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So You Think You Can Dance: Paris and Tony Q&A

We've finally gotten to the Top 20 dancers on So You Think You Can Dance, so that means we're finally having to say goodbye to people we're actually familiar with. The first two dancers to get eliminated are contemporary dancer Paris Torres and hip hopper Tony Bellissimo, who were partnered together for a Tabitha and Napoleon hip hop routine that landed them in the bottom three, and they performed solos that fell flat with the judges. The duo talked to reporters via conference call on Friday and gave their take on being the first ones gone, and what they think of that rumor that Katie Holmes will be dancing on an upcoming episode. First up, Paris.

Was hip hop a hard genre for you to tackle on week one?
Paris: Absolutely. I've done hip-hop in the past, but nothing like what Tabitha and Napoleon gave to us. They really entrusted us with some great choreography. It was jam-packed full of different moves. We tried almost every type of hip hop in there; we had threading, we had locking, all these different things, it was just being thrown at me. It was hectic and hard and stressful, but I tried to attack it as best as I could. The costumes were actually amazing, elaborate costumes, but they constricted our movement pretty badly. Tony and I felt that with it being tight, like leathery plastic and the headphones, it was just a lot to take on and it definitely didn't help the stress situation much. We just tried to work with it and tried to do the best we could.

The judges commented about how this is such a great field of 20 this time and anybody that goes out, it's not their fault; it's just that everybody else is great, too. What's your observation of just the talent around you this week?
Paris: It is insane. I auditioned for it last year and just to see the difference between last year's Vegas and this year's Vegas, they were serious defined, not only America's favorite dancers, but the best dancers. Everyone in the Top 20 this year could have been the winner. It's just kind of a matter of what style you get each week. The talent level is just amazing.

There have been some rumors out there that Katie Holmes is going to be making a special appearance. What do you think about that?
Paris: That's the first time I've ever heard of that. I have never heard anything of the sort. That would suck if she was because now I'm not there, but I've never heard about that.

What do you think it will do for the show? Do you think she'd bring a lot of attention to it?
Paris: Yes. I think a lot of stars are interested in seeing talented dancers just do what they do, the same reason that so many stars show up to American Idol, just to see people excel at what they love to do is something euphoric to watch.

Were you shocked when you were announced in the bottom three?
Paris: What's funny is that Tony and I, when we first learned our routine, we were killing it, killing it in a good way. We were hitting all the things we needed to hit. Tabitha and Napoleon were so pleased with our performance and then leaving the rehearsal time we really wanted to practice it, keep practicing it. I think what we actually did is we over-rehearsed ourselves to where it wasn't the original hitting it. It was kind of watered down. It was just becoming steps to us.

The judges weren't a fan of your solo. How did you prepare for that dance?
Paris: I had five songs going into the solos and I had choreographed to three of the five songs. The last song on my list was the only song that got cleared by a copyright. So I had nothing choreographed to that song so I just had to go out there and kind of throw a bunch of things together. I feel that the adrenaline got to me and maybe crimped my performance a little bit, but I was pleading in that solo to make me stay, but I understand what the judges had to go through. They're casting for a show and they had to have certain personalities in it, certain genres in it. I don't begrudge the judges whatsoever.

As a dancer who's trying to make a career out for herself did you feel that you kind of had the short end of the stick because you're a contemporary dancer and there are a lot of contemporary dancers out there?
Paris: I knew going into this, even auditioning in the very first city to get to Vegas, I knew being through it last year that they are typecasting for the show. They need certain personalities, they need certain ethnicities, they need certain styles of dance and it would be a miracle if I were one of them, even just to make it to the Top 20. Actually when Nigel made that comment to me after I performed my solo; it actually eased me a bit. I knew then that they weren't eliminating me solely on the fact that they didn't feel I was a strong enough dancer.

Is there anybody in particular you were like, "I really wanted to work with that person?"
Paris: That's the great thing about the show is that every single choreographer you work with is completely brilliant, from Tyce to Sonia. Oh my goodness, Sonia was just amazing, Mia, is brilliant, Wade is just out there and I love that. But one of my idols growing up was Mandy Moore and I would have loved to work with her. Yes, I'm bummed out that I don't get to dabble in other genres and especially I was really excited to try out some Latin ballroom. That spicy flavor is kind of in me. I'm just bummed that I couldn't stay on there to grow in other areas.

Next up, Tony.

Do you feel like Tabitha and Napoleon gave you splashy enough choreography to make an impact on the show? Did you want to be able to do something a little more dramatic to make you more memorable in comparison to the other couples?
Tony: I think Tabitha and Napoleon are fantastic and it is all about the dancers and how they do it. They gave us choreography that would actually stand out with the competition because it's not lovey-dovey and it's not kind of straight because the other dances are like that. So it could have stood out a lot more than it did. I think that it was just on Paris and me that we didn't execute the right way, also on me a lot because I am styled hip-hop, but it's not really my style of hip-hop that I would do. I usually do funk style so it was kind of out of my genre hip-hop as well. But no excuses, it was a great piece that was not executed the right way.

You had this really creative audition with the pictures of Nigel. What prompted that idea?
Tony: I was running around my studio back in Buffalo and I was going through all my music. The way I come up with my ideas is I play music as loud as I can and I just run around dancing in all the mirrors doing anything I want because I have a key to the studio so I can come in, lock it and just play. That song came up and I was just going through all the motions and I started thinking and it just clicked in my head about somebody watching me and I was remembering in Miami Nigel had an eye for me, telling me I wasn't up to par with where I was last year in Season Four. So I came up with the idea that he's watching me and I'm going to point out to him that I know he's watching me and I'm going to prove to him I'm going to do well. So that's how the idea came up.

You came in without as much training, necessarily, as some of the dancers there. What was your biggest concern?
Tony: My biggest fear was not being respected as a dancer, which I don't know if I was able to prove that because I was cut so early. That's why I wanted to stay at least one more week or two more weeks to prove that I was good enough to be on the show. I wanted to really prove that I'm a good performer, a good dancer and not just a cute face on TV, as the judges said. That was what I really wanted to do and it didn't happen, but I have many, many years to prove to myself and people that I'm here, I'm a real dancer not just some Joe Schmo off the street with a good idea.

There were some rumors going around that Katie Holmes might do a guest appearance on the show and I wanted to know what you thought about that.
Tony: I didn't hear anything about this Katie Holmes thing. I didn't even know Katie Holmes could dance or sing or anything she can do. I don't even know why she would be performing, if she were going to do a reactive skit -- I don't know what she would be doing; I don't know if Tom Cruise is coming, too, so I don't know if they're coming or not.

What do you think of a celebrity like that making an appearance on the show? What kind of attention do you think it'll bring to the show?
Tony: I'm not quite sure. We get the celebrity artists all the time. They had Sean Kingston Thursday; they had Jonas Brothers before so I think the show is used to having celebrities come on. They had the Groovaloos perform. All these celebrities are equal; I like them all. To me I like the Groovaloos better than Katie Holmes so seeing them on this show again would make me happy. So if anything put the Groovaloos back on.

If you had known Thursday that it would be your last night on the show would you have chosen a different outfit for your solo?
Tony: No, because people are going to talk about my Rerun outfit for a while because that's the thing; I wanted people to be like, "What the hell is that kid wearing?" People don't know. If you want to know hip-hop, that's true hip-hop, that lacking outfit is from Rerun and that's what's happening out there.

Do you think it was an advantage or possibly a disadvantage to get hip-hop first?
Tony: I was torn. I was thinking is this going to help me or is this going to hurt me. If I would have gotten a contemporary and I got to show this kid could kind of dance contemporary then I would have gotten a better fan base or if I came out and did hip-hop I didn't really know what to expect. There are no expectations. What do they really want to see? What am I going to do to prove that I'm good in this field? It was scary to me to have that field. I was excited, but scared at the same time. It is what it is; it happened. I don't think I executed at the best of my ability, but I think I definitely did put a lot of time into it and a lot of work into it.

See who we think has the best shot at winning.

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