Tattoos, Fatigue & Screaming Fans: Catch Up with 'So You Think You Can Dance's' Season 4 On Tour!
The So You Think You Can Dance season four tour hit Los Angeles last night and if you know how obsessed I am with the show, it'll come as no surprise that I was front and center at the Nokia Theater watching my favorite numbers -- Chelsie Hightower and Mark's "Bleeding Love," Katee and Joshua's "No Air," Katee and Joshua's Bollywood dance and Katee and Twitch's Door routine (uh, yeah, I'm a Katee fan) -- performed up close. But I wasn't alone. The loudest audience members in L.A. were no doubt judge Nigel Lythgoe and choreographer Adam Shankman who gave standing ovations like nobody's business, God bless 'em. Also spotted screaming in the crowd? Choreographers Tabitha & Napoleon, Tyce Diorio, season three stars Anya, Pasha, Lacey and Lauren, and season four's Kourtni Lind.
If the tour is going to hit a town near you over the next three months, I highly recommend that you attend. The show is packed with more dances (and less cheesy talking!) than the two previous years (plus, you get to see Gev don several ladies dresses). These kids have toiled hard and it's clearly paid off. Other than the two-week break they were given between the end of the TV series and the beginning of tour rehearsals, they haven't had a single free day. Working through the weekends -- even while the series was airing -- the dancers are beyond beat, but watching them, you wouldn't know it. "We all crossed that line, where you're just past exhaustion, during the season," finalist Will Wingfield told me. "And once you get to that point, you just go, you're on autopilot."
Of course, Top Two dudes Joshua and Twitch realized that autopilot can be dangerous when they were hospitalized during finals week. "Me and Twitch, we sweat a lot. We could fill up a couple buckets. So it's really just about keeping your body replenished. That's why you see me with this water," Joshua said, holding a bottle of H2O. "Because we were so focused on trying to do [our final four] routines and had to work on them back to back, three hours [a piece] for each dance, we kind of forgot to keep drinking water and our bodies just [gave up]. Twitch ran out [of] the room and threw up and then I started feeling [dizzy] and they took us in. We thought we'd be out [of the hospital] the same night, but no, we stayed two days."
However, the show must go on, and that it did, with the boys rushing the doctor to clear them as quickly as possible, so they could film the finale. And of course Jessica, who suffered a serious injury -- three broken ribs and damage to her lung -- during the competition, and danced through it to make the top ten, can relate. "The show is so much harder than it looks on TV. You don't realize that [the] person [you're watching] got three hours of sleep this week, is malnourished or might have broken ribs," she laughed, looking back.
But two months later, Jess is healed and has joined her fellow finalists -- including Comfort who filled her place in the top ten -- on tour (Jess is in just six of the show's 25 numbers, which she says is perfect for her current strength level). And taking the two alternate spots are Chelsea Traille and Thayne Jasperson, who are thrilled to be dancing across the country with the other competitors. Their week one cha cha -- the first number to make Mary's Hot Tamale Train this season -- is a part of the tour's choreography, and must be one of the reasons they were asked to come along.
Despite the extreme exhaustion and physical toll, every dancer is still smiling and expressed sincere gratitude for the full experience when I spoke with them. Any loyal season four viewer knows the unofficial slogan for the year became "4 real" and winner Joshua was happy to explain its significance to me: "4 is for season four. And I think this was the hardest season ever, but our focus is so 'for real' and we are so 'for real' that we got through everything they threw at us. So, it stands for a lot of things. Like, if somebody's telling you you can't do something, no, you're for real, you can do this."
Several of the finalists feel so strongly about their mantra that they had it permanently branded on their body. "We love this season so much that some of us got [4 Real] tattoos," Joshua revealed to me. "Twitch's goes all the way down his [fore]arm, Comfort has one on her arm and Kherington has one on her wrist. A few of the others are getting them too. My mom didn't think I would do it, because she knows I'm afraid of needles, and it hurt! But this season meant so much to me." Another memento, specially made for the final four? Tiffany necklaces with the inscription "Joshua [or Katee, Twitch, Courtney], I know you can dance ...Nigel" from the show's very enthusiastic executive producer and judge.
As the experience continues and they begin to tour the country, Joshua -- who is in 19 of the show's 25 numbers -- tells me everyone's getting even closer: "I mean, it's so crazy because we all communicate through dance, you know, no matter what we're going through. Like, if we have an argument, when we have to dance together, it's like all the words are gone. No matter what's going on behind the stage, when we get on the stage, we [let it go]. It's like a medicine for us if we're feeling sad or mad. We dance and we feel better afterwards. It's cool, you meet all these different people from different realms of the world and you bond. [People tell us] we are the nicest season [of contestants so far]. We really are like a big family, we love each other."
So, what's on tap for the kids post-tour? Besides getting into movies -- he's already booked for a role in Adam Shankman's Step Up 3-D -- and recording an Omarion/Chris Brown-style R&B album, Joshua hopes to team up with Twitch: "Me and Twitch play off each other really well. I think we could do a sitcom together. I think that'd be pretty funny to watch." Comfort and Katee (who plans to put her $50,000 "Top Girl" prize money toward school loans and a present for her parents) dream of being the new Carter and Lee, referring to Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan's characters in the Rush Hour movie franchise. They told me they intend to enlist Will as their writer/director! Meanwhile Kherington already has something big scheduled, a unique opportunity which she wasn't sure she was allowed to elaborate on just yet, but seemed very excited about.
The rest of the kids have plans to move to L.A. or New York, get into more classes and begin auditioning. But first, they'll have to finish up this 50-city tour. "It's the best experience ever," finalist Courtney Galiano said. "Because you not only get to see the country, but you get to perform every single night in front of thousands and thousands of people." And despite the rigors, they're still having fun. "This is something that we love to do, so I think that helps us out a lot," mused Joshua. "Just the adrenaline when we're on stage performing and being around each other. And to see all the fans that voted for you and had your back through the whole show, that's so cool. We want to give back to them, and that's why we're on the road."