Jordan Casanova, Jess LeProtto talk 'So You Think You Can Dance'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/29/2011
So You Think You Can Dance eliminated Jordan Casanova and Jess LeProtto during Thursday night's live results show on Fox, which determined the eighth season's Top 6 contestants.
During a Friday conference call with reporters, Jordan, an 18-year-old jazz dancer from Chino Hills, CA, and Jess, an 18-year-old Broadway dancer from Little Falls, NJ, talked to Reality TV World about their So You Think You Can Dance experience including -- whether they were surprised to be eliminated, if Jordan felt So You Think You Can Dance producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe accidentally revealed this week's actual voting results when he suggested he was going with America's vote in choosing to eliminate her, what Jordan's reaction was to Nigel claiming he was disappointed with her "dance for your life" solo, and whether Jess ever got an explanation as to why he was ousted.
Reality TV World: Jordan, Nigel Lythgoe announced before your elimination that he was basically going with America's vote, which seemed to suggest you were the bottom vote-getter this week. Did anyone tell you anything about that? Was that actually the case or do you have any idea what he meant by that?
Jordan Casanova: Actually, we don't know who's in the bottom at all. Everything that you see is exactly how it happened, and I absolutely had no idea that -- you never know what's going to happen on the show.
It's full of surprises and that's what makes it such a great show, so no one had any idea who was in the bottom. I don't know. I don't know if that's necessarily what he was implying, but I mean if it was, then so be it. I'm just happy to have gotten this far.
Reality TV World: Jordan, you fell in the bottom vote-getters just as much as [Caitlynn Lawson] and Jess, you had been in the bottom once just as [Tad Gadduang] had been. With the said, were both of you guys surprised to be eliminated or did you somewhat see it coming beforehand at all?
Jess LeProtto: Well, on the first hand, you can really never say that you're immune from the competition for sure. Everyone is on pins and needles because they don't know. You never know what the public is going to do. You may think that you danced brilliantly on Wednesday night, and then people are probably thinking, "Oh, he's got it, he's got it. He's safe. Okay. Don't worry about it."
But sometimes it doesn't all work out on Thursday night's live results show, so you're never sure. It's like you always have to be prepared for it, and I was actually in the bottom the very first week and you never expect it, but I had to say to myself, "Be prepared for anything that happens worst case scenario," and just get it out of my head quickly so I can go into my solo mode and just give the audience a good performance for 30 seconds.
Reality TV World: So Jess, just to clarify, did you end up getting any explanation about why you were eliminated after the show from the judges, or is it still a little bit of a mystery to you because the judges only had positive things to say to you?
Jess LeProtto: Well, they never really specified anything because the competition is so tight this year, and everybody is just phenomenal. You really can't have -- I don't think you can have a better group of people who are a part of this experience as of this season. And you know, whatever their decision was, I'm sure it was for a specific reason.
But I don't think that matters to me because from where I've started back in Brooklyn with the auditions, I never thought that I'd actually get this far. It's amazing to find out that I made it to the Top 20, but then when we made it to Top 10, it was just like, "Pinch me."
So, I'm really happy that I've been able to show my talent for so long in the competition and no matter what the judges thought about it, it doesn't matter because I know that I dance from my heart and I know that America appreciated it for quite awhile on the show.
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Reality TV World: Jess, just to follow up on my last question, Nigel said you had grown so much as a dancer and had sensational character. As I said before, he only had great things to say about you and you mentioned how you didn't get much of an explanation after your elimination, so do you have any personal insight at all as to why they may have made that decision?
Jess LeProtto: No, they haven't really said anything specifically on why they eliminated me. I think because the competition is so tight now and now I think being part of this Top 10 and being a part of this season itself is so incredible. With the guys on this show, it's so -- We're so unique. We're so different, and it's just, I don't know what their reason was.
But I know that I'm not disappointed. I don't regret anything for sure. I think when I did my solo, I knew that, "Okay, you never know. This may be my last time onstage doing my solo, so I've got to end it with a bang!" So, I think coming off the stage, I had no regrets and nothing to look back on.
Reality TV World: Jordan, Nigel said he was disappointed with your dance for your life solo, as he was with Caitlynn's as well. Why do you think he said that and how did you feel your solo went? Did you hold back at all or anything or do you think you gave it your all?
Jordan Casanova: I'm just so grateful that Nigel's a very honest judge and fair in what he says. I personally felt that I left my heart out on that stage and I did my absolute best. I don't regret anything and I'm very pleased with how far I've gotten on the show, and I surprised myself. So, honestly, I'm not disappointed in myself at all. I'm excited about tour.
Reality TV World: What was it like to dance with your all-star partners? Was it a big change for the both of you from when you were paired with fellow contestants?
Jordan Casanova: They bring such a different element to the show. They've been here and they've done it, so they're really comfortable and they really know how to calm you down if anything goes wrong.
They're so inspiring because you're kind of in shock. You're like, "Oh my Gosh, this is going to be my partner? I get to dance with this person?" I've watched the show, so seeing that these people are now standing next to me is completely unreal, but they're awesome.
Jess LeProtto: Yeah, I think the all-stars that I've had the opportunity to work with are some amazing, talented and superb dancers in their styles, and I think everyone who's partnered with all-stars, it kind of ups our game because we know that we need to bring it 100% percent.
The judges and America are looking for a connection and just seeing that we're having a good time with our all-stars. I think in the two weeks that I had with my all-stars, I think I had an amazing time to work with them.
[Third-season So You Think You Can Dance contestant Lauren Gottlieb and sixth-season contestant Kathryn McCormick] are just amazing, superb dancers. They love their craft and being a part of their experience on the show and just having fun with them was a joy. So, I had a great time with the both of them.
Also in the call, Jordan and Jess told reporters whether they had ever received criticism on the show that was tough to swallow, what their plans are for the near future, and how they reacted to singer Lady Gaga's appearance on So You Think You Can Dance.
Nigel had given you feedback one week that he wanted to see something different from you. What did you think of that criticism? Do you think you showed enough variety for them or do you wish you changed things up a little more in your solo performances?
Jordan Casanova: I'm very happy with how I performed. I agree I didn't switch it up a little bit and that's why I went out and did a contemporary solo. I don't know. I just had a lot of fun and I left my heart on the stage, and that's all I can tell you, you know what I mean?
When it comes down to it, you just have to put the best through and the best needs to be shown in your solo and you only have 30 seconds. So I think I did that pretty well.
What are your plans for the near future?
Jordan Casanova: I've been dying to get into film and singing, and so I would like to take on that challenge and see how far I can get. I've always been interested in it but dance has always been my first love. So, I don't know. I think I'm just really excited for any opportunities that open.
Jess LeProtto: Well for me, I think after the tour, I'll move back to New York and start getting back into the whole audition process for shows in New York.
That's something that I've wanted to get back into, and then maybe explore other things including movies and TV, as well as branching out not as a dancer in front of an audience but also behind the scenes as more of a choreographer and learning more things so I can expand my knowledge.
Because honestly, you never know where life is going to take you, but I always feel like you should be prepared for anything. So, I look forward to the future.
What was it like receiving feedback from Lady Gaga?
Jordan Casanova: I never would have thought in my whole life that Lady Gaga would sit in front of me and tell me things about the way I dance. So, for me, I just couldn't believe my eyes. I was so excited and so thrilled that she came because she comes from such an artistic background. She's so interesting, and I mean, she dresses interesting, she talks interesting, and everything about her is again, so interesting.
So, I was so intrigued by what she was going to say and once she started giving her comments, I probably peed my pants but you just couldn't tell onstage. She's amazing and I was so happy to have her there.
Jess LeProtto: The first time I heard Lady Gaga was going on the show, we thought it was a rumor. So, we were all like, "Mhmm, yeah okay. Alright, yeah okay." But after guest judges went by week after week and we found out, "Oh Lady Gaga's going to be on the show," it was like, "Wow! They really got her on the show?!"
So, I was really excited and for a public who knows her so well, you never know. You can never know what she's going to dress like. When she made that entrance Wednesday night in that flamboyant outfit and everyone's so used to seeing her dress up like that, it was crazy. It was absolutely nuts, and I think as far as being on the show, she was very professional.
She's coming from a background of humble beginnings to where she is now. She's a ginormous -- she's a humongous superstar. So she knows so much about this business and she knows so much about performing that her critiques and comments were so useful and helpful to us throughout the night. So I was really fortunate to be in the same room as Lady Gaga.
Was there any time during the season you receive criticism that was hard to bare?
Jordan Casanova: Well, no one really likes to hear negative comments and critiques, but then again, we are dancers and this is what we do everyday. We live the life of getting critiques, and that's what makes you better. I think that even the negative comments are good, because it pushes you to strive for better critiques for next week and so on and so forth.
Having them say something to you in general is just good because they can sit there and they don't have to say anything at all. They don't have to give you a critique or a compliment. So, I just think I'm very appreciative of everything that they've said, because it really has pushed me to where I am now.
Jess LeProtto: Yeah, I mean, it's very hard to take bad critiques like Jordan said. It's hard to hear them, but that's what happens. It makes you stronger throughout a competition like this or even just in my dance career and after the show's done.
So I think that that's the thing. Majority of the time, you are critiqued and they say something to you and they want to help you out, which is always what I think. They're not trying to bash you in any way, shape or form. What they say is so important for us to use as our dance careers continue.
So, I always think of it that way, and every time I go onstage, I always think that I did my best and I know when I get offstage that I did my best. So, I think whatever the judges say, you just have to go with it and just take it and use it as much as you can.