Dancers stand out, even while simply walking. The fluidity of movement, the effortless grace, the confident and physically assertive gait, sets a dancer apart from the crowd. This is why everyone looked at them as they made their way through the restaurant.
They make a strong impression. I can honestly say that I had no idea what to expect, and they certainly surprised me. They made me, themselves and each other laugh a lot.
They playfully bickered with one another the way brothers and sisters do. They would turn the interview around on me and ask me questions, and to my surprise, they were genuinely interested in what I had to say. Just visualize for an instant the scene: These performers naturally made the evening fly, filled with inside jokes, mischievous anecdotes and priceless stories about their emotions, aspirations, goals and hopes. Neil Haskell, with his messy, flaxen hair and boy-next-door charm, appeared a bit shy and withdrawn at first, but then quickly opened up.
Taking the show to 49 cities across the country in less than three months created challenging issues for the dancers. The responsibility of keeping each show fresh combined with the constant demands of relentless traveling pushed them to their physical limits and was emotionally draining. They admitted to having personal tactics that kept them motivated to perform their best during each show.
Danny approaches his work with playfulness. For them, it was hard to comprehend how many people the show reached until they were actually out on to the road meeting their fans face to face. Neil was humbled by the fans but admitted that he sometimes felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of people waiting by the stage door after each performance. All three seemed hopeful that, with the tour ending and having had the exposure that comes along with dancing on a hit television program, will welcome many new and exciting opportunities.
I asked them if choreography was anything they would be interested in and I was surprised when they said that was not something they saw in their immediate futures. You devote all your time thinking, creating, working about it. And then, you go to sleep thinking about that. How to make myself better as a performer for a choreographer. A really great one I love is Roger C.
I really hope to work with some great choreographers. Hopefully I can help some young choreographers. So after we ordered entrees, our conversation shifted to how they filled their down time while on tour. We ate, we went to the mall. Sabra told me that Georgia has the best peach cobbler in the country. They also raved that Dallas, one of their favorite cities on the tour, had the best barbecue ribs.
And while on the subject of food, I have to admit that I was surprised by how much they ate and wholly enjoyed their food. I hate to dispel any myths, but nothing could be further from the truth when it came to my dinner with these dancers.
They all had abundantly healthy appetites for food and for life. They were not afraid to devour whatever was placed in front of them as we went through a variety of appetizers and hearty entrees.
Sabra, who had the most voracious appetite at the table, even ordered a gooey flourless chocolate cake at the end of her meal. It was clear to see that with all the dancing and traveling , they had definitely worked up a well-deserved appetite. With all that travel and the variety of cities they visited, having settled on New York as their favorite city was a suprise to me. Although each had a few cities that they enjoyed Sabra especially liked Seattle and Portland, and all three agreed that San Diego was great , it was clear to see that the Big Apple provided them with endless amounts of pleasure.
They described their favorite spots: After the dinner plates had been cleared away and Sabra awaited her dessert, the conversation turned back to dance and the effect it has had on their lives. To see live dance or theater is no longer how modern Americans choose to entertain themselves, yet the paradox is that television shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance sell out almost every date on tour.
We also discussed each of their interests other than dance and performance. You know, the whole lifestyle. It was then that everybody called him out on his love to sing, or rap rather. Neil blushed and put up a bit of a fight at first, but the others pleaded until he gave in and rapped a couple verses from one of his favorite rap songs, with Kameron and Travis doing backup. I was surprised by the diversity of their musical tastes.
Danny admitted to listening to anything from classical to electronic. His dark eyes were thoughtful for a moment before he listed off some more music that inspires him. It was clear that they spend a lot of time together. But apparently not everybody got to play what they wanted to. Me and Danny are the DJs. We owned the stage. When the curtain came up, we were just there.
Neil had some additional counsel. There are a lot of people who can dance really, really well, but what did the three of us have that was different? I have a great layout. It was almost As we settled the bill, one of the waiters approached the table timidly with a piece of blank paper. He knelt down and looked around the table, telling the dancers that his daughters were huge fans of the show and that it would mean a great deal to them if the SYTYCD veterans would autograph something for them.
The valet brought my car first and I waved goodbye before getting behind the wheel and driving away. I noticed something in my rearview mirror as I drove away: I smiled as I turned the corner and lost sight of them.