Aaron Cash is one of Australia’s most successful dance exports and his gig as judge on this season of So You Think You Can Dance fits like a comfortable Capezio!
Originally from Brisbane, Aaron trained extensively in Sydney throughout his formative years often making the interstate trip in the back of his parents’ station wagon to gain as much experience as possible.
At just 19 years of age, Aaron was hand-picked by Kenny Ortega to work with him in the US. Aaron tells us a little bit about his own journey to dance super-stardom …
How did you end up on the world circuit?
I got to a point where I decided I wanted to ‘test my metal’ and I thought it’s a larger place in America and there was a lot better dancers and there at the time so I went to America and I studied for about 18 months and I took class and I did a lot of auditions. I didn’t want to work, I just wanted to train and get better. I did acting class and studied it while I did dancing – I was doing something like 6 or 7 classes a day. I had no money and I was living on a friend’s couch – I remember one week I was that poor I cooked up one potato and one packet of noodles and that’s what I lived on – it was just crazy!
I do sing as well and I believe that everyone should be triple threats – act, sing and dance – be versatile – tap, jazz, ballet. It’s a little different now, everyone’s breaking into Hip Hop and there’s more things to take on but in my generation they were the staples.
Is it still paramount for a dancer to be a Triple Threat?
I think versatility just gives you more opportunities to work, especially if you have a facility for it! I may not have the best voice in the world but its certainly gotten me jobs! But I’ve also been a plumbers laborer, I’ve worked in a motorcycle shop and I tell you what I’d much rather do – singing gig over working as a plumbers laborer!!!
You have an impressive resume that crosses so many different genres of dance and of course acting as well, what would you say to today’s dancers in terms of versatility?
The more versatile you are the more chances you have to work! There’s so many more dancers now so any edge you have over your competition bodes well to get work. Like Shannon, when he auditioned for Michael Jackson, there were probably thousands of people that turned to that audition. When I auditioned for Cher the first time there were like three hundred and fifty. Now its like three thousand, five hundred! So it’s very competitive and the more things you can do, the better!
As a judge what makes someone stand out to you in a crowded audition?
Well I’m a technique Nazi! I worked so hard for my own technique and I never stopped learning up until I was probably 34. I was still doing private lessons with my dance coach and trying to get better and stronger – so I don’t think you can stop learning! If I see someone with a great technique and facility, obviously performance and passion have a lot to do with it – you can see someone with the best lines and doing everything correct but if they ‘ain’t feelin it’, you’re eye goes somewhere else. Usually my favorites tend to have a good technical base and on top of that, they are amazing storytellers!
You’ve worked with Paula before as a dancer, what’s it like now working with her as a judge?
I LOVE IT! It’s so much fun!! She makes fun of me too – she imitates me and I look like an old man when she does it!
You seem to have a really great chemistry amongst the judging panel – is that just for TV?
Are you kidding, we hang out with each other! We don’t see each other for three days and we’re like “we need to get together for a coffee!” we have SO much fun on the show and ive known all of them for Quite a while – I’ve known Jason since I was 16, Paula for 26 years or something and Shannon’s a lot younger than me but I adjudicated him when he was 10! There’s so much history between all of us and there’s that camaraderie as well!
Where do you believe Australia is on the world map in terms of talent?
You can go all over the world, in the best companies, in places like LA or New York and you will always find a handful of Australians. Australians are passionate, competitive and driven… That’s what I love! When I watch performers you can tell that they are Australian just in the way that they dance. I’ve always been so proud of that! Australians are world class; they can hold their own anywhere in the world! In honesty I believe a lot of the contestants here are better than the contestants that come out of the American SYTYCD. I am so touched by how amazingly talented these kids are and I am just so proud!
The fact that the industry is small in Australia, do you believe that creates a hunger and a drive for dancers to want to excel when they do move off the shore and chase work overseas?
Definitely! It has always been that way… A small amount of work for a large and highly talented dance population; It makes it competitive but this pushes the dancers to excel and get better. I do feel that it is good for dancers to go away and experience work overseas because sometimes dancers will get complacent, but there is a big dance world out there and its good to educate yourself. The people that have gone away and experienced working overseas have a different point of view and are more educated. It makes you more of a well rounded dancer and a better person too.
Other than just talent, what other qualities are really important for a dancer to develop or have to be able to withstand the hardship of trying to make it overseas? Like yourself when you were just pretty much eating noodles to survive?
Its hard… you’ve got to be resilient! I always say if your not up for it, don’t bother… because there is too much competition. You go to bed at night thinking about dancing, the first thing you think of when you wake up is dancing. Every moment you have to keep working on your craft and on yourself. You have to aim for something and it will all come into play eventually. I was working towards something, hoping it would happen… and it did! You’ve just got to keep that in mind and have a thick skin. Just keep at it, keep working on your craft. If you are not obsessed, don’t bother!
How does SYTYCD change the landscape for dancers worldwide, and particular the ones here in Australia?
Its great! You see the American SYTYCD and it gives dancers inspiration, but then you see it here in your own backyard and it makes us realise art and talent here is amazing… it becomes more real. It makes dancers feel “I can do this”, and I am so happy that SYTYCD Australia is back on TV. I love that it brings dancers to the forefront! There is something beautiful and heroic in that! I think that people appreciate these dancers on the show.
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE AIRS ON NETWORK TEN, 7.30pm Thursdays!