Karen Hauer and Victor Smalley were eliminated just before Season 6’s Top 10 dancers were selected, but they both have positive outlooks on their So You Think You Can Dance experience. On a recent press call, both dancers talked about their elimination, working with new partners, and the future.
Victor Smalley, the 21 year old contemporary dancer from Miami, Florida, was eliminated during the Top 12 results show despite performing a solo that judge Nigel Lythgoe said truly represents “dancing for your life.” Even though Victor was eliminated after hearing such a comment, he held his head high. “I just was happy with myself,” Victor recalled. “I was content, even though I was getting cut, because I felt like I had danced my life out and I had no regrets…Plus, with what Nigel told me made me really happy. So I felt like if it was my time to go; I left on a good note.”
Victor started off the season partnering Bianca Revels. After her week two elimination, Victor was matched up with Channing Cooke. Channing was eliminated after he worked with her for two weeks, and he was paired with Karen Hauer. Meanwhile, most of the other couples stayed in tact. “It’s hard getting a bunch of different partners because everyone in the Top 10 right now has had their partners since the beginning,” Victor mentioned. “You understand how your partner works. It’s very easy to get married to your partner. When I had Bianca, and I only had her for three weeks, I was married to her. So when she got cut I was devastated…It’s tough, but that’s what you have to do. A good dancer is expected to be able to dance with anyone.”
Although Victor and Karen only had a week to dance together, the partnership was a good one. Victor said that Karen “has so much passion when she dances, and confidence.” He enjoyed working with her and said they had great chemistry. “When we danced our tango, it looked like we were dancing since the beginning of the show together. It’s not easy getting a new partner and just connecting like that…I felt that we had a lot of natural chemistry.”
That tango with Karen ended up being Victor’s favorite performance on the show, and he said it was one of his Top 5 favorite performances ever. Victor told us why he wanted to get a ballroom dance so badly: “I was dying to get ballroom because the whole show I’ve been barefoot. I’ve had contemporary twice. I had Broadway, which was barefoot and was jazzy. I had a jazz routine, so this was my first week having shoes on. And I was really excited because I think it’s easier to impress the judges when you’re a contemporary dancer and you do something that’s not in your style compared to you being a contemporary dancer and doing contemporary – it’s expected that it’s going to be good. So I was very excited to show them that I could do other styles.”
Always optimistic, Victor is grateful for the experience. “I’m just very blessed to have come this far and to be on the Top 20…And even though I’m cut, I’m thanking God every day that I was able to show the world what I can do and I was able to experience all the great benefits that come with being on the Top 20 of So You Think You Can Dance. This isn’t the end for me; this is just the beginning for me. This was my first big job that I’ve done as a dancer, so it’s a great way to start.”
Victor also left us with the following bit of advice. “It’s never too late to follow your dreams and to start dancing. I’ve only been dancing five years and I was on the Top 20, so I motivate all the dancers out there to go out and dance, and dance their heart out.”
Karen Hauer, the Venezuelan 27 year old American Rhythm/Latin Ballroom dancer from Fort Lee, New Jersey, was known to dance some really steamy and sexy numbers on So You Think You Can Dance. At one point in the competition, when Karen fell in the bottom group of dancers despite a great performance, Nigel mentioned that perhaps younger girls were intimidated by Karen’s sexy vibe. Karen said, “I was just being myself. I embrace who I am. It’s all about really putting yourself out there…you should always embrace who you are no matter what.”
When she was 8 years old, Karen came to America with her family. One year after settling here, her father abandoned the family. “That time was when I found dance and I was picked out of a school-wide audition for this program called Arts Connection. It helped me get through the bad times and the good times and because of it, here I am today.” Karen used dance as a way to escape the troubling times she was going through. “It gave me a way to release all of the emotions that I had and to bring new light into my life as well.”
While on Season 6, Karen was partners with Kevin Hunte until the last week she was on the show when she had Victor Smalley as a partner. Karen enjoyed dancing with both guys. “With Kevin, we had met in New York previously, so we’re both New Yorkers and we had danced together in Vegas.” When they went back to the east coast as they were waiting to hear whether or not they made the Top 20, their paths crossed again. “It was such a coincidence that when we were in New York taking dance classes together, we were making believe that we were dance partners already. So the connection was instantaneous with Kevin.” Karen enjoyed her one short week working with Victor too, and said, “The technicality that Victor has is at another level. I really enjoyed it and he really surprised me and he inspired me as well. So they were both amazing to work with.”
Being the last girl cut before the coveted Top 10 dancers were chosen was tough for Karen. “It was like tease. It was like you’re making it and now you’re not.” However, Karen remains optimistic. “It’s like a dream for everybody, but just the fact that I made it this far out of thousands of dancers, it’s amazing. Yes, Top 10 would have been amazing, but I am extremely happy with how far I got in the competition.”
Often times, ballroom dancers have difficulty performing solos on the show because they are used to working with a partner. “It’s not an excuse that I can’t dance by myself,” Karen said. “I thought I did very well in my solos and I wish I had more time to prepare. But it’s one of those things that I just went out there and I danced my heart out no matter what, whether it was with a partner or whether it was just by myself.”
Karen’s future looks bright and she’s making plans. “My next step would be just keep on dancing, whatever doors, maybe Broadway, maybe going on the tour or something. I’m very excited to see what’s coming up, but definitely dancing and teaching and continuing to spread the word of dance.” Also, Karen can’t wait to get home and see her family. “I’m extremely homesick. I’ve never been this homesick in my life and I can’t wait to go back and just have my family.” All in all, Karen is grateful for this opportunity. “I am here as an artist to amaze, thrill, and inspire, and to show people that you can do it and you will do it if you put 100% into it.”
Remember to watch So You Think You Can Dance this Tuesday, December 8, to see the Top 8 dancers perform. Who’s your favorite favorite dancer? You can let your friends know by creating your own custom e-card.