Anyone who has starred in so much as a third grade Christmas pageant knows the incredible buzz of performing in front of a crowd. They may also know the moment of confusion when their microphone doesn't work, or their co-star pulls a muscle moments before entering stage left.
Standing under the hot lights, with millions of people watching her on the season finale of So You Think You Can Dance, Cat Deeley faced both situations at the same time. She handled the situation with as much poise and dignity as anyone could have when confronted by a crying and limping krumper.
When I caught up with Cat after the show I was thrilled to find that her bubbly TV persona is no act. She is both bashful British girl in a spangly party dress and a total pro. She recounted the story of her on stage dilemma, told us why she believes the right person won, and put an end to rumors that she may leave the show after this season.
Tell us about what happened tonight, when you were on stage and everything went wrong.
I knew that I had to come on stage. I didn't know that my mic wasn't working. So I did the cross, which was the visual cue. Still nothing happened. I stood on stage. Still nothing happened. Then everyone else came on. So I'm thinking, "Okay, where is he?" Everyone else helped him on.
That's live television for you.
You know what? It just goes to show, this is how hard it is for these dancers. He came on stage anyway. I think it's when the adrenaline starts going, and we're live and it's the finale. He injured himself and to be honest A) It shows how hard dancing is, and how easy it is to get injured and B) It shows we're live. That's what people want to see. This is what happens in real life. So I thought, "Okay. Let's get you on. Let's get a doctor. Let's get a medic. Let's take care of you and let's carry on with the show as smoothly as we can." And then - and then! - the lucky little thing went on to win the whole Goddamned affair.
How do you feel about the result?
I think it's great! I think it's absolutely great! You know, he comes from Roxbury, in Boston. Right from the first time I met Russell, he said you have no idea how much this competition will actually genuinely change my life; not just in a way of dancing and his career. But he said this would actually change my life. That's what this show is all about. The American dream is absolutely fundamentally alive and kicking. That's the point of So You Think You Can Dance.
Were you surprised?
I don't know if I was necessarily surprised. I thought it would come down to Jakob and Russell, actually, I have to say. I think Nigel put it really eloquently when he said Jakob is an incredible dancer, with lots of little facets, and it's glittering, and it's sparkling, and it's Cartier; and Russell is the diamond in the rough who's got that quality, that ability to be properly sculpted and made into something perfect. On our show what we always say is that it's about America's favorite dancer. It's not necessarily about America's best dancer. Jakob will go on and do incredible things. I know he's getting calls from Broadway, because not only does he have this fabulous ability but he's a complete gentleman as well. I think just to be elevated to this level, and for America to get to see his face and know his talent, is enough for him.
There are always rumors after every season that you are going to be leaving the show. Can you assure us that you're going to be back next season?
Yeah! I don't think I'm going anywhere! Although to be honest, I am going somewhere. I'm going to New York and then at the beginning of next year I'm going to shoot So You Think You Can Dance over in England. We're going to shoot the two seasons simultaneously. So I'm going to have to shoot live there and then fly back for the Miami auditions, then shoot live again, and fly back to the New York auditions, and then fly back to the UK. I'm earning my air miles! I'm a veteran of the sleep seat! Put it like that. Definitely.
-Henry Jenkins, Guest Columnist