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.

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