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Interview with Jess LeProtto and Jordan Casanova of "So You
Think You Can Dance" on FOX
Our volunteer Krista asked questions at this conference
FBC PUBLICITY: So You Think You Can Dance
July 29, 2011/10:00 a.m. PDT
Moderator Welcome to the So You Think You Can Dance conference call. At
this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will
conduct a question and answer session and instructions will be given at
that time. And also as a reminder todayís teleconference is being
At this time Iíll hand the conference call over to your host, Ms. Kalyn
K. Seymour Hello, everyone, and welcome to the So You Think You Can
Dance conference call. Today Jess LeProtto, 18 years old from Little
Falls, New Jersey. Heís a Broadway dancer, and Jordan Casanova, 18 years
old from Chino Hills, California whoís a jazz dancer. We ask that you
keep your questions limited to one question and one follow-up. Without
further ado, Tony, can you please take it away?
Moderator Our first question will come from Jennifer Still with Digital
J. Still So my first question is going to be for Jordan. Jordan, some of
the feedback that you had previously had gotten from the judges that
Nigel said to you I remember a few weeks back was that he wanted to see
something different from you. And this was I think especially after your
solo performance that you had. What did you think of that criticism? Do
you think maybe you showed enough variety for them? Do you wish that you
would have changed things up a bit more in your solo performances, or
are you happy with how you performed?
J. Casanova Iím pretty happy with how I performed. I agree I didnít
switch it up a little bit and thatís why I went on to the contemporary
solo and Ö in. I just had a lot of fun and I left my heart out on stage
and thatís all how you really mean it. When it comes down to it, you
have to just take the best moves and the best things in your solo and
you only have 30 seconds. So I think I did actually well.
J. Still Definitely. For you, Jess, as being someone who is a Broadway
dancer, weíve had a lot of discussions before with people who have been
eliminated previously about whether or not you feel that being a more
not a contemporary dancer or not a hip hop dancer, do you feel that
worked against you, that maybe America didnít really get that as much as
they may gotten other genres?
J. LeProtto No, I donít think so because for any type of special genre
like dancers have, like for me Broadway or for hip hop dancers or
especially sometimes tappers or any type of special genres that are
featured on the show, but as often as contemporary dancers, I think we
the kind of same respect because we are different. Weíre not currently
on the show every season and then we come up and then people are so
happy, I think people are so happy to see our genres pop up.
So I never feel against it. Itís just like I feel like Iím a part of it
now because I fill the slot back up for a Broadway dancer. Thatís what I
wanted to do. I wanted to bring back to my old fashioned style, my old Ö
beater background to the show, so they could see something different.
Season five as in Ö from season five, so I wanted to bring it back.
Moderator Our next question in queue that will come from the line of
Deborah Searle with Dance Informa.
D. Searle My first question was what are your plans now that youíre off
the show and after the tour, what do you plan to do, whatís you career
goals and things?
J. Casanova Iím been dying to get into film and singing and so I would
like to take on that challenge and see how far I can get. Iíve always
been interested in it, but dance has always been my first love. I think
Iím just really excited for any opportunities that open.
D. Searle And Jess?
J. LeProtto For me I think after the tour will bring me back to New York
and starting to get back into the whole audition process for shows in
New York and something that I wanted to get back and do and then maybe
explore other things, including movies and TV, as well as branching out
not as a dancer in front of an audience, but hopefully something behind
the scenes as more of a choreographer and learning more things, so I can
expand my knowledge. Because honestly you never know where life is going
to take you, but I always feel like you should be prepared for anything,
so I look forward to it. I look forward to the future.
D. Searle My second question was what has the show taught you about
yourself or about dance? What have you learned from being on the show?
J. Casanova For me I just learned that it was actually possible for me
even to be here. I lacked a little faith in myself because in this
industry, itís really hard to book jobs, and you have to have a look and
people say no to you. Itís really hard coming from just graduating to
the industry and so I had no faith in myself in my dance career and I
auditioned for the show.
I think it taught me that you can do something. You can accomplish a
goal with hard work and dedication. Being here, I also learned so many
different styles. I got a chance to do two waltzes and a rumba and Iíve
never done ballroom in my life. So with that, I learned other varieties
of dance, and Iím so excited to do that because that expands your
knowledge. I think I surprised myself in a lot of ways.
D. Searle Yes, well, you did very well. You were amazing. Jess?
J. LeProtto I think what the show has taught me that you donít have to
present yourself a different to attract an audience for sure because
when people think of being on the show, that they think theyíre
characters, theyíre casted. Itís just like, no, weíre here because we
think that America can really appreciate us for who we are. And then
trying to make an act out of something is not really what weíre here
for, weíre here to show ourselves in the best possible way and just to
be ourselves and just grow.
And also with this experience, what this taught me is that I can be so
many things that I never thought I could, as well as certain genres. You
never know what you can be good at, so it was a fun experience to really
see what Iím also capable of doing besides just my regular specialty
Moderator Our next question in queue that will come from the line of
Beth Kwiatkowski with Reality TV World.
B. Kwiatkowski So, Jordan, Nigel announced before your elimination that
he was basically going with Americaís vote, which seemed to suggest that
you were the bottom vote getter this week. Did anyone tell you anything
about that? Was that actually the case, or do you have any idea what he
meant by that?
J. Casanova Actually we donít know whoís in the bottom at all.
Everything that you see is exactly how it happened. I absolutely had no
idea that you never know whatís going to happen on the show. Itís full
of surprises and thatís what makes it such a great show. So no one had
any idea who was on the bottom and I donít know. I donít know if thatís
necessarily what he was implying, but if it was, then so be it. Iím just
happy to have gotten this far.
B. Kwiatkowski Okay and both of you, Jordan you found the bottom vote
getters just as much as Katelyn did, but, Jess, you had never landed in
the bottom before while Tad experienced it one time. So with that being
said, were both of you guys surprised to be eliminated or did you
somewhat see it coming beforehand at all?
J. LeProtto Well, for first hand, you can never say that youíre immune
from the competition for sure. Everybody is on pins and needles because
they donít know. You never know what the public is going to do. You may
think that you danced brilliantly on Wednesday night and people are
probably thinking heís got it, heís safe. Itís okay, donít worry about
it. But sometimes it doesnít work on Thursday night Ö, so youíre never
sure, but you always have to be prepared for it.
I was actually on the bottom the very first week and you never expect
it. But I was saying to myself I have to be prepared for anything that
happens, worst case scenario and just get it out of my head very
quickly, so I can get into my solo mode and just really give an audience
a good performance for 30 seconds.
B. Kwiatkowski Jess, just to clarify, did you end up getting any
explanation about why you were eliminated after the show from the
judges, or is it still a little bit of a mystery to you because it
seemed like they only had very positive things to say?
J. LeProtto Well, they never really specified anything, but because the
competition is so tight this year and everybody is just phenomenal, I
donít think you can have a better group of people who are part of this
experience as of this season. Whatever their decision was Iím sure it
for a specific reason, but I donít think that matters to me because I
think from where Iíve started back in Brooklyn with the auditions, I
never saw it. I never saw that I actually get this far.
Itís amazing to find out that I made it to top 20, but then when we made
it to top ten, it just like, pinch me. So Iím really happy that Iíve
been able to show my talent for so long in the competition and no matter
whatever the judges thought about it, it doesnít matter because I know
that I danced from my heart and that I know that America has appreciated
it for quite a while on the show.
Moderator Our next question in queue that will come from the line of
Arin Segal with A Teen View.
A. Segal I was just wondering you both got some cool feedback from Lady
Gaga the other night. So what was it like when you guys were standing up
on stage hearing that live?
J. Casanova I never would have thought in my whole life that Lady Gaga
would sit in front of me and tell me things about the way I dance, so
for me, I couldnít believe my eyes. I was so excited and so thrilled
that she comes, because she comes from such an interesting background
and sheís so interesting. She dresses interesting. She talks
interesting. Everything about her is again so interesting, so I was so
intrigued by what she was going to say. And once she started giving her
comments, I like probably peed in my pants, but you just couldnít tell
on stage. Sheís amazing and I was so happy to have her there.
J. LeProtto I think Lady Gaga, the first time that we had Lady Gaga on
the show, it was just a rumor. So we were all like, uh huh, yes, okay,
all right. But this went by week after week and we found out Lady Gaga
on the show, it was like, wow, they really got her on the show. So I was
really excited. And for a public who knows her so well, you never know.
You can never know what sheís going to dress like. And when she made
that entrance on Wednesday night in that flamboyant outfit that everyone
is so used to seeing her dressed just like that, it was crazy. It was
I think her presence on the show is very professional. She is coming
from a background from humble beginnings to where she is now, sheís a
humongous super star, so she knows so much about this business. She
knows so much about performing that her critiques and comments were so
useful and helpful to us throughout the night. So I was really fortunate
to be in the same room as Lady Gaga.
E. Segal Then I also asked this question pretty much every week, but are
there any charities or organizations that either of you are involved
with right now or plan to become involved with?
J. Casanova Actually, my junior year of high school, I entered in the
Spotlight Awards, this music center in LA. Itís an organization that
works on keeping the arts in school because of budget cuts and money
problems, people have been taking out art classes and singing classes.
It frustrates me because thatís what we love and thatís what we love to
do. It should be appreciated just as much as academics and so Iím a big
part of that and I would love to get more into it and really work on
keeping the arts in school these days.
J. LeProtto I think Iím not part of the charity now, but I think what
Jordan said is true. I think any type of charity that supports the
performing arts is especially important that I would love to be a part
of and many other charities as well. I know Nigel has talked about the
Busy Feet Foundation so much on the show and I feel like itís a great
charity that so many people should be a part of. So hopefully Iíll like
to be part of that charity and you never know. You never know. Itís just
others through life is just a joy and a privilege.
Moderator Our next question in queue that will come from the line of
Henry Hanks with CNN.
H. Hanks I just wanted to say you are two of the most unique dancers on
the show, so itís great to talk to you. I was wondering do you have a
particular routine that youíre proudest of that maybe took the hardest
work to do and that to master?
J. LeProtto I think probably the two hip hop routines I think I was the
most proud of because that during Vegas week, it wasnít a pretty sight
for me doing hip hop for the very first time. As the competition went
on, I knew to myself that was going to be hip hop, I knew they were
going to throw hip hop at me. And then when they did it twice to me,
first with Christopher Scott and with Tabitha and Napolean, both of them
were a joy. And it was just tremendous choreographers and with great
concepts and just understanding the whole hop hip swagger is something
that I wasnít so used to. So that was probably the most I was proud of,
as well the very first was my Broadway routine, Deep Shirt, but because
thatís my genre, so I was happy to do it and show America my genre for
the very first time.
J. Casanova For me I think I'm proud of all of dances because I did get
almost every genre that is possible on that show. So I would just have
to say that Iím proud that Iíve made it this far by being able to do
every genre but my own. And I canít even explain what it feels like to
accomplish a waltz because I was so scared and actually ended up doing a
waltz twice, so thatís something Iím very proud of.
H. Hanks When you got critiqued by judges during the season, where there
any time where you felt like, wow, that was really difficult to take or
were you ever felt like that it was pretty harsh or anything at any
J. Casanova No one really likes to hear negative comments and critiques,
but then again, we are dancers and this is what we do everyday. You live
the life of getting critiqued. And thatís what makes you better and I
think that even the negative comments are good because it pushes you to
strive for better critiques for next week and so on and so forth. And
having them say something to you in general is just good, because they
can sit there and they donít have to say anything at all. They donít
have to give you a critique or a compliment, so I just think Iíve very
appreciative of everything that theyíve said because it really has
pushed into where I am now.
J. LeProtto With any such a hard critique like Jordan said, itís hard to
hear them, but thatís what happens. It can make you stronger and make
you stronger so much even throughout a competition like this or even in
just my dance career after the show is done, so I think thatís the
thing. Itís just like the majority of the time you are critiqued and
they see something in you and they want to help you out, which is always
what I think.
Theyíre not trying to bash you in any shape or form. They want to note,
take something that is so important for us to use as our dance careers
continue. So I always think of it that way. And I always feel like every
time I go on stage, I always think I have to do my best and I know that
I come off stage feeling that I did my best. So I think whatever the
judges say, you just have to just go with it and just take it as just
take your notes as much as you can.
Moderator Our next question in queue comes from Steven Bryan with Yahoo!
S. Bryan I wanted to touch on something that you mentioned earlier in
the call. You both expressed if I heard correctly an interest in being
on a TV show. Is that correct?
J. Casanova Yes.
J. LeProtto Yes.
S. Bryan Okay, my question is would you like to join the cast of an
existing show or would you like to maybe have a show developed for each
J. Casanova Thatís a good question.
J. LeProtto Yes, that is actually a good question.
J. Casanova I think it would be cool to do both. Any opportunity that
you can get in this industry I think you should take it. Itís always
good to try something new because you never know where that will take
you in life. I think that if I was ended up getting casted in someone
elseís place, I think that would be cool, because you get to do
something new. And then if you had a show based off of just yourself,
thatís cool, too, itís just good opportunities is the way that I look at
J. LeProtto For me I think for any type of TV show to be a part of is a
pleasure, but also because I have an old Ö so Iíve watched a of variety
shows, so thatís going back to like Dean Martin and Carole Burnette and
all those variety shows that maybe an audience is ready for something
like that again. Maybe a nice variety show that Iíd love to be a part
of, just something new, something fresh and just expose something thatís
been gone for a while. So I would love to do a weekly variety show. Iím
on it, yes, that would be fun.
S. Bryan So maybe the Jordan and Jess variety hour.
J. Casanova Yes.
J. LeProtto Why not?
J. Casanova Thatíd be great.
S. Bryan Okay, one last quick question would be I know thereís been a
trend in movies to take Broadway musicals and adapt them for the movies.
So which Broadway musical would you guys like to see and possibly star
in if they actually came up with another musical to put in the movies?
J. Casanova I donít know. Thereís so many that I love. Jess, you go
J. LeProtto Wow, well, I donít know. I donít know, but I think with any
type of movie musical, thereís always a person whose there whoís either
a person whoís for any reason is not as known as many other people, itís
a great opportunity to show new talent that comes from the stage and who
can make themselves a star just by a movie musical. So many people have
done that and I think with any type of movie musical that Iíd love to be
a part of, Iím sure that I get the chance to just show my talent that I
would have from the stage and use it for a movie, so I think with any
show. Itís hard to pick just one.
J. Casanova Yes, I agree with Jess. Thereís just so many amazing shows
out there. We are dancers and we love to play characters. So with that
being said, any character would be awesome to play. Thereís just so many
amazing shows out there, I canít even pick one.
Moderator The next question will come from Krista Chain with the TV Mage
K. Chain My question is to both of you. I just wanted to know if you
could talk a little bit about how you got interested in dance and how
you started to dance.
J. Casanova For me I always wanted to perform, so any chance that I
could get. When I was three years old I started standing on top of my
coffee table singing to my family and putting on shows. I begged them to
put me into dancing and it was always, oh, soccer, baseball, when youíre
a kid, you play all those sports. Finally they put me in dance and I was
hooked. It was like the moment I set foot in the studio, I was like,
okay, this is it. This is where I want to be. So for me it was just a
natural interest inside me that I just wanted to get into it and I did,
so thatís why.
J. LeProtto For me I started out because my sister started out. She is
three years older than I am. My story Ö to one of the characters of the
show Chorus Line. My mom would take me to her dance studio and I just
looked under the door crack and I would just watch her dance. And then I
just got the bug from there and then my parents were like, okay, weíll
give this a shot and see if he likes it. And then I was three back then,
so 15 years later, I am Ö, so I think it has come pretty far.
K. Chain My other question is who are the dancers that you most look up
J. Casanova Thereís so many amazing dancers and I actually look up to
everybody on that show. But if I had to take one in particular, it would
probably be my teacher in Ö, Donna Shepard-Wood. Sheís been there for me
since I was 11 years, training me, giving me the best advice. And not
only is she an amazing choreographer and teacher, but sheís an amazing
person and I find that really important when you look up to someone is
to see that the person who they are for themselves. And she has just
done so many amazing and tremendous things for me, so she is who I look
J. LeProtto For me, yes, I think everybody from the show is so inspiring
because we all come from different backgrounds. We come from different
sites and we have different genres, so we learn from each other. But as
an idol, so somebody I look up to, it probably would be Gene Kelly who I
can really say I look up to the most.
His style is just something that I discovered when I was around ten
years and just watching his movies and watching his style in dance is
something that Iíve always was inspired by. I think everything that I
watched from him has made me the person that I am today and I hope heís
proud of me. I know heís probably looking up from heaven now, but I hope
heís proud of me that I made it this far on the show and that I brought
back a style thatís been forgotten for some time.
Moderator Our next question in queue that will come from the line of
Mike Hughes with TV America.
M. Hughes First of all, I apologize. I got my time zones mixed up and
called late, so if someone asked this, just tell me. But, Jordan, if I
recall first of all Ö really called you a naughty, naughty girl and so
forth, youíre really a hot dancer. And then you confessed you still
sleep with your pillow pets. Is that right?
J. Casanova I do, actually, Iím holding one right now.
M. Hughes Okay, tell me that. Thatís just a fun detail. Why do you still
sleep with your pillow pet and what happens when you mention to people
that you still sleep with your pillow pet?
J. Casanova You know what, Iíve gotten the funniest reactions. I really
do. I have two pillow pets. One is a Ö and the other one is a purple
hippo. I donít know. My friend bought me one for Christmas and I just
fell in love with them. I think theyíre the cutest things ever.
When I mention I slept with pillow pets, I was worried about the
feedback I was going to get because pillow pets are like funny and for
little kids. Actually Iíve gotten a lot of tweets about people wanting
to buy me pillow pets as presents when I go on tour if they see me. And
so Iíve embraced and Iíve just welcomed it and I made a promise to
myself that if any person ever gave me a pillow pet, that I would name
the pillow pet after them, because I name all my pillow pets. And so
just think itís great and I love them and theyíre such fun little pillow
M. Hughes Jess, I just wanted to ask you briefly, youíve loved Broadway
forever, but have you seen in your generation more interest in Broadway
in the last five or ten years, shows like Glee and so forth that have
just finally rekindled peopleís interest and plus movies like Hairspray
and so forth; is there more interest in Broadway than there used to be?
J. LeProtto Oh, absolutely. I think todayís age, itís the beginning of
bringing in the whole musical life back thatís been lost since whenever
movie musical back from the í50s and Ď60s, I think that was probably
where Broadway and movie musicals had its peak. But now I think itís
coming back as shows like Glee and movie musicals are coming back now,
like Hairspray and now Footloose and all these great movies and all
these great shows are coming out and movies, so I think people are
getting addicted to it now more often.
Thatís what I try to do on this show is just that when I was asked to be
part of the top 20, it was an amazing opportunity to show America who I
am as a person, who I am as a dancer. Itís something that they havenít
seen in a couple of seasons, Iím sure. So just to bring something thatís
been forgotten now and ith everything going on with Glee and so many
shows on Broadway, so many movie musicals coming out, itís just like I
think itís climbing back up step by step and I think people are going to
be very interested in it and show another time.
Moderator We do have a follow-up from Beth Kwiatkowski with Reality TV
B. Kwiatkowski So, Jess, just to follow up on my question, Nigel said
you had grown so much as a dancer and you had sensational character. So
as I said before, he only had great things to say about you and you did
mention how you didnít get much of an explanation after your
elimination. So do you have any insight as to why they eliminated you?
J. LeProtto No, they really havenít said anything specifically on why
they eliminated me I think because the competition is so tight now. I
think being a part of this top ten, being a part of this season itself
is so incredible. And with the guys on this show, weíre so unique, weíre
so different, I donít know what their reason was. But I know that Iím
not disappointed, I donít regret anything for sure. I think when I did
my solo, I knew that you never know. This may be my last time on stage
doing my solo side and end it with a bang. So I think coming off that
stage, I had no regrets and nothing to look back on Ö.
B. Kwiatkowski Nigel said he was disappointed with your dance as he was
with Katlynís as well, though. So why do you think he said and how do
you feel your solo went? Do you think you held back at all or do you
think you gave it your all? Whatís your thoughts on that?
J. Casanova Iím just so grateful that Nigel is a very honest judge and
heís fair in what he says. I just really felt that I left my heart out
on stage and I did my absolute best. I donít regret anything and Iím
very pleased with how far Iíve gotten on the show and I surprised
myself. So honestly, Iím not disappointed in myself at all. Iím excited
B. Kwiatkowski My last question is both of you guys. What was it like to
dance with your all-star partners? Was it a big change for both of you
from when you paired up with fellow contestants?
J. Casanova The all-stars are amazing. They bring such a different
element to the show. Theyíve been here and theyíve done it, so theyíre
really comfortable and they really know how to calm you down if anything
goes wrong. Theyíre so inspiring because you kind of get shocked. Youíre
like, oh my gosh, this all-star is going to be my partner. I get to
dance with this person and Iíve watched the show, so seeing that these
people are now standing next to me is completely unreal, but theyíre
B. Kwiatkowski Okay, Jess, do you have anything to add?
J. LeProtto Yes, I think the all-stars that I had the opportunity to
work with are some of the amazing talented superb dancers in their
styles. I think for all of us, I think everybody whoís partnered with
all-stars, it ups our game because we know that we have to bring it 100%
and the judges and America are looking for a connection and just seeing
that weíre having a good time with our all-stars.
I think in the two weeks that I had with my all-stars, I think I had an
amazing time to work with them. Lauren Gottlieb and Kathryn McCormick
they are just amazing, superb dancers and they love their craft. And
being a part of their experience on the show and just having fun with
them was a joy, so I had a great time with them.
Moderator We also have a follow-up in queue from Mike Hughes with TV
M. Hughes The question about the dance for your life reminded me, I
wanted to ask Jess if in some ways your dance for your life last night
was one of the most well thought out ones Iíve ever seen. It seemed to
be beautifully timed to the 30 seconds right to the second, you hit the
floor just at exactly as the 30 seconds was ending. Does that happen by
accident or how long did you have to prepare that one? Did you have
stopwatch going with you a lot to make it work out so well?
J. LeProtto Ö timed out to 30 seconds, I never feel like I should ever
inprov so much as if itís going with the music and enjoying it. This was
a show that Iíve had for so long and I know that I wanted to share on
this show. So I think Ö Thursday was a great opportunity to show this Ö
whatever the outcome was. So do it in 30 seconds and just show it and
give it out to the audience is something that Iíll always treasure. And
then Iíve gotten to use this solo as one of the reasons I was on the
show, so Iím very happy that Iím able to use Mack the Knife.
M. Hughes So youíve done it before, but did it take to trim to make work
so perfectly with the time limit? Was that hard to do? How long did you
have make it work perfectly like that?
J. LeProtto We do have cuts that we really want in the specific times
that we have, 30 seconds. So we always want, okay, what should we use,
because I did this solo, which is a little bit longer than 30 seconds
obviously. So I wanted to really show the peak of it, the climax of it
as much as I could, so I wasnít building up to it right away. So I think
from where I started to where I ended was a great thing for me to show
off, the climax of my solo than Iíve done originally, which is longer,
so I knew that I wanted to use that specific part and Iím thrilled that
I got to do it.
Moderator We have no additional questions in queue. At this time weíll
turn the conference back over to Ms. Seymour.
K. Seymour Thank you, everyone, for joining us.
J. Casanova Thank you.
J. LeProtto Thank you so much.
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