When it was time for America to vote for their favorite dancers, Pauline Mata and Peter Sabasino found themselves in the bottom three couples and were ultimately sent home. The morning after their elimination, Peter and Pauline opened up about performing their solos, dancing the dreaded Quickstep, and their plans for the future.
After all three tap dancers were sent home in two weeks, people are beginning to wonder if 30 seconds is ample enough time to perform a solo, especially in the tap genre. Peter feels that 30 seconds is a short time to show all of your best moves without coming across as desperate, so he suggested 45 seconds to one minute as a more practical length for solos.
On the performance show, Peter revealed that he volunteers with SPIN (Special People in the Northeast), and organization that helps people with disabilities get jobs. Every year they put on a talent show and Peter goes there two to three times a week to teach them a dance and rehearse with them. “I absolutely love it and they put on an amazing show,” Peter said. “It’s just so great, because every time I go in there, I’m always greeted with a smile and a hug. It’s a really good feeling and I love it.”
Season 6 was the first season with tap dancers in the Top 20, and with all three eliminated in the last two weeks, is So You Think You Can Dance the right venue for tappers? Peter sure thinks so. “I definitely thing So You Think You Can Dance needs more of it. I’m just proud that the three of us, Bianca, Phillip and myself, got to represent tap the way that it needed to be represented.” He also doesn’t think that the early elimination of tap dancers this season should discourage tappers from auditioning for the show in the future. “I definitely hope that I inspired tappers to audition for the show because if I can make it, any other tapper can make it. All it takes is a little bit of belief in yourself.”
Last week, Phillip mentioned that he’d like to see tap as a style that dancers can pick from the hat on the show. Peter agrees. “I think it would be nice if maybe one season attempted to have the other dancers learn tap. I understand where the judges are coming from when they say that you can’t teach everyone to tap in the amount of time that we have. But, I believe that you can teach somebody to do a Time Step or you can teach somebody to do a Maxie Ford in the amount of time that we have. So I think dancers that are tap dancers are at a little bit of an unfair disadvantage, but at the same time, you have to look at it from where the judges are coming from also.”
Season after season, the Quickstep has been known as the “kiss of death” on SYTYCD, but drawing the style didn’t discourage Peter. “I was actually really excited when I got the Quickstep because it was a new style of dance that I’ve never learned how to do. I know that it’s called the ‘kiss of death,’ but when you go into it, you really can’t look at it like that. You just have to look at it as it’s a new style of dance that I’ve never done before and I just have to really try in the amount of time that I have to master that and to give them the finished product that they need to make it look good.”
As for now, Peter is keeping his options open on what he’s going to do next. “I’m just going to keep my options open because I don’t want to commit to one thing and overlook other opportunities that are going to come to me, because I think that would be unfair to myself.” That doesn’t mean Peter hasn’t thought ahead. He’s decided, “One thing that I would love to do is maybe start my own tap show because I feel as though there aren’t any shows anymore that are primarily tap based…I would like to definitely start my own tap show.”
Pauline has been on a roller coaster ride this season. After being cut at the end of Season 5 auditions, Pauline came back for Season 6 auditions. On the last day of auditions, Pauline sprained her ankle and ended up on crutches. “I actually thought that I was going to get cut and I didn’t think they would take me,” Pauline stated. “When they did, that was like another shock. So then I had Billy as a partner, and then having him gone was stressful. But when I found out who the replacement was, I was actually excited because I actually knew [Brandon Dumlao] from the previous season and this past season. And then having him gone and then having Peter come in and step in as a partner, it was…stressful.” Despite the ups and downs, Pauline remains optimistic. “Things happen for a reason and God has his plan for everyone.”
Pauline was a little nervous heading into Wednesday’s results show. “It’s hard for the audience and America to relate to the Quickstep and in the past seasons, every Quickstep that I’ve seen has either landed in the bottom…It was a shocker to both of us because it wasn’t a train wreck like Mary said. It’s kind of hard to relate to people with the Quickstep because if they’ve never done the Quickstep, then they don’t really know how hard it is to do it.” Despite it being a difficult style, Pauline had fun with it. “Coming into the rehearsal, our choreographer started teaching us and it wasn’t bad at all. The whole movement was just really fun and just really energetic. I didn’t feel like there’s one dull moment in that rehearsal, but I did feel some sort of dread in it, some sort of like, ‘Oh, no, this is the Quickstep. This is what everyone doesn’t want to draw out of the hat.’”
In the weeks that Pauline has been on the show, she’s grown a lot as a dancer and as a person. She explained, “I would say that I’ve grown in many different areas. I’ve opened my arms so big that I’ve actually grown in my dancing because there’s no such thing as a perfect dancer. And you can always grow no matter what happens. I think just being here for the month that I’ve been here, I’ve just grown so much as a person and as a dancer, just learning new styles, trying new things and at the same time meeting new people and finding out who I really am from this.”
During the Top 18 week, Pauline got to dance in her style, jazz, to a Wade Robson piece. “I think that one was actually my favorite dance that I did while I was on this experience. It was so creative and the concept was so good…Just working with Wade, it was considered jazz, but I don’t think jazz. If I would have to put a card in the hat, it would be ‘Wade’ because Wade’s choreography and Wade’s style has no actual name for it. I would call it Wade because he’s just so different and his stuff is very unique.”
When Pauline was asked what lesson she learned by being on the show that people that aren’t on the show wouldn’t know, she quoted the producer saying, “‘You can’t expect what is expected.’ So basically you can’t expect anything because everything is going to twist and turn and be really shocking in the end.” Pauline thinking she was going to be eliminated after injuring her ankle is an example of that.”
What’s next for Miss Mata? “I’m going to go back and teach at the studio that I grew up at, so that should be fun…I want to tour teaching in other countries and around the U.S.” While on So You Think You Can Dance, Pauline found a new interest. “I was working with wardrobe and they were putting stuff on me. I’ve always had this fashion sense in me that I wanted to be a fashion designer…I can get into that industry and be creative with the costumes because it was really fun.” Well, whatever the pint-sized jazz dancer decides to do, we’re sure she’ll excel!
Congrats to Peter Sabasino and Pauline Mata on their journey! Learn more about them and the remaining contestants in the Top 20 contestants section.