Bianca Revels and Phillip Attmore made So You Think You Can Dance history as the first tap dancers to make the Top 20, along with Peter Sabasino. The morning after their elimination, Bianca and Phillip discussed what it was like to be a tapper in the competition, their future plans, and more.
Bianca first discovered tap when she was just three years old. “My mom used to play old-school music when she’d clean the house and I would dance around and had no rhythm at all,” Bianca reminisced. “So she was like, ‘Oh no! We have to put you in dance class.’ So she put me in a dance class and out of all of the genres that I’ve studied, tap was my main love and my first love.”
Third time was a charm for Bianca, who auditioned for Seasons 4, 5, and 6. After auditioning last season, Bianca vowed that she would not try-out again. So what made Bianca give it another go? “Over the years of trying, every year I noticed that I grew not only as a dancer, but as a person and, like I always say, they never had a tapper on the show and I was really the first one to bring a wide exposure to it. So I figure why would I just open the door and not walk through it? So I wanted to make sure that I at least made it to the Top 20 and inspired someone to get up and dance, or to show them what tap is really all about.” Bianca said learning different dances wasn’t hard for her, but finding the stamina to tackle dance after dance was difficult. The SYTYCD experience allowed Bianca to develop endurance and stamina.
Due to Major League Baseball’s World Series, America wasn’t able to vote for their favorite dancer during the first two weeks of the competition. Although Bianca would have liked to see what America thought of the tap dancers on the show, she said, “I feel like God had me on this show for the amount of time that he wanted me there and maybe I’m meant to do other things and this is just a beautiful foundation.”
After an amazing contemporary performance week one, Bianca and her partner, Victor Smalley, pulled Broadway out of the hat and danced a southern-style church praise dance. Bianca mentioned that a praise dance can look sloppy if not executed well. However, she thinks they lived up to the challenge. “We gave 110% and that’s all I was concerned about. I don’t like walking off stage with regrets, and I didn’t.” Bianca uses the comments and critiques for her own benefit. “Every critique that I’ve been given over the years, I take it to heart…that’s one thing I will say about the So You Think You Can Dance judges, is that they really do care about our well being…our development as people and as dancers. So every critique that I was given about my speed, about going the extra distance, I will take to heart and apply it and move forward.”
A Detroit native, Bianca has recently moved to Los Angeles (which was shown on the Top 20 show). “I want to get into movies. I also act and I model, so I definitely want to get into movies and a lot of print work and…just keep on pushing and keep on moving.” She said she hopes to be like her entertainment idol, Halle Berry.
Like Bianca, Phillip Attmore discovered a love for dance at three years old. “I don’t remember the first time that I saw Singin’ in the Rain, but I used to watch that over and over and over again,” Phillip said. “Gene Kelly is one of my heroes, and Fred Astaire, and Gregory Hines, and Sammy Davis, Jr. Those four, in particular, had a huge impact on my life. I remember stepping into a tap class and saw that that’s exactly what people were doing from what I saw on the screen and from there I fell in love. I took other styles of dance as well. I took singing lessons and I just decided then and there that I wanted to be a performer – at the age of three!”
People have been wondering if it’s hard for a tap dancer to prove themselves in a 30 second solo. Phillip shared his point of view: “It’s not actually that hard to convey what you’re trying to do. I mean my style in particular is very much a fusion between like theatrical jazz dancing and like rhythm tap. I take a little bit of Gene, a little bit of Gregory, and splice different things together, the best of different things so that I can create an art in 30 seconds that’s really a mini piece. I like to create an art, not just do tricks and stuff like that, but create a mini piece.”
When it came time for the judges to reveal their decision, Nigel Lythgoe voiced that he was not happy about cutting Phillip. After the show, Nigel approached Phillip. “Nigel came up to me. He said he was sorry for my loss. I don’t know that he and the judges knew that I had lost my father. And yes, he said it was really hard to let us go, so he expressed that as well, which was really a nice exchange before I left, you know, to be able to thank him,” Phillip said.
For both weeks of the competition, Phillip and his partner, Channing Cooke, had to dance in the ballroom genre. “I’m not a ballroom dancer, and in three days I had to learn 30 years worth of partnering. I actually am stronger and I have studied extensively in contemporary and hip-hop and other styles other than ballroom, so I would have loved to have had contemporary, or hip-hop or something else other than a ballroom style two times in a row.” After having to learn a classical competitive samba, Phillip said that if he is required to learn that technical of a dance, other dancers could pull-off learning a tap routine.”
During the Top 20 week, Phillip revealed that he writes and performs spoken-word poetry. Phillip is playing with the idea of taking a break from dance to pursue some other dreams. “I’m a writer as well and something that I’ve always wanted to do is publish a book, and I do have something prepared. My next step is just getting it out to literary agents and publishing companies.” Having danced in squatter camps in South Africa, Phillip stated, “I’m quite passionate about traveling the world and seeing my poetry reach people around the world, in addition to dancing…Then I can always go to New York and audition for the next Broadway show. You know, that’s sort of my background, but publishing is what I’d really like to pursue.” A while back, Phillip performed in a cabaret show in Paris and is interested in performing tap with poetry in the future. “I think that a lot of my writing in the last few years, and especially now with an even deeper arc with my father’s passing, I think there’s going to be a lot that’s going to fuel me to produce a show with not only dancing and poetry for entertainment, but with heart value as well.”
After a roller-coaster few weeks on SYTYCD, Phillip said, “I’ve left this show with 19 other incredibly gifted friends that I will always support and always vote for as long as the show is running. I’m just looking up. I’m looking forward with hope and with an expectation that God’s going to do great things in my life.”
We wish our history-making tap dancers all the best on their next endeavors. Learn more about Phillip and Bianca and the rest of the finalists in the Top 20 contestants section.