On Thursday’s Top 6 results show, we lost the two Florida natives – Jose Ruiz and Billy Bell. The morning after their elimination, Jose and Billy opened up about life on the show, the upcoming tour, and more.
B-boy Jose Ruiz came into the Season 7 competition with no formal training, but he left So You Think You Can Dance as a well-rounded dancer. The judges called him one of the most likable contestants in the show’s history. Jose said this commentary from the judges meant so much to him because, “I didn’t try to be like anything I wasn’t. I was just myself and I think people really appreciated it…I surprised myself. I didn’t know I’d make it this far.”
Nearly everything Jose danced on the show was out of his comfort zone, but he said that Bollywood was the hardest choreography for him to learn, but he loved every number he got to do on the show and was particularly inspired by Mandy Moore’s Contemporary piece he danced with Lauren Gottlieb. In fact, this experience has inspired Jose to pursue dance training. “I want to really branch out and get into Contemporary. I’m going to work on technique and get more familiar with other styles, and not just stick with Hip Hop. The show has given me a chance to expand and I want to keep expanding.”
Jose can’t be too sad about his departure. “I accepted [the elimination] and rejoiced in it, and in two weeks I’ll be back at the finale. Then, a week later, we start tour rehearsals. It’s not over; it’s just a brief hiatus.” What about the tour is Jose most excited for? “I’m looking forward to traveling across the U.S. and performing in arenas and getting to see the fans and performing in front of thousands of people with no judges and no critiques.”
In honor of National Dance Day, Jose has a message for future dancers, “Just love dance and keep the passion for it. Don’t let it become a job or a competition. Just love it, love to do it, have passion for it and it will take you places you never imagined.”
Billy Bell originally made it onto Season 6 before having to leave the competition during the first week because he became ill. He auditioned again for Season 7 and made it all the way to the Top 6. Throughout the competition he has showed unbelievable lines and flexibility, and on this press call he admitted something shocking – he doesn’t stretch at all! “I actually work on the opposite. I work on gaining strength in my legs, which my ballet training has helped with.”
Season 7 holds the record for most injuries in one season, and Billy wasn’t immune. Why have there been so many injuries season? “A lot of them were flukes,” Billy believes. “When you’re giving dance your all, and when you put your heart into it, it can happen.” Billy also explained why he didn’t dance last week despite being cleared by the doctors, saying he was still in pain and didn’t want to make it worse and miss out on tour.
Were there any all-stars Billy didn’t get the chance to dance with that he wished he got to work with? “I wanted to dance with Allison! I was supposed to dance with her a few weeks ago when her injury flared up. I hope to dance with her on tour.” He’d also love the opportunity to perform his Step routine with Kent Boyd on tour since Billy had to sit out of that dance last week because of his injury. He’s also excited to learn new choreography for the upcoming fall tour.
The most helpful critique Billy said he received from the judges was “Just about connecting with my partner. It’s what they kept saying, and I think that’s the only way we learn – when somebody repeatedly tells you.” By the end of his journey, Billy had no problem connecting with his partners or the choreography, and Nigel Lythgoe said that dance professionals and choreographers have taken notice of Billy’s work on the show.
Billy had the following advice to offer for aspiring dancers. “The key is staying so open. Try everything there is. Don’t put up a wall because that will keep you from growing. Even if you hate the style, ask yourself why and you’ll grow from there.”