“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. Billy's interview is below, and check out Adéchiké's here.
Dance Spirit: What was your favorite part of Vegas Week?
Billy Bell: Travis's round because I was most comfortable in that style. And working with Grover Dale. He's an amazing person. It was intention-based choreography, which was really great.
DS: What was the toughest part of Vegas Week?
BB: Cha cha.
DS: You and Robert Roldan were performing together in your Lunge Dance Collective show in NYC when you got the news that you’d be on the show. How do you two know each other?
BB: Robert and I know each other through mutual friends, and I tour with JUMP and he tours with NUVO, another dance convention, so I know him through that. After Vegas week, I said, “Why don't you come out and dance with my company?” It was relatively short notice.
DS: How did you feel when you thought Robert had earned a place and you hadn't?
BB: I was actually really relieved because I had my opportunity, even if it wasn’t complete, and I had always told Robert that if it came down to the two of us, and they picked me, I would tell them to pick Robert. It's an amazing experience that you can't find anywhere else, and I felt like Robert deserved to have it. I was so happy for him, because he’s such a good friend. At that point, I wasn’t even thinking about me. Then, all of the sudden I realized, “Oh, that means I didn't make it.”
DS: How did you feel when you found out that they added a spot for you?
BB: I was completely baffled and thought they might be joking. It was bizarre. It’s something that you don't expect because you think the show has this very clear structure: There are 10 dancers. You don't ever expect them to put in another person.
DS: Which all-star are you most looking forward to working with?
BB: I really want to work with Anya [Garnis]. Being out of my element with someone who's in theirs will help me learn the style. I'm also eager to work with Allison [Holker]. She's a great dancer.
DS: Which choreographer are you most looking forward to working with?
BB: I came in saying I wanted to work with Wade [Robson] and Mia and the first week I got both of them! I really want to work with Travis [Wall]. I love that his pieces have a full complete concept.
DS: What style do you think will be your biggest challenge? What style are you most looking forward to trying?
BB: Quick step will probably be the hardest. I think all of us are like, “I'd rather pick anything else out of the hat.” I really want to do a hip-hop piece. I feel like no one's seen me do anything but contemporary on the show. I think it would be nice to show a different side of me.
DS: What was it like to step out on the "SYTYCD" stage again?
BB: It's something you can't describe. I'm just really happy to be back here for Season 7. I feel like I’m supposed to be here with this cast.
DS: What's been the biggest surprise so far?
BB: The lack of information that we're given. This year, they’re holding out just as much with us as they are with America. We don't know anything going into stuff—we find out when we get there. Even when we pick our all-stars that doesn't mean anything about our style, because some, like Lauren, Courtney and Allison, cover a lot. You bring everything you can—tennis shoes, ballroom shoes—just in case.
DS: You've accomplished a lot since Season 6. What made you want to return to the show?
BB: It's kind of addicting. I feel like it's something I didn't get to finish and I needed to go back. I’m very much someone who believes that everything happens for a reason. If they're inviting me to Vegas, it means I should go. I took them up on the offer right away; there was no hesitation. The environment feeds you. It's very harsh criticism, but at the same time it makes you grow, and you really can't find it anywhere else.
Photo by Mathieu Young/FOX