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Interview With Lauren Gottlieb of So You Think You Can Dance

We’re a week out from not just the American Idol finale, but also the season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance. Traditionally, Fox’s dance show always gets its start the night after we crown a new Idol. This season they have a lot of changes in store for So You Think You Can Dance, and I recently had the chance to talk with Lauren Gottlieb, a past contestant who will also take part in this upcoming season, about what’s in store this summer.

Previously, after the audition process, we’d begin the performance part of the season with twenty contestants. This season there will only be ten contestants and they’ll be paired up with ten “All Stars” from past seasons. Along with Lauren, we’ll also have Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Comfort Fedoke, Courtney Galiano, Anya Garnis, Neil Haskell, Allison Holker, Mark Kanemura, Pasha Kovalev, Kathryn McCormick, Ade Obayomi, and Dominic “D-trix” Sandoval. They’ll pair up with different contestants each week.

My first thought upon hearing this was that it would make it kind of like Dancing With the Stars. When I asked Lauren about this, she said when she explains the changes to people, she actually associates it with DWTS, yet notes there are some major differences. One of those is that instead of the contestants being paired with strictly professional dancers, they’re being paired with these All Stars who have been through the process before. They’re not really sure exactly how it’s going to go, but Lauren does know it’s unlke any other thing she’s ever done in her life.

When I asked Lauren if the All Stars would get eliminated along with the contestants, she replied, “No, thank God!” They’ll be sticking around all season. What Lauren has in her head is that they’ll perform their dance, and after, the All Stars will leave the stage as the contestant faces the judges. The All Stars won’t get judged or kicked off, which will be a relief for them remembering being through the process before.

It made me start to think they were jumping the shark, so I asked Lauren if this was going to be a permanent change or whether it was just a one-time only thing. From her understanding, Fox is just trying out this format, but she thinks it’s a good idea just to keep it “fresh and new.” She thinks the producers are thinking it will be permanent, but she realizes they could always change their mind. She finds all the other All Stars that are being brought back to be just “hilarious characters.” She’s hoping it will be a hit and really does believe it’s a great concept.

Lauren has helped with the choreography rounds of the auditions in the past, and last year helped some of the choreographers. She didn’t help with the auditions this year, but Tabitha D’Umo didn’t have Napoleon with her in the Las Vegas callbacks, so she asked Lauren to show up and help her, which she did. She was supposed to leave right after, but her flight got changed, enabling her to stay and watch the lot from which the final ten contestants will be chosen.

This all enabled Lauren to get an eye for who she’d like to see in the top 10, but she had somewhat of an idea anyway, from seeing some of them around at the same auditions she’s been to, what she refers to as “the dance circle.” She’s seen some of them grow up, and still being young herself, some of them are her age. There’s a couple of them she knew from before that she’s become proud of for taking that step, as “it’s the biggest challenge.” Knowing what the experience of being on So You Think You Can Dance has meant to her, and how life-changing it is, Lauren thinks it’s “pretty cool” that these other dancers will face the same.

Last year Lauren made the “Get Fit” DVDs with tWitch and Courtney, as well as Travis Wall, Dmitry Chaplin, and Katee Shean. Now getting together again as All Stars for this upcoming season, I wondered if they all hung out with each other and kept in touch. She brings up that she thinks it’s funny that after the show they all had different aspirations, sometimes things they never even thought they’d get into prior to working on the show. Because of that, they all end up going their different way, but run into each other again on gigs or social situations like someone’s birthday. When she was on the show there’d only been 60 dancers, but now there have been 130. Yet even if they don’t know one another, “you look at each other and kind of get it,” since they all went through the same crazy experience.

Sometimes they even intermix with American Idol contestants. Lauren doesn’t get too much of chance to watch Idol, but did catch it the season David Cook won. During Idol Gives Back, they got to perform with the Idols and came back again and danced during the finale. They got to meet the Idols then and get to know them. Some former SYTYCD contestants have moved over to Dancing With the Stars, such as Dmitry, Chelsie Hightower, and Lacey Schwimmer, so I wondered if Lauren would ever take that on, but she didn’t think she’d feel comfortable, since her background isn’t in ballroom, yet Chelsie has told her if she just trained for a year, she’d “be rockin’.” Lauren does admit to being a fan of theshow, though.

Lauren’s biggest gig recently has been as a semi-regular on Fox’s Glee, which is much different than the reality gig of So You Think You Can Dance. She’s done many other different things since So You Think You Can Dance ended, too, being on a differnet set every day it seems, but her experience on Glee is really fun as she’s in the rival crew that keeps coming back. It’s a great opportunity, as the show has “gotten such amazing respect.” In addition, she finds everyone behind the show to be really nice, and the choreographer is the funniest person she’s ever met. “They come to work and just make things fun.”

Of course, Lauren gives a lot of credit to So You Think You Can Dance for getting the opportunity to do all this. Going into casting offices after the show, she seemed to get respect for having been a part of the SYTYCD, and for one role she read for, the casting director told her to hold on, then opened up the door to reveal she’d brought her daughter into work that day to meet Lauren. She was so young when she was on the show, that there are so many things she’s learned since then after growing up in front of the public.

This will make it interesting to do the show again and compare the experience from her first time doing the show to now, coming back as an All Star and having more life experience behind her. She has seen that somewhat coming back and doing choreography behind the scenes. Everyone has come out of it as a totally changed person, although it’s hard to see it for what it truly is when you’re in the middle of it being judged every week.

After all this great experience Lauren has had at such a young age, her dream working experience would be to be a true artist and put on these “elaborate shows” that would incorporate everything the choreographers and directors have taught her, similar to the type of thing Michael Jackson would do. “That’s my dream.”

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