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Interview with Paula Abdul of "So
You Think You Can Dance" on
FBC PUBLICITY: So You Think You Can Dance
May 29, 2015/12:00 p.m. PDT
Welcome to the So You Think You Can Dance Conference call.
Now, at this time, all participants are in a listen-only
mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer session.
As a reminder, today's call is being recorded.
Your hosting speaker, Alex Gillespie.
Alex: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the So You Think
You Can Dance Conference call with one of our new judges,
world renowned choreographer, performance, singer and
songwriter, Paula Abdul.
As you know Season 12 of So You Think You Can Dance returns
this Monday at 8 p.m. on FOX. The upcoming season will
feature a new twist in the competition where we're doing
stage dancers versus street dancers.
As a reminder, we have a limited time today, so we ask that
we keep all questions focused on So You Think You Can Dance.
We do have videos, photos and press materials along with the
first episode that’s posted on our FOX Flash website.
Without further ado, I would like to turn the call over to
Paula: Hello, everyone.
Alex: Kevin, we are ready for some questions.
Moderator: First question is from the line of Mike Hughes, TV
Mike: Paula, because there's a lot of talk of street dancing
and stage dancing and so forth, tell us a little bit about
your own background as far as— and you did a lot of studio
training as a kid. What got you interested in studio
training as a kid, how young were you, and kind of tell us a
little bit more about your passion for learning dancing?
Paula: Well, it all started when I was four years old when I
first watched Singing in the Rain with my family. I fell in
love with Gene Kelly, and my parents said that I stood up
and proclaimed that I'm going to be an entertainer, and
honestly, I never stopped. I never looked back, and I
started which is considered kind of late because kids today
when we're auditioning them, when I say how old were you
when you first started, they say like two and a half, three
years old, and my response is why did you start so late, but
for me, I started when I was seven and a half.
So, I fell in love with dancing, and I did training in some
ballet and tap and jazz and modern and musical theatre, fell
in love with it, and I just knew from an early age that I
would be a choreographer, and I didn’t ever look back. My
first audition as a Laker girl, that was my first job, and I
took that seriously and transformed the Laker girls into a
legitimate dance team. That’s where I got my break, and I
was discovered by The Jacksons and that was my first tour I
went on when I was a teenager, still choreographed my very
first film, which was with Mr. McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy,
Patrick Dempsey, and I did Can't Buy me Love and went on to
do Bull Durham and Coming to America, I did the big African
dance scene, and Jerry Maguire, The Doors, so on and so
forth and did tours from The Jacksons to Janet Jackson, and
ZZ Top, George Michael, on and on and on. So, I've had a
wonderful experience and went on to choreograph the Academy
Awards while I was doing my pop music as well.
Moderator: Next question is from Jerry Nunn, Windy City
Jerry: I'm doing an interview for an LGBT publication and
wanted to know how's the diversity on the show and all of
that? Do you have some gays auditioning?
Paula: We absolutely do. We have tremendous diversity and
very colorful, wonderful, extremely talented dancers. It's
been an amazing showing of just all different culture and
backgrounds, diversity, styles, everything. It's a wonderful
Moderator: Question from the line of Bruce Miller, Sioux City
Bruce: How different are the skillsets for judging singing as
to judging dancing? Is it the same, or do you have to use
different kind of techniques and can you be more aggressive
or more critical with certain ones than others? How does
Paula: Well, I've been very fortunate to have an extremely
successful career as a choreographer, and the spirit and
psyche of dancers are unlike any other performer I've ever
witnessed, and because of my success as a choreographer, my
perspective looking at this show and judging the talent on
this show comes from a background that actually started my
whole career as an entertainer, and I see the finished
product of the raw, untapped talent that we get, and I can
see what their experience through the show will be, but I
was always considered a ball buster as a choreographer. I'm
a stickler for cleanliness and people really stretching
their boundaries and getting outside their comfort zone.
Moderator: Next question is from the line of Catherine
Cabanela, Buddy TV.
Catherine: I'm curious that you previously knew Nigel Lythgoe
and Jason Derulo, and if not, what was it like to meet them,
how did you feel?
Paula: Well, I feel like Nigel is part of like my family.
Nigel is one of the executive producers of American Idol, so
I've been working with FOX and with Nigel Lythgoe for well
over a decade, and I'm part of that family there. So, I've
known him for quite some time and I'm enjoying immensely
working with him and loving the fact that Jason Derulo is
part of the panel.
Jason, I'm a huge fan of. He's an incredible added judge. He
has a background that totally exemplifies as a young kid
wanting to be a performer. He went to performing arts
school. He has a lot to offer. He's an incredible
songwriter. He has the element of currently being out there
performing as an artist, and it's just a great chemistry. We
all get along extremely well and are having maybe a little
bit too much fun at times.
Moderator: Next question is Jamie Ruby, Scivision.com.
Jamie: Do you have any plans to perform yourself on stage
during the show?
Paula: Nothing planned and concrete, but you never know what
happens especially when it comes to dancing. I can't contain
myself. Sometimes I just have to dance with them.
Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Elizabeth
Collins, Reality Wanted.
Elizabeth: So, you’ve had a couple years off from a judging
panel. What made you excited to get back into it and take
this judging opportunity with So You Think You Can Dance?
Paula: Well, I actually spent the last year and four months
in Sydney, Australia helping head up the panel for So You
Think You Can Dance over there. So, I didn’t really take a
break and I loved it so much. I loved being part of the show
that when I came back to the states, I was approached by
Nigel to do the US version. So, for me it was a perfect fit,
hand to glove, it's what I do, and really happy to be a part
of it. I love this show.
Elizabeth: That’s awesome. Australia is amazing.
Paula: I know.
Elizabeth: So, this season with the stage versus street
competition, you have so much practice in professional
dancing, do you think that one is more advantageous than the
other this season?
Paula: I'm really excited about the new twist of format
because we have team captains. Twitch the team captain of
the street side, and Travis is the team captain of the stage
side. And this time, it's not about okay, the top twenty.
It's the ten best on the street side, ten best on stage, and
it's not necessarily about equal female to male, it's
whoever the best is, and I think with the two team captains,
there's going to be a competitive edge that we haven’t seen
on this show in addition to the contestants competing. So, I
don’t think one is more advantageous. I think you're going
to see a tremendous amount of competition on both sides. So,
it's going to be fun.
Moderator: Next question is from the line of Krista Chain, The TV
Krista: What are some of the biggest
challenges you face when you're judging.
Paula: For me, it's always wanting to give insight on how to
become better at auditioning. There's some amazing talent
that we see that just have that natural gift, but they may
not be as used to auditioning so they have a certain
perception of what we, the judges, are looking for, and I
always try to say don’t come in with any preconceived ideas
because you just don’t know. Just be present in the moment
and don’t have an attachment to the outcome and enjoy being
on that stage showing your bright light, and I think the
hardest thing is that when they get to caught up in their
head and then they're not enjoying the moment and they're
not showing their best light and their best raw talent.
I always want them to do well. So, if I see that they're
making it through to the next round but I'm noticing
something that is a habit that they need to break, I will
leave my seat oftentimes and go over to the side and touch
them and let them know you need to tweak this because you're
now aware that you're pulling faces that are a little
offputting or that you're keeping your shoulders raised or
just little tweaks that I want them to kind of— if someone
tells them, I feel like if I tell them to be aware of it or
mindful of it, then they won't get the same feedback when
they go to the next level.
Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Bill Harris,
Bill: So You Think You Can Dance has sort of continued on
with a very strong core audience that is very, very loyal to
the show. It may be because it takes dancing very seriously
is one of the theories. I'm just curious what do you think
it is. There have been a lot of high profile reality
competition shows, some of which you have been on that have
come and gone, had big highs and big lows, they're not
around anymore, but So You Think You Can Dance is still
here. Why do you think that is?
Paula: I think that what gets people about this show and why
there's such a fierce strong niche audience for it is that
they're seeing these young dancers and the tremendous
athleticism and the amount of tenacity and drive that these
young kids have. Unlike other art forms, dancers have such a
unique spirit and psyche; they don’t go into this because
it's a hobby. They do it because they have to; it's like the
oxygen for him, it's the air that we breathe, and it's not
because it's for the faint hearted. It's these people who
are so über talented they go in and they put as many hours
in as kids who go to law school or want to become a doctor.
There's really not a big difference.
It's the same level of athleticism as professional athletes
that are famous football players and basketball players.
It's not where they are guaranteed to make a tremendous
amount of money so it's an art form that requires extreme
dedication and focus and tenacity, and I think that people,
not only because dance is so much at the forefront. And from
me being in the dance field for as long as I have, I have
waited for the day like how it's been in the past decade
where dance is so much at the forefront, and what I think
people realize is that this show, So You Think You Can
Dance, legitimizes real careers for these young dancers.
It's very difficult to make it as a dancer working in the
business successfully, and this show actually highlights
that these kids can go on and become background dancers for
Beyoncé or Gaga or dance for award shows, or as you’ve seen,
which I love, is seeing these young dancers turn into
choreographers, and these choreographers turn into Emmy
Award winning choreographers. So, I think that there's such
an immense respect for So You Think You Can Dance and that’s
why the fan base is so fierce and loyal.
Moderator: Next question is from the line of Jamie Flynn, US
Jamie: I was just wondering are there any things that you
would have said to Simon that you wouldn’t say to this
panel? Do you ever [indiscernible] them out or whatever you
Paula: I'm not discounting the panel that I loved so much on
American Idol, it's just completely different, a different
set of skillsets and backgrounds as we have on So You Think
You Can Dance. It's a different experience and that’s what I
love about this business is that I don’t try to find or
recreate an experience I had. I always welcome the new
experience, and the chemistry is fantastic on this panel,
just as it was on American Idol, but it's just completely
Moderator: Next question is Kristyn Clarke, Pop Culture
Kristyn: I'm curious as you do more and more of these types
of shows, is there anything that you find that you're
surprised to learn about yourself even with different
Paula: For me, this is part of my DNA. I've been searching,
scouting and finding and mentoring raw talent for decades,
and I've been very fortunate to have an astounding career as
a choreographer in the dance industry. For me, I just let
things happen the way they happen and I'm always pleasantly
surprised to see amazing talent emerge and start setting new
bars for excellence, and as far as finding out more about
myself as a judge, I find myself to be more patient I
suppose with the process.
I look at it differently. My perspective is I can see it as
an award-winning choreographer how these kids will do with
the astounding choreographers that the show has, and I just
can see that maybe they're not catching on immediately at
this moment, but remember, this is them at an audition,
quick, quick, quick. When it gets into the show, not that
it's not quick because it certainly is, but there's not as
many people so there's a much cleaner focus, and I think
that it becomes different when they get on the show.
So, I fight for what I can tell and see on the other side of
their journey. I hope that— that’s how I always look at it.
I can see clearly what they're going to end up being shaped
and molded as.
Moderator: Next question is Jamie Ruby, Scivision.com.
Jamie: So, is there a part that you're most looking forward
to of the live part of the show?
Paula: I always look forward to the live part of the show
because the energy is incredible. There's nothing like
performing in front of a live audience because it's instant
gratification and it's instant reconciliation as to how
you're doing as a performer, and when you're put in that
position as a performer, it's like you give it your all,
it's all or nothing, and that’s the exciting part and those
who were meant to be on the show, which they rise to the
occasion and they do great. I'm looking forward to it. I'm
looking forward to the fierce competitive aspect of the
stage versus street. You're going to see intensity with both
Twitch and Travis as team captains.
Moderator: Next question is from the line of Mike Hughes, TV
Mike: I want to ask you a little bit about the Emmys for
choreography because you won early on; you won an Emmy for
choreography, and now, this show has really dominated and
gotten all kinds of nominations and some of the awards for
Emmys. Have you watched some of the choreography on So You
Think You Can Dance over the years? I know some of it—
Travis Wall is going to be on the show this year, has gotten
several of the nominations. What have you thought of the
evolving choreography on TV?
Paula: Well, I've won multiple Emmys as a choreographer. I
was the youngest choreographer to ever receive an Emmy as a
choreographer, and as far as watching the show, I'm a huge
fan of the show; I've been watching it since season one and
been a fan and have talked to these kids, even Travis Wall
when he was a contestant, I remember going up to him and
sitting him down and talking to him and telling him how
brilliant of a talent he has and to be patient with the
process, not to get down on himself because it's all part of
the entire show is growing. I'm very invested into this show
and I always have been.
Moderator: Next question is from the line of Elizabeth
Collins, Reality Wanted.
Elizabeth: I have a question from an auditioning standpoint.
Is there anything in particular about a dancer that really
stands out to you or sets them apart from other dancers
Paula: Absolutely, and it's that inner confidence and just
that belief that if I go out there and I just do my best.
One of the things that I really, really thrive on is telling
these dancers to be bold, be daring and show your unique
ability, and because of the show doing so well, you see all
these dance conventions and all these kids who come into
audition, they're merely imitating the standards of what So
You Think You Can Dance has set as the bar. So, unless
you're going to approach these steps that have been already
shown and exemplified on this show, unless you're going to
do it better or a different twist, don’t do it because we've
seen it all.
Show us something that makes you stand out completely as a
unique ability that we're going to be able to remember, do
you remember that move that that so and so did, can't wait
to see it again because that’s what's going to set you
apart, and that’s what I thrive. It's the same thing as a
judge when I was on American Idol. I wanted to see unique
ability because again, we already have the superstars like
Gaga or Mariah or anyone who can achieve those amazing vocal
licks and things like that.
It's the same thing with dancing. If you have the ability,
technical ability to whip up the 12 pirouettes or the grand
jetes or the bat mas and the extension, what are you going
to do that just flips everything on its side or shifts the
paradigm to make us go wow, you have got to come back to the
next round and you have to be part of the top ten or what
have you. That’s what I look for.
Moderator: We do have time for one more question; that’s from
the line of Catherine Cabanela, Buddy TV.
Catherine: Paula, this is what I'm wondering— you’ve had
experience judging in the past, and so, you’ve watched
people with enormous dreams go from no experience at all in
front of a group to honing your skills over a period of time
toward winning something fantastic that’s going to advance
them in a way nothing else has been able to in the past. As
you watch these people and especially in the dance show
completion where, like you’ve said, the dance is in your DNA
so it's a fully body thing or if it's a full motion thing
for you, how do you manage— you, I'm assuming, fall in love
with these dancers. How can you not? How do you ground
yourself while dealing with the tremendous emotionality of
what you're going to be doing?
Paula: Well, I'm so well versed in this area. I have been a
working choreographer for well over three decades now and
I'm a teacher at heart. So, when I work with these amazing
talented beings, it's just, for me, it's a gift. It's a gift
that always keeps on giving. I always see someone new that
just inspires me and I try to impart my wisdom and my
experience to them as well. I've had a long really beautiful
career as a choreographer, and I think that that aspect of
it still—that’s why it works for me doing this, and I've
been able to start so many people's careers that a lot of
the careers of some of the choreographers that are on this
show started as dancers that I picked out and sought out and
brought into my world and started making them my tour
dancers and then teaching them to become choreographers so
that they can be successful. So, this is just so part of
what I do that I know how to do this very well.
Moderator: Back over to Alex Gillespie for closing remarks.
Alex: Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. That
concludes our conference call with So You Think You Can
Dance judge, Paula Abdul. Just a reminder, the series
premiere is on Monday, June 1st at 8 p.m. on FOX. Also, we
have the first episode that is on our FOX flash press site
along with photos and videos and press release material. If
you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the
So You Think You Can Dance publicity team; we'll be happy to
help you with anything that you may need. Thank you again
for joining us.
Kevin, can you please give the replay information?
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, this conference call will be
available for replay starting today at approximately 1:30
p.m. Pacific Time and will run through June 5th midnight.
That does conclude your conference. We do thank you for
joining while using AT&T Executive Teleconference. You may
now disconnect. Have a good day.
SEASON PREMIERE INFORMATION:
IT’S STAGE VS. STREET! NEW SEASON, NEW JUDGES, NEW FORMAT
ON THE SEASON 12 PREMIERE OF “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE”
MONDAY, JUNE 1, ON FOX Exclusive Interview with Honorary
All-Star First Lady Michelle Obama
Monday, June 1, On FOX --The Emmy Award-winning SO YOU
THINK YOU CAN DANCE, the original and hottest dance show, is
back! It’s time to pop lock and drop in for an all-new
season, new contestants and the best and worst of auditions.
Season 12 features an intensified competition between
dancers from stage and street as the judges – Nigel Lythgoe,
Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo – search New York, Dallas,
Detroit, Memphis and Los Angeles for America’s Favorite
Dancer. Also featured is an exclusive interview with
honorary All-Star First Lady Michelle Obama. See who struts
into the judges’ hearts and who trips up on the all-new
“Auditions #1: Memphis and Dallas” Season Premiere episode
of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Monday, June 1 (8:00-10:00 PM
ET/PT) on FOX. (DAN-1201) (TV-D, L)
Host: Cat Deeley
Judges: Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul, Jason Derulo
Paula Abdul is a groundbreaking choreographer, dancer,
songwriter, performer, designer, actor and businesswoman.
She is a two-time Emmy Award winner, Grammy Award winner,
three-time American Music Award winner, a seven-time MTV
Video Award winner and multi-Platinum recording artist who
has been entertaining her fans for over 25 years. Abdul was
a resident judge for eight seasons on AMERICAN IDOL and the
first season on THE X FACTOR. Most recently, she was the
lead judge on the Australian hit dance competition series,
“So You Think You Can Dance Australia.” Her work as
choreographer includes her Emmy Award-winning contributions
to “The Tracey Ullmann Show” and “The 17th Annual American
Music Awards.” She also has choreographed for Duran Duran,
ZZ Top, the Jackson family, George Michael, Luther Vandross,
INXS, Heart and Prince. In films, she served as
choreographer for Patrick Dempsey in “Can’t Buy Me Love,”
she transformed Val Kilmer into the iconic Jim Morrison in
“The Doors,” she choreographed the memorable African wedding
dance scene with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in “Coming to
America” and was the choreographer for Arnold Schwarzenegger
in “The Running Man.” Abdul has sold more than 60 million
records worldwide, and has the third longest-charting album
on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the longest-charting
album ever with her debut album “Forever Your Girl.”
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