Another summer is upon us that that means another season of So You Think You Can Dance. This year, NPY and I must watch it from different cities and time zones but we both make the effort and he realizes it is not absolutely necessary to watch the show the day of and we keep relatively up-to-date.
After auditions and Las Vegas week, we see the contestants whittled down to the Top 20, 10 men and 10 women. Since a male dancer stands a slightly better chance at winning the competition, it is exciting that this year there will be an additional winner, the top male and top female. And, continuing an observable trend for the past few years, the Asians in the Top 20 are both male.
Cole Horibe, 26, is Korean, Japanese and Russian from Honolulu. He has both a martial arts and dance background and pursuited martial arts more seriously until a few years ago when he turned his attention to dance, particularly his martial arts fusion style. He is savvy and has trained in ballet, ballroom, modern, jazz and hip hop. The Internet tells me is has won awards in ballroom, too.
If he were only a martial arts dancer, I would be worried but he is old enough to be mature and go for it. So far, after two performance shows he’s doing stellar. In the Introducing the Top 20 episode, three “hip hop” guys with backgrounds in animation, martial arts and stepping closed out the show with a fun baseball-themed number, most memorable one of the show. In the Top 20 group routine, Cole was front and center, easily identifiable. And he also closed the show in the first Top 20 performance show with partner Linsday in a crazy, athletic paso doble that at once announced him as a powerful and highly masculine contender and garner’s Nigel’s praise delivering the best male paso performance on the show. This year, elimination is not based only on the audience vote (where I think he’s safe based on this weeks’ performance) but the judges will take voting into account. I still think he’s safe.
The other Asian male contender is Dareian Kujawa, 20, who is originally from Hawaii but mostly talks about being from Minnesota and relocating to Boulder City, outside Las Vegas where he’s been working on the Strip.
I cannot find too much else about his background except that his family has had a great deal of financial difficulty all his life and he seems to take life as it goes along and make the best of it and opportunities that come his way. I think his personality will take him far.
In the Top 20 group performance, a Mad Men-inspired Christopher Scott-choreographed number, Dareian got a small solo moment and showed off a spin. That is a stellar way to start off on the show. His first partner was Janelle for an African Jazz number that was tribal and moving but ultimately not of the same caliber as the later routines. I hope he can hang in there and stick around, gain great experience and show America his fun personality.
In addition to these two guys, I’m also rooting for ballet dancers Eliana Girard and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, ballroom dancer Witney Carson and belly dancer Janelle Issis.
Portraits above from Entertainment Weekly (EW.com); group portraits below from US Magazine (USMagazine.com).