By Phillip Milano
Wave Weekly caught up with Jacksonville University dance sensation Carlos Garland, who performs Tuesday, June 25, as a Top-20 finalist on the FOX reality TV show “So You Think You Can Dance?”
In the season’s first live show, Garland, 24, a contemporary dancer raised in Jacksonville, will partner with another finalist to vie for the public’s votes and stay in the competition.
Garland, a Douglas Anderson School of the Arts graduate, has taken a leave from school while pursuing his career and is a senior double-majoring in dance and computer science at JU.
How does it feel to be in the Top 20?
I’m very excited. I’m hopeful and confident, but you have to perform well because you never know what the judges might be thinking.
What’s been the most exciting moment so far?
Just about any moment during Vegas Week, and especially when I had to do a solo, everyone gave me a standing ovation, and I could tell they knew I was really in this competition and what I’m able to do.
Why did you want to be on “So You Think You Can Dance?”
I had auditioned for Seasons 4 and 5 while at JU, but didn’t make it. Now I’ve been on tours dancing, and have matured more as a dancer and gained new confidence in myself, which I realized I was missing in the first auditions. My girlfriend, Marisa Dolan, is also a dance student at JU. She auditioned, too, and is very supportive. I see how much this show and the contestants of past shows have inspired people, and I want to be that same positive inspiration to everyone. It’s all about sharing what you have, not about keeping it to yourself.
When did you become passionate about dance?
I started at age 13, after I’d been in theater at La Villa School of the Arts. Then I went on to Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and learned to get hold of dancing, and how to combine my athleticism with technique. And it just took off from there.
What have you enjoyed most about “So You Think You Can Dance?”
Definitely meeting all the different dancers, they are all so nice and very talented, all with the same goal in mind. Working with world-renown choreographers and major stars, to be in the same room with them, has been amazing.
So, who do you see as your biggest competition?
In any contest my outlook is always that the only competition is myself; you can only get better yourself. The judges really are looking to see how you grow individually, not how you compare to others.
How important is it to make dance accessible to a mass audience?
I think dance is always one of the hardest things to get across to an audience, and it’s kind of been on the sidelines to acting and singing. For a show to highlight dancing is just pushing dance toward a new revolution. More people are going to be dancing, whether ballroom competitions or for fun with their partners or family, and that’s what it’s all about.
Any influences at JU that have helped you?
Every teacher I’ve ever had, I remember every single critique, every suggestion. JU dance Prof. Brian Palmer was always more than willing to help me and support everything I’m doing in dance. The JU instructors, whether Brian or Cari Coble or Lana Heylock, are always pushing us to do more. They are all nice, and really care about the dancers.
What’s next on the show?
We have to dance with a partner, doing whatever style they give us. This is when the voting starts. Hopefully I can show my personality, show my different styles and any tricks I might have up my sleeve. Hopefully I can show them off one at a time and impress the audience.