Atlanta has been on a roll lately on Fox’s dance reality competition show “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Zack Everhart of Kennesaw made the top 20 this season, marking the fourth year in a row at least one local dancer made the cut. In fact, he’s the eighth local contestant competing in the final 20 since 2011. Down the street from him, Marietta’s Melanie Moore won season 8 in 2011. (Everhart in an interview said he has met her but doesn’t really know her.)
Everhart, 20, is a tap expert who tried out season 9 but just missed the cut for the top 20. He said Nigel Lythgoe told him to work on his stage presence and personality on stage.
UPDATE: He joined another tap dancer Valerie Rockey tonight on stairs and received raves from Mary Murphy and Lythgoe. “You were both magnificent,” Lythgoe said. “You were so likable.”
Murphy gave them a standing ovation. “You guys were on fire up there… You were completely in control the entire way.” She called Zack a “genius. You are living in those shoes up there.” (I will post the video when it’s available in case you missed it.)
Guest judge Jason DeRulo, who has a tap background, called that performance “unbelievable.”
The Kell High School graduate has also worked to be expand his repertoire so he can handle all the different types of dance he will face on the show. “I’ve been training really hard the past two years,” he said. “I’m trying to present myself in a way that connects with a TV audience.”
Entering the live shows tonight, he said he’s nervous but feeling good. He said going through the process in 2012 has made it easier this time around. He’s looking forward to doing hip hop and contemporary dance as well as show off his tap skills. (Unfortunately, Fox did not show his audition during the early round episodes.)
So far, he sees his competitors as really well rounded. “We are all tight so far,” he said. “The energy has been amazing. I feel like I’m pushing myself harder than I ever have.”
His mother Tammy and father Michael own the Great Gig Dance Company in Kennesaw but they didn’t pressure him into the profession. He started taking classes around age 8 and soon became a dedicated dancer.
“He just loves performing and loves teaching,” Zack’s dad said to me just hours before the live show by phone from Los Angeles. “God gives you a passion and sometimes God gives you the talent to go with it, too. At heart, over the years, he’s been a normal kid. He plays video games and hangs with friends. But when he gets in the dance arena, he’s focused like a laser.”
Zack now teaches and trains there. He also works with the Atlanta Lyric Theatre in Marietta. He hopes to leverage the exposure and skills he learns on “So You Think You Can Dance” into a full-time career with plans to move to Los Angeles after the show is over.
“He’s been a year-around swimmer and has a second-degree black belt,” said his grandmother Karen Everhart, who is holding fort at the studio. “He’s done a lot of other things. But he always came back to dance.”
“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Fox