LA Times: SYTYCD 5 Jason Glover and Janette Manrara’s final words

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After their (some would say surprising) elimination Thursday night, “So You Think You Can Dance” contestants Jason Glover and Janette Manrara chatted Friday with journalists on a conference call about their experiences on the show.

Jason, on how he felt following Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi’s emotional dance, inspired by a woman’s fight with breast cancer:
I was definitely prepared [to go home] because all the performances were really strong and I think that the piece that everybody will remember obviously was Ade and Melissa’s piece. I think that piece definitely stole the night. It overshadowed all of the other pieces and it was absolutely amazing. I think that it kind of threw everyone for a loop because I don’t think people were expecting to see something that amazing. We were standing backstage and we were like, “Oh, crap, we have to follow that up? Awesome. What do we do now? They’re doing a piece about breast cancer and now we’re doing a piece about death.” Not fun. But I think we just went out there and had fun with it. You can’t think about those things before you step onto a stage because if you do, it’s going to mess you up and it’s going to show in your performance. It’s not going to end up well. I’m very happy for Melissa and Ade to get a piece like that and they got to experience something like that on the show. It changed a lot of lives and affected a lot of people, so I’m very proud of them for being able to do that. I think it overshadowed a lot of the other pieces but, like I said, you can’t worry about that stuff. You just have to go out there and do your best.

Janette on her biggest competition:
I think all the girls this season were really good and very talented in different ways. I wouldn’t be able to pick out one. I’ve heard, because we don’t get to read blogs or anything, a lot of people were saying it would be between Jeanine [Mason], Kayla [Radomski] and myself. But Melissa was also a huge competition because she’s just so talented and so genuine and so very real. I think her personality comes off great through the camera because she’s just such a great person. And not having Randi [Evans] around definitely made us sad because she was such a great person to be around, too, and definitely a powerhouse dancer.

janet_catdeeleyJanette on her previous career as a loan officer:
I was a senior loan processor. I assisted in managing the loan processing unit for Northern Trust Bank and it’s nationwide so I dealt with customers all over the nation. I helped a couple of people get houses and businesses. I had a pretty solid position. I actually was doing very well with my job and it was tough to leave it because, you know, it was just very secure. I had a steady salary, steady benefits. I had an apartment. I had everything going for me before I left it for the dancing so it was scary to take that jump and come into this completely different career of dancing and TV and all that. You should have seen me at the office. All my friends laughed at me. I played music all day and I was in my desk, moving around at all times. We’d have like little luncheons and little corporate events that we do and for Christmas and the different holidays throughout the year and they would always be like, “Oh Janette, can you dance for us? Please? I really want to see you do a little something. Do a little something for us.” I was like, “I can’t do that in a suit.” I really got into dancing a little too late, unfortunately. I realized how much I loved it when I was 19 so I had already started working at the bank. I already had a full-time job and it was very difficult to make that transition. I had to actually quit my job and leave everything that I had and everything that I had known to come and be on this show. It was a major risk that I took but I think it was a risk worth taking. It just feels more like home to be on stage, dancing and getting ready and makeup and hair and all that than sitting behind a desk and filling out paperwork for other people.

On whether it was harder to be eliminated after choreographer Mia Michaels declared Janette her favorite:
Actually, it makes it easier to go home. When Mia said that, I was completely shocked and I couldn’t believe that she felt that way about me. Me not being a contemporary dancer and her being a contemporary choreographer, just made me feel very accomplished. It sucks that I couldn’t achieve what Nigel [Lythgoe] and I guess Mia wanted me to achieve. But at the same time I do go home with a sense of still winning. I still accomplished something great and I still reached a goal that I think a lot of other dancers would love to and might still reach. It’s bittersweet. It definitely did make it easier to go home when Nigel said that he felt that he wanted me to win this year. Hard and easy, yes. Both at the same time.

— Claire Zulkey | Los Angeles Times

LA Times interview: Final thoughts from SYTYCD 5 Phillip Chbeeb and Caitlin Kinney

On Friday, the latest eliminated dancers from “So You Think You Can Dance,” Phillip Chbeeb and Caitlin Kinney, chatted on a conference call with journalists about their experiences on the show and more. Here are a few excerpts:

Phillip Chbeeb on engineering and school: Engineering, the major itself, is so stressful that I really needed an outlet of some sort and I feel like dance has provided that easily whenever engineering gets too stressful. But at the same time, it held me in my dance because my dance was more mathematical-minded than human emotion-driven. So it’s been a really interesting relationship between the science and the dancing.

I’m taking a little bit of time off [from school] and surprisingly, this worked out perfectly because I was going through a lot of money issues before the show happened. It’s amazing how things work out. It’s a blessing. The minute money problems got in the way of my college education, I got on the show and get on tour. So I’m definitely, hopefully going to save up with this tour and I’ll be back in school within a semester of that, well, whenever the tour ends, so that will be great. I’ve already seen my school and they’re excited to have me back.

On what’s next: I just got cut but I’m going back to Houston and I’m going to start choreographing, because that’s truly my passion, is choreography. So I’ll be doing that and then hopefully in a year or two you’ll see me choreographing for the show and at the same time I’ll be following my physics ambitions.

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Caitlin Kinney on when the judges questioned her chemistry with partner Jason Glover: I think Jason and I always struggled when they said that to us because we’re thinking, “My God, with all the couples, we really bonded as friends.” We hung out probably the most of any other couples, and I think we did have great chemistry. I think my boyfriend was probably thrilled that they kept saying they see no chemistry. But I don’t know what the deal was with that. I don’t know. It’s not something we really.… At some point you’re like, “Oh my God. We’re putting our heart and soul into this. We’re in it together. We’re doing it together.” And you can only do so much. They either see it or they don’t.

With the Bollywood routine; obviously we had to kiss at the end. So it started off with such a bang that there really was nowhere to go from there. There wasn’t any growing on the chemistry. It was always expected to be so intense and so emotional, whereas some of the pieces didn’t really call for that. The alien piece, you weren’t supposed to have any sort of lovey-dovey chemistry, that’s for sure. But I think Jason and I are great friends. I just had a wonderful time working with him. We got along so well. I wouldn’t have had any other partner.

Claire Zulkey | LA Times

(art: FOX)

LA Times Interview: What’s Next for SYTYCD 5 Karla Garcia and Vitolio Jeune?

Karla on her week with Vitolio:
It was really hard, because after [former partner ] Jonathan [Platero] got eliminated I was really emotional, because we got attached and then all of a sudden I got paired up with a brand-new partner. I had to find an emotional connection in very little time, plus had an added layer of the hardest dance style to work with, so it was a challenge, but we’re both professionals and we both had that motivation to show America that we could attack this kiss of death. That’s what brought us together, and that made it easier.

On the quickstep being known as the “kiss of death” on “SYTYCD”:
I think I was already practicing my solo when I opened that card that told us we’d be doing that dance, especially when everyone else around us had a genre in their comfort zone. I felt almost defeated, but there was motivation to attack the dance’s hard style. The blessing was having Jean-Marc [Généreux] as a choreographer. He was very involved and invested in us, and he knew it would be a difficult task and that it’s a hard dance to learn: Your feet have to work very fast, and you have to work intimately with your partner, and that was an additional challenge. I think Jean-Marc guided us a lot with the analogies he used to help us with frame and finding that connection physically. He gave us a great routine choreographically to make it easier because there were other things to focus on, like the story and acting, so we weren’t too focused on doing the quickstep perfectly.

What’s next:
Relaxing and spending time with family. I got a few offers the day after the elimination episode to teach and to perform and to do the Radio City Rockettes show and maybe get into acting.

karla_vitolio-catVitolio on how dancing saved his life:
I saw a Michael Jackson video in early age and that inspired me: Once I got out of an orphanage [in Haiti] I used dance as a way to survive and make money in the street and take care of myself and my grandma.

How it felt to be in the bottom three the third time:
I was a little surprised because, from the judges’ critiques the night before, we thought we had done an awesome quickstep. I knew we were somehow going to be in there because America had its favorites and wasn’t going to put its favorites aside to vote for us, but I was hoping for a miracle still.

What’s next:
I’m back in Miami and I’m looking for an agent in L.A., so I’m planning on moving to L.A. and keep on dancing and choreographing and getting into acting and modeling, and maybe writing a book about my life story.

Via the LA Times by Claire Zulkey

The LA Times Interview: Paris Torres and Tony Bellissimo SYTYCD 5 Experience

Paris Torres and Tony Bellissimo, the couple kicked off “So You Think You Can Dance” on Thursday night, chatted with journalists on a conference call. Below are a few excerpts:

Paris Torres:

On wardrobe malfunctions: The costumes were so elaborate. The wardrobe stylist on the show is amazing, and it was a great concept, but they constricted our movement pretty badly, and it just didn’t mesh well with what we were doing. With the tight, leathery plastic pants and the headphones, it was just a lot to take on, and it didn’t help the stress seituation much, but we tried to work with it and do the best that we could.

On a last-minute music choice: I had five songs chosen going into solos, and the last song on my list was the only song that got cleared by copyright, and I hadn’t rehearsed to that song yet! I had to go out there and throw a bunch of stuff to it.

On the show searching for “America’s favorite dancer”: I know that the judges are typecasting for the show and they need certain personalities and elasticities and types of dance, so it was a miracle for me just to make it into the top 20. I knew they weren’t eliminating me fully on the fact that they didn’t think I was a strong enough dancer.

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Tony Bellissimo :

On his unusual audition: I was listening to the music and started thinking about somebody watching me, and I remember in Miami Nigel told me I wasn’t as up to par as I was last year, and I’m going to point out to him that I know he’s watching me and I know I’m going to do good.

On some of his favorites: Evan [Kasprzak] is what I like to call a leather man: He has so many little tools inside him. That kid can do anything! He’s like a gadget. I love that guy. I think Phillip [Chbeeb] has great potential because his brain is so smart and he’s so strong that he’ll be able to dedicate what he’s doing.

On the rumor that Katie Holmes might appear on the show: I didn’t know Katie Holmes could dance. I like the group of us together better than Katie Holmes.

On whether he would have chosen a different outfit for his solo in retrospect: People have been talking about my Re-Run outfit for a while, but that’s the thing, I wanted people to talk about “What the hell is that kid wearing?” But that locking outfit is true hip-hop, that’s “What’s happening!!”

On convincing his fellow football players to try dance: My best friend from football came with me and we did a hip-hop routine to “Thriller,” and he tore off his shirt like he was an animal. It was funny to see him take a classs, but it just proved to me that anyone can do it. He was like, “Oh, my God, dude, I understand why you do it!” And I said, “Yeah, you’re tackling dudes all day and I’m picking up girls all day.”

Original source — Claire Zulkey | The Los Angeles Times

SYTYCD 5 finalist Ade Obayomi LA Times Interview

Chapman University dance student Ade Obayomi, 20, sounds like a kid in a candy store when it comes to “So You Think You Can Dance,” at least compared with some of his more camera-shy fellow contestants. “I can’t wait for everything to be in full force: lights, staging, the audience members, the judges,” Obayomi said. It obviously helps he has lots of support not only from his fellow contestants on the show but also from his teachers at Chapman University, where he just completed his freshman year. “They were like, ‘Follow your dream!’ ” And it seems that is precisely what Obayomi is doing.

Q: How does it feel to be one of the younger contestants on the show?
AO: It’s fun, I’m not the youngest, but I like being the younger kid because I have people to look up to. I have big brothers, I feel like, and then a little brother. It’s fun. I’m glad I’m in the middle and not really the oldest or the youngest.

Q: Is Chapman primarily where you dance or do you also take classes and get involved with other places outside of school?
AO: That’s where I take dance because I’m a dance major, so we have a dance department and a dance schedule. I go to regular school also, but that’s pretty much where I’ve been taking class this past year and then completing my freshman year, but it’s been fun. College dance is totally different than competitive dance that I was used to or any other type of dance, so it’s a different world, but it’s a good experience.

sytycd_12-ade-obayomi1Q: Has the show interfered with your studies at Chapman?

AO: I auditioned in L.A., so I just took a day off from school and then auditioned. During Vegas week, I had to let my teachers know I was going to be gone for a week, for which they were supportive. They were like, ‘Follow your dream! That will be great!’ All my psychology teachers and my English teachers were so into it because they like the show and everything. They were supportive, which was good for me because they were easy and weren’t too stressed about me being gone. And then I told them I made it through Vegas week and they were really excited and hoping good things. When we had to go to “green mile,” it was the day after school had ended for me, so finals and everything were over, so it worked out perfectly.

Q: Was this your first time auditioning?

AO: I actually auditioned last year and made it through Vegas and got cut during ballroom, and then I auditioned and made it through this year, so woo-hoo!

Q: Are you a fan of the show then too?

AO: I’ve been a fan since the first season. I hadn’t heard of it and I didn’t even know how people auditioned. But ever since Nick [Lazzarini] was on it, I’ve been a fan.

Q: Is there any new genre you’re nervous about learning? Maybe one type of dance you’re not as familiar with?

AO: I actually used to say Bollywood because I hadn’t seen it and I didn’t know what it was. But now I’ve seen the couple practicing Bollywood, and it looks fun! I’m no longer scared of that. It’s more of just technique, but it looks fun and entertaining, so I’m excited to do Bollywood now. I’m probably afraid of foxtrot just because there is a lot of technique and you have to make it look easy, even though it’s hard. The different techniques of ballroom that I’m not used to look the hardest for me right now.

Q: What do you think the show will do for your career?

AO: Hopefully this is the start of something big because the show does open a lot of doors for many opportunities. It’s a great thing for dancers to be on this show. I’m just hoping for anything, maybe teach if I can, just dance even more and take it further, just have more experience. I’m getting a sneak peek at the television world by dancing in front of a live audience. The people around me are amazing, so I’m feeding off of their energy and learning about them and their dancing and using that too. Overall, I just want to gain more experience and grow as a dancer.

Q: Are you nervous at all about the televised aspect of the show and to hear from the judges? AO: I think I’m really excited. I can’t wait for everything to be in full force: lights, staging, the audience members, the judges, and it will be like, ‘Whoa, this is really happening!’ We saw the stage for the first time a couple days ago and it was like, ‘Whoa, I am here!’ I think I get too excited so I can’t let my excitement take over my dancing and not be able to perform to my best abilities. It’s like controlling my excitement, but I’m very ecstatic that I’m here and that it’s happening and that, come Wednesday when it airs, it’s going to be official: This is “So You Think You Can Dance: Season 5.”

Kate Stanhope | LA Times Entertainment Blog

LA Times Interview with SYTYCD finalist Ashley Valerio

It appears the fourth time’s a charm for 22-year-old North Hollywood resident Ashley Valerio. Valerio, an Arizona native, auditioned for “So You Think You Can Dance” the last three seasons before making it to the Top 20. The dance instructor is a little nervous about the TV spotlight but is also to ready to get back to performing and ready for the show to, hopefully, propel her career.

Q: Your specialty is listed as contemporary. What kind of dance work do you do in L.A.?
AV: Lately I’ve just been doing a lot of teaching. I’ll fly back to Arizona a lot and I’ll do a lot of choreography, and then I was just basically teaching out in L.A. and taking classes. I wasn’t really auditioning or anything, and then the audition came up for the show and it just kind of took off.

Q: Was this your first time auditioning?
AV: No, actually this was my fourth time.

Q: How does it feel to make it through this time? Do you feel you were able to gain so more experience in the time between?

sytycd_04-ashley_valerio1AV: The first time, I didn’t make it past the screening. The second time I auditioned, I made it to the green mile and didn’t make it. The next year, I got cut after ballroom in Vegas, and then this time I made it. I would say I’m a little more experienced.

Q: Do you watch the show?

AV: I love the show. I have lot of friends and close people that have auditioned and made it on the show and gone really far. I think it’s just a really neat opportunity for dancers.

Q: What do you think the show will do for your career? AV: Considering my career is kind of stale and not really going anywhere as far as doing things with corporations, I think it’s a great stepping stone for me. I think that will open doors to new opportunities, and I’m really, really excited.

Q: What studios do you teach at and take classes at in Los Angeles?
AV: I take classes at the Edge [Performing Arts Center] and Millenium [Dance Complex], and I teach at this studio called Dance in Motion in Woodland Hills, and I also teach at Dance Connection Too in Arizona.

Q: It sounds like you’re a little frustrated with primarily teaching. How long have you been teaching?
AV: I’ve been teaching for the past three years. I just kind of stopped performing and stopped dancing, and I focused more on teaching and choreography. I feel like I’m still young and I still have so much time, and I’d rather be on stage than teach. I can still teach, but I want to do that more professionally when I get a little older.

Q: Is there any new genre you’re a little nervous to learn, maybe one you’re not as familiar with?
AV: It definitely has to be ballroom. Anything ballroom or Latin, because it’s so foreign to me. I’ve never done it in my life. It’s basically like taking a basketball player and throwing him in a football game and expecting him to be superb and professional. It’s going to be a little difficult.

Q: Are there any choreographers from years past that you’re particularly excited to work with? AV: I really want to get taught by Nigel. I’ve never seen his stuff or anything, but I’ve always been like, ‘I want to see Nigel do some choreography.’ But besides him, because I don’t think he does anything for the show as far as choreography, I would like Mia, of course. I think she’s brilliant. There’s something about Mia. Everything she touches turns to gold. Wade Robson, I would love to work with Wade.

Q: Are you nervous about being on television or about that immediate feedback from the judges, or are you just excited about the experience?

AV: It’s a Catch-22 because I haven’t danced on stage in forever and I’m so excited to finally do that again because I loved it when I was doing it. At the same time, it is really difficult because they are judging and they are being really critical, and it’s a TV show. I’m a pretty private person, so when I made the show it was pretty exciting, but if you mess up or do something wrong, everyone sees it, and it’s not just a couple of people that hear about. It’s going to be difficult. You just kind of have to pray and hope that you do your best.

By Kate Stanhope | LA Times Entertainment

SYTYCD 5 finalist Asuka Kondoh LA Times Interview

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.

sytycd_16-asuka_kondoh1Is 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.

By Kate Stanhope | LA Times Entertainment