The second leg of the So You Think You Can Dance Season 11 live tour is under way, with the season’s Top 10 finalists thrilling audiences with favorite routines, as well as pieces prepared especially for the tour. In fact, due to popular demand additional dates have been added to the tour itinerary. For more information about upcoming performances, visit Fox’s official SYTYCD site.
Season 11 finalists Casey Askew and Bridget Whitman recently took a few moments out of their busy performance schedule to talk about their experiences on the road.
How are you guys enjoying the second leg of the tour so far?
Casey: The tour has been going great. We had a nice break. We did 60 shows before the break, so that was kind of intense. I think this second leg is a lot more relaxed because we’re only doing 19 shows over the course of January and February, so there’ll be a lot of downtime. It will be more easygoing.
Bridget: I agree. I mean, it’s already so much more fun. We already know what we’re doing. We [understand] what could go wrong and how to prevent it. We know we only have [a limited amount of] shows left with each other, so we’re giving it our all.
Coming off the break, did you need to re-rehearse or was it just like getting back on a bicycle?
Casey: I think it was a little bit of both. Obviously we’re never going to forget these dances because we’ve already done them 60 times. But at the same time we did have to have rehearsal to tighten everything up. We’re on the tour by ourselves, so we’re responsible for keeping a tight show. Towards the end [of the first leg] we had a couple things that needed to be revamped and re-energized. So our head choreographer rehearsed with us right before our first show of the second leg and that really helped. It was like a whole new show.
How anxious were you to get back on the road after a month off?
Bridget: I was really anxious. Towards the last week or so [of the break], I didn’t really know what else to do because I literally wasn’t doing anything for so long. I’m really excited to be back on the road and doing shows again. It’s so much fun to be back, especially when you’re living with 14 other dancers and you’re used to being around them all the time. It’s weird taking a complete break from them for four weeks.
Casey, you’re a Seattleite. You’ll have a hometown performance on February 5. How does that feel?
Casey: I’m really looking forward to it. My family is all going to be there and a lot of my friends who I haven’t seen in awhile just because I haven’t been home in a long time. They’re going to come watch me dance. That’s going to be really cool because almost everyone else has been to their hometown.
Speaking of which, Bridget, the tour stopped in Phoenix recently. Was it noticeably different performing in the city where you grew up?
Bridget: There’s definitely a little bit more anxiety, in a positive way. Your friends and family are there watching and it’s kind of an excitement feeling you get. You’re like, “Yay, someone’s out there that I know.” Even dancing on the same stage I’ve danced on before. So it was kind of like dancing on my home stage. It’s definitely a different feeling, but then again we always give 110% in each show.
Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, you had performed there previously?
Bridget: Yes, I had. When I was much young, but still—I remember it.
You guys will be at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre on February 5. Casey, will it be your first time performing there?
Casey: Yeah, that will be my first time performing there. I’ve seen a ton of shows at the Paramount—beautiful theater. It’s going to be surreal performing on a stage where I’ve seen so many travelling Broadway shows. I grew up watching those at the Paramount. So to actually be on the same stage is going to be really cool.
How easily do you feel you can gauge the enthusiasm level of a given audience once a performance begins?
Casey: We can actually get a vibe basically from the first number. We’ll be like, “Okay, this is gonna be a long show, people are pretty quiet out there.” Or right when we walk out and they start screaming really loud, we know it’s going to be a fun show. When the crowd is energized it really pumps us up onstage and gives us a reason to dance hard. So we definitely have a few cities we remember really well where there were amazing crowds, and also those cities that didn’t have the best crowds. [laughs]
Have either of you attended any of the live tours from previous seasons?
Bridget: I went to a couple when I was younger. I went to season two for sure and I think it was also season four that I went to. So they were pretty fun, they were cool.
Casey: The last one I went to was the season five tour. So it was a long time ago and I think the tour was a little bit different back then, because it’s under new direction now. But it was an amazing show—just a really awesome thing to see.
Bridget, you started dancing at age four. When did you first become aware it was a serious pursuit for you?
Bridget: I think it was honestly not too long after I started. I started competing when I was five, so I was performing at five, six years old and I just fell in love with performing. It wasn’t necessarily the competition part of it. It was just getting up on stage and dancing. Then around age eight is when I got really serious, because I was actually doing gymnastics and dance at the same time and had to decide which one I wanted to pursue more. And I picked dance and I do not regret my decision.
As the end of the tour nears, what are your plans for the future?
Casey: I was actually in school before I did SYTYCD. I finished my freshman year of college in Southern California. So I’m hoping to go back this coming fall to finish my degree and possibly dance on the side because the school is really close to L.A. which is kind of where most of the commercial dancing is. That’s what I want to go into.
Bridget: After this tour is done, I’m heading back to school as well. I’m a dance major, so they’re kind of just letting me just slide back into dance classes. So I’ll finish my degree, I graduate next year. After that I really just hope to audition for really anything. I’d love to do commercial work. I’d love to do anything on Broadway, or even company work, and eventually continue school in physical therapy to become a physical therapist for dancers specifically.
Looking back on all the useful advice you received during SYTYCD, what’s an example of something you think you’ll carry with you forever?
Casey: It was actually week two [Top 20, July 9, 2014]. I was working on my tango routine, which I was having a lot of trouble with because I’d never trained in it. My choreographers, Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo, were actually the best thing about that week because they were so kind and gracious. They were obviously used to working with people who aren’t trained in that style. They told me, “You can do it, just trust your hard work. Know that if you work hard enough it’ll show and it’ll all come out good.” So that’s kind of the biggest thing I took away from those two choreographers, because I was stressed out that week.
Bridget: Mine was actually week three [Top 18, July 16, 2014]. I had Anya [Garnis] and Pasha [Kovalev] as choreographers. Obviously Emilio [Dosal] and I had no training in ballroom whatsoever. We were trying to get the steps down and we were struggling and frustrated. What they told us, because they had been on the show, was to have fun first and then worry about the steps. It’s not about getting it perfect, it’s all about making it your best and doing your best. Making it your own. As long as you feel good about it, it doesn’t matter what other people think about it.
Do you have any words of wisdom for any up-and-comers who might be watching you perform on this tour?
Bridget: Honestly, as clichéd as it sounds, never give up. You never know what they’re looking for and who they’re looking for. There’s going to be hundreds of people who are going to tell you ‘no,’ and then there’s someone out there looking to tell you ‘yes.’ So you just have to keep trying and you can’t let those people who say ‘no,’ or ‘this isn’t for you,’ to just keep trying until you find someone who wants to work with you.
Casey: Work as hard as you can. That’s the biggest thing that choreographers want. They don’t care if you’re perfect, because they’re used to working with people who are maybe out of their style. But as long as you work hard and try your best, that’s the biggest thing. I would also say it’s important not to get caught up in becoming a famous dancer. Like, with “dance moms” and all of that, there are so many young girls who are trying so hard to get recognized in social media. They think that’s what dancing is all about. But it’s all about how it makes you feel. It shouldn’t be about trying to impress fans or people who are following you.
See Casey Askew and Bridget Whitman, along with the other season 11 Top 10 finalists (including winner Ricky Ubeda and runner-up Valerie Rockey) on the So You Think You Can Dance live tour. The tour continues throughout the U.S. and Canada until the final stop in Fargo on February 18.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00274SIWE]