The morning after Brandon Dumlao and Ariana Debose were eliminated from So You Think You Can Dance, they opened up about their experiences and hopes for the future on a press call.
There’s only one word Brandon Dumlao can use to some up his So You Think You Can Dance Season 6 experience: whirlwind. Last Friday at 11AM, Brandon got the call that he was selected to replace an ill Billy Bell. Two hours later he was on a plane, and one hour after that he went to the studio and found out his good friend Pauline Mata was his partner. He headed straight to the studio to meet with choreographer Jason Gilkison and tried to make up for lost time. “It was such a whirlwind. It was really crazy, but it was such an amazing experience,” Brandon said.
When Brandon found out he would be dancing the smooth waltz this week, he was nervous. As a hip hop dancer, Brandon had never danced a smooth waltz before, but he “was really comfortable to do it with Pauline because we were partners in Cha Cha for Vegas this season.” That wasn’t the start of Brandon and Pauline’s friendship. They both made it to the green mile episode during Season 5 and they’re both Filipino, so they’ve always had a bond. “She’s a really sick dancer. She’s not just a jazz dancer, but she really knows how to do hip hop. I really feel like she’s Top 10 material…I really love her. She’s such a good dancer. I was really excited to be her partner.”
The smooth waltz may have made Brandon nervous, but he is grateful for getting that style. “I’m really happy I got to learn a new style and show America that I can do another style, so I’m really happy with my adventure so far. Hopefully, it continues with this show next season.”
Brandon is optimistic about how everything played out. “This cast was amazing. Billy was such big shoes to fill that I felt it was unfair to even take another guy’s spot. So, I was happy the way it turned out because I didn’t think it was fair for me to come in and take another guy’s spot because everyone earned it. I want to earn it myself, so I really hope that, for Season 7, they let me come back so I can prove it myself.”
In case Fox and Nigel work out the rules so that Brandon is eligible for Season 8, he’s getting prepared. “Right after I got cut, I went and got into a ballroom class and took some more hip hop. I’m ready.”
Although Brandon’s time in the Top 20 was short, it was well worth it. “I just want to let everyone know that I’m really happy for the Top 20 right now and how everything’s going. I support everyone. I hope for the best for everyone.” As for his thoughts on America, Brandon says he hopes they “show support for me if I get to come back, but if not, I want everyone to just remember me how I was on the show. I’m just very grateful for everything. I tried my best out there.”
Ariana Debose, a contemporary dancer from North Carolina, got serious about dancing after realizing the “freedom that I felt when I was dancing,” Ariana said. “I felt like I was flying. I was just so happy.”
This season, SYTYCD tried something new when they introduced the Top 20 in a special “Meet the Top 20” show. “I loved the Top 20 special simply because some contestants got more airtime than others. I was one of those contestants that you didn’t get to know during Vegas Week. I was so excited that I really got to show what I could do and show America why I was in the Top 20,” Ariana stated.
What you may have seen of Ariana during Las Vegas auditions was a clip of her powerful solo during which Mia threw a pen at her. Ariana’s inspiration for that solo came from her friend and Season 2 SYTYCD finalist Martha Nichols. The piece was inspired by a tough time Martha went through. “It’s hard when you watch a friend go through something that’s challenging for them. It was a great piece that we came up with. I was so proud being able to share it with them – with everyone at Vegas Week.”
Ariana said she wasn’t too surprised that she was eliminated just based on the fact that everyone there is so talented and no one is safe. However, she says she always has confidence in her dancing and trusts her self as a dancer. “I did the best that I could do. This Top 20 is fantastic, so every week it’s going to be hard to eliminate someone just because of how wonderful everyone is. Everyone is so different. It’s almost hard to compare us to each other…I was very proud of what I did last night. The outcome is what it is. Now it’s just time to move on.”
Top 20 finalist Noelle Marsh’s fate is unclear after she suffered a knee injury before last week’s show. In regards to the potential opening in the Top 20, Ariana said, “Noelle and I come from the same studio, so honestly I would probably feel a little funny about taking her place. I mean, who doesn’t want a second chance? But honestly, I wouldn’t want to be eliminated again. I wish her the best of luck. I hope she goes very far in the competition.”
What’s next for Ariana? She’s been acting and singing all of her life, so she plans to move to New York City and pursue dancing on Broadway and acting in commercials and movies.
Best of luck to both Ariana and Brandon! Read more about them and the rest of the finalists in the Top 20 contestants section.