#Dancer #SoYouThinkYouCanDance #SYTYCD #RachaelBlanchard #KatieHopsicker #TheSpot518
By KATIE HOPSICKER
GUILDERLAND — Rachael Blanchard is dancing her way onto screens across America.
The 19-year-old jazz dancer from Guilderland was featured on the hit television show “So You Think You Can Dance” on Monday, June 18.
The Emmy Award-winning show, which just aired its 15th season, follows dancers ages 18 to 30 as they compete each week to ultimately be crowned “America’s Favorite Dancer.” Each contestant is not only mentored and taught by the industry’s best, but also expected to perform in every style imaginable, including contemporary, jazz, ballroom and hip-hop.
For Blanchard, auditioning for “So You Think You Can Dance was “so insane.” It’s been a longtime dream of hers, and the experience was certainly life-changing. After reviewing over 6,000 video clips, the producers invited Blanchard to audition in-person in Brooklyn this past March. What she didn’t expect was how difficult it would be. Not shown on TV, dancers must pass a preliminary round of auditions before even seeing the judges. Producer Jeff Thacker watched about 500 dancers improv to a random song, and only about 60 dancers were invited back the next day. Blanchard was one of them.
“I was really nervous… but I looked forward to the audition,” said Blanchard. “Dancing in front of the judges was crazy.”
Blanchard has had a lifetime of preparation for a professional career. She started training at Dance Dimensions in Albany at age two, receiving her jazz and lyrical training from Stephanie Green and her tap training from Karen Walco and Heather Pielo. In middle and high school, she began to focus on dance, traveling to competitions around the Northeast until graduating from Guilderland High School in 2016.
Blanchard said there were so many amazing dancers, but she tried not to take the day too seriously so as to enjoy her experience. Her strategy worked, ultimately impressing the judges with a jazz solo choreographed by Green. It earned her a ticket to the next round of auditions: The Academy.
Judges praised Blanchard on the June 18 episode.
“Your smile one-hundred percent lights up the stage… there’s something about you that just shines, and I think that’s beautiful to watch,” said judge and actress Vanessa Hudgens. Stephen “Twitch” Boss commented on Blanchard’s “amazing” performance quality, and ballroom legend Mary Murphy noted Blanchard has, “tons of potential… you’re a diamond in the rough.”
Last June, Blanchard started dancing under the direction of Madame Phyllis Latin, an esteemed ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer. Latin took Blanchard under her wing, giving her private ballet lessons and the realization of a turning point in her dance career.
Blanchard said, “I didn’t know what my next step was, but I knew I wasn’t done with [dance].” Currently she trains full-time, spending half of her time in Albany training with Latin and teaching for her home studio, and the other half in New York City taking classes at Broadway Dance Center.
Blanchard’s success and hard work are largely supported by both her family and teachers. Her greatest mentor and inspiration, Stephanie Green, not only taught her jazz and lyrical technique, but also helped Blanchard prepare solos throughout the years for competitions. Blanchard said, Green is the person who “made me fall in love with dance.”
Blanchard’s mother, Dorianne, who also serves as one of her role models, accompanied her daughter to her “SYTYCD” audition.
“We have watched the show for years,” said Dorianne. “I remember her saying to me, ‘Mom, will I be on this show someday?’ I, of course said, ‘yes.’”
Rachael said she feels “really so lucky… my parents encouraged me to follow my dreams.” She added that “dance allows me to express my personality… each style shows a different part of me… I love entertaining people, and I love the challenge of it. You never stop growing with dance.”
Blanchard will be one to watch as she is in the process of choreographing the next steps in her career. In addition to “SYTYCD,” she’s preparing to move to Los Angeles, where she ultimately hopes to dance commercially and tour with renowned music artists such as Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Beyonce.
Blanchard advises young, aspiring dancers who are looking to succeed to “be confident, passionate, and have a thick skin… And if you work hard, and I mean really, really, hard, then you can do anything and accomplish whatever you set your mind to.”
Follow Rachael Blanchard’s journey on “So You Think You Can Dance” every Monday night at 8 p.m. EST on FOX/ WXXA FOX 23.