Paris Torres, Tony Ballissimo dish on 'So You Think You Can Dance'
By Christopher Rocchio, 06/15/2009
Paris Torres doesn't "begrudge" So You Think You Can Dance's judges for using the fact that many of the season's other female finalists are also contemporary dancers as a factor in their decision to eliminate her from the show's fifth season.
"I knew being through it last year that they are typecasting for the show. They need certain personalities, they need certain ethnicities, they need certain styles of dance," Torres told reporters during a Friday conference call.
"Actually when [judge Nigel Lythgoe] made that comment to me after I performed my solo; it actually eased me a bit. I knew then that they weren't eliminating me solely on the fact that they didn't feel I was a strong enough dancer. It was more than just, 'We think there are other, better dancers than you are.' Yes, it was difficult. There were eight of us contemporary dancers and I was with 10 girls and it was unfortunate that I had to be the first to go."
"I am thankful for the opportunity I got on the show," Bellissimo told reporters during a separate Friday conference call. "I will definitely come back into the dancing field as a better and stronger trained dancer and definitely watch out for my creative ideas; they're coming. I have a lot more ideas to come."
Torres and Bellissimo had performed a hip-hop routine choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha D'Umo during Wednesday night's performance episode. While they felt it was good, the judges thought it had fallen short of the high level some of the other contestants had set on Wednesday night.
"I've done hip-hop in the past, but nothing like what Tabitha and Napoleon gave to us. They really entrusted us with some great choreography," Torres told reporters.
"It was hectic and hard and stressful, but I tried to attack it as best as I could. The costumes were actually amazing, elaborate costumes, but they constricted our movement pretty badly. Tony and felt that with it being tight, like leathery plastic and the headphones, it was just a lot to take on and it definitely didn't help the stress situation much. We just tried to work with it and tried to do the best we could."
Torres added she feels the performance was "over-rehearsed," causing the finished product to be "watered down."
"It was just becoming steps to us. In the week while we were going through rehearsals they said, 'You kind of lost your style to it.' So when the judges did say all that, that it was good, but not great, all we could do is say, 'We did our best,' and if that wasn't good enough America will vote and we'll just see what happens," explained Torres.
In addition, she said the judges comments helped prepare her for Thursday night's results show.
"Because of the judges' honesty and because they were so honest with us as to tell us, 'That wasn't extraordinary; that was forgettable,' I think it did really kind of wake us up and we, that night, went home and rehearsed our solos and kind of got them down," said Torres. "It made us more prepared to fight for our lives."
Torres' fears were realized when she and Bellissimo found themselves among the bottom three couples based on home viewer votes cast immediately following Wednesday night's performance episode. They were then ousted by the show's three judges after the six dancers each performed a solo routine.
Bellissimo's elimination was a unanimous decision among the judges, and he lamented the fact that he and his partner didn't do more with the hip-hop routine they were handed.
"It could have stood out a lot more than it did. I think that it was just on Paris and me that we didn't execute the right way," he told reporters, adding he takes a lot of the blame due to his hip-hop background.
"I am styled hip-hop, but it's not really my style of hip-hop that I would do. I usually do funk style so it was kind of out of my genre hip-hop as well. But no excuses, it was a great piece that was not executed the right way."
Bellissimo said he was "torn" when he found out he'd be tackling hip-hop during the first week of the competition.
"I was thinking is this going to help me or is this going to hurt me. If I would have gotten a contemporary and I got to show this kid could kind of dance contemporary then I would have gotten a better fan base or if I came out and did hip-hop I didn't really know what to expect," he explained.
"It was scary to me to have that field. I was excited, but scared at the same time. It is what it is; it happened. I don't think I executed at the best of my ability, but I think I definitely did put a lot of time into it and a lot of work into it."
In addition to an admitted lack of execution, Torres said the fifth-season's talent level is "insane" -- making a road to the title even harder.
"I auditioned for it last year and just to see the difference between last year's Vegas and this year's Vegas, they were not only America's favorite dancers, but the best dancers," she explained. "Everyone in the Top 20 this year could have been the winner. It's just kind of a matter of what style you get each week. The talent level is just amazing."
While he's happy with the opportunity he received via the show, Bellissimo said he's concerned he was unable to prove he belonged in the Top 20.
"My biggest fear was not being respected as a dancer, which I don't know if I was able to prove that because I was cut so early. That's why I wanted to stay at least one more week or two more weeks to prove that I was good enough to be on the show," he told reporters.
"I wanted to really prove that I'm a good performer, a good dancer and not just a cute face on TV, as the judges said. That was what I really wanted to do and it didn't happen, but I have many, many years to prove to myself and people that I'm here, I'm a real dancer not just some Joe Shmoe off the street with a good idea."
As for what's next for Torres, she echoed Bellissimo in that dancing aficionados haven't seen the last of her.
"Hopefully with the amount of publicity that this show has given me I'll be able to start choreographing more in Seattle and earning more money and be able to eventually move out here to L.A. to keep auditioning and just keep in the swing of things," she told reporters.