Friday, November 13, 2015

“So You Think You Can Dance” concert in PHSquare includes 2015 winner Gaby Dia

“So You Think You Can Dance” is a 13-time Primetime Emmy Award television dance competition show which has just completed its twelfth season.  Each year, after the winner has been named the top ten contestants go on an extensive national tour.  The tour lands in Cleveland on November 24th.

The show will include the season’s most popular routines as well as original pieces created specifically for the tour, and will reflect this season’s new format where dancers were divided into two groups of ten dancers each, Team Stage and Team Street.  Stage included those trained in such styles as ballet, modern, tap, contemporary, Broadway, jazz, disco, swing, ballroom and Bollywood.  Street dancers were those proficient in such formats as hip-hop, breaking, krump, stepping and waacking.

Avid viewers will be excited to know that the Stage dancers, Edson Juarz, Jim Nowakowski, Hailee Payne, Derek Piquette, and the competition’s winner, Gaby Diaz are scheduled to be here, as well as Street dancers Megz Alfonso, Neptune Eskridge, Virgil Gadson, JJ Rabone, and Jaja Vankova (the runner-up).  Also along will be  Moises Parra, Marissa Milele, Yorelit Apolinario and Aleia Meyer. 

A recent interview with Gaby Diaz revealed that she grew up in Miami, Florida, attended college for a semester but dropped out because she wanted to concentrate on dance.  Her training was at the Roxy Theatre Group in west Miami-Dade county working with Jillian Togas-Leyva.  She is trained mainly in tap, but has had experience in classical ballet and modern dance as well as some commercial hip-hop. 

A long time fan of the show, Gaby was formerly rejected for inclusion, but came back to try again.  Obviously, with positive effect. 

She thinks that in spite of the fact that tappers have been in the final four for the last three years, it is an under-rated dance form.  She indicated that many students start in tap, but due to its difficulty, they drop their training.  Tappers, she noted, tend to stick together and respect past history, especially the styles of the 30s, but that the form, much like other dance formats, is evolving.

Her personal favorite routines of the season were her hip-hop number, where she got to show her street skills, her contemporary presentation, and her tap duet. The latter was her big moment as it was her only chance to show that she was the only one of this year’s contestants who could perform proficiently in that style. 

The dancers were challenged weekly to perform a variety of styles, working with award winning choreographers.  “We needed to often work outside our styles which necessitated asking questions and not being afraid of the choreographers.”

How long do the contestants get to learn new routines?  According to Gaby, “its 
about 2 ½ hours the first day, a night to sleep on it, and then five hours the next day.  Hallway rehearsals are used by partners to practice beyond the studio time.”  Sleep?  “Sleep wasn’t that important…getting the routines down was.”

Gaby’s prizes for winning included participation in Jennifer Lopez’s Las Vegas show and $250,000.  She isn’t sure what she will be doing in the Lopez show yet.  “That will be taken care of after the tour concludes.”  As for the prize money, she indicated that she “is too young to make decisions about dealing with the money,” so she has hired a financial advisor.

Her future?  The 19-year old hopes to still be dancing or doing something related to dance in Los Angeles, where she plans to move after her Vegas gig.

Her advice to those who watch the show and dream of being Gaby Diaz?
“Don’t dream of being Gaby, show who you are, audition, it changed my life. You don’t want to wonder what would have happened if you didn’t audition.”

Want to see Gaby and the rest of the Season 12 top ten?  They will appear at the State Theatre, PlayhouseSquare Center, on November 24, 2015.  Tickets, which range from $10 to $75, with VIP tickets from $150-$750, can be obtained by calling 216-241-6000 or going on line to