There’s an old English proverb that says, “You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression”, but for 2009 So You Think You Can Dance Canada top 20 finalist and Vancouverite Emanuel Sandhu that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The 28-year-old Olympic figure skater showed off his ballet training and eloquent dance moves at last year’s auditions, but surprisingly didn’t make it to the top 20.
One year later, he’s back and ready to prove he has what it takes to make it all the way to the end.
“Naturally I wanted to be a part of the show and it was a big disappointment for me at that moment,” Sandhu said on the line with the Straight from Toronto (where the show is taped), “but I took what people had to say to heart in terms of training and coming back this year, and that’s exactly what I did.”
The classically trained ballet dancer and world-class figure skater tries to not dwell on the past and refuses to apologize for anything that was said at last year’s auditions. “There is a good French saying that goes, ”˜It’s better to have remorse than to have regrets’, which basically means it’s only a mistake if you haven’t learned from a situation,” he said.
“I was feeling a little bit insecure and a little shy, and so maybe my delivery of certain ideas was a little bit more angular than I had meant it to be. I’m not bigger than anybody else—I just have big dreams.”
With any big dream comes a lot of hard work and discipline. That’s not a new concept for Sandhu, who attended the National Ballet School in Toronto while training at a “very high level” of skating for nearly 10 years.
When it came time to decide between his two passions, Sandhu decided to focus on skating while continuing to dance. Dance, he explains, helps him achieve the theatrical aesthetics for his on-ice performances, in the same way that skating helps his stage performances.
Sandhu describes himself as a “socially shy” guy but has found that skating and dancing are his form of self-expression. “The deciding factor for me that links the two of them is that performance art aspect”¦that entertainment aspect, and that’s what is really exciting for me. So to do something that is theatrical is just something that I gravitate to.”
With the 2010 Olympics just around the corner, Sandhu is keeping mum on whether he’ll be competing in this year’s Winter Games (to be held in Vancouver), and keeping his focus strictly on the competition. “My focus right now is to take it day by day and week by week,” he said, “I think it’s important to remember not to be put the car before the horse in that for me, I want to focus on my dancing and how to make things better.”
Tonight’s performance episode will feature Sandhu along with the other 19 contestants beginning their journey in the hopes of becoming Canada’s ultimate dancer. The competitors are assigned partners and dance styles to perform each week, and after each week’s performance, the audience gets to have their say and vote for their favourites, ultimately crowning one winner as Canada’s favourite dancer along with a $100,000 grand prize and a new 2010 Mazda 3 Sport car.
As he steps into a role he narrowly missed last year, Sandhu is looking forward and ready to show Canadians what he’s capable of on stage. “You can look back at the past but not long enough to stare,” he says wisely.