By Kristy Johnson and Deborah Searle.
Australia once again voted, and we were left with two technically strong and beautiful dancers – Robbie and Jessie H. Season three of SYTYCD Australia was a hit, and the dancing was phenomenal.
Eighteen year old Robbie took the crown, with Jessie just behind. Dance Informa spoke with both dancers just after they were announced as Australia’s favourites.
Robbie was shell shocked to say the least. “Every time someone says ‘winning’, I’m like ‘oh yeah that’s right!’, he laughed.
But did he envision making it so far in the competition? “I took it day by day”, he explained. “My main goal was to get to the top 40. If I made top 40 and got cut before top 20 then that was fine, as long as I got to top 40. I thought that was a huge achievement for me, especially at my age. So that was my main goal. But when I got top 20, the goals just kept on coming. Firstly with top 20, then top 10, top 6, top 4, then top 2 and then…”, he elaborated.
Excited about her achievements Jessie said, “I couldn’t ask for anything better”.
Robbie and Jessie, friends before the competition, were so happy to be the final two together. Jessie shared, “it was an amazing experience with such an amazing friend. To have someone there that you know throughout the whole thing is that little bit more comforting”.
With or without friends though, the competition this year was tough. Robbie found his height to be his biggest obstacle. “Everyone can see my height, obviously. All the girls were taller than me and people automatically just looked at my lifts every time to see if I could do them”, he revealed. “That was the one thing I had to work on the most in this competition”. Jessie on the other hand found the top 4 week to be her biggest test. “I think definitely top 4 week would have to be the biggest challenge I had as a dancer, not only physically, but mentally as well. That was a big, big week. It was probably one of the hardest experiences of my life to date”.
So how did Jessie make it through the competition? “To be honest, I think I kind of take things one step at a time”, she said. “I just want to get through one more round, and then I guess it just keeps on climbing. That was how I approached the whole thing because I didn’t want to live ahead of the times because the experience is incredible. There are wonderful choreographers and amazing dancing and to be thinking ahead of yourself you’re kind of missing out on what’s happening right now”.
But the competition wasn’t just a challenge, it was also an amazing experience for the two young dancers. Robbie relished the live audience. “My highlight would probably be the live audience, just the vibe that they gave us”, he said. “Every week was just so incredible.” Robbie found top 4 week to be a huge test also, but the audience helped him through. “At top 4 week we were literally at breaking point and at that rehearsal day none of us could have walked, let alone danced. When it came to the show we were just so worried we couldn’t make it, but the audience pulled us through”.
Jessie enjoyed performing for the audience also. “My highlights were performance night”, she said. “You always end up having that dodgy dress run but then it always goes better for the performance somehow”. Jessie also loved the group numbers. “I think every single group routine would have to be a highlight for me because that’s kind of the point when there’s no competition anymore, it’s just all of you getting together and learning an amazing routine with possibly Australia’s best choreographers and some that are even internationally acclaimed. That’s kind of like the ‘chill-time’ when we can all just get together and have a bit of fun”, she explained.
Robbie feels that the advice given to him by the judges has impacted him positively for the future. “I think the best advice (the judges) gave me was to stop, because in my head I acted like a boy because of my age. Straightaway when they told me that I had the capability to become someone else that I thought I wasn’t, I took that on board. I think it came out in my dancing and it improved me so much. I think that’s why I was in the top 2, because I took that on board and just moved on.”
But now that it’s all over, what do they plan to do? “I would absolutely love to take my part in the contemporary side of things”, shared Jessie. “This experience has just opened so many doors as some amazing choreographers have been on the show like Garry Stewart and Rafael Bonachela”, she gushed.
Robbie who was offered the option of several different dance company contracts has chosen to dance with Burn the Floor. “I worked with Jason Gilkison on the show and he is my absolute idol”, he shared. “He just got the best out of me. The Paso Doble that he gave Ivy and me really took me to the higher level that I needed to be”. And he couldn’t pass up the chance to travel to the US. “Plus there’s the free ticket to travel around all of America, which is a dancer’s dream! I definitely have to take that opportunity, especially at my age”, he said excitedly.