Valerie Rockey has been tap dancing since she was 3 years old. It’s a dying art, she said, and a genre that she’s passionate about re-popularizing. That’s why she was excited to perform this year on “So You Think You Can Dance.” The dance competition show, which airs on Fox and wrapped up its 11th season in September, has gotten millions of viewers interested in dancing – or at least watching it.
On Sunday, the Top 10 finalists from Season 11 will perform at Hartman Arena as part of a nationwide tour that’s aiming to bring the excitement of the show to live audiences.
Rockey, 20, said the live event is unique because it mixes the dancers together to highlight different styles. Several genres, including jazz, hip-hop, ballroom and contemporary, will be performed. The most popular routines from last season will be showcased, along with some new numbers that were fashioned for this tour.
“I just like having the freedom to create my own beats to the music and hearing the background to different songs and tapping to that,” she said about her own form. “I think tap is a unique style; not many people do it, so I like being a tapper.”
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For Rudy Abreu, 18, going on tour as one of the finalists has been “the experience of a lifetime.” Though he has primarily focused on contemporary dance, he said the tour has pushed his boundaries as a dancer.
“I love contemporary because I get to really express what words can’t. It’s a really easy style to express those emotions and feelings. I’ve also been doing hip-hop for 11 years, and it requires a lot of energy and a lot of dynamic. I have a lot of energy, and I am pretty dynamic.”
Among his favorite routines to perform, Abreu said, are a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” and a high-spirited Broadway routine with castmate Tanisha Belnap.
Although they may have been in competition during the show, Abreu and Rockey agree that there’s no rivalry between the dancers now. The tour has been a bonding experience.
“I feel like it wasn’t really a competition between us during the show, but now I feel like everyone has gotten really close,” Rockey said. “We’re basically living together now that we’re on tour … it’s really good that we all get along so well. We’re all having a lot of fun.”
Abreu said audiences who attend the performance can expect the same excitement that the show offers but on a different level.
“The feeling of being on stage and having people go crazy when you come out is something so unreal,” he said. “I think there’s only been a few shows that haven’t been sold out so far. The energy level at all of our shows is beyond amazing. All of the fans that come are true die-hard fans of the show. They know who we are and what dances we’re going to do.”
Other cast members from “So You Think You Can Dance” who will appear as part of the tour include Casey Askew, Emilio Dosal, Zack Everhart, Jacque LeWarne, Jessica Richens, Bridget Whitman and last season’s winner, Ricky Ubeda. Four alternates (who were part of season 11) are also on tour: Emily James, Teddy Coffey, Carly Blaney and Marcquet Hill.
“It’s such a different feel when you have TV screens versus when you’re actually watching in person,” Rockey said. “When you’re watching on the TV screen, you can definitely feel things from the performance, but when you actually see us in person, we talk on stage and get excited and feed off of the energy of everyone else’s excitement. The energy is at a higher level when it’s in person.”