Presley DuBois is a sophomore on the track and field team at PLNU. In March, she had the opportunity to audition for the hit dance show “So You Think You Can Dance.”
TP: What made you want to do it?
DB: The experience. I’ve been watching the show since I was little and I’ve always wanted to audition. One of my teachers made it to the top 20 [in] Season 5 so she was a big influence for me.
I teach now, but I don’t really dance. I’ve taken like two real classes over the past couple of years, so I haven’t really been keeping up on it. But it just kind of happened out of the spur-of-the-moment, I just decided to go for it.
It might be the last season, too.
TP: You’re already on the track team, why dance as well?
DB: My goal is to open a dance studio. It’s funny, I had the choice to either get a dance agent or come to college but I knew if I didn’t come to college right away, it probably wouldn’t happen. So for now I’m a double major in exercise sports science and business management.
TP: How long did you wait to audition?
PD: It started at 7:00 a.m. but we were there at 5:00 a.m. waiting outside for hours. From the moment you got in there, they didn’t want any publicity, so no phones were out, you couldn’t bring anything with you or anyone. And then once you were indoors, they were recording everything.
TP: How many people were competing?
PD: It was an open call audition, there were probably about 2,000 people there. They already let through 200 people the week before in New York. With only two audition cities, New York and San Diego, stakes were high!
TP: Let’s talk a little bit about the audition process…
PD: We first go into the audition room with the producer Jeff, and all-stars Robert, Twitch, and Comfort. There were probably about a thousand of us in there and they just had a us dance free style, all in our different styles. They just said, “Warm up, dance around.” [First Round: Improv]
There were three guys walking around with cameras who would come up really close to you. And you’re like turning, and you can’t move because you’ll hit them! They were filming my feet and stuff.
We were probably in there for like a good hour just warming up. And then I started tapping around and the hip hoppers were like start a beat! So I was tapping in the middle and these hip hop dancers were break dancing and doing all these crazy flips and tricks. I was like whoa, so that was pretty crazy!
They took us ten at a time according to your style. It’s pretty much just improv. And while someone was performing, if you were in the back, you just were cheering them on. It created this family environment and it was easy to forget that it was a competition. If you did a really cool turn or a move, everyone was applauding and it was just like we’re all in this together.
TP: High School Musical references aside, what were you most uncomfortable about at first? Or were you uncomfortable?
DB: They called a couple people up and did this—they ended up doing it to me—where they asked me to take my shoes and socks off and then they were trying to get me out of my comfort zone. They’re like, “I’ve already seen you do tap, so I don’t want to see that. Show me something else.”
So they played jazz music, and I danced and then they stopped it. Then they played contemporary music, and I danced to that then they stopped it, then they played cha-cha and I had no idea what I was doing! Then they gave me this dancer who does cha-cha and tango, and I had never done that before, and he was like, “Follow my lead” so I did that and it was super awkward.
After making it through the first four rounds, DuBois auditioned in the fifth round in front of So You Think You Can Dance judges Robert, Twitch, and Comfort.
DB: [Fifth Round: Judges] This was in the big theatre. That was pretty intense. It was exactly like how you see it on the show, they’re like “What’s your name, what style are you going to be doing for us today, would you like music or acapella. Okay, we’d like to see you dance.”
So after I did my solo that my teacher choreographed, they just stood up and handed me a ticket, they didn’t say much. So then I had to go back a week later, that’s when the academy started.
[Academy] That was in a different warehouse. It was in a huge building with a bunch of studio rooms that held 200 people from New York and 200 people from Los Angeles.
They started with the hardest type of dances right out the gate, hip hop and cha-cha on the first day, and then that’s when I got cut. They just started taking people out because they were only taking the top 20 after that. From 400 to 20 within that week.
TP: How much did you pick up from the people you were auditioning with?
DB: So much. Just being in the room and listening to what Jeff the producer said to other people auditioning was so helpful. He said something to a tapper, he’s like, “Tap is another rhythm, it shouldn’t be like dancing it should be like part of the music.” So, if I turned around and made the same mistake she did, I would be cut right away. It’s really important to listen to what the producer said.
TP: Walking away from it, what were the feelings?
DB: Honestly, there were so many people I saw who all they do is live in LA and go to open audition calls. One girl I met had been auditioning for four years and had never made it past the first day, this was her life. So for me, just going out there with not having danced in however long, it’s just good to be in the environment and just to see the experience. That’s why I didn’t really take it personally that I got cut.
TP: Realistically, with being on the track team, how would it have looked for you if you got on the show?
DB: I honestly would’ve had to talk to all my professors… wouldn’t have been able to go to class at all and I definitely wouldn’t have been on the team. So it’s good the way it worked out, and I think that’s the way He planned it to be. It was such a good experience; He knows what’s best for me. And I need my team right now. It’s the end of the school year, I need them. So I think He knows.
So if the opportunity comes up again, I will definitely take it, see where it takes me. I’m going to auditions all over this summer, but if I actually got something, it would change everything.