Out and proud So You Think You Can Dance Australia entrants Demi Sorono and Rhys Bobridge talk about their time with the show and on making it through to the final four.
Congrats on making it into the top four -“ how do you feel today?
Demi: I’m feeling good today but last night was hard to process. Everything happened so quick. But you know I’m just really excited and really proud to have made it this far and I’m feeling good!
The show must have been so exhausting.
Demi: Last night we had the after party and I just wanted to go home and go to sleep.
Were you surprised to make it that far?
Demi: I was very, very surprised. I had no expectations and to have made it to top 20 was a dream for me and to get into top ten and then through al the rounds was really surprising for myself. I was in shock that I made it all the way through to the end.
You became a favourite for a lot of people because they kept talking about how you were the only untrained dancer in the group. Was that annoying?
Demi: Yeah, a bit. It makes you think about how everyone else has been trained. I’m like, I don’t need to think about that right now. But it was good to recognise that I was a self-taught dancer
Do you think you became the underdog?
Demi: Yeah I do feel I was that, but you know what? It made me work a lot harder and that’s what happens. I just had to work a lot harder than other people who had been formally trained. So it was definitely very challenging.
Obviously the nature of the competition is to throw dancers into genres they have never done before and you obviously looked a little out of your element with some, what were some of the more challenging routines?
Demi: I found all of them quite challenging, to be honest! Even hip hop was challenging because there were steps, there was choreography. I’m sweet to get the style of the genres but getting my head around choreography was probably the most challenging part. And the technical things, with routines like contemporary and doing all the turns and jetes and things like that. That was out of my world. But to be able to successfully do the routine was a great achievement. The contemporary and the jazz found really hard. Ballroom was OK for me because I enjoyed it.
Because what you do as a B-Girl is much more freestyle, right?
Demi: Yeah, I’m as raw as they come, mate! That’s the problem, because I am so raw and I am a freestyle dancer, I mean I don’t even choro my own solo, except for one solo I did.
You were sensational in the samba -“ it was voted the hottest moment of the show for that week, was it fun to dress up and be a really sexy, sexual person on stage?
Demi: Yeah, I loved it. I loved dressing up on stage. That was probably one of my favourite moments through the competition, I loved being a girl and embracing the feminine side of myself and discovering that I can be sexy, and it’s OK to be sexy. I used to have a problem with being sexy. I felt more comfortable in my sneakers and casual clothes, but when it came to wearing dresses and heels [on the show] I’m like, I really like this!
So will you be wearing fishnets from now on?
Demi: No way! I had fun though.
Was it hard to accept criticism from the judges when they were praising your partner?
Demi: I expected that. I knew that I was a self-taught dancer and I knew I would get criticised. I was happy with what they were saying about me. The one thing with me is that I didn’t compare myself to any of them because I knew that once I did it would let my guard down, so it didn’t really affect me -“ criticism made me better as a performer. It’s expected for Jack to get praises all the time because he is a phenomenal dancer.
Did you have favourite partners?
Demi: Jack and Graham were awesome. Graham was really supportive, and Jack just got everything, he was great. I could say a lot more, but I won’t.
Was there any romance behind the scenes?
Demi: No romance for me. Although, I did have a little crush on someone. But as soon as I blurted it out, I got over it. I was like what are you getting a crush on this person for?
Who was it?
Demi: Wouldn’t you like to know! It was one of the other dancers, and it was in the first week of the top 20. They didn’t make it to the top ten. It was only a little crush, it was because it was all so exciting! But then their true colours come out and then you go, oh, I’m not down with that.
The dance world is very competitive, was the show very competitive?
Demi: People kept their competitive sides to themselves and I don’t think the TV cameras caught that, which is a shame because the true side of people doesn’t come out. Behind the scenes there could have been a few tantrums. But everyone was really great, and we worked together as a team.
When we interviewed Jason Coleman we asked if this was the gayest show on TV. Was sexuality an issue with the show?
Demi: It wasn’t a problem at all. Dancers are really open and they don’t really care. Sexuality doesn’t mean anything. It’s so accepted in the groups because they are surrounded by it and they are not ignorant to that kind of stuff.
There were plenty of gay guys, were you the only gay girl?
Demi: Yes, the only one. And look where I got to!
Rhys was definitely a front-runner. Were you surprised he didn’t win?
Demi: I was so surprised. I thought for sure he was going to win. I love him, he’s such an incredible person. I am so proud that he is who he is and that he loves himself. He’s a gun. He’s amazing. I was shocked. I was like what happened to the gay community?
Maybe the 13 year-old girls who vote tipped him out in favour of Jack?
Demi: Yeah, maybe. If they only knew.
But Jack’s not a gay guy is he?
Demi: Ummm, no comment. I’m totally loyal to the whole… yeah. I don’t want to expose anyone.
So you’re doing the SYTYCD tour?
Demi: Yeah, I’m really excited about it. It’s 16 days in July, and the top four go to the Logies. You’ll see me in heels this time.
MEANWHILE, RHYS BOOGIES WITH BUBBLY -¦
Did you do a little bit of celebrating at the end of the show?
Rhys: We did actually. We were on Rove straight after which was glamorous, in between Hugh Jackman and Mischa Barton, as you do. And then we went out and said hi to our family and friends and posed for a few pics. And then we went to Hugo’s in Kings Cross and boogied the night away with bubbly.
I would have thought dancing was the last thing you’d want to do.
Rhys: I didn’t do too much dancing -“ a bit of posing actually.
Did people actually recognise you?
Rhys: Yeah, but that’s kinda happening everywhere we go these days. It’s been huge, I’m really amazed by the response from the Australian public.
What was behind you’re decision to enter the competition?
Rhys: From the moment that the American series hit our screens, I was absolutely sure that I wanted to be a part of this show. I hadn’t danced for some time professionally and hadn’t done classes or trained for a long time and it really inspired me to get dance fit and get back into it and start pushing myself again.
But you’ve always used dance in your shows at the Market Hotel.
Rhys: Yeah but the venues like the Market and the Xchange have pretty small stages so you’re quiet limited with what you can do choreographically but I would also find that I couldn’t challenge the dancers that I was working with because we were under such short time constraint. Yeah, it was a little bit slap dash at times. The challenge with this show has been the best thing for me, it’s really awoken my senses and made me realise that I can accomplish more than I originally thought.
What was it like working with so many choreographers?
Rhys: Well I definitely had highs and lows with the choreographers, more so with myself about my own confidence about nailing somebody else’s vision and absorbing that.
What time frame did you have to learn the moves?
Rhys: At the end we were learning about four routines each a week so we were rehearsing from about 8am through to 10.30pm every day. It was two days worth of choreography and then after that would be block throughs and camera runs and lighting runs and dress rehearsals and then recording. So really it was only two days that you would get to work one on one with your choreographer.
So it really is survival of the fittest?
Rhys: Absolutely -“ emotionally as well. You really have to bring your game and be ready for anything -“ being able to listen and take on people’s advise and their criticisms, not only from the judges but from the choreographers as well. For example Jack and I, when we were working together we were the only two males and that’s your direct competition in a way so you’re being told constantly by your choreographer what your partners strengths are and you have to be able to absorb that and deal that and not allow that to affect you emotionally.
And how did you get along with all the other dancers?
Rhys: Everyone got along really well with each other, as far as I know. As the competitors were whittled away we all just grew closer and closer. Especially with partners that you had worked with like my first partner Jemma, we had some amazing routines together and pretty touching moments and towards the end of it, Demi, another Melbourne chic, yeah, we were really good mates as well.
Demi and you were very open about your sexuality -“ was that a conscious decision on your part?
Rhys: It never ever crossed my mind to be closeted. I don’t believe in the closet. If I ever had to alter the way that I represent myself in a competition like this I would never have done it in the first place. It never crossed my mind to be dishonest or hide any part of myself
It’s a pretty gay-friendly environment isn’t it?
Rhys: Yeah, the format allows that. It’s costumes, it’s theatre, it’s makeup, it’s all about the bravado. I think part of my success in the competition was that I was myself all the time and that I showed every element of myself whether they liked it or not.
But it does raise the issue in these shows of always the bridesmaid, never the bride -“ it seems the gay guy is always the runner up in these shows.
Rhys: It would have been nice to be the first openly gay contestant in a reality television style show. Though, Jack is kind of sexually ambiguous as well so it’s not that big a deal really.
He’s certainly not as out there as you.
Rhys: No but he is young, he’s got a lot of learning to do about himself. I’ve had plenty of opportunity and plenty of time to work out who I am.
It’s all about the confidence in yourself isn’t it?
Rhys: Absolutely. I wasn’t always as confident as I am these days. It’s taken me a while to get where I am.
So you think Australia is ready for an openly gay or lesbian winner of these shows?
Rhys: Absolutely. I think Zach from Big Brother was the first example of that. He got so close. It just to show that Australia is ready to embrace somebody that is culturally different.
You also made no secret of working as a drag performer. What was the response to that inside the show?
Rhys: They did show a couple of flashes of Regime but they didn’t really harp on it too much. I don’t think they wanted to pigeon hole me through out the year but they certainly didn’t avoid it. The judges were well aware of my performance history. But I never really got to embrace that side of myself in the competition. When I was involved in the competition I was performing a certain type in that mostly I was performing with women.
Interviews by Cathy Anderson and Daren Pope from www.bnews.net.au