energy halfway through.  Could you talk a little bit about that?  Was it simply the choreography was exhausting, or did you have a little bit of trouble connecting to the performance, or something like that?

Alexis: I definitely think that jive is very energetic and you’re always bouncing, you’re always kicking, you’re always flicking, you’re always smiling and lifting.  So jive is definitely – you need a lot of adrenaline and endurance for it.  But I definitely think that maybe I just didn’t have enough endurance at that time.  I do feel like I probably died a little bit towards the end just because I was giving it so much in the beginning.  Jive was amazing to do and I would love to keep doing it.


What are your plans now that you’ve been eliminated?  For the short term, and then, consequently, for the long term after the show is over?

Alexis: I would love to go to New York and dance there, whether it’s shows or tap companies or any companies.  I would love to be in New York dancing, or wherever a show can take me.  Wherever life wants to take me, I’ll go.  But right now, New York is my next dream.

Curtis: I’m the same way, I just want to dance.  For now, I’m going back home to Miami and I’m just going to teach and dance from there.  Then, hopefully, I’ll just get a call and I will just go wherever I’m needed.


What have you, either of you, taken away from being a part of this process and being a part of the show?

Alexis: I definitely think I took away confidence with me.  Going into the show, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself.  I never thought I’d even make Top 20.  To make Top 14 just shows me the kind of dancer that I am and that America does love me enough to make it this far. I definitely think it’s boosted my confidence.  More, it just makes me want to keep dancing for the rest of my life.

Curtis:  I’m definitely taking away a lot of confidence, also, just in myself and …  I think I’m taking away a lot of self-evaluation about myself.  I’m learning a lot more about who I am, what I can do, what I cannot do, and working on what I cannot do.


Curtis… Nigel was pretty tough on you last week, especially saying something like it’s almost like you forgot how to perform.  What was your reaction to that.  Did you think he was a little too hard on you at times, especially when talking about your lack of alleged core strength and all that?

Curtis:  No, I think that it’s all constructive criticism.  Honestly, I never take criticism as a batting session or anything like that.  So I can’t honestly say that he was out to get me or anything like that.  All of the criticism, no matter how bad people think it is, I always take as a chance for me to grow.


Why did you originally want to try out for So You Think You Can Dance?  How many times did you audition until you actually got onto the show into the Top 20?

Alexis: I only auditioned one time, the first time, and then I made it to Top 20 this time.  I think I just really wanted to inspire people to tap dance.  I felt like an amazing way to do that was just to be on TV tapping.  I just felt like tap was kind of dying as an art form, and it’s just getting to be a really small world for tap dancers.

I just want it to keep growing.  As the next generation of tap dancers is coming up, I just want it to be a big group.  I definitely think that’s happening because on Twitter and everything – people have been tweeting me, like, you’ve inspired me to learn tap and I’m going to get tap shoes now.  It’s just an amazing thing to know that the reason I wanted to be on the show is actually happening.  It’s great.

Curtis:  I know that I didn’t intend on auditioning for the purpose of getting on the Top 20.  I was just auditioning just to do it.  I think that I just wanted to try it because I was in college and I was bored of it.  So I said why not and I went and auditioned and look where I ended up.

SYTYCD – Interview with Mariah and BluPrint

This week on SYTYCD, we saw the bottom six dancers were Makenzie Dustman, Alan Bersten, Curtis Holland, Jenna Johnson, Mariah Spears and BluPrint… everyone except Jenna, as she is the sole remaining ballroom dancer left in the competition… had to dance for their lives for the judges, which included regulars Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, but also quest judge Carly Ray Jepsen! After their solo’s, they found their partners to prepare for their choreographed number in hopes they would dance again next week. After some very good performances from all, they broke the news to Mariah and BluPrint that this was the end of the road for them. Mariah and BluPrint sat down with the press, including The Yak, to share their thoughts and experiences from SYTYCD!


Mariah & BluPrint

While there’s some notes obviously in hip hop in a little bit of what you both do, does it feel almost like there’s an extra challenge in that?  You don’t really get the opportunity to do many choreographed  animating or krumping routines on the show, so do you  have the challenge of basically doing something somewhat different from your style every single week?

Mariah: Yes, I mean it’s definitely more difficult just because we’ve never done anything like that before, but it just pushes us to work even harder.

BluPrint: Yes, it is because we’re both completely out of our element in each style.  But, yes, it does help.  It does push us to want to even make a little like that is our style on the show.

What was it like for you two going from working with one partner to another?  Is that another challenge, or is that kind of exciting in a way?  Going from working with one partner on the live show, then your first partner being eliminated and switching over to a new partner…  Is it kind of a cool feeling to work with multiple people?  Is it a challenge?

BluPrint: It’s actually cool because I get to experience what it is like to work with different people instead of keeping it the same every week.  We all bond like really quickly.  So, I mean having chemistry wasn’t a problem.  We got right to having fun.  That was a great experience….

Mariah: Yes, I totally agree.  I mean it’s so cool to see and learn like how different people work and as BluPrint said, we all bonded so quickly.  It’s not hard.

 A couple of weeks ago (there was no show the prior week due to an all-star baseball game) you had performed the hip hop routine together that was highly praised. When America voted you both into the bottom six, did that make your elimination almost sting a little bit more considering you both were pretty much in your element?  It seems like that kind of would be the worst way to go out, being that you were both on your home turf type of thing.

Mariah: I mean, yes, it’s hard like when you think you did so well the week before and then being on the bottom and being eliminated.  But, I mean everyone does amazing every week.  So, it’s always so up in the air.  You never know.

BluPrint: Basically what she said.  Doing our own style is actually kind of more difficult because the judges are looking for you to do so much.  They’re expecting more from you, especially when it’s your style.  So, doing that … was actually not—it was challenging especially because I … like that, but it was actually fun at the same time.

 It was clear that that routine had a lot of choreography, it was fast paced & it seemed to be a little exhausting for you two…  Do you feel like out of all the hip hop routines you could have learned, that this was almost the most difficult one?  Did you feel like it was kind of the most challenging thing you were presented with out of every other possibility for that genre?

BluPrint: In a way it was because of the energy level that we had to have, but it was actually more fun to learn than any hip hop routine that I’ve learned so far.

 Mariah: Yes, I mean it was—it was super-fast and super high energy, but it made it that much more exciting I feel like.

 Mariah, what does it mean to you to represent female hip hoppers on So You Think You Can Dance? They really haven’t been heavily or highly represented in the past?

Mariah: I mean, it feels so amazing to be able to say that I can represent something that hasn’t really been on the show.  I mean it has before, but not in a long time and not very much.  So, to be able to like be one of those girls, one of the three, I believe, girls that have been able to do that, it’s so cool and such like a unique thing that I have that I was so blessed to be able to portray on the show.

 BluPrint, as an animator that is such a different style from so many of the other things you’ve been presented with on SYTYCD… Has learning any of these other styles and working with those affected your own style of dance?  Do you think you’ll bring that into any of your dancing in the future?

BluPrint: Yes, it affected it in a good way because I’m like a little bit more versatile now and I have been practicing my own style as well like every day too.  So, it actually helps me to be more open and just do more things with my original stuff.

 What is your opinion on the guest judges this season.  There’s been a lot of criticism about the fact that maybe all the guest judges don’t necessarily have the proper background in dance to be able to give the proper critiques.  Do you have any thoughts on that?

BluPrint: I actually liked some of the guest judges because they actually did give good critiques even though some of them don’t really have dancing experience.  But, they actually gave like good critiques.  They didn’t say anything out of the water or anything.  I actually took what Carly Rae said and went with it.  But, yes, I really liked the guest judges especially because I mean they bring a lot to the show and everybody loves them and all that.

Mariah: Yes, I mean and I fully agree with Blu(Print).  They do judge very well.  I mean they all are a part of the entertainment industry, which is what dance is a part of.  It’s not always about the technique or anything.  I mean they do have judges that can comment on that and I’m sure just watching dance, you can—you may not know everything about it, but you can see that stuff.

But, it’s more about the whole entertainment value I feel like and that’s what those guest judges bring.  They bring something different, something a little—a different perspective on something you see every week.

 Does the lack of a result show kind of make it more difficult in the sense that you’re immediately preparing for the performance with the knowledge that there’s going to be eliminations on the very same show?

Mariah: Definitely.  It is really hard without a results show to separate your performance from the whole stress of, “Okay, well, I might go home after this performance.”  But at the same time, it pushes you to leave everything you have out there because you know—again, you know this could be your last time performing.

BluPrint: Yes, exactly what Mariah said.  We all know that it might be our last performance.  So, it actually pushes us harder to try to make the judges change their mind if they do have a decision to send one of us home.  Just makes us work harder.

 Mariah, the judges absolutely loved you in the hip hop routine from a couple of weeks ago, saying you were effortless and shining and so forth.  But this week, the judges seemed to think your jazz routine was just “goodish” as Nigel put it.  Do you kind of wish that you could have changed anything about the performance looking back at  what you two brought to it?  Do you think that is the sole reason why you went home I guess this week?

Mariah: I mean, I think that we did everything we could with that dance routine.  It was a great routine and it was really just….  I think that we did—I mean we definitely left all we could on that stage and I could have never wished for anything more.  Definitely, it comes down to all of these dancers, the whole top 20 were absolutely incredible dancers.  It just comes down to one person has to go home a week and Makenzie is flawless.

 BluPrint, During the show two weeks ago when you performed the hip hop, the judges and your choreographer made it clear that your “freestyle is ill,” but you kind of lack emotion in your face and the judges wanted to see the performance quality come out a little bit more.  What is your take on that? Did you notice that that was missing from your end, and was that something you were really starting to work on, but obviously you didn’t get the chance to really show them that you could finish it?

BluPrint: I was really working on that, especially last week.  Like after the judges said what they said, I really went home and worked on it like to the max.  I am kind of upset that I didn’t get a chance to show that part, but I did definitely work on it.  It’s going to help me in the future for my future performances too.  So, I took that in.  I actually thank the judges for saying all that because now I know what I’m missing in my performance.

 We’ve seen, particularly Mariah, you’re a crier.  We saw you were upset last night even before … going home.  How hard is it to see your fellow dancers go home?  How close have you guys gotten over the course of the show?

Mariah: I am a crier, but it is so hard.  We’re such a close family.  We became so close.  I mean I signed all of them my best friends.  So, it’s so hard to watch people go home and then to go home yourself because not only like just the end of the road for the competition.  It’s not even that.  It’s just that we’re going to miss each other so much.

BluPrint: Yes, everybody here, we basically grew into one big family.  So, to see like everybody leave and to leave yourself is very hard.  But, they give you inspiration and we all keep in touch, which is a good thing.

 Of those that are left, what guy and girl do you think might win it all?

Mariah: I don’t think we can choose.  I mean at least for me, everyone is so, so good at not only what they do, but I mean you’ve seen everyone grow and do things that none of us expected we could do.  So, there is no way at least I can pick a guy and a girl because everyone is so great.

BluPrint: Yes, same here.  Everyone is really great.  So, I can’t really even wrap my mind around who is going to win right now.

 Mariah., the video clip in last night’s episode showed how you were a cheerleader for a while and absolutely loved every minute of it, which makes it even more ironic and notable that your preferring style is krumping.  Can you talk a little bit about how you began krumping, how you got so good at it, and at what point in your life it became a passion?

Mariah: Yes.  I mean I’ve always been interested in like being really diverse and trying to do like things people wouldn’t expect.  And so, I started doing hip hop when I was like eight, but I just got like—my teacher, Chris Thomas, came to my studio and started teaching and he’s a krumper.  I just like got taken under his wing and just started like absolutely loving it and loving like everything he taught, if it was krump, if it was just regular choreography.  I guess I just like took it and ran with it because it was so cool, so different.

 BluPrint, when Nigel was critiquing your hip hop performance a couple of weeks ago, he also said it was vital to maintain personality since you’re  “not a great dancer yet.”  Did that comment surprise you or offend you at all because some viewers who saw Nigel make that comment kind of thought, “How would he have made it to the top 20 if he wasn’t “a great dancer yet”?

BluPrint: Okay.  Well, I mean it didn’t really take offense with me because I just sort of brushed it off and like ignored that part of the comment.  But, the personality part, I mean I knew I was lacking in that area and I really didn’t get a chance to show them that part because what happened yesterday; I got eliminated.  But, I mean I’m glad he gave me that critique though because I know what I need to work on.

 Why did you originally apply for SYTYCD, and how many times did you audition before actually making it to the top 20?

BluPrint: This was my first time auditioning and originally, I wasn’t going to audition.  Some friends kind of pushed me into it because … because they all wanted to audition and I just wanted to go for the ride, but it was like, “Well, since you’re here, you might as well audition.”  So, I went ahead and did it and made it here.

Mariah: I had watched since the first season and have known people who have gone through it.  Ever since I saw the first season, I was like it’s my dream to like be on the show.  And so, I auditioned … also and got cut the Vegas week and then auditioned again this year and I made it.

 What’s next now after the show?  What are your future plans?

BluPrint: Well, I’m just going to go back to my crew and travel with my crew to shows and … YouTube videos and I’m also going to take choreo classes because the show has really helped me fall in love with choreo stuff.  So, I’m going to take more classes on that so I can get fluent in that area and just keep doing my thing.

Mariah: Yes and I’m going to go back to school for dance and just keep training and try to become more the trained technical dancer and then start auditioning and see how it goes from there.

 Would either of you would be interested in coming back as an All Star if they ask you to?

BluPrint: Yes, I would definitely be interested because everyone there—like when we were new, we didn’t know what to expect.  So, we were like kind of just going with the flow, but then an All Star came in and showed us what to do like during rehearsals and how to do things.  I just want to be that person to help the next group, the next top 20, help them get what they need and show them what to expect and all of that.  Basically, just help everybody out.

Mariah: Yes.  It would be so amazing, such a dream to come back as an All Star because like SYTYCD is just such a family and I’d love to be able to stay a part of that family.


Sad to see Mariah and BluPrint go? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!



SYTYCD: The Yak Talks To Eliminated Dancer Jasmine Mason

After watching their friends Brittany & Carlos be eliminated last week, the remaining 18 dancers gave it their all in this weeks SYTYCD! Before the dancers took the stage, we found out that this week they would not be eliminated at the beginning of the show, but at the end as in the previous season of SYTYCD, because producer/Judge Nigel Lythgoe listened to the fans after last weeks show and tweaked the format. We also learned contestant Jade Zuberi had to withdraw from the competition this week, due to a torn meniscus that will require surgery followed by a recuperation period of three or four months.

So the energy was high, and I’m sure nerves were crazy as they danced for regular judges Nigel Lythgoe & Brittney Murphy and along with guest judges Paula Abdul & Erin Andrews!  After the dancers finished their performances, the bottom 2 guys.  Curtis Holland and BluPrint,  found out they got a pass from elimination due to Jade having to drop from the competition. All bottom 3 girls, Jasmine Mason, Jenna Johnson, and Alexis Juliano, were asked to Dance For Their Lives… we then found out we had to say goodbye to Jasmine!


The Yak got to participate in on a conference call this week with Jasmine Mason…

All the judges seem to kind of agree that you didn’t really let loose and just have as much fun in the routines as you could have, to a certain extent, how do you feel about the way you performed it.  Do you believe it was as quirky as you could have made it and given it as much energy as you could have?

Jasmine: Well, when I was doing the routine I felt that I was being quirky and I was having fun.  But obviously the judges know what they’re talking about, and I’m sure I could have loosened up a little bit.  But I was so focused on trying to be this prim and proper queen that I think I kind of let that take over a little bit.

You weren’t in the bottom six last week, so did it surprise you that you landed in the bottom six this week and also that you were the girl that ended up getting eliminated?

Jasmine: Yes, I was a little bit surprised.  But the show is so unpredictable.  The bottom three last week I didn’t think was going to be the bottom three.  You’re just always prepared and you always are practicing your solo, so I was a little surprised.  But I wasn’t too surprised, because it’s so unpredictable.

How did you feel about the twist last week in which they revealed the results at the beginning of the show, and this week they revealed them at the end.  Do you think that was the right move to make?

Jasmine: Honestly, I think eliminations, no matter what, are going to be hard, and they’re going to be sad.  So if it was at the beginning or the end it doesn’t matter, because it’s still so hard.  I think it’s a little bit better because it’s really hard to go back on the stage and perform, but knowing that it’s your last time, you can probably be in it a little bit more, do you know what I mean?  So I think either way it’s tough.

Nigel last week was pretty unimpressed with everyone’s Dance for Your Life performances.  Do you feel like the bottom six dancers this week kind of felt pressured to up their game and improve their dance for the live performances, or at least feel the pressure to deliver it better?

Jasmine: Yes, I feel like everyone upped their game, because you have to really dance for your life on that show and the judges are really looking at that solo, and you have to show what you can do, because that’s how you got on the show.  I feel like everyone, we had another week to kind of pull ourselves together.  We saw Brittany and Carlos go home, and nobody wants to be that person, so we all practiced a lot, put our head in the game, and I feel like everyone really stepped it up.

 What do you plan to do next?

Jasmine: Oh my gosh, I’m not stopping here.  I want to obviously continue my dance career, get back with my dance agent, see what we can do, but I had so much fun on the stage acting and playing different roles that I think that I really want to get into some acting stuff and see where that goes.

What was your favorite performance that you did?

Jasmine: Definitely the blindfold with Alan, because I was so proud of us, because it was our first week together, and anybody’s first week together is the hardest, because you have to find that trust in that person right away, instantly, and a connection, and not only did we have to do that, but we had to do it with blindfolds on.  I felt so accomplished when we pulled that routine off, so that was probably one of my favorite routines to do on the show.

I wanted to know what brought you back to try out again for the show and if that was a tough decision to come back.

Jasmine: Once I heard a “no” last year I was like, I’m probably not going to come back, because it was really hard to bounce back on your feet because you prepare yourself to be on the show, of course.  But once the time came to decide if I was going to … or not, I was like, I have to do this because I made it so far last year that I know I can do it again and I know I can get on the show.  So I really trained hard and I wanted it so much more than I did last year, because last year I was very like, you know, whatever happens, happens, it was my first year, and I didn’t expect to get that far, and then I had gotten that far and I was like, I have to do it again.  It would be not very smart if I didn’t try out again, so yes.

It seems like being on the show can be tough.  There’s a lot of information being thrown at you, there are a lot of emotions flying around, so how did you stay focused throughout your time in the competition?

Jasmine: Well, everybody there is with you and we’re all going through the same thing, so I was like everyone really helped each other, all the other contestants, and we always were rehearsing, we were always practicing, you’re also taking in what the judges are saying.  So you and your partner are going over all the corrections you might get, and I just really tried to focus on me and my partner’s connection and just rehearsing all the time.  If we weren’t rehearsing in the studio with our choreographer, we were finding a spot where we could rehearse, whether it was on the street corner, but no matter what we were always trying to focus on our routine, no matter what.  We weren’t getting sidetracked or social networking all the time.  We were really just focusing on us and making our routine better.  And you have no time really to do anything else, because you’re always rehearsing.  Everyone thinks we have that one day in rehearsal which is on camera, but no, you have another six hour rehearsal the next day.  And it’s really tough, but I loved it.

Is  there any choreographer in specific that you wish you got to work with that you didn’t?

Jasmine: I would say that I wish I got to work with Stacey Tookey, because every single piece she puts out on the stage is beautiful, and her concepts are beautiful.  She’s beautiful.  So I really wanted to work with her, because looking at past seasons everyone seems to have really gotten a good routine with her, and I wish that I could have worked with her.

What do you think Alan brought out in you as a partner… How did he help you or enhance your performance?

Jasmine: Alan is seriously the hardest worker ever.  It’s 10:00 at night and he’s like, “Let’s rehearse.”  And I’m just lying in bed like, “Okay, let’s go.”  I feel like he really made me, I had to step up my game just to be with him, because he was always trying to practice and working hard, and if he didn’t get one thing he was doing it over and over and over again, so he kind of taught me to be more persistent.  And he was such a good partner.  I had so much trust in him.  And if we messed up a lift, he always had me and he just made me feel a little bit more confident in us, because it’s your first time partnering with somebody and it’s going to be hard, but he was like, “No, we’ve got this.”  And he believed in us and he believed in me and he helped me a lot through this competition.

Was there any particular dance genre that you wish you would have been able to accomplish or take on that you didn’t get to?

Jasmine: Oh my gosh, hip hop.  I wanted to do hip hop so bad, because it just seemed so fun on the show and not as stressful as the tango or a blindfolded dance.  I really wanted to do hip hop so bad, and probably work with Nappy Tab or Luther Brown, I don’t know, but I just wanted to get the opportunity to do that.  And I feel like if I was on the show that would have been my next genre, but I’ll just take a lot of classes here at home.

Knowing that you guys build good relationships with your partners, what kind of words of encouragement or advice did you leave him with when you left?

Jasmine: I was just like, “You need to find the trust that you found in me with your new partner, and go for it.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t hold back.  You have this.”  He is such a hard worker and I know that he’s going to be amazing at every single genre that he gets.  He did jazz, and he’s never done jazz before, and he really trusted in me, and we helped each other out.  And I feel like Malece, that’s his next partner, and they’re just going to go out there and they’re going to kill it.  And I told him just to “Go for it.  Be happy.  You’ve got this.”  That’s what I told him.






SYTYCD: The Yak Chats with Brittany and Carlos

First off, let me give a sincere apology for getting this out so late! With the holiday weekend, things got delayed so as the saying goes… “better late than never!”

The top 20 show started out like no other in the history of SYTYCD… with a group dance to “Puttin on the Ritz”, which went from outside to backstage to center stage, dancers starting out in sweat pants and jogging suits to them making their way into a black tie event attire! It was the most inventive and entertaining group performance to date… and all this included some fun cameos by Nigel Lythgoe, Travis Wall, Marie Murphy and many more. Personally, I watched it about 4 times… so I thought I should at least mention it!

Group dance pic

With that said, this year’s elimination process has been revamped yet again, but just slightly. All 20 dancers were paired up and danced their hearts out in the top 20 show. Then on the following weeks show, we got to see the bottom 6 individuals with the least votes from America at the beginning of the show, instead of like in the past where the eliminations were announced at the end of the show after all the dancers did their routines. The judges then decide which dancers out of the 6 they want to dance for their lives… followed by the judges eliminating 1 girl and 1 boy.

This weeks bottom 6 dancers were Makenzie Dustman, Alan Bersten, Mariah Spears, Jade Zuberi, Brittany Cherry and  Carlos Garland. The judges decided to save Makenzie and Alan right away, leaving Mariah, Jade, Brittney and Carlos to dance for their lives. All 4 give it their all but in the end, the judges decide to eliminate Brittney and Carlos from the competition. And since the dancers are eliminated at the beginning of the show, they are still being asked to dance with their partner during the show. Which leads us into our 1st question on our conference call last Wednesday…

Brittany and Carlos

Can you try to describe how difficult it was for each one of you to perform right after you were eliminated?

Brittany: It was actually difficult to pull it all together and perform after we were eliminated, but that’s the name of the game.  That’s what we’re trained to do.  We are dancers and and no matter what the circumstances the show must go on. We ended the show celebrating dancing and our success this far and being able to be there for our partners made it so much better.

Carlos: Yeah it’s definitely a message that you have to send to other dancers of what we did because like Brittany said the show must go on.  You have to realize the greater task is at hand.  You have to kind of pull all your emotions together and just perform and do our duty.

Is there anything that either one of you wish that the show could have highlighted that you think might have gotten you to stay a little bit longer…  another week or so or is something you really don’t want to wrap your brain around because then you start overthinking everything?

Brittany: There are so many factors as to what they do show and what they don’t show, and to think of all the possibilities like, “Oh I should have done this” or ‘”Oh they should have done that,” there are so many different scenarios that could have played out it’s a lot to wrap your brain around.

Carlos: Yeah definitely.  You have to take advantage of the time that you are given on air and it’s kind of hard to wrap your brain around there could have been so many possibilities but we’re thankful for what we got and what we were given.

Which choreographer do you feel like was able to pull the most out of you?

Brittany: Oh man, I feel like each of the choreographers I worked with had something different to bring to the table and to pull out of me, and I definitely learned something different from myself each time I worked with somebody new.  It’s hard to pinpoint one choreographer.

Carlos: For me definitely it was Stacy from last night’s performance.  It was definitely more of an emotion side that I don’t display that much and she definitely helped me soften up my qualities and helped me to achieve something new.

Can you tell me your favorite thing about your top 20 partner?

Brittany: My favorite part about BluPrint is that he is so funny.  He’s the funniest person on the earth.  He just like turns in to these characters.  He has these different voices that he does and it’s just the funniest thing in the world.

Carlos: I love that Mariah is such a hard worker.  She always seems perfect and she tries so hard, and I think that helped me as well to get us on the same page and I felt our chemistry was greater that way.

Were you surprised to be voted in to the bottom six dancers, and then also were you surprised the judges eliminated you?

Carlos: I wasn’t surprised to be in the bottom because I did the jive last week and I think that’s a hard dance for people to vote on.  But when we were in the bottom, I was surprised that the judges did eliminated us… as would anyone be surprised because you never know their reasoning for who they chose or what they chose but you know it’s for some reason.

Brittany: Yeah exactly what Carlos said, it was definitely surprising hearing your name, but also at the same time it’s not surprising because people do have to be in the bottom three. It was definitely a shock to be eliminated, and like Carlos said, everybody has their reasons.  There was a reason we were cut.  There was a reason we made it to the top 20, so you kind of just have to expect it and take it with a positive note.

Nigel was not impressed with all 4 of your dance for your life performances… how do you feel about your own performance?  Do you feel like you gave that dance your?

Carlos: You can always do better than what you’ve done before, but at the time you do give your best, and I think that’s what we did given the circumstances.

Brittany: Yeah I feel as though like there’s always room to grow, and we can always improve, but last night I put myself out there and I did the best I could be, and you know it didn’t come off that way, but I am very happy with my performance.

What is the one thing that either of you take away from this overall experience of being a part of the audition process and the show So You Think You Can Dance?

Carlos: Definitely meeting new friends and family.  We’ve grown so close to each other and we all went through this process together so that was definitely going to be the most I will take away because we all worked together doing the same thing.  We woke up together.  We ate together.  We went in to the same process and learned choreography and worked hard and pushed our bodies and minds to the limit.

Brittany: Yeah exactly what Carlos said, like we’ve all become such great friends.  We’ve been through this entire journey hand-in-hand supporting each other, being there for each other, crying together, working so hard to get where we are so I think I’m going to take away the amazing friendships and this entire journey has been the greatest thing.

Do you guys have any plans in the short-term or the long-term now that you’ve been eliminated from the show?

Brittany: I think we can only go up from here.  Honestly I just hope to keep dancing and doing what I love and working, and hopefully be working with Dancing with the Stars.  There are so many possibilities in the future and I’m so excited for what is in store.

Carlos: Yeah, the plan is always the same even before the show, just to keep dancing and work as much as you can.  Eventually I would like to start my own company and start branching in to choreography as well as performing at the same time so hopefully some new doors will be opening for me.

I’m sure leaving your partners behind was hard, but what kind of advice or words of encouragement did you leave them with?

Brittany: I told Blu, just to kill it out there.  He is such a character and I just want him to be able to show that to America and open up and let them in.  I just told him to open himself up and just kill it.

Carlos: I told Mariah to just to keep doing what she’s doing.  She’s a great performer and she really taps in to the piece that’s she’s given so really all she has to do is keep growing, don’t change anything.

Did your partners or fellow dancers leave you with any encouragement or words of advice moving forward for you guys?

Carlos: Yeah of course, everyone did.  Everyone was sad to see us go, and we all just remind each other that it’s not the end of the road; it’s just the beginning of this journey.  We’re all coming back for the finale so it’s all going to be great.

Brittany: Yeah exactly what Carlos said, everyone was so sad to see us go, especially for the first people eliminated. For everyone, it was such an emotional night, and before the show we all reminded each other that we made it to the top 20 and that we are here as a family, and we did this together.  Everyone is here because they’re amazing at what they do, and that everyone just loves each other, and just stay ourselves and be there for each other, keep being supportive because that’s what we’ve been doing from the beginning, and that we’ll see each other in a few weeks for the finale.

Carlos, as a contemporary dancer you had to perform the jive with Mariah last week and the judges main criticism was kind of that the moves seemed a little too fast for you guys to keep up with. Do you think it was the kind of the choreography lead to your demise rather than the skills that you showcased during that performance?

Carlos: Yeah, the dance was difficult but that has nothing to do with our job as dancers and the ways to execute them.  Once we’re given the choreography it’s our responsibility to perform as well as we can, and I feel I did my best and so did Mariah.  The jive is a whole new language for a hip hop dancer and a contemporary dancer.  We focused on performing it well, and I thought we did.

Brittany, as a Latin ballroom dancer you performed Afro-Jazz with BluPrint, and you got raving reviews from the judges.  What do you think happened or why you think you didn’t connect so much with the audience?  Do you think maybe the style itself was less popular amongst viewers?

Brittany: There are so many different factors and Afro-Jazz is a very different style. It’s not one of your normal dance styles, and I don’t know if it was easy for America to really feel or maybe they thought that we had it in the bag because sometimes when the judges praise one couple America won’t vote for them just because they’re like, “Oh I’m not going to vote for them they’re good.  They’re great.  I’m going to vote for these other people.”  There are so many different reasons and explanations and theories that I have or other people have and to think of them is—like it doesn’t matter because it is what it is and I am grateful for what I have accomplished.

How many times did you guys actually audition for the show, and what made you want to try out for the how originally?

Carlos: This was my third time auditioning.  I auditioned in Season 4 and 5.  I sucked back then so I didn’t even make it to Vegas but this time I had more confidence in myself and I had more training, and I thought I showed that to the judges.  They did remember me from previous seasons.

Brittany: This was my first time auditioning for the show, and I am so excited and thankful that I did make it to the top 20 because a lot of people like Carlos have tried out many times before.  I had wanted to do the show since Season 2 and I put my mind to it and succeeded.

Brittany, You and Surge had auditioned together and were together throughout the entire audition process.  How did it feel when you made it on to the show and he did not, and do you think he’ll come back again in a future season?

Brittany: It was definitely the most bittersweet thing I think I’ve ever experienced.  Surge is the best partner I could have asked for and he is such a hard worker and I was so sad that he didn’t make it because he had tried out in previous seasons.  The judges brought us in together and they told us that Surge was no longer in the competition and that I had succeeded, and I just cried so much.  I just bawled.  I was so sad to see Surge go just because we’d been in it together since the beginning, and he wasn’t going to be experiencing it with me anymore so it was definitely really sad.  If there is a next season I think Surge will audition.  I don’t know what the future holds though and I hope he does audition and succeeds and moves on to the show because I think he would do a really great job.

Internet Friendships…

I’ve had my fair share of friends I’ve met over the internet… most have come and gone, but some are closer to me than friends I may see everyday. And really, I’ve only had one standout bad experience… and still today it lingers.

With the Manti Te’o scandal, the college football player from Notre Dame that had some kind of internet relationship with a girl who may or may not have had cancer & also at some point was to have died, but later was discovered she was alive (sounds too much like a Jerry Springer episode to me!!)…. I really don’t know the full story well, but when this story hit, it really made me think about things.

Until the summer of 2011, most of my internet friendships were nothing more than friending someone on Facebook (or prior to that, MySpace) to gain neighbors or friends for some sort of online game I was playing, like FarmVille or the variety. I never really talked to them or got to know them at all, they just sent me stuff for my farm, or a extra life some other game I may have been addicted to at the time, but other than that, they were just a face on my wall… I actually still have a select few who I’ve decided to keep around, even though I really don’t know them well, but they post interesting things & feel they add to my life in one way or another.

But my love for reality has broadened my horizons & have found some more lasting friendships who I have more in common with, like the forum at (what I call) The Yak. There are others, who shall not be named, but similar in format to what we see at The Yak.

I have found some of the most unlikely friendships. For most of these friends I’ve found I know without a shadow of doubt they are true friends, and know they add value to me and my life. Some I would even consider best friends, and know me more better than I know myself. It so much easier to be myself with them, partly because I think being behind a computer screen and not face-to-face makes it easier to be more brave and/or vulnerable, to show the sides you might hide from people you have direct contact with… seeing someones face and/or reaction when you disappoint or not live up to expectations is sometimes the worst to overcome.

And this is where my reason for writing this comes in. One friendship in particular has had me so confused with myself and it still lingers. Why?? This is someone who I stuck up for when no one else did, believed in and never gave up… yet whenever I let myself think about the situation or this person is involved in, I feel so bitter… and I still can’t put my finger on the exact reason why I can’t just let go. This person no longer matters to me, or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that I don’t care… I think it’s obvious I do care, but why or why should I?? Uhhhgggg… I hate it! Whenever I try to deal with it and why I feel this way, I usually end up in tears… and no answers.

I tried to tell myself that I need to back away from meeting friends online, or at least not letting myself get attached… and it was once pointed out to me that I have unrealistic expectations when it comes to my (online) friendships, and I do believe this is true. The person that told me this is someone I talk to everyday without fail, yet I’ve never met in person… but feel like I’ve known my whole life. I think the friends I’ve made online have spoiled me, so maybe I can just blame them for my unrealistic expectations! HA!!

Truth is, I really want to let go… but haven’t figured out the magic potion to release me from whatever it is that’s holding on?? I value each and every friendship I have, because I spent some of my early childhood without friends (which I might touch on sometime in the future), and I NEVER want to feel that alone again. So part of letting go of this person goes against the grain of what I believe, yet dealing with the bitterness I feel isn’t doing me much good either, sigh…. In closing, I’m still as confused as I ever was but writing always helps clear my mind!!!! Bottomline, I love the friends I’ve made online, so I don’t think this will stop me from making more, but it will make me more leary on how much I put into someone I really don’t know. The ones I’ve made definitely outweigh this one bad experience.