A San Francisco native and UC Irvine graduate, 25-year-old Asuka Kondoh is “nervous for everything” as Wednesday’s first performance episode nears. But even without her longtime ballroom dancing partner by her side, Kondoh is ready to walk the walk, dance the dance and put her best face forward for America.
Where are you based out of Irvine? Are there any particular studios you practice at often?
I drive a lot because the thing is I have a partner and he lives in Arcadia, so it’s not like we’re always in Irvine. We’re everywhere and anywhere we can find space, different dance studios, different gyms. It’s hard because we work as a couple and not for a dance studio.
So you usually dance with a partner. What’s it been like to move on in the competition without him?
It is weird because I am used to dancing with him and it just feels weird because I’m used to being in his arms and it’s comforting, and now I have to get used to a whole other partner and try to connect with them. I am really sad that Ricky’s not here right now. A familiar face would help, but I’m getting along great with everyone and I like my partner now. We’re working it out.
Is there any new genre you’re a little nervous to learn, maybe one type of dance you’re not as familiar with?
I think I’m pretty nervous for everything. We are already in our first week, and you think you have a dance style in the bag but then, shocker, actually not. You have to be nervous because you just don’t know what to expect.
I heard you’re a big fan of Lacey from Season 3, have you watched the show every season?
I watched Season 2, Season 3 and Season 4, of course.
Had you always intended to audition or was it more of a spur of the moment decision?
It was a spur of the moment for last year. This is my second time actually, because I tried out for Season 4 with my partner and that was spur of the moment especially because I had the flu. My partner was like, ‘Let’s do it! Let’s do it!’ so we went on the computer and we were like, ‘Oh crap, the audition is in like two days.’
What do you think or hope the show will do for your career?
I’m just hoping to get more exposure. I’m just hoping it will make me a better performer, a better dancer and I can use that to my greatest advantage for later on no matter what I do. No matter what path I take after the show, it’s just going to benefit me and make me a stronger person.
Is there anything else you’re nervous for, such as the taping of the show or maybe the judges?
It’s pretty overwhelming, actually. I know once we see the crowd, hear the song and see Cat Deeley speaking, my heart is going to want to burst. It’s a lot of pressure. I hope I look OK on camera.
Is there any choreographer from the show you’re particularly excited to work with?
You know, honestly, I want to work with all of them. I think whoever I get is just going to be wonderful. I’m glad I got this choreographer for this round, and I can’t wait for the next round. They are seriously all of my favorites. I can’t even compare them. … I hope I get to work with most of them. I love Mia Michaels. Anyone that they throw at me, they are going to be wonderful, and I would love to work with every single one of them. That would be my dream come true, to work with every single one of them.