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Erin Baiano

Want to know what it's really like to be a teen reality star? We asked "Dance Moms" standout Kalani Hilliker to spill fun facts you'd never hear about on TV.

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Dance News

Here's an exciting opportunity for dancers 18 and up!

Zodiak USA and MTV have a new competition show in the works called "Beyond Dance." They haven't released too many details yet, but they promise to be the "most intense, creative dance competition to date." Suppose we'll just have to wait and see.

Right now, they're looking for solo dancers who are extreme, cutting edge and versatile. Any style is welcome, but it seems like they're really looking for that "wow factor."

And here's the real kicker: Dancers who make it onto the show get to be mentored by world renowned choreographers/directors/producers Rich and Tone Talauega. Their stacked resume includes Step Up 3D, Battle of the Year: The Dream Team, Bring It On Yet Again, Save the Last Dance...Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Backstreet Boys, Jennifer Lopez, Pink...Emmy nominations, MTV award nominations, commercials...

Just watch this video reel and you'll get the idea. I promise.

To apply, send a short video clip(s) of your best moves to beyonddancecasting@gmail.com, along with your name, age, city, email and phone number. Or you can apply by filling out the form at beyonddancecasting.com.

Best of luck to all who apply!

Dance News

Hey, “SYTYCD” fans: Want to win a trip to see the finale episode LIVE in L.A.? Of course you do! Click here to enter our “SYT” finale sweepstakes.

Last night, the "So You Think You Can Dance" audition tour hit up our favorite city of all: NYC! We were expecting big things, and of course, the dancers delivered. The episode's focus was on street dancers with a whole lot of heart and determination—not to mention unreal personal style. Tbh, my Top 5 are largely in favor of #TeamStreet.

Gadson in After Midnight (photo by Caitlin McNaney, via Broadway.com)

1. Virgil Gadson's footwork is worthy of James Brown himself and his mega-watt smile reminds me of one of America's other favorite dancers: Fik-Shun. Not only did he have the swagger and street cred to make it to Vegas, he also has the technique. He was a cast member in After Midnight, which we all know DOESN'T slouch when it comes to choreography. A hip-hopper with Broadway cred? Be still my heart. I'm calling him as an early contender for the "SYTYCD" crown.

2. Korey Cleveland showed us what it means to fight for something. After struggling with addiction, a rough home life and incarceration, he found dance. His krumping was raw and intense—exactly what it should be to portray powerful emotion. We'll see how he does with other street styles, but Jason Derulo was right when he said that the show needs someone like Korey.

3. Did you guys catch that montage of amazing #TeamStage dudes? There were three of them and they were all serving technique, charisma and legs for days (I spy a ballet boy!). Though we didn't get to meet them personally, the judges showered all three with praise and I don't doubt we'll see at least one of them in the Top 10!

Hurrikane (photo via Exile Professional Gym)

4. Alain "Hurrikane" Lauture is a locker from Haiti. But what the show didn't mention is that he's an insane waacker, too! Now, I'm no waacking expert (just an obsessed fan), but I haven't seen someone groove like that since Princess Lockeroo blew our minds during her Season 8 audition. I loved everything about Hurrikane, from his grandpa socks to his gorgeous smile. I'm calling him as a contender, too.

5. Oh hey, that looks familiar!

That's our girl Alexia Meyer in her signature power move, the Super Cabriole! As soon as I saw her I knew she'd whip it out at some point during her audition. And sure enough, shenailed it. Jason Derulo's face in this clip is everything. Of course, she's through to Vegas!

At the end of the episode, we were left with 114 #Stage dancers and 105 #Street dancers going through to Vegas. Check back here next week for our Vegas recap—it’s sure to be a moment of truth, as the dancers all face choreography for the first time!

Dance News

She's a goddess. (Photo by Nisian Hughes, via Instagram)

Misty Copeland's on a roll. Lately, it seems like we can hardly go a week without hearing about some new project, honor or accomplishment attributed to the American Ballet Theatre soloist. I mean, weren't we just telling you about her U.S. debut as Odette/Odile in the Washington Ballet's Swan Lake like...three days ago?

Yesterday, Copeland demonstrated her bottomless energy and drive—once again. (Seriously, does she sleep?!) Oxygen Media announced an upcoming reality series: "The Misty Copeland Project." As of now, there's not a whole lot of info out there about the series (including an estimated start date). But what we do know is that this doesn't seem like it's going to be "Keeping up with the Kardashians"-style reality TV—meaning it won't focus on Copeland's day-to-day personal life. Instead, the show's premise centers on #MentorMisty (can we make that a thing?). It'll follow a handful of ballet students—with their sights set on professional careers—as they travel to NYC for the ultimate Copeland coaching experience. Intriguing, no?

We'll be on the lookout for the deets, but in the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the comments: What direction would you like to see "The Misty Copeland Project" take?

Dance News

Before a performance at the Reality Wanted Awards, which we'll see on "Raising Asia"
(photo by Adam Taylor)

Watch out, Beyoncé. There's an 8-year-old (soon to be 9!) triple threat blazing trails in the entertainment industry, and nothing can stop her.

You may remember Asia Monet Ray as a member of the Abby Lee Dance Company on "Dance Moms," or from her butt-kicking appearance on "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition." But starting this week, she's being reintroduced on Lifetime without the wrath of Abby and those Pittsburgh mommies. Asia's new show, "Raising Asia," premieres Tuesday at 10 pm EST, and if the trailer (see below) is any indication, we have 14 episodes—in seven weeks—of amazingness coming our way. Not only is she the cutest ever, but Asia's also got the wit, sass and determination it takes to be a superstar. I caught up with this pint-sized pirouetter to get the scoop on her new show.

What do you love most about "Raising Asia"?

It's awesome because I get to be with my family. I think it's the most time I've spent at my house in years! Everyone will see the work that goes into being a dancer, a singer and an actress—a triple threat, a mega star, a pop star! I'm really excited to see myself on TV again, even though we'll have to TiVo it, because the show's on past my bedtime. And everyone is going to love my little sister. She's really funny.

What was the craziest thing that happened on camera?

My dad and I were hanging out at a place that had mini golf and a go-kart raceway. We were racing, and I told him I was going to beat him. He ended up winning, but when the attendants yelled "Stop!" I accidentally pressed both the brakes and the go pedals, and I bumped right into a parked car. I was OK—I had my seat belt on. But I'm glad no one was in the parked car! That would have been bad, because I think I broke it.

Asia being Asia!
(photo via iamasiamonet.com)

Do you train at a studio?

My schedule is so hectic that I need to study privately. And I'm not competing. I work with choreographers who travel with me and can get me into a studio if we need it.

What's your favorite dance style?

Jazz and hip hop—I was born to be sassy and I can express myself in those styles. But I'm getting a little more used to lyrical.

What's your favorite food?

I love hamburger patties. I also love chicken, brown rice, edamame, miso soup and shaved ice from Icy-licious.

What's one accessory you can't live without?

Lip gloss—and a mirror.

Cats or Dogs?

Dogs, dogs, dogs! My mom will not let me have a dog, even though I've been asking for one basically since I was born. She says it will be too much work; we're already boarding a bird and a fish every time we travel, and we'd have to board the dog, too. I don't think a dog would want to watch me dance and sing all day—she'd want me to play with her, and she'd probably feel really left out and sad when I couldn't. If I ever get one, though, I'd like a teacup Morkie. And she'd have to be a girl dog, because I get too angry with boys—they make messes. I can dress up a girl dog and put nail polish on her little claws. I also like pugs and miniature bull dogs. I love their little front teeth that make them look so angry—but they're so cute!

Want more? Visit her new website iamasiamonet.com to see photos, read Asia's blog, purchase her upcoming debut album and find out where she'll be next.

Dance News

Aaaannndd...It's Meryl and Maks! Can we really say we're surprised? After a whole season of rave reviews from the judges—not to mention some pretty obvious chemistry—Maks and Meryl were a shoe-in for that coveted Mirror Ball Trophy. Check out our recap of the final episode below, plus some throwback pictures of the final three couples from earlier in the season.

This is everything.

Never ones to rest on their laurels, Maks and Meryl's final performance was just as good as everything else they've done this season. They earned perfect scores for their dancing on Monday night, and last night's foxtrot/cha-cha fusion got them another perfect 30. Even though the dancing itself was great, I was just blown away by Meryl's stage presence. That girl can really give some face. And really, despite the intricate choreography, I loved that they just ran up to the top of the stage at the end, like two excited little kids.

So cute!

 

 

 

Third place went to Candace and Mark. Candace definitely overcame her periodic performance jitters and was especially adorable during the rehearsal footage. She and Mark performed a solid samba/quickstep fusion with Candace in an awesome bright red jumpsuit that I need to own. We can all relate to how much she's grown over the season, and even though she might not be the best dancer, she seems genuinely happy to learn and watch herself improve. It's obvious why she has such a big fan-base.

Total trust.

 

 

Amy and Derek were the runners-up, dancing a cha-cha/tango fusion. It was...okay. It wasn't my favorite performance—it just didn't pop like the other two dances. That said, they've been consistently impressive throughout the season and their confidence in each other definitely shows up in their dancing.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course there were all kinds of extra performances throughout the night. Most impressive was Peta and James' encore of their amazing freestyle dance. Kind of like The Hunger Games? Shirtless James? Backflips? Fierce ladies? Um, yes please. I was obsessed with it, and was really happy to get to see it again.

So long to "DWTS." Now, take a breather and get excited for "So You Think You Can Dance!"

Jamie Goodwin and Teddy Forance have a not-so-private conversation on the set of "All the Right Moves." (photo by Joe Toreno)

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably glued to the screen anytime a reality dance show is on. Then you might watch it over and over on your DVR, obsessing over your favorite parts. (No? Maybe that’s just us, then.) And, like any dance reality junkie, you’re probably dying to know the juicy secrets about how things really work behind the scenes. Wonder no more: We’re flipping the script and unveiling the top five reality show secrets. (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone.)

Reality Secret #1: Unscripted doesn’t always mean unscripted.

So how real are reality shows? It depends on the show, but in many cases, the stars might follow a loose script or even be fed certain lines by producers. Not everyone is always in on the storyline, either. For example, on “Dance Moms,” some moms know the plan and others don’t (making those “surprises” extra juicy). Time constraints play into it, too: When our DS insiders were on the “Dance Moms” set, they heard that dancers sometimes changed outfits several times a day to make studio scenes seem more spaced out, when really they’re all filmed within a 24-hour period. And “Dance Moms” isn’t the only show that enhances reality just a tad: on “So You Think You Can Dance,” sometimes the contestants are asked to reshoot their “I’m going to Vegas!” reactions to make them more over the top.

"Usually when someone's filming a rehearsal in one room, the rest of the kids will be in the other room having dance offs," says Maddie Ziegler, above, of "Dance Moms." "We listen to music and jam out." (photo by Nate Powers)

Other dance reality shows, like “Breaking Pointe,” are a bit more true to life. “Breaking Pointe” executive producer Izzie Pick Ashcroft says the cameras at Ballet West rehearsals are purely observational, as that’s one of the conditions of being allowed to film there. “We can film class, but we can’t produce it or ask people to do anything over again,” she shares. “We just have to hope and pray there’s a story in there.” (And there almost always is!)

Reality Secret #2: On dance competition shows, things move at lightning speed behind the scenes.

Since shows like “SYTYCD” and “Dancing with the Stars” debut new routines every week, a new show is set in motion as soon as the cameras stop rolling on the last one. To succeed, contestants must thrive amid the fast-paced flurry of activity. (By finale week on “SYTYCD” Season 10, the remaining contestants were put on IV fluids to keep their energy up.) “The question is: Can you work under that pressure and still deliver a quality performance?” says choreographer Tyce Diorio.

Vegas Week on "So You Think You Can Dance" is just as grueling as it seems on TV. (photo by Adam Rose/FOX)

A typical week on “SYTYCD” goes like this: After Tuesday’s taping/live show, the process starts all over again. On Wednesday, the choreographers figure out their concepts, lighting, costumes and music for the next week’s routine, and the contestants learn the choreography on Thursday and Friday. “They only get seven hours with us to perfect the routine,” Diorio says. Contestants spend weekends working on the group routines and practicing on their own, and on Monday, they rehearse onstage for the producers. Come Tuesday, it’s dress rehearsal and show time!

“DWTS” couples have a bit more time to practice, with unlimited studio time from Wednesday to Sunday. “Certain celebrities want to be in the studio nine hours a day, while others are OK with three or four,” says Chelsie Hightower, who mentions Helio Castroneves and Ty Murray as her hardest-working partners.

Reality Secret #3: Everyone involved must always be ready for changes.

Even the best-laid plans sometimes hit snags. Just ask Diorio, who found out at the last minute that the song he’d chosen for Will Wingfield and Jessica King’s contemporary routine in Season 4 wasn’t cleared to air. But his second choice turned out to be a lucky charm. “My backup song, ‘Silence,’ ended up being part of my Emmy-winning routine,” he says.

Real-life problems can also throw filming for a loop. For instance, when Ronnie Underwood from “Breaking Pointe” suffered a nasty foot injury, the producers had to scramble to follow the storyline. “Ronnie had his accident around Christmas, and suddenly we were all on the phone between Christmas and New Year’s trying to work things out,” says Pick Ashcroft. “Here’s one of the senior male dancers, who would have had a big role in Cinderella, suddenly out of the picture. We just had to follow that.” In the end, the show’s producers got even better drama for the show than they may have hoped for.

Reality Secret #4: You’re not necessarily guaranteed your spot from season to season.

Just because you’re in the cast one season doesn’t mean you have it made in the shade forever. For instance, the whole cast of “Breaking Pointe” had to show up for an audition interview to be considered for the second season. On recent seasons of “DWTS,” the producers have switched up the pros in the mix for every new go-round (giving fresh “SYTYCD” alums like Lindsay Arnold a chance to break in!). “It’s all about the celebrities and who [the producers] think will match up with them best,” Hightower says. “Things like age, personality and height all factor in—it’s very much a casting process.”

As for the “SYTYCD” All-Stars, many return season after season, but the producers choose who will be taking the stage based on availability, ability and rapport with the choreographers. “Some choreographers request people for certain pieces,” Hightower says. Diorio requested Kathryn for a Holocaust-inspired “Eli, Eli” piece with Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, and also for Season 10’s jazz piece with Paul Karmiryan. In the past, he’s also asked to work with Kent Boyd and Neil Haskell. “Those were three All-Stars I felt very connected to,” Diorio says.

During "SYTYCD" auditions, the days are long, there's plenty of drama and yes, the injuries are real. (photo by Adam Rose/FOX)

Reality Secret #5: Once the ink is dry, reality stars don’t really get any say in what’s shown on TV.

Out of all the hours of footage shot for shows like “Breaking Pointe,” there are probably some moments the stars wish they could erase—but they don’t get to decide what ends up on the cutting room floor. “As a human, you don’t want those things shown to the world, but as a participant in the show, it’s understood that once you sign the contract, nothing is off-limits,” explains cast member Allison DeBona. “In those moments, you have to remember that you signed up for this.” She adds that the stars also don’t get to watch the episodes before they air, so they see them for the first time along with the rest of the world.

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