So You Think You Can Dance

WHAT: So You Think You Can Dance Tour 2014
WHERE: Times Union Center’s Moran Theater
when: Nov 20 at 7:30pm
Tickets: $50-$260

Tanisha Belnap is dancing her way across the country as as a member of the 2014 So You Think You Can Dance nationwide tour. The 20-year-old Utah native placed in the top 10 of Season 11, earning legions of fans and a spot on the 70-city tour.

Presented by the FSCJ Artist Series, SYTYCD makes its Jacksonville stop Nov 20 at the Times-Union Center. The tour features top 10 finalists Belnap, Bridget Whitman, Casey Askew, Emilio Dosal, Jacque LeWarne, Jessica Richens, Ricky Ubeda, Rudy Abreu, Valerie Rockey and Zack Everhart. The ensemble will perform many of the season’s most popular routines as well as original pieces created specifically for the tour.

“I think you should definitely get your hopes up because we are going to exceed everything that you can think of,” Belnap says. “It’s an amazing show this year. It’s full of energy and these dancers are really talented. The show is so much fun.”

For Belnap, she is living out of her childhood dream. She started dancing at age 4 and has never looked back–unless the routine calls for it. “I realized at about 11 years old that this was something that I wanted to do,” she says. “I was part of the kid cast of a professional show, and I just looked up to those dancers so much. I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” Belnap auditioned for Season 10 and returned to audition for the 11th season of the Emmy Award-winning show. The competition is stiff and the routines challenge the dancers each week. While each dancer is trained in a particular style of dance, they must all display an amazing versatility because they never know what routine will be handed down next. “Honestly it’s hard, but just like anything in life, each day comes with a new challenge, and I think that’s what makes the show so exciting. That’s why it has lasted so long,” she says. “It keeps you on your toes, and that’s what makes it such a great experience, because you have the opportunity to go through that every single day.” That’s not to say that nerves don’t come into play once in a while. Belnap admits that she experienced her share of trepidation during the show, but she took every obstacle in stride. “I was always scared that they would select some sort of crazy random dance,” she says. “I for sure thought that they were going to do like Irish dancing or something. It was a little bit stressful, but people react differently under that kind of pressure, and I thrive under pressure. People either crack or they rise to the occasion, and being under pressure makes me perform better.”

Performance is only part of the equation. The winner of SYTYCD is crowned ‘America’s Favorite Dancer’ rather than the best dancer. Since the voting public is ultimately responsible for choosing the winner, personality is a critical component. “I think you have to have the full package. You can have the world’s biggest personality and completely have six left feet, and that’s not going to draw somebody in as an audience member. I think you have to have all of it.”

Belnap is taking the tour in stride, enjoying the time with her cast mates and planning for her future. “It’s amazing. I love it. It’s such a great group of people. Being on the road, and seeing all of these amazing things and performing every night with them is such a gift. I am very grateful.” Once the tour wraps, she is planning to move to Los Angeles to officially kick off her career in the dance world. She would love to do a Dancing with the Stars tour with an artist, or perform with a company. SYTYCD opens the door for so many, and Belnap is ready and excited to take her next step. “It is such a great opportunity for anyone to reach out to a lot of people. There are so many dancers in the world that not a lot of them get recognized. So it’s great to have TV on your side, I guess, to have that many people see you and know who you are and realize what you have to offer,” she says. So You Think You Can Dance comes to the Moran Theater Nov 20th at 7:30pm. Get your ticket today!

About Liza Mitchell