What do you do when FOX TV’s So You Think You Can Dance calls and asks if your company will make a guest appearance? 1 Hang up-it’s a prank call. 2 Worry about what others will think. 3 Jump up and down because your ship has just come in 4 Start running the pros and cons thru your brain while you ask questions about logistics, stage surface and fees.
I knew it wasn’t a prank call based on experience. I’ll divulge that we’d been aggressively scouted to audition to compete on two reality competition shows, Paula Abdul’s LIVE TO DANCE and America’s Got Talent. Both auditions were fun enough experiences, but competing on a reality show is just not for AXIS. (Apparently they didn’t think we were a good fit either!)
Many in our field of contemporary dance feel that these reality shows are bastardizing our art form. Only two other professional dance companies have appeared on SYTYCD, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and Complexions Contemporary Ballet— and I’m sure they had to weigh the pros and cons too.
Appearing as guest artists on a popular primetime TV dance show, however, is not an offer to take lightly. For AXIS, how else are millions of people going to see us performing a dance form they didn’t even know existed? There was no way we could let this opportunity slip by. So I said absolutely, sent them some video, they loved it and done deal. We had no idea what would happen.
As soon as word got out that AXIS was appearing on SYTYCD our lives were temporarily turned upside down! There was a whirlwind of logistics, press requests, emails, Facebook posts and twitter activity. The response from our families, friends, fans and press was crazy and we can still barely keep up!
June 30th snuck up on us and off we went to Los Angeles! The day was filled with waiting and then a hubbub of activity: make-up and hair for Sonsherée and Rodney, blocking rehearsal to plan camera shots and angles and finally the show! What a scene the audience is - unlike theater performances where the clapping happens at the end, the audience is coached to go wild every time the dancers do something exciting. Well wild they went when AXIS started. At one point the crowd got quiet and I could sense they wanted to watch, but a few diehard cheerers got the roar going again.
And then it was over. I was so proud of Sonsherée and Rodney—they were stunning. Alex Ketley was there and beaming, as he should have—he choreographed a great duet! After twenty-four years of creating evolving, and convincing the world that what AXIS does IS dance, it was a thrill.
Who’d have thought???