So You Think You Can Dance 2011 contestants might want to seek some advice from last year’s finalists, Tommy Franzén and Lizzie Gough ahead of the second series of the dance competition starting this weekend on BBC1.
It will be exactly a month since the Got to Dance final, and for those not into sequins and ice skates, cultured couch critics will be wondering how they coped without without a show that celebrates a variety of dance styles.
While the audition episodes of the show broadcast, the 20 dancers who do eventually get chosen to face the public vote should do some research below and realise just how intense the So You Think You Can Dance experience really is, especially before reaching the final stages.
This interview with Tommy Franzén and Lizzie Gough was conducted last summer, ahead of their autumn tour of Blaze: The Street Dance Sensation. Presently both are working with ZooNation on the successor to Into the Hoods, Some Like It Hip Hop which was shown as an extract at Sadler’s Wells Sampled 2011.
The So You Think You Can Dance experience: Tommy and Lizzie
Both of you are professional dancers, what made you decide to go to the So You Think You Can Dance auditions?
Lizzie: It was more my friends that persuaded me to do it, I didn’t want to personally do it because I’m not into the whole reality TV thing. But my passion is dance and my friends said go to the audition and see how you go, and it progressed and progressed. I was really shocked to get into the top 14, I didn’t expect that at all. To make it to the final was something else. I didn’t expect any of it.
Tommy: It’s kind of similar to me in a sense that I wasn’t interested in auditioning for it in the first place, but it was a friend who told me he reckoned I’d be good for it. I didn’t really know what it was because I’m not too into reality shows, like Lizzie, but when he told me what I had to be strong at, and it was about versatility, then I thought “hmm, maybe.” I didn’t want to compete either, because I concentrate on being versatile more than being specialised on one style, which most competitions are about. So I just changed my mind and thought I’d give it a go.
There are scores of talent shows on TV, were you at all concerned about going on TV in front of millions, or how that might reflect on your career in a bad way?
Lizzie: It did worry me, especially with the judges, they can easily give you bad comments that could ruin your career, and that was one thing I really didn’t want. But a part of me knew that I really wanted to do my best, and because I’m quite versatile I wanted to show that. In the industry I’m known as the hip hop dancer, and I wanted to show people that I can do everything. So yeah, I was very cautious about that. You have to be aware of what’s around you and I didn’t want to be known for my person, I wanted to be known as a dancer, and that’s what I feel like I achieved.
Tommy: Again, that’s one of the main reasons I wasn’t interested to audition in the first place because I was scared. I been working this many years to build up my career and reputation, and for a show to ruin it like that was quite a worry. At the same time, if the judges decided to say something about that, or the producers would edit my VTs to put me in a bad light, I still think it would take more to ruin what I – what we – built up, because the people in the industry know the real me anyway. It would just be the general public.
Each week of the show you had to learn several routines of the live show. How intense was it being part of the show?
Lizzie: The show was really intense. I probably lost around ten stone over the show! We were just exercising constantly, like we would get up at six in the morning and wouldn’t get back to the apartment until 11 o’clock at night, so we were always doing something. But I’m so used to being on the go all the time, I never stop training, I’m always out first thing in the morning and back late at night. For me it was hard, but I liked it because I liked being challenged and I like to keep busy, so I was ready for hard work.
Tommy: I really enjoyed you had to train that hard, you had no choice. It’s nice to be pushed into something. In college you’re there to just train. Again, with So You Think You Can Dance you had to train all day, and the interesting thing for me was to see how far you could push yourself in that situation, how far you could go when you really have to, when you have no choice. Because if I had a choice I would probably after training that hard say “Ah, I’ve had enough now, I need to rest!” but the pressure of the show made you have to push through. I feel that I gained new heights by doing it. I think I was kind of surprised at myself how far you can go.
SYTYCD is a big deal – 7 million viewers watched it , and its also big in the US. Do you think the hype of it made it an X-Factor style judgefest, maybe the judges were a little over critical, maybe saying one week you were good, one week you were bad?
Lizzie: I never really got a bad comment from the judges so I don’t know how it felt, but they always gave us constructive criticism. That’s what they would always do. They might make it dramatised, but if you’re clever enough and you think carefully you think “ah, okay, they meant that!” I find if they gave you a bad comment, they did it for a reason and you have to use that comment and make it into a positive, so that’s the way I went about it if they did give me a bad comment.
Tommy: But they didn’t!
Lizzie: But they didn’t. No, I don’t think it turned into this X-Factor kind of thing, I think their judging was their personal opinions.
Tommy: Because it’s a show though, they had to sometimes exaggerate a little to make it interesting for the public, so a lot of time it was either they really loved it or really hated it, it was just part of the show. It’s another thing to keep in mind when you’re on a show like this. If they give you a lot of negative comments it doesn’t mean as much as they’re saying as they want to make a show out of it too.
Had you worked with any choreographers in the show, or who would you like to work with in the future?
Tommy: I’d hope to work with Stephen Mear, I loved working with Stephen Mear, he’s great, like he is really, really good.
Lizzie: I’d never worked with any of the choreographers before. I always wanted to. Kate Prince I wanted to. Simeon Qsyea I wanted to. But Stephen Mear, for me he was excellent.
Tommy: Rafael Bonachela.
Lizzie: He was amaaazing.
Tommy: That’s a choreographer I’d love to work with, with him most of all, Rafael Bonachela.
Lizzie: Him and Stephen, Karen Bruce, every choreographer I had I learnt something off them. I’m glad I worked with them. I’m glad I worked with Karen as well.
Tommy: Karen was a very inspiring choreographer. I really enjoyed her stuff actually, a lot because of her. She did do brilliant choreography but also the way she taught it she was really inspiring.
So You Think You Can Dance 2011 starts on Saturday 26 March 2011 on BBC1.