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So You Think You Can Dance Q&A: Jess LeProtto and Jordan Casanova

Jordan Casanova and Jess LeProtto, both sort of surprising exits from last week’s So You Think You Can Dance, joined a conference call to talk about their experience on the show and what they hope to accomplish moving forward – after the tour, of course.

As far as how the two of them got interested in dance, eventually setting them on this path, both had pretty standard beginnings. For Jordan, she “always wanted to perform, so any chance I could get I took it. They put me in dance and I was hooked the moment I stepped inside the studio. I guess it was just a natural instinct inside me.” Jess grew up with a sister who loved dance, and a family who took him to her dance studio where he “watched under the door and caught the bug.”

As children Jordan connected with one of her teachers, who she claims is the person she looks up to most, as far as the dance world is concerned. “She’s been there for me since I was 11 years old. She’s a great teacher, choreographer, and a good person.” Jess (no surprise here) idolizes Gene Kelly. “I’ve been inspired by his style, and watching him has made me the performer I am today.”

They talked a lot about the critiques on the show, and although it’s the audience’s instinct to defend them, they understand that being an artist means being critiqued. Jordan explained “No one likes to hear the negative comments, but we are dancers and we get critiqued. Negative comments push you to strive for better critiques the next week. Everything they said pushed me to where I am now.” She also responded to a question regarding Nigel’s comments on her solo performance a few weeks ago, suggesting she hadn’t worked hard enough to give them something new. “I’m happy with how I performed, and this last week I did a Contemporary solo for a change. I had fund and I left my heart on stage, and that’s all I can do.”

Jess added his two cents about critique, agreeing “It’s hard to hear negative comments but they do make your stronger. You have to remember they see something in you and they want to help you improve because they believe it’s worth it. They’re not bashing you, they just want to note something that will help you in your career.”

Good heads on these two 18 year olds. It’s a hard lesson, for those of us who work in creative industries, but it’s the truth and you’ll never make it if you take critique personally.

Neither of them expected to be in the bottom this week, but neither were they surprised. Jordan responded “The surprises are the great thing about this show, and I’m happy to have been a part of it and gotten this far….the competition is so tight this year, everyone is so phenomenal.” Jess added “You’re never able to say you’re immune, you never know what the public si going to do and you always have to be prepared for it. They made their decision for a specific reason, I guess, but it doesn’t matter to me because I never thought from my audition in Brooklyn that i would make it this far.”

The two shared their proudest moments on the show. Jess claims it was working with NappyTabs and Chris Scott on a couple of Hip-Hop routines. During Vegas week “it was not a pretty sight, me doing Hip-Hop routines for the first time. The choreographers gave me a tremendous challenge with great concepts. Also my Broadway routines, and getting to show America my genre.”

Does he think being a Broadway dancer crippled his chances in any way? “I don’t think so, because with any special genres that are featured, we get respect because we’re not on the show every seasons, and people are happy to see our genres pop up. I wanted to bring my old fashioned style and my love of Broadway to the show.”

Jordan’s favorite part of her experience was “all of them. I’m proud of all the routines I did, because I got mostly genres other then my own and I’m proud I made it this far. I can’t explain what it feels like to accomplish a waltz.”

They also shared what they learned from being a part of So You Think You Can Dance Season 8. Gratitude filled both of their voices, and Jordan spilled “That it’s possible for me to be a dancer. I lacked confidence. It’s a tough industry, and I had no faith when I auditioned right out of high school. I leaned I can accomplish a goal with hard work and dedication. I expanded my dance knowledge.” For Jess, he gained a different kind of confidence by learning “I don’t have to present myself a certain way to attract an audience. We’re here because America can enjoy us the way we are. I can be so many things I never thought I could.”

Where are the two headed now? Both expressed an interest in getting into acting for television or in the movies. Jordan is also “excited for the opportunities the show has opened (as far as singing goes).” Jess, no surprise here, will get “back into the audition process in NYC” but would also like to “get into more behind the scenes stuff, maybe choreographing.”

In the words of an 18-year-old Broadway dancer from Brooklyn, “You never know where life will take you, so you do your best to be prepared.”

So You Think You Can Dance airs Wednesday and Thursday nights at 8/7c on Fox.

Photos Courtesy of Adam Rose and FOX

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