“So You Think You Can Dance” Season 7 begins in earnest this week when the 11 contestants (and their all-star partners) perform for the judges’ feedback and America’s votes for the first time. Just a few days before this week's taping, the dancers were hard at work learning their choreography. But Billy Bell and Adéchiké Torbert took a few minutes to talk to Dance Spirit about the season so far. Adéchiké's interview is below, and check out Billy's here.
Dance Spirit: Why did you decide to do a tap solo in Vegas?
Adéchiké Torbert: Through the magic of television editing, it looked like I did a wonderful audition in New York—but it didn't go as well as it may seem. So coming into Vegas Week, I wasn't confident in my contemporary. I thought doing tap would show my versatility as a dancer, which I thought would help me succeed. It didn’t work out that way. But honestly, everything happens for a reason; even if I did my solo on the first day, I probably wouldn't have been able to show the full thing. No regrets.
DS: What was your favorite part of Vegas Week?
AT: The Broadway routine because I had just danced for my life and had so much adrenaline and confidence. And Tyce's choreography was high-energy and flirtatious.
DS: What was the toughest part of Vegas Week?
AT: Toni [Redpath] seems so sweet behind the panel and she was like a drill sergeant. But she gave me a “Yes” in cha cha, so thank you, Toni.
DS: What was going through your mind before you found out if you'd made the Top 10?
AT: It was crazy because Mia [Michaels] came to my house and I totally wasn't expecting that because she wasn't in Vegas. Mia started off with positive comments and then negative comments. In my mind, I was trying to brace myself for bad news. I thought, “No more crying.” When she told me I made it, I had about a 10 second delay—and then I cried.
DS: Which all-star are you most looking forward to working with?
AT: Allison [Holker] and Courtney [Galiano]. I got to work with Courtney in Sonya Tayeh's piece last week and she's amazing. Seeing how committed Courtney is forces you to step up to the plate.
DS: Which choreographer are you most looking forward to working with?
AT: I want to want to work with Nappytabs. They have such a great energy and they make the process so enjoyable. It's pretty motivating. And Mia's an inspiration. The artistry involved in her choreography is phenomenal.
DS: What style do you think will be your biggest challenge? What style are you most looking forward to trying?
AT: I'm a little nervous about anything ballroom related. It's such an intricate art form and that's a little intimidating. But I'm glad we have the all-stars because we'll have someone who's knowledgeable to help us. And I'm looking forward to everything—I'm ready for all the challenges.
DS: What was it like to step out on the "SYTYCD" stage for the first time?
AT: We were all behind the hedges and heard the opening music and the audience screaming. I'm thinking, “Is this really happening?” I’ve never felt so alive.
DS: What's been the biggest surprise so far?
AT: That there's a Top 11. And the rehearsal time—we get a couple hours to make the piece look amazing, to make it seem like we've had chemistry for months and we've been rehearsing forever. You have to be that much more committed and professional. For all of us, our work ethic has changed. Every moment counts.
DS: Why do you think you're an underdog?
AT: I've been fighting since day one. I was hoping to get straight to Vegas, then my tap solo, which was so controversial—I had to prove I belonged there. In Vegas, they weren’t too crazy about my hip hop and ballroom. Vegas is such a strenuous week and physically you’re ready to give up, but it’s more mental. And being under those circumstances, having to dance for my life, helped me bring that mental aspect to the table. I'm kind of glad it happened that way, because now I can appreciate this moment more.
Photos by Mathieu Young/FOX