With just two days to go until the first live show, it’s time to introduce the fourteen professionally trained dancers who will be competing for the So You Think You Can Dance crown on Saturday nights on BBC1.
Tomorrow, we’ll introduce the seven girls, but today it’s the turn of the boys. One things that’s refreshing compared to previous BBC talent shows (especially the theatre ones), the press packs have specifically been asking contestants about their training — no “telesales girl Connie” or “concrete administrator Daniel” to be found here.
After the jump, we’ll list what we’ve been able to establish about each dancer’s training backgrounds — and, where applicable, what dance skills they have listed in their Spotlight profiles. You’ll also find a link to each dancer’s BBC profile page, where you’ll find video interviews that we can’t embed here.
Alastair Postlethwaite - 28 years old, classical ballet
If we said, “Young boy hailing from the North of England develops a passion for ballet, auditions for the The Royal Ballet School, gets accepted and goes on to perform in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake,” you would be forgiven for thinking we’d been off watching Billy Elliot again. However, we could also be talking about Alastair Postlethwaite.
True, there are some differences - Alastair’s from Lancashire rather than Newcastle, and he only remained at the White Lodge in Richmond for a year before being assessed out. He continued his training at Arts Ed in Tring (now Tring Park) until he was 18, though, and joined Adventures in Motion Pictures after graduating. Since then, he’s worked with Scottish Ballet, Adonais, The Curve Foundation, the Royal Opera House, New English Contemporary Ballet (read our review here) and Japan’s K Ballet. Most recently, he’s performed in the UK tour of Cabaret.
Chris Piper - 26 years old, lyrical/contemporary
Birmingham born and Dorset raised, as a young boy Chris initially trained as a Latin and ballroom dancer, before starting at the age of 14 at Big Little Theatre School in Bournemouth. He received his formal dance training at Bodywork Company Dance Studios in Cambridge. A member of the original cast of Michael Flatley’s Celtic Tiger and has also appeared in musicals Fame, We Will Rock You, Desperately Seeking Susan and Flashdance.
A fan of lyrical jazz dancing, his CV in Spotlight he lists his dance abilities as Ballet, Ballroom, Choreography, Contemporary Dance, Jazz Dancing, Jive, Latin American, Tango and Tap - with all about tap listed as “highly skilled”.
Drew McOnie - 24 years old, contemporary choreographer
While a student at Tring Park School (back when when it was Arts Ed), which he attended on scholarship, he was also awarded a choreography scholarship from National Youth Ballet to devise his own short ballet, Monochrome Suite. He also won the IDTA’s Dance Master UK title in 2003, and choreographed the NYB’s The Old Man of Lochnagar, pased on the story by HRH Prince Charles.
As performer, he was in the European tour of Cats, and for Matthew Bourne he has danced in the international tour of Edward Scissorhands, Carmen, The Nutcracker, and the original cast of Dorian Gray.
But it’s as a choreographer that he’ll most likely be described during his time on So You Think You Can Dance, his most recent production being Aladdin at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow.
His Spotlight CV lists his dance specialities as Ballet, Ballroom, Cabaret, Contemporary, Flamenco, Jazz, Jive, Salsa and Tap, with the highly skilled asterisks against all but ballroom, flamenco, salsa and jive. Does that mean that Latin style dances will be his Achilles heel?
Gavin Tsang - 23 years old, contemporary
It’s rather disconcerting when Gavin is regarded as a latecomer to performing arts because he started at the age of 18 — but I suppose with competition such as his fellow SYTYCD dancers, 18 is ancient. Getting the dance bug after performing as Danny Zuko in his school’s production of Grease, his teacher persuaded him to continue training in dance, eventually enrolling in Merseyside Dance and Drama Centre, where he met fellow performer (and fellow Danny Zuko) Ray Quinn.
Gavin has continued his training since graduating, both at Merseyside and at London’s Pineapple Dance Studios. He worked as Dance Captain on various Costa Cruises, and was in the chorus for last year’s production of The King and I starring Maria Friedman and Daniel Dae Kim.
Mark Calape - 24 years old, hip hop
A self taught break dancer, Milton Keynes-based Mark went on to learn hip hop from some of the discipline’s best teachers - Brian Green (aka ‘Footwork’), Henry Link, Yoshi, Kite, and Marjorie. As well as running his own dance crew, the Animaniacs — which rached the final of BBC’s Move Like Michael Jackson series — he has worked with Dance To Excess, Zoo Nation (appearing in the West End cast of Into the Hoods), Boy Blue (touring with Pied Piper), Bird Gang, and Pink Mafia.
Robbie White - 22 years old, contemporary/musical theatre
Stockport-born Robbie was, as a child, a member of Northern Ballet Theatre, where he played the young Heathcliff in David Nixon’s Wuthering Heights. After sitting his AS Levels, he went on to Laine Theatre Arts where he studied for a diploma in musical theatre.
Since then, he has worked for Disney in Tokyo, Japan, and more recently has been in the European version of We Will Rock You.
Tommy Franzen - 28 years old, hip hop
Tommy started his training in hip hop in his native Lund, Sweden, but moved to London in 2000 after winning a scholarship to Urdang Dance Academy where he gained a three-year National Diploma in Performing Arts. Turning down a job with Cirque du Soleil in order to appear as a dancer in the movie adaptation of Mamma Mia!. He has also worked as an aerialist, and assisted the choreogapher in the handover ceremonies in 2008’s Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games.
All the information above is believed to be correct. If you spot any errors, please email your corrections to email@example.com. Thanks