Michael Dameski was last night crowned Australia’s Favorite Dancer at the So You Think You Can Dance Grand Final in Sydney.
Michael chats to us today about his incredible journey!
How does it feel to be crowned Australia’s favorite dancer?
Michael: It feels awesome to have so many ups and downs with the voting system during the show kind of put all this doubt in my head – the fact that I made it to this position is awesome and overwhelming and I’m really proud of myself that I go to do it all!
What has the SYTYCD journey been like for you?
Michael: Its been really really inspiring to be around so many people that have the same passion as you and want it just as much as you do – it’s just amazing! I’ve grown so much as a performer, I’ve learned so much! That’s just a given in the show because you are constantly working on bettering yourself and going out on stage and doing the best that you can. It’s just been amazing and I really look forward to what happens next!
Tell us your training background …
Michael: I guess I was a natural born performer because I just did it because I loved it. I got into formal dance training at the age of 9 and ever since then I’ve stuck with it and I’ve taken it really seriously because it’s a true passion of mine. I’ve been just working really hard ever since! I started at Brent Street at 2006 but before that I was at Glenda Yee.
You were ‘Billy Elliot’ for a number of years – how did that experience help shape you as a performer?
Michael: Definitely! I think Billy Elliot kind of gave me a little taste of what it is like to be in the professional world. I was really young then so not as mature as I am today so I probably didn’t take it as seriously as I would have if it were now. It was a very fun experience for me being so young and having that opportunity. It wasn’t just handed to me on a plate I had to really work for it. I wasn’t one of the first to be chosen for it. When I did go to my first audition for it, they told me that I needed to go away and do ballet and tap training so that’s exactly what I did, because I wanted it so badly. By the end I was given the role which was amazing!
Your family and girlfriend Paris have constantly been in the audience for you … how much support have they given you across the years?
Michael: My family have been my biggest supporters! It’s very sad – I haven’t been home since the very first day I arrived here. Even though I am a Sydney boy I could have gone home but just because I’ve had my head so devoted to the competition and I wanted to stay so focussed I never really took the opportunity to go home. I feel like when you’re away for a while and then you go back home, it’s the BEST feeling! I love it! I can’t wait to get back and be in the living room with my parents and my sisters and my family – they’re my biggest supporters for sure! My sister was texting me and telling me how many times she had voted for me … telling me she’d bought like $500 worth of credit for me and for me that was just absolutely amazing … it just makes me so happy that I can make them proud!
Who of your teachers do you most look up to or credit with helping you become the dancer you are today?
Michael:There’s been so many … there’s been Cameron Mitchell of course, Jason Winters, Lucas Newland, Renee Ritchie, Stephen Tannos – all those people have really helped me become the dancer I am today and really have made me form a unique style for myself!
Your signature move – the backflip twist into a pike floor landing – how did that come about?
Michael: Actually just growing up as a kid I loved acrobatics … I loved ‘Power Rangers’ and would always be inspired by how they would flip in the movies and literally as soon as that would happen I would go into my front yard and just pretend to do it – never actually do it, just pretend because I never really believed I could do it. But then eventually I just got over the fear of going backwards and learned how to backflip. And then, I was just in a dance studio actually with Renee Ritchie and she asked me ‘… can you do this ?’, and I just tried it and it happened! I just didn’t really have a fear behind me, I was just like ‘… ok I fall back and as soon as I push out of my shoulders, I just need to twist and land in a pike on the floor …’ That was it, and I’ve just been practicing it and it’s become like second nature to me now!
I think you’ve pioneered a new move that will be replicated now across the entire world!
Michael: I hope so! I’ve actually gotten a few Instagram videos of people on a crash mat trying to do it and they’re actually really good at it!
Over the past week your last solo has gone VIRAL across the internet – did you ever imagine you could have that kind of effect on audiences worldwide?
Michael: No I really didn’t! The reaction I received live was really overwhelming! I kind of had a moment for myself before I saw what was going on in front of me on stage because I was just so in the moment and so happy for myself because it just felt really great to finish that solo and then I got up and looked at the audience and thought ‘WOW’! I didn’t know if would be received the same way through television screens – it was crazy!
What do you intend to do with your amazing $100,000 prize money?
Michael:I really don’t know quite yet! I’ll probably put some of it towards a green card and visa to move over to America because my dream is to work there and see what opportunities there are out there. If that does happen probably then keep some to put towards an apartment or renting out an apartment. If I have money left over, probably a pair of sneakers!
Which of the three contract options do you think you will choose?
Michael: I definitely will be choosing ‘Burn the Floor’! I’ve learned to love ballroom in the show. I’d never done it before – I was actually quite worried coming into the show and not having done any of it because I know that some of the other competitors have gone to ballroom class and I haven’t! When I did get ballroom for the first week I was like ‘OMG why did I not go to a class’ but by the end I was picturing that I was a ballroom dancer and I will be in this routine. That’s exactly what Jason Gilkison told me, that I looked like I’d been doing ballroom my whole like and I was like ‘WHOA’!
What would you like to say to your legions of worldwide fans??
Michael: I would just like to say THANK YOU for your constant support – I mean I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for you guys! Thank you for believing in my passion for dance. I’m so happy for being recognised for what I have devoted my whole life to. I really am appreciate of everyone and I shall continue gracing the stage for anyone who enjoys my performing!