BWW Feature: Broadway's Ricky Ubeda and Amy Yakima Give Advice To This Season's Contestants of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE
As anticipated, season 14 of So You Think You Can Dance is rounding out to be a talented-packed hit. From contemporary, to ballroom, to hip hop, we can't wait to see this phenomenal group of dancers knock it out of the park each week. Behind the glitz and glamour, however, is an intensive and exhausting rehearsal process each week. Having been through it themselves, Broadway's Ricky Ubeda, season 11 winner of SYTYCD, and Amy Yakima, season 10 winner, chatted with us about their advice for newcomers and how the show changed their entire life.
You were both on SYTYCD at a young age. Do you think that that made the process more difficult?
Ricky Ubeda: I feel like yes, it was a lot at such a young age, but I feel like it also worked in my favor in a sense. I was fresh out of high school and it was my first professional gig and I thought that it was just the coolest thing ever, so I wasn't that scared of it. I was just so, so, so grateful that I was doing it.
Amy Yakima: To be put through such a hard, rigorous show at that age, it taught me to push forward in the best possible ways to get the best results.
So what would you say was the hardest part of the show?
RU: The hours that we danced were pretty intense. We were up at the crack of dawn and dancing till the night. On a show day, our call time was 5 a.m. and we don't go live until 5 p.m., and we were dancing, pretty much, through that whole time. The stamina and the endurance that it takes to get through the whole process is the hardest part. And also refreshing your brain every week to learn a bunch of pieces and then do it again next week is hard as well.
Watching the show, it was clear that everyone was having a blast each week. What were some of your favorite moments?
RU: I think my favorite week was the first week, to be honest, only because it was the first time being on the stage and I had a great partner...and it was just a big moment for me to do such a great routine and for it to go so well. It was very overwhelming and I don't think I'll ever forget it.
AY: It was so comfortable with Travis Wall to sit in a rehearsal and work with him and not for him. I was so enjoying the moment and creation process with Travis which made it my favorite week by far.
RU: I actually ended up dancing for Travis' company after I was on the show, which was really cool. Now we're actually really close friends, so it's pretty great how life works out.
After winning, you both went on to star in big Broadway shows. What was it like to join the Broadway community?
RU: I just love the people in the Broadway community so much. They're so kind and loving and welcoming.
AY: Everyone kept telling me, "Just wait till you meet the family," and I didn't quite get it until I met everyone. Everyone cares about your well-being and is so loving. It made living in New York so much easier.
Ricky, after joining the cast of On The Town, you recently went on to star in the revival of Cats. What was that experience like?
RU: It was such a dream, but it's the most difficult thing I've ever done. It's so physical and so much to do, with the makeup and wigs and everything else. It's very much a feat.
Amy, you went on to join the company of Finding Neverland. How was that?
AY: It was definitely a dream job! I had no idea my Broadway debut would be the curtain rising and just me onstage dancing, which was amazing.
Are you both excited to watch SYTYCD this season?
AY: As much as I enjoyed the amazing kids, it's nice to have some adults coming back to touch on some social issues that they might have missed last season. They always kind of touch on what's happening in the world through dance, which is something that I love. So I'm excited to see some controversial pieces.
RU: I love supporting them and seeing the new talent. I do get a lot of anxiety sitting on my couch because I know what's happening behind the scenes, but it's really exciting to watch every year.
What advice would you give to this season's new contestants?
RU: Really be present during the experience, and don't let your mind wander to what could happen on the show: keep your mind on the present moment and really, really experience the experience for what it is because you're never going to get it again. It really is the most special thing.
AY: The whole process drains you, but you have to just be who you are and not try to be someone else on camera. I think that reads the best and you kind of get the most out of it.