Ashley Rich, Chris Koehl discuss 'So You Think You Can Dance'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/08/2011
So You Think You Can Dance eliminated Ashley Rich and Chris Koehl during Thursday night's live results show on Fox, which determined the eighth season's Top 12 contestants.
During a Friday conference call with reporters, Ashley, a 22-year-old contemporary dancer from Antioch, CA and Chris, a 21-year-old hip-hop dancer from Garland, TX talked to Reality TV World about their So You Think You Can Dance experience including -- whether they were surprised to be eliminated, what Ashley felt the judges were looking for when they claimed she hadn't reached her "peak" in the competition, and why Chris believed he had struggled to always fulfill the expectations of the show's choreographers.
Reality TV World: Ashley, Nigel Lythgoe said he hadn't seen you peak yet in the competition although you were always dancing at a high level of proficiency. Did your elimination come as a surprise to you and what do you think the judges were expecting to see from you? How do you think you could have reached the "peak" they were looking for?
Ashley Rich: Well I think it was a competition where you have to basically stay at your "A" game at all times. You can never really slack off, so I think they just wanted more, which of course I appreciate. That's a complement. I didn't think of it as a negative thing.
They just wanted me to be better than I already was, so I respect everything they had to say because they're saying it for a reason. But of course if I had gone a little longer, I would have been able to show more, but it's a competition. I'm so happy that I got to be a part of it, so it was good.
Reality TV World: Chris, you had been in the bottom three with Ashley last week, but Ryan Ramirez and Ricky Jaime were in the same position as you because they had also been in the bottom three before. Were you surprised to be eliminated over Ricky or did you somewhat see it coming beforehand, and also, what do you think Nigel meant by saying you hadn't always fulfilled what the choreographers asked you to do?
Chris Koehl: I think the main difference between me and Ricky would have to be just the technical training. Ricky just took a different journey through life and he has so much under his belt. So, I think with all the training he had, the judges feel that he's going to be able to pick up some of that choreography in future runs better than me.
I definitely didn't see it coming, but I tried to prepare myself either way. I went out there and I feel we both gave amazing solos. I think we both worked really hard in every single routine that we had, and it was just that somebody had to go, and it happened to be me.
As far as reaching the expectations of the judges, I think that there's always room for improvement, and I think I grew each and every time. I should be proud of where I've come, but I guess the judges just felt like they needed and wanted a little bit more from me in order to stay on the show, and I wasn't quite there yet -- which is okay, because I'm still pleased with what I was able to do.
Reality TV World: Chris already already touched on this, so Ashley, what are your plans for the near future?
Ashley Rich: As far as my plans go for the near future, yes I want to dance. No matter what, dance will always be a part of my life. I think this is just a great opportunity and it's just the beginning of the great things that Chris and I can accomplish. So, right now I'm pretty open. I'm just trying to see where this is going to lead me.
Reality TV World: Do you think a degree of difficulty should be factored into the judging? Because many dancers end up randomly selecting genres out of their comfort zones, while others get to perform a routine in their preferred style of dance.
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Ashley Rich: I think it's just the luck of the draw. You never know what you're going to get. One week you might be lucky, but then the next week, you might not. So, I think I just try to stay positive no matter what.
Chris Koehl: I think the judges do an excellent job. As far as letting you go out of your style, I think they realize that you're not a professional ballroom dancer or whatever style that you do get, and so they do look more on the performance end of it and how you end up selling it, because they realize it won't be technically absolutely perfect.
Then when you go get your own style, they do step it up and they do judge harder. So, I think the judges did an excellent job with what they do. They're there for a reason. Yeah, that's pretty much it.
Also in the call, Ashley and Chris told reporters whether they believed there was a couples curse based on how four couples have been eliminated during the last four live results shows and who they are rooting for to win So You Think You Can Dance's eighth season.
Chris, are you going to be going back to school or pursuing dance full-time in the near future?
Chris Koehl: At the moment, I'm going to be pursuing dance. I'll probably be doing some online classes to try to continue my education. In general, it's always good to just keep learning. But I'd always like to have a backup plan just in case for whatever reason like I need more money or whatever. But right now, dancing is definitely my main focus. I definitely can't see myself focusing on anything else.
Do you both think there's a couples curse occurring? This was the fourth elimination of the season and it featured the forth couple going home.
Ashley Rich: I don't think of it as that. I think the judges know best and they know who they want in the competition, and they know what we go through everyday and that we're working hard. So, I feel like there isn't a conspiracy behind it.
Chris Koehl: I don't know that there's a conspiracy behind it at all. It just happens to be the way the show has been going this year. I find it interesting, but yeah, as Ashley was saying, the judges know what they're looking for. They know what's best for the show -- this is their eighth season -- and this is just how the cards have fallen out this time.
Ashley Rich: Everyone. We love everybody. I would love to see any one of those dancers win. I love them all and they're all amazing in their own way. So, I would be happy with whoever wins.
Chris Koehl: I was just going to say the same thing. I love every single one of them and they're all extremely talented and deserve to be there. They all deserve to be there until the end, but only one person wins. I'll be happy for whoever makes it there.