"SYTYCD" Stars Speak

Warm weather, bathing suits and barbecues. It’s finally summer, and that means it’s “So You Think You Can Dance” time again! Here at DS, we're so excited to see who will be the next Nick, Benji or Sabra! We thought this year’s contestants would love some words of wisdom from past seasons’ pros. So here’s your chance to get the inside scoop on how to impress Nigel, Mary and the rest of America!


Season: 3
Current gig: Dancing for Paula Abdul’s July TV appearances, including “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “The View”
Advice: “Take in everything around you. There’s so much to learn while you’re on set, so don’t limit yourself. By the end of the experience, you’ll have a feel for hosting (by watching and studying Cat Deeley), camera work, wardrobe, how to produce and direct and everything else that goes into making a hit show! Think of it as your schooling, since this is your profession. You may not walk away being a master at all of those things, but you’re gaining experience!”



Season: 3
Current gig: Dancer, teacher, model (Paul Mitchell and Ed Hardy Clothing) and actress (“The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “Cold Case Files”)
Advice: “Well... You guys are in for it this season! It will be bigger, harder and more exciting than ever! Train in any dances that you have no prior experience in. Also, get those solos looking FIERCE! Always keep your head up and enjoy the ride! Congrats!”



Season: 3
Current gig: Ballroom shows, coaching and conventions
Advice: “Catch up with all of the different forms of dance you will need to perform during the season. Try to get to as many classes as possible to get yourself familiar with all of the genres and in shape. If you made it to the Top 20, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Show personality, personality, personality! Be yourself; don’t be afraid of the camera. It’s your friend—really! Also, the producers and crew are your biggest supporters, and they want to make you look great on the show. So trust them, and you’ll see that they’re the best! Good luck to all, and may the best dancers get what they deserve.”



Season: 2
Current gig: Teaching throughout the U.S., as well as overseas and with Canada’s Triple Threat Dance Convention; choreographed for Wayne Brady in Las Vegas last year.
Advice: “Train as much as possible in your weakest styles. Instead of taking 1,000 jazz classes, take hip hop or ballroom. You have to be able to do everything. They expect you to do ballroom routines that aren’t easy. (I really wish I’d dedicated the time before the show to taking ballroom!) Also, stay focused and don’t get too caught up in what the judges have to say. It’s TV, so they can’t be nice to everybody. Take the things they say that can help you and brush the other stuff off. You don’t have time to worry. If you’re stressed out, you will miss the experience. That is the only thing I regret. And don’t look at the message boards! You are bound to get your feelings hurt. Finally, you’ve got to stay healthy. You’re dancing seven days a week, and there are no breaks. Take it one week at a time.”


Season: 2
Current gig: On faculty for NUVO dance competition and convention, and choreographer for “SYTYCD” Season 4
Advice: “Be different. Over the past three years, the judges and America have seen some of the most amazing dancers. They need something or someone they haven’t seen before. They need that special something again. Season 3 had way better dancers than Season 2, but Season 2 had personalities and that ‘IT’ factor that people still remember! This is a TV show, not just a dance competition. You have to play to the cameras and remember they are not casting dancers; they are casting people who happen to be dancers. They wouldn’t keep screaming ‘America’s favorite dancer’ into our ears if they didn’t mean it. Good luck! And oh yeah, dress nicely! Don’t walk in looking like you’re homeless. Look presentable. This is a TV show!”

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

When I sit with the soles of my feet together, my knees easily touch the floor, and most exercises to improve turnout are easy for me. But when I'm actually dancing, my turnout is terrible, especially on my standing leg. Why doesn't my flexibility translate to turnout?


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Dear Katie
Via Twitter

Would that we could all live in Taylor Swift's Pride-topia, booty-popping with Todrick Hall and sharing snow cones with Adam Rippon in our rainbow-flag-bedecked RV park. But much as we're loving "You Need to Calm Down" and other similarly upbeat celebrations of Pride month, this is also a time to recognize the battles the members of the LGBTQIA+ community have fought—and are still fighting. That's one of the reasons why "I'm Gay," a new dance video by Eugene Lee Yang of The Try Guys, is so important.

The dark, deeply personal video is Yang's coming-out moment. We see Yang being rejected by his family, condemned by a preacher, and attacked by a hostile mob after attempting to express himself as a gay man. Though not a professional dancer (as we found out in "The Try Guys Try Ballet"), Yang is a gifted mover; he choreographed the project himself, and gathered a group of talented performers to bring the story to life.

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