Last Thursday, Vitolio Jeune became the fourth male dancer to be eliminated from Season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance.
A contemporary dancer, with a heart-wrenching and inspiring life story, Vitolio’s presence made an indelible impact on the show and in the lives of fans who watched him dance. While we weren’t able to see Vitolio perform in his genre, save three dance for your life solos, Vitolio will long be remembered for his emotional Viennese Waltz with partner Asuka. The choreography was inspired by Vitolio’s life-story and had much of the audience, dancers, and Mary Murphy reaching for the tissue.
During our interview Vitolio and I discussed that emotional Viennese Waltz, how he’s just as Twitter crazy as the SYTYCD judges, and how dancing saved his life. Vitolio was even kind enough to share some of the emails he received from inspired fans during his time on So You Think You Can Dance.
Before joining the show, did you have a favorite So You Think You Can Dance contestant?
Yes, I had more than one favorite, Katie, Joshua, Comfort and Twitch these were definitely my favorites.
Your Viennese Waltz turned out to be one of the most emotional and memorable performances of the season. What was it like dancing a dance inspired by your life story? What was it like making Mary Murphy cry? Was it difficult not to cry yourself during the dance?
The Waltz was definitely my favorite routine I really loved it and I enjoyed dancing it. And it was the routine, which really drew Asuka and I together. Louis Van Asmtel is an amazing and honest choreographer; he really cares about his dancers. I felt really honored to dance a routine inspired by my life story and am glad it touched America and also the judges. It was really difficult not to cry, because I just could not help it. I had to go to that journey of my childhood every moment I had to thank about that waltz and it always bring tears in my eyes, but yet making me a stronger and better person.
How do you take criticism from the judges about not dancing honestly? What do you think they meant by that and how did you work on changing that?
I don’t think week 1 in the show was an honest week for me because partnering with Asuka in the beginning was a big challenge I had to face because it was hard for us to find that chemistry. I knew at least 80% of our survival in the show depended on our partnership and we had to make it work. I understood what they meant in their criticism and I worked on it by finding that connection which was lacking between Asuka and I.
Which choreographer are you most disappointed you won’t be working with?
I wish I had the chance to really work with Mia Michaels and Sonya I really love what they do and admire their passion for it,
You were never able to dance a routine in your genre, save dance for your life solos. How did you feel like genres and choreography affected your elimination and performance in the competition?
Well now at this point I can only wish I had the chance to do my genre and really show America what I can do. And I really think if I was given the chance to I would have had a better chance to connect with America sooner.
What was it like having to change partner’s mid season? What did you enjoy most about working with each of your partners? How do you think your partnerings affected your performance and standing in the competition?
Any partnership is like a marriage, it requires communication, understanding, compromising and you have to love your partner. If its not working there will be consequences and I think the lack of chemistry between Asuka and I at the beginning is result of us not being in the show still. I enjoyed the great conversations Asuka and I had while learning to know each other and she will always be a great friend of mine. I did not get to really enjoy much of Karla but she is definitely a very fun and easygoing person.
You mentioned losing Asuka was the low point of the season for you. How did it feel to see Asuka go home after that week that you made an amazing connection?
Losing her after we worked so hard to find that connection was a disappointment. Then I drew quickstep out of the hat after loosing Asuka. I felt sad because we really learned a lot about each other and I did not know whom else to trust.
Will you and Asuka try to dance together again now that the competition is over?
What does it feel like to “dance for your life?”
It can be stressful when your nerves start to kick in then you start thinking to yourself that might be your last time on that stage. But at the same time it’s like your 30 seconds to showcase yourself.
It seemed like the dancers this year were one big happy family, what’s your favorite memory of life in the dance house? Who did you become closest to?
It was definitely one big family and I don’t have a favorite memory because every moment in the dance house was a great memory. Mostly the time when I would not stop joking for an entire day then everyone would wonder where did I get that much energy.
You have a truly amazing life story and you’ve said that dancing saved your life. Tell me a little how dancing has affected your life, where would you be today if you didn’t dance?
I think I fell in love with dance after seeing the Thriller music video then I wanted to do nothing but that, dancing and entertain people. When I was 15 I started dancing in the streets of my hometown Petion Ville, Haiti to make some money so I could take care of my grandma and myself, and dance has been my companion since then. I did not have that many choices; it was either gangs or dance. Gang was the death road and dance was the life saving road. If I did not dance maybe today I would have been dead.
Last night you said you’d received many emails about your story inspiring people, are there any you could share with us?
I was a dancer for 14 yrs of my life and then I got into an accident and I thought my dancing days were over but than watching the show and watching other peoples struggles and watching you dance I got up and enrolled back into dance and slowly but surely i’m getting back to where I use to be
Let me set the scenario….
I was on call in the hospital and a baby just died… So I walked into the conference room for 10 seconds to say a quick prayer and get all my tears out before I had to go back to speak to the parents…. The TV was on and it was the last 5 seconds of a show entitled, “So You Think That You Can Dance”… Across the screen is your picture and the name VITOLIO!!!!! You made my heart skip a beat – I was sooooo encouraged that I was able to dig deep in my soul and console these parents appropriately!!!!
How are you Vitolio. I just wanted to tell you how much joy you brought me and my sister this year. You are the real Golden Child. I am Carl, I live on Cocoa Beach, and am a huge fan.
I’m sure your “inbox” has been filled with these-type messages. Here’s another to add. (smiles) I’ll say, very simply, you’ve inspired me to audition for American Idol. I don’t dance… I wish.
Vitolio you are a true inspiration to the youth I hope I could be like like you. God has blessed
you with an amazing gift.
I just want to share with you my first impressions of you from seeing you on “So You Think You Can Dance”.
Your story is touching, heart-wrenching, and painful. But, you rose above it all, and chased after your dream.
You are a true and beautiful soul. I am so proud of you. I admire you, and I am inspired by you. If I could become just a fraction of what you are to dance in my own passion, which is skydiving, I would be the most fulfilled and accomplished woman in the world!
You are beautiful!
I have watched you perform on “So You Think You Can Dance”, and each week you bring so much passion and intensity when you perform. You are truly one of my favorite dancers on the show. I pray each week that you will prevail onto the next week.
I am one of your favorite fans, I simply adore everything about you, especially the compassionate you have for others. May God continue to bless you and may your life bring you nothing but happiness and love. I will always love you, for what you have brought to us each week into our homes. Your beauty enhances all of us, especially ME.
Now that you’re out of the competition is there a dancer you’ll be rooting for now that you’re out of the competition?
I will be rooting for all of them
What’s next for you now that your So You Think You Can Dance journey is done?
I’m back in Miami now I hope to find an agent and planning on moving back to LA continuing my dance career and I love to choreograph so I will also be choreographing. I’m hoping to also get involved in acting and modeling. A lot of fans are asking me to write a book, if its going to really change peoples’ lives I will definitely do it.
Lastly, your judges are Twitter crazy, as are many So You Think You Can Dance fans (a number of these questions were submitted for you by twitter users), will you be joining Twitter?
Actually I have been on twitter: www.twitter.com/vitolio I’m a twitter crazy myself and I chat with several fans everyday and its amazing to see the little change it brings in their lives. And as long as I can make them happy and turn their lives around I will continue doing it.
–Abbey Simmons, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)