So You Think You Can Dance Canada: Francois and Yuliya's exit interview
You can take the dancers out of So You Think You Can Dance, but you can't take So You Think You Can Dance out of the dancers. Ballroom dancers Francois Pruneau, 26, of Trois-Rivieres, Que., and Yuliya Zavadska, 29, of Toronto (she specializes in Latin) were both feeling inspired by their experiences on SYTYCDC and looking forward to applying everything they'd learned to the rest of their careers when I spoke to them the day after their elimination. Here's an edited version of our talk:
YZ: I don't think we have too many reasons to complain because ... we experienced a lot of weeks of different styles and different things, different choreographers, different partners.
FP: Yeah, I'm so proud of my journey. It's just an amazing opportunity for every dancer. I think it was a big opportunity for me, too. It just give me some experience in different styles, so it was really cool, yeah.
YZ: And it definitely opened different sides of us ... inside.
FP: We grew up as persons and also as dancers in that show.
DY: Before you auditioned for this show, did you go out and do any training in other styles?
FP: I trained in hip hop and contemporary before doing the show a lot. I was really prepared for the show. I think I just discovered that I'm just a dancer and I enjoy every style of dance.
DY: What about you, Yuliya?
YZ: This show ... make me feel (like a) more complete dancer for sure. After last audition (the season before), all this year I was trying to consistently take classes, but it didn't work consistently because I was travelling crazy, a lot ,,, but two months after finals week till the show that's only what I did, to break my body before they will break my body (she laughs).
DY: Are you still feeling sore (from her contemporary rehearsals of the week before)?
YZ: You don't want to start about this because it's gonna be crying process.
DY: You were out of the country so much, I'm guessing because of ballroom competitions, right?
DY: Are you a 10-dance champion?
YZ: No, it's not 10-dance. It's International Latin, American Rhythm, American Smooth. We did these two American styles just for fun because I was applying for my document for Canadian permanent residence and I was stuck in the country for a year ... me and my partner, we just decided why not win two Canadian national championships?
DY: You've obviously done lots of ballroom competitions as well (to Francois).
FP: Yeah, actually I was a ballroom 10-dance champion, Quebec.
DY: How does doing that compare to doing the show?
FP: It's really different, all the crew and the cameras, and you know that you dance in front of millions of people, so it's really different.
YZ: You know what's probably for us one of the biggest differences? That we're never dancing on a stage ... we're dancing in a ballroom (with people around the room), and now it's a stage and people (are) so far and (facing) in one direction ... you're always turning your face. I remember my first feeling in last audition (for last season), top 40 solo.... I prepared my routine, you know, everything was good. I went to the stage without partner and first step and I completely forget what to do because nobody around, I'm alone, I'm so alone. Now we really get used to (it), but it's still weird for ballroom people.
DY: It must be, because obviously as you say you're always dancing with a partner.
YZ: All my life, I have someone to touch....
FP: Actually, I really enjoy to dance on my own ... for real, it was really cool. All the people are there and scream for you. It's an amazing feeling.
YZ: Oh yeah, when people were supporting us, especially when I had hip hop and contemporary, Luther (Brown) was screaming from the audience, like “Yuliya, go!” It was so much fun, I wanted to ...
DY: You wanted to wave?
FP: A lot of choreographers support us ... it's really good to know that.
YZ: I think we have to sleep a little bit and afterward we will realize more and more all the little details of what we came through and it's gonna make us even more happy because it was incredible experience.
DY: So is it something you'd recommend to other ballroom dancers?
FP: To be themself and to train a lot, to be prepared.
YZ: I think open (your) mind a little bit more. I look at myself before this show: I was really close-minded, like I lived my life in one direction, just practising the same things, years, years, years and years, and now I feel kind of stupid that I didn't do different styles before 'cause it would help me have control much more and be a better dancer, a more complete dancer. And it helps a lot. When I started taking contemporary and ballet classes, it helped me a lot in the ballroom for sure, so if people will try to open their minds they're gonna feel much better.
DY: I get what you're saying. Out of all the choreographers that you worked with, were there some that stood out for you more than others?
FP: I think it was Luther Brown for me, because he was really nice with me. He was really sweet with me and just pushed me to go harder and harder in hip hop, and he was proud of me too, so it's a great feeling to know that.
DY: What about you?
YZ: I didn't work with Luther. I really want to. I really enjoyed Sho-Tyme. He was so supportive. I was kind of scared for hip hop because it's like really for me outside of my world, and I was sure that I will look funny in this, but he made my week really fun ... but also I knew what to do and I knew how to make myself in a couple of days look not funny. He helped me a lot. And I really enjoyed also working with Melissa (Williams), Melissa was amazing.
DY: So it's sad, but you're taking lots of stuff out of it.
FP: For sure, for sure. It's not sad for me, I think it's just a shock ... but it was just an amazing experience and I just feel so blessed and it was an honour for real to dance on that stage.
YZ: Around this level of dancers and this level of personalities, you know.
FP: I'm so inspired by all these dancers and choreographers and this experience; I'm so inspired and I'm ready to get back to work.
YZ: I can't wait to see after this experience what can I do, because I feel that my limit's so much higher and I can do so much more, and I know that it's gonna show up more and more and more, this 54 days of practising.
FP: For sure, it give me energy to push for my dreams.
DY: What sort of things do you want to do now in your career?
FP: Do a lot of contracts and teach. Probably, maybe, I have the opportunity to open a dance school, a lot of projects.
YZ: I'm kind of like the same. Dancing always was my life, teaching and practising. I'm going forward to my dreams and goals, and gonna keep going the same.
There are still eight dancers left whose immediate goal is pushing ahead to the SYTYCDC finale. Watch them perform Monday at 8 p.m. on CTV and catch the recap here. I'll have video with all eight of them from Saturday night's taping.
In the meantime, here's the video I did with Francois and Yuliya when they visited me at the Star.