The morning after they were eliminated from So You Think You Can Dance, Channing Cooke and Kevin Hunte opened up on a press call about their time on the show and their lives going forward.
Channing Cooke, the ice cream scooper and athlete from Haverhill, Massachusetts, performed a jazz routine the week she got eliminated. The judges thought it was the first week that she looked like she was truly enjoying herself. Channing commented on the dance to Bobby McFerrin’s version of “Blackbird” saying, “I thought it was a cool dance, and I thought that the choreography went well with the music. Everyone has their opinions, and I thought the song was cool and different.”
When asked to dance as a bird this week, Channing tackled the challenge head on. “It is definitely fun to get into character because then it takes your dancing to a different level, as opposed to just doing a straight out style. You get to live in the character and it makes it fun and more exciting for people to watch so they can kind of get into the character with you.”
Originally, Channing was partnered with Phillip Attmore and when he was sent home she was paired with Victor Smalley. Nigel commented that people didn’t connect emotionally to her and Victor, but Channing said, “Victor and I had a great partnership and I wish it showed through a little more.”
When Phillip and Channing danced together, they struggled with the lifts. “It was tough, but I felt like at times I probably could have lifted him better than he lifted me,” Channing said with a laugh. “But, we worked it out and we figured out how to use my strengths to work with his strengths. I fell on my head a few times, but it ended up working kind of well in the end.”
Nigel Lythgoe mentioned that Channing’s technique was there, but her personality wasn’t. “I have been working on my technique for about 15 years, so the technique part will always be there. It’s just the personality didn’t come through on the show as much as I had hoped it would have. But they’re both very strong points that I have; just one came through more to them than the other.”
After several weeks on the show, Channing feels inspired. “I feel that now I can push myself through boundaries that I had set before, that I can keep on going and going and going to places that I never thought were possible. I’m never going to set limits on myself ever again because I know that I can break them.”
Hip hop dancer Kevin Hunte wowed the judges in Vegas with his mastery over choreography in each style and his improvement since auditioning for the show a few seasons ago. “I made it to the green mile and I got cut in the Top 32. Mia Michaels actually told me that she wanted me to grow more and she wanted me to come back next season. So I took two seasons off and trained and trained and trained, and I came back and actually made the Top 20.”
Kevin is a hip hop dancer who didn’t start dancing until his mom put him in classes when he was already a teenager. He’s mainly untrained, but has taken some classes. “I’m a hip-hopper, but I have taken some ballet classes and modern classes…I actually had the privilege of joining a contemporary company called Creative Outlet Dance Theatre in Brooklyn and through that company I have just been taking classes and performing with them. That is basically all the training that I have.”
Kevin loved the opportunity to showcase his abilities and to dance in his own style with Russell Ferguson and Legacy Perez during the Meet the Top 20 show. “That was the most amazing experience ever…Russell [and I] became like brothers on the show. Just to do that together was mind-blowing.”
Not every dance came easy to Kevin on the show. He reflected on the toughest, Broadway, revealing, “It just took me out of my element. It took me by surprise – a lot of the character, the style of dance, the movement, just the whole feel of it was kind of different. It was just so fast.”
If Kevin had the chance to stick around a bit longer in the contest, he would have wanted to dance a contemporary piece. “I just really wanted to let go and show that a hip hop dancer can emote and can give off the whole contemporary feeling, because a lot of times the hip hop dancers can’t really do the contemporary style. I was actually kind of excited [about] working with some contemporary choreographers such as Tyce Diorio, Stacey Tookey, or Mandy Moore because being around them and seeing them choreograph for other couples, you get inspired and excited and you want to work with them…I really, really wanted to do contemporary.”
What’s next for K’bez? “Auditioning, auditioning, auditioning! Movies, some more modeling things, try to get in some campaigns, some billboards, and some print work, just basically getting myself out there. I am the kind of person who is never going to stop. I am just going to keep on moving. I just thank God for this opportunity for So You Think You Can Dance because it was a stepping stone to help get my career started.”
It sounds like the future will be bright for Channing and Kevin! Learn more about them and all of the Top 20 here.