Today I got a chance to interview SYTYCD’s newest Broadway choreographer, Joey Dowling!
Joey is the choreographer behind this season’s Randi & Evan – Top 14 Broadway as well as Kupono & Kayla’s – Top 12 Broadway!
In this exclusive Q&A with SYTYCDISM, Joey tells us her own dance background, what it was like to choreograph for the show, her connection with S2’s Allison Holker and this season’s Randi Evans-Strong, which dancer remaining she thinks is the stand-out star of Season 5, whether or not she’ll be coming back to choreograph for Season 6, if she tweets, and more!
Listen to the audio interview below:
Here’s the full transcription of the interview:
(Note: I’m going by my ‘Lindork’ alias for this, as you can see, lol)
Lindork: Now before you actually choreographed for the show, did you watch it all? Were you a fan of So You Think You Can Dance?
Yeah I actually am a fan of So You Think You Can Dance. I think it’s a great avenue in which kind of reality TV can kind of support and also showcase all of this amazing talent that all these kids across the country have in a television setting. Usually I’m not a big fan of reality TV but when SYTYCD first came on the air I thought Wow what an awesome venue that they can really kind of… you know reality TV is reality TV but in a really variety show type of way, where the reality part of it doesn’t take over the talent part of it and really watching these young dancers grow and learn and showcase what they’re really good at and also showcase what they have to try and get to be good at.
Lindork: So when you were contacted to choreograph, what was your reaction?
I’ve actually wanted to choreograph on the show for a couple of years now. I was still kind of dancing and doing shows here and there, commercials, television, film and dancing and things but I’ve also had a huge love for choreography since I was 15 years old. My mom has a studio and it’s actually in Orem, Utah called The Dance Club and Allison Holker has trained at my mother’s studio. I left to move to New York and then this past year Randi was actually from my mom’s studio like eight years ago so some of those faces I recognize but when I got asked to choreograph the show I was floored! I was floored. It was a great opportunity for me to showcase my choreography and I love choreographing on teenagers because I’ve been doing it my whole life doing it at conventions and going to studios and choreographing on teenage kids. So I was stoked, and I hope I get to do more and they’ve asked me about my availability in the future and it ended up being a fantastic experience the two episodes that I did.
Lindork: Were you nervous (about choreographing for the show)?
Was I nervous?? Oh my gosh, I spent three weeks on a minute and a half duet. I was lucky enough to have a lot of… I had about two and a half week’s notice before I had to go and choreograph on the show and so I really took my time and really wanted to do a song that was really true to my heart and a style that I absolutely love and I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades. In my career I’ve been lucky enough to have opportunities to tour with Mariah Carey so I got to do a lot of hip hop and do music videos and I was also in broadway shows where I got to really learn true musical theatre style. I got to do company work where I got to do a lot of classical work. I was a Rockette so I learned that kind of style and it helped me and has helped me in doing choreography to really push the box and try and incorporate other styles within musical theatre. Because I think there’s a lot of room for interpretation so I chose the song because I just love the music and I think it’s amazing music and also a lot of inspirations in my life and Bob Fosse was one of them so I decided to choose that song and I was lucky enough to get two dancers that really did it quite well. But yeah I was nervous, I think I’m very intense and I’m very specific and I like working very hard and very focused in a room and I think it was kind of funny because I had a lot of people go ‘Yup that is exactly how you are!’ you didn’t try to be the little ‘Oh nice Joey, don’t scare anybody off! Don’t intimidate anybody!’ It was like ‘Okay let’s get to work!’
Lindork: How long did you have to work with the couple, to show them the routine?
Mary Murphy is right you really honestly only have about five and a half hours. You have about an hour and a half the first day and that’s when the cameras are on and you really only have about five and a half hours. They get on stage for about an hour and they have a dress thru (?) which is about an hour and then they do the show. So when they say really only have five and a half hours they’re not kidding it’s pretty amazing that the numbers end up looking as good as they do after only working with those kids for five and a half hours.
Lindork: Just this past week, Randi and Kupono who you worked with, were eliminated, I’m just wondering what you thought of the elimination and what you think of them as dancers?
A lot of times the show is a little bit like a gambling game and when you get dealt a card when everyone else’s card is stronger than yours, that’s just the way the game goes. I thought they should have gotten kicked off that week I thought they were the weakest couple and America obviously agreed. It kind of sucks that there’s certain things on the show that the kids are not in control of and when they end up getting judged on those variables then that’s kind of difficult, you know a costume or a style of dance or whatever, it’s kind of 50/50. If you end up having to do solos the entire time, then you would put 150% into yourself but it kind of a little bit towards the beginning of the game a duet competition so it’s 50/50 so if your partner’s not strong enough and he kind of gets ripped apart that reflects upon you as well. I thought it was fair, I thought it was fair that Kupono and Randi ended up going.
Lindork: Which dancer would you say is the stand out one right now?
I’d have to say that I really truly think that Melissa has been a little bit of a dark horse. I’m usually very wary of ballerinas, I think they’re usually very stiff and they’re ability to new styles is usually very, very hard. As far as really getting styles, having a really technical base is always going to save everybody. As far as somebody who is a major hip hopper, the minute they have to do something technical it just shows like a sore thumb, there’s no hiding it. But I have to say that Melissa has really kind of blown me away. She did the hip hop group number, she was awesome. I think she’s going to possibly be in the Top 2. I really do. I think Ade is great. I think Brandon is fantastic. I think they have a lot of talented people on the show right now. All of them are technical dancers and all of them have adapted to other styles so well that it’s just kind of a guessing game. It just ends up being what card they get dealt, what style they get dealt, I just think it’s kind of a gambling game a little bit to me which is also really fun because you get to see how the cards are dealt and what they do with those cards.
Lindork: Now you said they were asking you your availability so do you think you will be choreographing again for Season 6?
Probably for Season 6 but I don’t want to guarantee that. They have asked me about my availability like I said, I don’t really know about Season 5 because when there ends up getting to be less dancers they kind of have set schedules and I was lucky enough to jump into the mix this year and very humbly and very excited about that. I hope I end up doing some stuff in Season 6 and that’s kind of all I know right now. So hopefully.
Lindork: Do you have a Twitter account? Do you tweet at all?
My sister and I have a clothing line called JO AND JAX and we have a Twitter account that is called http://twitter.com/joandjax. I also have a Facebook account that I’ve gotten a lot of activity on since [being on the show]. It’s awesome I ended up getting a lot of support, people I don’t even know are like ‘I loved that! That was awesome! I want to have a fight on stage!’ It’s pretty great.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to SYTYCDISM, Joey!
Looking forward to seeing your routines in the coming Season!