Q&A: Baltimore 'So You Think You Can Dance' hopeful Amir Sanders

It looks like Baltimore "can dance." Owings Mills native and Baltimore School for the Arts alumna Amir Sanders made it through the first round of auditions in Philadelphia on "So You Think You Can Dance." Sanders will appear on next week's episode, 8 p.m. June 25.

How old were you when you began dancing?
I was about 3-years-old when I started dancing. My mom thought I was clumsy so she put me in dance lessons.


Where have you danced?
When I was in the 8th grade, I started going to Deer Park Middle Magnet School and I danced during my 6th period class every day. I've also attended the American Ballet Theatre in Alabama, The Rock School in Pennsylvania, the Atlanta Ballet and I just finished the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

What's your favorite dance style?
My favorite is contemporary ballet but  I've also done tap, jazz, hip-hop and African. However, my main focus is ballet.


What made you want to audition for "SYTYCD"?
wanted to audition since the show came out, but I wasn't confident enough. I'd look up audition info and knew when it was  happening, but I'd never go. I decided to audition after a teacher of mine, Francesca Harper, changed my whole outlook as a dancer. She said I have something to offer no matter if it's different; she gave me confidence.

During your first audition, you acquired the hashtag #funkyballerina. How does that represent you?
Usually when you see ballerinas they are boring with their buns, but I have a fro and piercing; I'm a ballerina but I'm a little funky. If you saw me in dance class, you wouldn't know it was me because I have to hide it. During my audition, I did funky point to Beyonce.

How did you feel during the audition process?
Going there I was nervous. I took my best friend with me and we took bus from New York to Philadelphia. It was nerve-wracking to see all these different people doing different type of dances. Everyone looks at each other during warm up and they do their best tricks to intimidate others. I thought to myself, 'Should I do this or should I go home?' I think I forgot my steps because I was nervous.

Which judge were you afraid of the most?
Misty Copeland because she's the most famous black ballerina and she's my idol. Seeing her look at me and no one else there on stage to distract her and I knew I'd get critiques from her ... that made me really nervous.

How has your overall experience on the show been so far?
Nice. Everyone is supportive of one another and I get to see so much talent — it's exciting. The people who work for the show are very nice and they are rooting for us.

What advice do you have for young dancers in the Baltimore area?
Expand your horizons and to get out of Baltimore. There is so much that dance has to offer you and it's not really here. You can audition here to get exposure, but to learn from others outside of here and around the world changes you as a person and a dancer. Go to New York — there are a lot of auditions and it's hard to find things here.