Sunday, October 06, 2013

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE to perform at State Theatre during national tour

Since its premiere in 2005, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, has been a television sensation.  Created by Simon Fuller and Nigel Lythgoe, the show, which is an eleven-time Primetime Emmy Award winner, has sparked the nation’s interest in dance and produced some top-ranked performers.  Many have gone on to professional careers, including a number presently appearing in Broadway’s NEWSIES.

A panel, in a process similar to AMERICAN IDOL, selects 20 dancers to appear in a competition.   Judges do the initial selections, and then whittle the number down to a final 10.  The jurists, plus votes by viewers, then select a male and a female winner.

The performers, who come from a variety of  dance styles, including classical, contemporary, ballroom, hip-hop, street, jazz, tap and musical theatre are forced to perform all the genres on their march toward stardom.

The 10th season winners were a duo of 19-year olds, Amy Yakima of Northville, Michigan and Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall of Las Vegas, Nevada, who each danced off with $125,000 and a magazine cover photo.  Jasmine Harper and Aaron Turner were the runners-up.

The quartet will appear with the other top 10 finalists at the State Theatre in Cleveland on October 15 at 8:00 p.m..
The tour started in East Lansing, Michigan on October 1.   The morning of that show I interviewed 25-year old Turner, whose specialty is tap.  Ironically, he was not selected to be in the top 10, but due to an injury to a finalist, he was given a reprieve.

Turner, who is a dance instructor at the Bunker Dance Center and performer in Las Vegas, was encouraged to try out for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE by his father, a Vegas performer, others in the family and his students.  He is a University of Nevada-Las Vegas graduate in Business/Music Management. 

He started to dance at age 8, and like all young male dancers put up with teasing because the activity is considered a girl’s world.   Undeterred, he kept up his lessons and performances.

The most difficult challenge for Turner was having to dance outside of his tap-dance-centered comfort zone.  Tapping is not one of the genres in which the SYTYCD perform, so tappers never get a chance to spotlight their strongest moves. In addition, he was learning the dance routines in only seven hours, which put additional pressure on him. 

During the evolution of the show the judges often commented on how Turner was capable of going beyond what tappers usually do.

Turner admitted to be surprised by his success.  “Maybe,” he admitted, “it was an advantage that he wasn’t originally picked, as I was perceived as an underdog.”

According to Turner, the dancers form a family.  “You get close to the people you live and work with daily, and it is hard when your friends are eliminated.”

How are the dancers matched into the couples which form the basis for much of the competition?  The requirements center on the partners not having the same dance style or training and their height.  “We have choice in the selections.”

Turner’s future?  He wants to “reach out and look for opportunities.”  His goals are to act, dance, sing and be involved in the arts.  He anticipates record deals where the songs he writes and sings will be performed.

His advice to aspiring dancers is, “don’t give up, and be you, don’t put on a face or an act.”

To get tickets to see Turner and the rest of the 2013 SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE top ten, go to: 216-241-6000 or