True Life: I Was on "So You Think You Can Dance"
Jazz cutie Alexia Meyer wasn’t new to competing when she auditioned for “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 12. In fact, Alexia—who trained at The Dance Club in Orem, UT—practically grew up on the comp and convention circuit; in 2012, she toured with New York City Dance Alliance as the Senior Female Outstanding Dancer. This summer, America watched (and voted!) as Alexia dominated Vegas callbacks and became a Top 14 Team Stage finalist on “SYTYCD.” But what’s it like being part of the show when the cameras aren’t rolling? Dance Spirit asked Alexia to let us in on all the “SYT” secrets.
Monday, July 13 (Week 1)
We made it to sunny L.A.! The Top 20 flew out last week and settled in at the apartment complex where we’re all staying. Since today was show day, our call time was 5:15 am. As soon as we arrived on set, we got into hair and makeup. The whole hair and makeup team is amazing, but Dean Banowetz is one of my favorite stylists. In addition to being incredibly talented, he’s hilarious—his personality is as big as his beard! Every time he finishes my hair, we part by dramatically saying “XOXO.”
(courtesy Alexia Meyer)
This week, I was in the Top 20 opening number by Christopher Scott, a Broadway routine with Team Stage by Warren Carlyle and a jazz trio by Brian Friedman. I’d never danced in a pair of heels as high as the ones Brian put us in. It was hard, but I kept thinking about how this was going to be the first time America would see me dance—I wanted to do my absolute best.
In the end, performing on the “SYTYCD” stage for the first time was a moment I’ll never forget. And afterward, when I saw how proud Brian was of our trio, I felt like I could take on anything thrown my way.
Friday, July 17 (Week 2)
My body was really feeling it this week thanks to rehearsals for the Team Stage group routine, which was choreographed by Travis Wall and set to “Stabat Mater” by Woodkid. I loved the piece, but I was really nervous for my big basket-toss in the middle of it. Being thrown in the air is exhilarating—and terrifying. I was supposed to try to relax my body mid-throw, but how can anyone relax when they’re 15 feet in the air? In one rehearsal, I was launched in the wrong direction and gave Jim Nowakowski a bloody nose! Luckily, we nailed it during the show itself.
Meyer and the rest of the "SYT" posse (courtesy Alexia Meyer)
Wednesday, July 22 (Week 3)
This week I was cast in a contemporary trio with JaJa Vankova and Derek Piquette, choreographed by Stacey Tookey. We started learning the piece today, and our rehearsal was filmed. Having a camera in the room has been an adjustment for me. It feels like my every move is being watched! At first, I got really nervous whenever I made a mistake while the camera was rolling. But Allison Holker, whom I admire so much, told me to just be my goofy self, which is great advice. Eventually I learned to focus on having fun with the incredible choreographers and dancers I was working with, camera or no camera.
Saturday, August 1 (Week 4)
This week, Neptune and I learned a piece by Dave Scott. I loved the crazy characters he created for us! But it wasn’t an easy routine. Neptune and I spent a lot of our free time—which means after 9 pm at night—practicing on our own. Back at the apartment complex, there’s a big hallway in front of my room that the dancers and I have dubbed the Rehearsal Hall. You can always find at least one group in the Rehearsal Hall!
This week, we also started working on Travis’ “ghost light” routine for Team Stage. We had wardrobe fittings, too—and oh my goodness, the ghost light costumes were so cool. Marina Toybina, our costume designer, is insanely creative. Whenever we go into the fitting room, she’s playing Spanish music. She says it’s the only thing that calms her down during all the craziness.
Sunday, August 9
The weeks have flown by! Sundays are “dry block” days, where we work out all the blocking onstage. But when we aren’t blocking, we have time to bond with one another. It’s been really fun to hang out and goof around. I especially love it when we get to practice standing next to Cat Deeley, as if we’re listening to the judge’s critiques. Cat always keeps things entertaining with her witty comments. She really is as kind as she seems on TV!
Team Stage rocking Sonya Tayeh's powerful group number (Photo by Adam Rose, courtesy FOX)
But we bond during serious moments, too. Today we finished practicing Sonya Tayeh’s intense group routine, and by the end of the rehearsal, we were all in tears. It was such a powerful moment.
Monday, August 10 (Week 5)
Tonight marked my final “SYT” performance as a contestant, but I’m so grateful that Sonya’s group piece was my last before being eliminated. Working with her has been such an enlightening process. I also can’t believe that after all these years of watching the show, I got to perform on it. I can’t wait for the adventures ahead. I know this is only the beginning!
Well, this brings class videos to a whole new level! Choreographer Phil Wright and dancer Ashley Liai have been together eight-plus years, but she was still in total shock when he proposed to her mid-dance at Millennium Dance Complex earlier this week. Why? Well, the whole thing was unbelievably perfect.
In the dance industry, dancers don't always have a say in what they wear on their bodies. This can get tricky if you're asked to wear something that compromises your own personal values. So what should you do if you find yourself in this sticky situation? We sat down for a Q&A with "Dancing with the Stars" alumn Ashly Costa to answer that very question. Here's what she had to say about the options dancers have surrounding questionable costumes.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night: