So You Think You Can Dance, Ashleigh, Jakob
In a season of firsts for So You Think You Can Dance (first fall season, first krumping finalist, first married couple finalists), it's hardly surprising — and perhaps fitting — the Fox hit heads into Tuesday's Season 6 finale with its first-ever final six contestants, two more than the usual four.
"I think it's really exciting," Jakob Karr tells TVGuide.com. "First of all, there are more dances in the finale, so there's more to watch. It's going to be a really good show. I'm ready."
And so are his competitors. See what all six finalists have to say about their soon-to-be last dances, their strengths and weaknesses, the whole season and more.
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Finale Format: With six dancers, the show will do away with solos and feature three partner dances. "I think we're dancing six. We're dancing with all of our partners for sure," Kathryn says. "I'm not sure how many dances, but I know we're each doing three partner dances. There are some things I don't even know about yet!"
Leaving a Legacy Behind: Kathryn's partner, Jonathan "Legacy" Perez, got the boot last week, but he, along with the rest of the top 20, will return for finale. "It's sad because I wish he could've made it to the end, but I know he gave everything that he possibly could and he's proud of where he's made it on this journey," she says. "He's grown so much and he's accomplished so much. I'm really proud of him."
Too Strong: The 19-year-old thinks it's difficult to gauge everyone's strengths and weaknesses due to their various dance styles. "If we are contemporary, we're completely different in the type of contemporary that we do. I think everyone's really strong," she says. "I don't really see any weaknesses. Everyone has been so versatile. I think we're a solid group, so we'll see!"
RYAN DI LELLO
Speaking from the Heart: Ryan made an emotional plea to America last week to vote for his wife, Ashleigh, who sat out with an injury. The next day? They both make it to the finale. "People say, 'Oh, it's so great what you said.' But I didn't really have to think about it. I couldn't live with myself if I was standing up there, telling people to vote for me when my wife is injured and in the situation she was," he says. "I hope it helped, but I don't know if there's any way of telling that that's what it was."
Last Dance: One major perk of making the final six? Getting to dance with his wife, the 28-year-old says — but he prefers to watch her dance with other partners. "I really appreciate watching Ashleigh dance because I'm watching it from the other side, from the viewer's perspective, seeing her, her beauty and her talent, watching her grow. If you're dancing with the person, you're not watching them because you're on stage with them," he says. "I love watching her performances every week. I think it's been even better to do it that way."
One Winner: "If Ashleigh beats me, I have to convince her to split the money and not go on a shopping spree!" Ryan says. "She wouldn't do that, but for me, if she wins, it's a win for me too because I'll be so happy for her and I'm sure she'll feel the same way."
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ASHLEIGH DI LELLO
Good to Go: Ashleigh was forced to watch the semifinals from the sidelines after injuring her shoulder, but is now "100 percent" for Tuesday's big show. "I've been dancing full-out like I would any other time. I feel really good. It came out, but once it went back in, I felt good. It felt like a sore muscle, kind of. But it's been great. I haven't held anything back. I'm not worried about it at all," she says. "The day after it happened, they sent me to the physical therapist for a real rigorous test — all these different types of push-ups on uneven surfaces. I was like, "I don't even do this when I dance!"
Belle of the Ballroom: Knowing the not-so-stellar ballroom specialists have on Dance, Ashleigh says she's even more grateful to make it to the end. "I think ballroom dancers are at the greatest disadvantage on the show because with solos, what we do best in our style requires another person," she says. "Even when we ballroom on the show, we're not doing it with another ballroom dancer and since it's all partnering, we don't get to fully dance like we do if we were with a ballroom dancer, as opposed to a hip-hop dancer doing contemporary. They can still do their leads to their full extent. I haven't been in my genre at all, but I've grown so much."
A View from the Top: If securing a spot in the final six without dancing wasn't testament to her fan base enough, Ashleigh, 26, has also never been in the bottom three. "I'm hugely grateful. That's been an amazing thing because every results night, you just never know," she says. "It always depends on the dance you're given. People often vote on the dance and not the dancer. You can never expect anything."
Frontrunner Status: Judges haven't been shy with the praise they've lavished on Jakob, which he finds "encouraging." They keep putting me in this class of people who've been on the show before me and those are the people I look up to and are inspired to dance like," he says. "When they say things like that, it makes me feel crazy because I don't ever see myself as being in that type of class. But it's good to know what I do is being appreciated."
Stage Presence: As much as the judges have lauded the 19-year-old, they've also equally dinged him for what they perceive to be a lack of stage presence. If you ask him, it's just concentration. "I think I have enough. Sometimes when I get onstage, I get really focused on what I'm doing, so it comes off in different ways," he says. "But I think I'm doing everything I can do to make sure each performance gets better and better."
Winner's Tip: Jakob is good friends with Season 5 champ, Jeanine Mason, who has been dispensing some words of wisdom. "She's just kind of helped me prepare for the mental exhaustion," he says. "She told me what I was getting myself into, so she's helped me with that, just being there for me, being there for me to talk to when I'm exhausted. She's been really great."
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Quirk Works: The judges have called out Ellenore for being too quirky, which the contemporary jazz dancer doesn't consider a critique. "It's more of an observation! I think that's one of the main reasons I made it into the top 20 because I was different and I have such a unique ability," she says. "I want to keep that. They can change their minds about how they feel, and I can change my dance style, but it's still me."
Aches and Pains: With more dances to learn than ever before, everyone's hurting — but no one's injured. "A lot of us are right on the verge of passing out because we're dancing so much, so we have to make sure we're taking care of ourselves," Ellenore says. "I take hot baths, take care of my feet. I'm trying to eat healthy because the first thing you do when you're tired is eat junk food. I'm really conscious of putting healthy food in my body and drinking lots of water to stay hydrated."
Too Quick: The 19-year-old counts her contemporary routines as the highlights of the season and singles out the quickstep as the most difficult. "The quickstep was really hard to learn because the upper body has to be floating above the floor and your feet are flying! Both me and Jakob were like, 'This is the quickest my feet have ever moved!'" she says. "None of the dances [I have in the finale] are as hard as the quickstep!"
Repping Krumping: The 20-year-old is the first-ever krumping specialist in the Dance final. "It's a big accomplishment. It definitely helps the krump world," he says. "I haven't really watched the other seasons. I didn't really know if a krumper ever really tried out, so I figured, hey, why not? If a b-boy can do it, why not a krumper? I came in with the mindset of a dancer as opposed to a krumper. Whatever you give me, I'm going to love it because I just love to move."
Outside the Comfort Zone: Despite getting worried about all the dance styles until he does them, Russell says it's also been fun to showcase his versatility and growth. "I've always wanted to play different characters. When I was little, just watching movies, I always wanted to be part of that. I feel like this whole thing is one big Broadway show. You play different characters and act out different stories. The funnest piece was Bollywood and the frog dance that I did with Noelle."
No Room to Improve: For now, that is. "The more I dance, the more I improve, but at this point in the competition, everything's said and done," he says. "I would say one of my strengths is being humble and my faith in God. Of course I want to see the finish, but I never say what's I think is going to happen. Dance-wise, my strength is of course krump!"