Dance judge Matt Lee reckons viewers are finally getting the hang of things, writes Sally Bennett
WHEN there’s one person left standing at the end of So You Think You Can Dance, fans of the show can give themselves a pat on the back.
Judge Matt Lee says the viewers, now so much wiser about the technical aspects of dance, will have made the right decision.
Last year, apparently, we didn’t have a clue and kept voting to boot off supreme talent.
‘‘I was shocked each week. I couldn’t believe it,’’ Lee says.
‘‘There was one point where the best three girls in the competition were in the bottom and us judges had to pick one to leave.
‘‘This year, I think the Australian public have definitely got it right.
‘‘They’ve really got themselves educated on dance. They’ve taken our comments on board, they’ve learnt from the first series and they’ve been pretty spot-on.’’
As the real expert, Lee’s money is on Charlie Bartley (hip hop) or Talia Fowler (ballet) to take first prize in Sunday’s finale.
They’re up against Ben Veitch So You Think You Can Dance Australia, PG Channel 10, Sunday, 7.30pm Dance contest, final Duration: 2 hours (jazz) and Amy Campbell (contemporary) — the last four survivors from an original field of 20 finalists.
The Fab Four gave their last performances on Sunday night and will be torturously cut from four to one during the final show. Voting lines are open all week.
‘‘There’s a lot of excitement and nerves,’’ Lee says.
‘‘All of the top four have done outstanding work. I couldn’t be happier with who’s standing there.
‘‘I think it will probably be between Charlie and Talia. Charlie’s popularity is out of control and he has the talent as well.
‘‘And I think Talia because she’s probably shown the most versatility — from being a ballet dancer to stretch herself across all those other dance genres.’’
It’s been a wild ride for Lee, who’s become a reality TV-favourite since landing a key role on SYTYCD.
At 28, he brings youthful exuberance to the job, adopting a pumpthem-up approach to his critiques.
‘‘I think Australians are bored with seeing talent torn to shreds on TV,’’ he says.
‘‘The novelty is over. It’s all about celebrating talent now. I think people are in awe of what these kids can do. They know how hard it is and they know they’ve worked their butts off to be there.’’
Lee’s come a long way since his days of being picked on in the schoolyard. He was the boy dancer ridiculed for his ‘‘fairy’’ ways and ‘‘ballet tights’’.
Not that it made a dent— dancing consumed him. By age six, Lee was in dance classes, at 13 he had his first paid job with Opera Australia, and at 19 various projects had taken him around the world.
Along the way he’s danced in Hot Shoe Shuffle, Hugh Jackman’s The Boy From Oz, Miss Saigon, Rent and Grease — The Arena Spectacular.
Lee also danced for the support band for Britney Spears’ world tour, choreographed for the likes of Guy Sebastian and Marcia Hines, and is now working as a choreographer on the sequel to Oscar-winning animated feature film Happy Feet, due out in 2011.
‘‘I think I was just very lucky to have found what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life at a young age,’’ he says. ‘‘I couldn’t imagine going to work and doing something that’s not my passion.
‘‘There was no way anyone was going to tell me I couldn’t dance or couldn’t perform. It was in my blood.’’
From here, Lee hopes to be back for a third season of SYTYCD (yet to be confirmed) and will continue dancing and choreographing.