Two years of college and one leg surgery later, Matthew Deloch is returning to the "So You Think You Can Dance" stage.
The 20-year-old Gonzales dancer's audition airs at 8 p.m. Monday on the FOX reality competition's season premiere.
On the series, entering its 16th season, dancers ages 18-30 perform in many styles including contemporary, tap, hip-hop, ballroom, animation, breaking and more. Those who pass the audition move on to the "SYTYCD" studio to work with world-renowned choreographers and compete each week for America’s votes in a variety of styles. Contestants will be eliminated weekly until a winner is named on the season finale.
Deloch advanced to the "The Academy," or second phase of the contest, on the show's 14th season before being eliminated.
After leaving the stage that time, Deloch said, "I gave it everything I had but I'm going to go home, get in ballroom classes, hip-hop classes and come back, make top 10."
It was ballroom dance, which Deloch had never done before, that led to his early exit.
Deloch has now completed his second year at Pace University in New York, where he's majoring in commercial dance. He'll spend his summer at home in Gonzales teaching at Center Stage Performing Arts Academy, Tureaud's and De Frances Academy of Dance.
We caught up with him to find out about his life in the Big Apple, his dance studies and his second "SYTYCD" audition.
What have you been doing since we saw you on "So You Think You Can Dance" two years ago?
I moved to New York and started training in all kinds of dance styles. That December (2017), I tore the meniscus in my right leg. I had surgery in January (2018), and was out of dancing for five or six months to get it fully back.
Did you have to take leave from school all this time?
No. In addition to regular dance classes, we have academic-based dance classes like dance history and body awareness, and I was able to transfer to those classes. This fall, I took the regular dance classes that I had missed.
What made you decide to audition for "SYTYCD" again?
When the beginning of the year came and it was time for auditions for the show again, I knew I wanted to do it because I obviously wasn't able to do it last year because of the surgery. I just wanted to really work and exceed my expectations of what I wanted to do last year, and I wanted to do that this year and show that even though I had that big road block. ... it didn't stop me. I worked hard and I got back to where I needed to be.
How did you prepare mentally for your audition in Los Angeles in March?
I just do what I do every time before I take the stage, no matter what it is. I just take a couple minutes to myself, think about everything I'm grateful for, I mark through my routine really fast and then that's it. I don't like to get into my head too much because that's when the nerves start to get to me, and I make simple mistakes. So, I try to keep it really short, and whatever's going to happen will happen.
Even though I'd done it before, all the nervousness was still there, like performing in front of the judges. Everything still was just as nerve-wracking as the first time.
And what did the judges have to say?
I just got a lot of positive feedback, so it had me leaving feeling pretty good. Judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy remembered me, and there are two new judges, Laurieann Gibson (Lady Gaga’s longtime choreographer and creative director) and Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval ("SYTYCD" alum).
How do you like living in New York?
It's very different than my small town in Louisiana, but I love it because I just fit in so well, because I knew I was meant for a fast-paced, always-awake big city because there's always something to do. You can never be bored in New York City. It's an hour bus ride to Six Flags in New Jersey, and I love amusement parks. And it's a 30-minute subway to Coney Island, which also has an amusement park. I also like to go Uptown to the Central Park area and have a picnic with friends.
'So You Think You Can Dance'
WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday
CHANNEL: WGMB, Channel 44 (cable Channel 6); KADN, Channel 15 (cable Channel 6 in Lafayette); WVUE, Channel 8 (cable Channel 9 in New Orleans)