So You Think You Can Dance Canada winner Tara-Jean Popowich grew more confident
If at first you don’t succeed then try, try again. The old adage couldn’t ring more true for the young bright-eyed dancer Tara-Jean Popowich, who on Sunday night (October 25) became the first woman to win So You Think You Can Dance Canada.
Popowich tried out for the show last year but didn’t make the top 20. But what a difference a year makes. She not only came back this year but managed to kick butt and secure herself the $100,000 grand prize and a 2010 Mazda 3 Sport.
Last time Popowich spoke with the Straight, she was not only thrilled to be on the show but said that making it to the top 10 was her own personal goal. Week after week, the 20-year old dancer from Lethbridge, Alberta, became more confident and the judges became more impressed. “You dance with a wisdom and a depth beyond your years,” guest judge Rex Harrington told Popowich during the finale. “That’s why you are a star.”
The Straight caught up with the elated Popowich on the phone from Toronto, and she talked more about her experience on the show and what she hopes to do in the future.
“It was the craziest experience of my life,” she said, adding that winning the competition “still hasn’t kicked in”.
Despite knockout performances in the finale, including a contemporary dance that brought the audience to its feet, Popowich sincerely believed that it was her dance partner Vincent Desjardins—the 20-year-old ballroom dancer from Trois-Rivieres, Quebec—who was going to win. Alas, Desjardins was runner-up and Popowich fell apart on stage after finally realizing it was her name called out by host Leah Miller.
The self-described underdog of the competition explained that as weeks went by and she spent more time on stage her confidence grew but it was more than just a competition for her. “I just wanted to stay so bad because I just wanted to dance,” she said.
It was her drive to learn something new each week that saw her to the end. “Every week I grew stronger as a dancer and can’t believe that I lasted so long and ended up being the dancing queen.”
The title didn’t come without its challenges, as Popowich dislocated her ribs—an injury that would confine most of us to our beds with our favourite comfort foods—but she battled through the pain. “Every time my rib popped out I just had to get it popped back in and dance again,” she said.
Can we say dedicated?
Speaking to the talented dancer, it’s evident that nothing will keep her down and out from her dreams of dancing. She already has plans of moving to Toronto and building what is sure to be a successful dancing career. But first, the small-town beauty has one important stop to make.
“I’m going back to Lethbridge tomorrow,” she squealed with glee. “I’m so excited to be back, so I can thank everyone who supported me along the way.” Undoubtedly the Alberta native will be greeted by a slew of excited fans that have watched and cheered her along throughout the competition.
Fans of Popowich in Vancouver need not fret; the former Harbour Dance Centre instructor insists that coming back to Vancouver is a “definite must” on her list. She hopes to come back and teach here and share her experiences with the next wave of young dancers hoping to follow in her footsteps.
“I’m going to set my goals even higher after this and there is so much I want to do and now I know there is nothing that will stop me from reaching my dreams,” Popowich said.
She may be Canada’s dancing queen for now but something tells us her star is destined to shine even brighter.