I started out as a boy and finished as a man

Jazz dancer Sedrig Verwoert about So You Think You Can Dance

Sedrig Verwoert (19), second-year student Urban Contemporary (JMD) was last year’s male dance sensation in the popular TV programme So You Think You Can Dance. How does he look back at this experience and what are his plans for the future?

Your first TV appearance in The Ultimate Dance Battle during the spring of last year caused a lot of commotion in the dance world and among viewers. What happened?

“During my audition I performed a very striking solo that impressed a lot of people. But the choreographer had already given the final place away to someone else. Nobody expected such a spectacular audition from me; they didn’t know who I was. So they said I was too young. That made me uncertain. I wanted to show people how mature my dancing was. So I auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance.”

Where does your passion for dance come from?

“I started dancing when I was only three years old. My brother played soccer but I wanted to dance.  One day I saw Thriller by Michael Jackson. I found the clip really scary but also very interesting. So I started copying it, teaching myself things. That’s how my passion for dance started.”

You followed a preliminary training at Lucia Marthas for seven-and-a-half years and was admitted to the MBO course there. Why did you ultimately choose for the Theaterschool?

“Lucia Marthas really felt like home, but it’s more oriented towards Urban, more all-round instead of
training in one specific dance style. Commercial dance wasn’t really my goal, I wanted to concentrate more on learning technique, ballet, jazz, contemporary. My ballet teacher stimulated me to audition for the Theaterschool. And I was accepted.”

The jury of So You Think You can Dance was very enthusiastic about your talent. You scored six out of eight lifeshows. How did you feel when ultimately you were forced to leave?

“I never thought I would get as far as I did. During the sixth show I knew it was over. I really enjoyed my last life performance. When they asked me how I felt after I had been voted out, I said: ‘I feel great to be going back to school tomorrow.’ And I meant it.”

How do you look back at the whole experience?

“I’m grateful for the way things turned out. I took part with the goal of learning more. I didn’t learn very much about dancing but I gained a lot more self confidence: about who I am, what my qualities are and what I can achieve as maker. When I see the film images of myself, I notice how uncertain I was at the beginning and the way I developed. I started out as a boy and ended up as a man.”

So you didn’t slump into a depression?

“Me? Haha, no way! I go to school every day and to earn a living, I teach dance four evenings per week at dance schools in Almere, Utrecht, Amsterdam and Zaandam. Last week I realized my own  dance piece at school. Besides that, I’m busy with the rehearsals for the theatre tour of So You Think You Can Dance that starts on 4 January 2012. That means performing five to six evenings per week.”

And…you’ve been asked to audition by a number of ensembles!

“That’s right, it’s very exciting. I want to learn as much as possible here at school, to improve steadily and earn my diploma. It’s also fantastic the way artistic director Eddi de Bie coaches me. But if I am accepted by a dance ensemble, I may have to decide to leave school…”

What do you dream of?

‘I would love to join Alvin Aley. To be part of a company like that is really my dream.”

text and interview: Petra Boers