We first discovered Emily James when watching the first episode of SYTYCD Season 11. Not only was her smile infectious, but her talent was undeniable. We may not know much about the technicalities of dance, but when someone looks that beautiful on stage, who are we to argue? As the season progressed, we found ourselves on the edges of our seats pulling for this girl, and after following her career we knew we had to approach her and ask her to share her insights with us all. Whether you are a long-time fan of the show, or a complete stranger, read on to discover the thoughts and passion of this amazing young woman.
When did you start dancing and to whom do you attribute your love for the art?
I started dancing at 2 years old! I was actually kicked out of my first dance class! I was that student hanging from the ballet barre with a lollipop hanging out of my mouth. I soon learned the importance of the classroom. I attribute my love for the art to many people, including my mom and my first dance teacher, Kelly Canone.
What made you decide to audition for Season 11 of SYTYCD?
When applying for colleges, I struggled with choosing between an arts school with a dance program and a liberal arts college. I finally came to the decision to attend Wake Forest University (best 4 years of my life #GODEACS.) With graduation approaching, I began to think about my future. I put dance on hold to finish college. Dance was always such an important part of my life. I decided to try out for the show for a second chance to dive into the dance industry.
What was your favorite part about being on the show and why?
My favorite part of being on the show was having the opportunity to work with so many of the amazing dancers and choreographers I always looked up to. I am walking away with the most amazing memories, life lessons, and lifelong friends. The 20 dancers of Season 11 are truly a family. This experience has bonded the 20 of us in a way I didn’t think was possible.
I had the opportunity to join 13 other dancers on the 77-city So You Think You Can Dance National Tour. This was the best experience of my life! Living on a bus with 13 of your best friends, doing what you love everyday, and also exploring the country? It felt surreal.
How has your career as a dancer changed since the show?
The show was a once-in-a-lifetime experience of learning, growing, and networking. It felt like dance boot camp! It was definitely the most grueling (mentally and physically), yet most rewarding experience of my life. The show taught me that I could push my mind and body to new levels. It taught me about the dedication and determination a dancer needs to succeed. It has opened many doors for my future and I am excited to see what’s next!
What style of dance was the greatest challenge for you to learn?
SALSA! Oh man. This was the most difficult routine. There were lifts and tricks that took hours of practice.
What does a typical Saturday look like for you?
I’m a night owl, so I usually like to sleep in a bit on Saturdays. Next, I make an iced coffee run! This is a must. I’m a Dunkin Donuts girl. I love being outdoors. Depending on the weather, I love anything to do with the beach! In the winter, I love to snuggle up on the couch and watch a good movie.
If you weren’t dancing, what would you be doing as a profession?
This past May, I graduated from Wake Forest University’s School of Business with a marketing degree. I would love to work for an advertising agency in the future. This could be the perfect way to merge my passion for the arts and creativity with my hope for a successful business career.
How would your friends describe you?
What is the most embarrassing moment you’ve ever experienced?
My most recent embarrassing moment would be when I tripped over a light and completely face planted (or was it more of a belly flop?) onto stage in one of our first shows on tour. Typical. And they say dancers are graceful…
If you had to choose one word to describe your twenty-something years so far, what would it be and why?
Discovery. Your twenties are supposed to be a time of exploration…exploring yourself, exploring the world, exploring your passions. Explore everything in order to uncover the endless opportunities for your future. I sometimes find myself lying awake at night, staring at my ceiling searching for answers on how to do my twenties “the right way”. The past year has taught me that there is no “right way”. Explore all possibilities.