'So You Think You Can Dance' eliminee Alexis Juliano: I struggled with two major areas on the show
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/06/2013
So You Think You Can Dance eliminated Alexis Juliano, an 18-year-old tap dancer from Coral Springs, FL, during last Tuesday night's live show on Fox, which determined the tenth season's Top 12 contestants.
Alexis, along with Curtis Holland, a 19-year-old tap dancer from Miami, FL, were eliminated by So You Think You Can Dance judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy as well as guest judge Anna Kendrick after they found themselves in the week's bottom-six dancers based on home viewer votes cast for the Top 14 finalists immediately following the previous week's show.
During a recent conference call with reporters, Alexis talked to Reality TV World about her So You Think You Can Dance experience. Below is what she had to say. To read Curtis' interview, click here.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to get eliminated, or did you sense it coming beforehand at all?
Alexis Juliano: I think once I found out I was in the bottom, I kind of prepared myself for the worst but, you know, hoped for the best. You never really know, so you just have to hope for the best. That's just not what happened that time. But it was still an amazing run. Jasmine Harper is absolutely amazing.
Reality TV World: As a tap dancer, how much -- if any -- training did you have in all the other dance genres that are featured on the show? How difficult was it to learn all the other styles throughout the season and do you feel like you had it especially tough being a tapper?
Alexis Juliano: Honestly, I trained in all the other styles, except ballroom, just as much as I trained in tap. But, I think tap was definitely my strongest suit and just what I really love.
I definitely think the challenge as a tapper was more the partnering work, just because I'm not used to the major lifts that we did on the show and to have to connect to a partner. Because when you're tapping, you're usually by yourself. You don't have to connect so much with other people on the stage, just with the audience.
So... that was definitely a struggle. But having to do the choreo part of it wasn't too challenging. It was definitely challenging, but not in the aspect that I've never done it before -- except for the ballroom, that was definitely very challenging because I'd never done it before.
Reality TV World: You got great reviews from the judges this week following your contemporary routine. So do you have any idea why you were the one that got eliminated this time around? Do you have any insight into that?
Alexis Juliano: Not really. I think it's more just about how the judges feel about us as dancers. I think that I was up against amazing dancers and all the girls and the guys are just amazing. I just think when it comes down between me and Jasmine Harper, Jasmine Harper is just phenomenal. She's amazing at her craft and she's amazing at other things as well. It's just however the judges feel.
Reality TV World: Going back to your jive performance last week, the judges' main critique was that you guys kind of lost energy halfway through. Could you talk a little bit about that? Was it simply the choreography was exhausting, or maybe did you have a little bit of trouble connecting to the performance?
Alexis Juliano: I definitely think that jive is very energetic and you're always bouncing, you're always kicking, you're always flicking, you're always smiling and lifting. So jive is definitely -- you need a lot of adrenaline and endurance for it. But I definitely think that maybe I just didn't have enough endurance at that time.
I do feel like I probably died a little bit towards the end just because I was giving it so much in the beginning. Jive was amazing to do and I would love to keep doing it.
Reality TV World: Why did you originally want to try out for So You Think You Can Dance? How many times did you audition until you actually got onto the show and into the Top 20?
Alexis Juliano: I only auditioned one time, the first time, and then I made it to Top 20 this time. I think I just really wanted to inspire people to tap dance. I felt like an amazing way to do that was just to be on TV tapping. I just felt like tap was kind of dying as an art form, and it's just getting to be a really small world for tap dancers.
I just want it to keep growing. As the next generation of tap dancers is coming up, I just want it to be a big group. I definitely think that's happening, because on Twitter and everything, people have been tweeting me, like, "You've inspired me to learn tap and I'm going to get tap shoes now." It's just an amazing thing to know that the reason I wanted to be on the show is actually happening. It's great.
Below are some additional highlights from Alexis' call with reporters.
It seems like, traditionally, tappers tend to leave the competition early. I was wondering if that's something that you were worried about as you headed into the Top 20.
Alexis Juliano: I was definitely concerned that that might have happened. But I definitely think the run I had on the show was amazing. Just to make it to Top 14 was an amazing thing for me, because I didn't even think I was going to make Top 20. I think, maybe, tappers don't normally make it far, but I feel like Top 14 is pretty good.
I was wondering if you had a favorite style or choreographer that you got to work with.
Alexis Juliano: I definitely loved my contemporary piece with Sonya Tayeh just because she pushes you. She, like, knows everything about you. I don't know. She just knows who you are and the kind of person you are -- just the way she talks to you, she can definitely change you as a dancer for the better. To get to do that piece with her was an amazing way to leave the show. Yes, she's definitely my favorite and I love contemporary.
It has been a good season for tappers and there's been a pretty strong showing with three of you there. How proud are you of tap's strong showing this season and the role that you had played in that?
Alexis Juliano: I'm very proud. Just the fact that there were three tappers this season is so amazing. We both, Curtis and I, have made it far. This Top 14 is a big accomplishment, I feel like. Yes, tap is definitely growing in the world, and I think more people are starting to love it and try it. It's amazing to see where tap is going.
Which routines that you've done throughout the season up until your elimination have pushed you the most -- be it emotionally, mentally, or technically?
Alexis Juliano: I think the piece that definitely pushed me the most in all those aspects would have had to have been Sonya's contemporary piece. Emotionally, that was a very sad and devastating one to have to play the part of someone who's heartbroken and who's dying inside. It definitely hit me emotionally-wise, just getting connected into that character.
But then, also, technically because that contemporary piece was so -- it was just so much on the body and it was so full-out all the time. There were a lot of things that you had to do in that piece. I definitely think it just made me grow as a person and as a performer.
Because there were three tappers this season and all of you have such unique styles, how would you describe what the other two performers had to bring to the table?
Alexis Juliano: I think that Curtis' style is very fun and energetic and just full-out all the time. He's just so amazing at what he does. The stuff that he does -- even though they're small, intricate steps -- he just makes them so big and so full-out that no one's ever bored watching them.
Then, I feel like [Aaron Turner]'s style is just very -- it's cool, but you're going to watch him just because he's so in it with his whole body. Everything's always moving. He's just a great performer onstage as well.
Now, last week the judges, Nigel in particular, had some pretty harsh criticism for you and your routine. How much do you think that the judges and what they have to say affects the way America votes?
Alexis Juliano: I definitely think they affect the way America thinks about how the dance was and how we portrayed the dance. They have to give America something to go off of. So yes, I definitely think when Nigel says, "You kind of died towards the end," America might not have noticed that at first, but then watching it again, maybe they can see, "Oh, wow, I kind of agree with Nigel."
So yes, I definitely think that some of the corrections that we get go into play. But I also think it's America's favorite dancer, so it's really whoever America wants. And if Nigel went a little hard on your favorite dancer, you'll maybe vote for them a million times more, you know what I mean? So it just plays both ways.
What are your plans now that you've been eliminated? For the short-term, and then, consequently, for the long-term after the show is over?
Alexis Juliano: I would love to go to New York and dance there, whether it's shows or tap companies or any companies. I would love to be in New York dancing, or wherever a show can take me -- wherever life wants to take me, I'll go. But right now, New York is my next dream.
What have you taken away from being a part of this process and being a part of the show?
Alexis Juliano: I definitely think I took away confidence with me. Going into the show, I didn't have a lot of confidence in myself. I never thought I'd even make Top 20. To make Top 14 just shows me the kind of dancer that I am and that America does love me enough to make it this far. I definitely think it's boosted my confidence. Moreover, it just makes me want to keep dancing for the rest of my life.
To read Curtis' interview with reporters, click here.