The top 20 finalists of So You Think You Can Dance
Thousands auditioned but only 20 remain on season 8 of So You Think You Can Dance. The contestants spoke with PEOPLE shortly after receiving the good news to share their struggles and their hopes of becoming "America's Favorite Dancer." Meet the men before they take the stage next week for the first live show – and the fist elimination of the season.:
Alexander Fost, 21, contemporary Hometown: Pasadena, Calif. Frost started dancing in high school to get out of taking P.E. "I didn't want to do sports but I wanted to get involved," he says. After auditioning three times, the classically trained ballet dancer left the tights at home this year and tried out in "jeans and a beanie," winning the judges over with personality rather than just technique.
Tadd Gadduang, 25, street Hometown: West Valley, Utah Gadduang's early dance inspiration? Sibling rivalry. "My older sister would make fun of me because I couldn't [dance], so I was like, 'You know what? I'm going to get good at this,'" he says. "Dancing is the last thing I thought I would be doing today," adds the former retail worker who's auditioned five times before. "Now, I guess it is my day job."
Marko Germar, 22, jazz Hometown: Canoga Park, Calif. Germar has a bullet lodged near his shoulder joint from a robbery he witnessed after moving to California from Guam in 2008. He's been street dancing since age seven but was pushed into further training by his ballroom instructor mother. "I was doing hip-hop and I was like, 'I don't want to [learn other styles].' Probably part of my parent-child defiance thing."
Ricky Jaime, 18, contemporary Hometown: Tampa, Fla. Jaime choreographed his first performance – a surprise dance for his mom at her wedding reception – when he was 9 years old. So she enrolled him in classes, which he continues to take as a dance student in Chicago. He says that he's most excited for the group dances on the show because, unlike his 9-year-old work, "it's a full on production: hair, makeup, everything."
Wadi Jones, 24, break dancing Hometown: Ossing, N.Y. Jones is a self-taught b-boy who learned how to dance by watching videos with his brother as a kid. "We never had the money to take classes so we just practiced on our own, tried to critique each other," he says. And now? "I'm teaching 10-year-olds how to windmill," Jones adds. "It's dope because later they're going to be twice as good as I am."