Watching Matthew Deloch on "So You Think You Can Dance," you'd never believe he once had zero rhythm.
The 18-year-old Gonzales dancer says that was exactly the case in his early years, when he hated dance lessons, hated them so much so he cried — every day. He was only 2 when his grandmother, Veronica Deloch, enrolled him.
That was then; this is now.
He says his grandmother made him do it.
Deloch is grace in motion, and his dancing touched off "oohs," "aahs" and even some gasps from the studio audience and judges during his audition performance on the FOX reality competition series last month. His leaps, kicks, rolls and pirouettes were perfectly synced to The Irrepressibles' "Two Men in Love."
Now, Deloch has advanced to the contest's second level, "The Academy," where he'll be seen again on Monday night's show.
"All three judges were speechless, and that made me feel really good," Deloch says of the audition, which took place in Los Angeles in March. "Nigel (Lythgoe, a judge along with Mary Murphy and Vanessa Hudgens) did say he wants to feel more emotion (from me), and … I totally agree with that. So I've been working on that for sure to make sure I get that better, and I want to make sure I make all the corrections I can so I can make it as far as I can go."
For this 14th season of "So You Think You Can Dance," hundreds of dancers between the ages of 18 and 30 auditioned in Los Angeles and New York. From the callback or "Academy" rounds, also in Los Angeles, the top 10 dancers will be picked, and each will be paired with a "SYTYCD" All-Star who will guide them through the rest of the season as they dance each week for viewers' votes. One dancer will win $250,000, a cover shoot for Dance Spirit magazine and the title of "America’s Favorite Dancer.”
Deloch graduated from East Ascension High School in May and the next day was on a plane for "The Academy" in Los Angeles.
He's unable to discuss the outcome of the week of callbacks before these episodes air.
"I made a lot of friends that I still talk to now, and they're from all over the country, so it's pretty cool," he said.
Back in Louisiana, Deloch has been teaching at Center Stage Performing Arts Academy in Gonzales since 2015. A student there himself since his mother, Kanita Deloch, enrolled him at age 8, he considers Center Stage his turning point — where he found rhythm and grew to love dance.
"We just did it all," Deloch recalls of those first years with instructor Linda Schexnaydre. "I started off with tap, and then I went to ballet and lyrical, jazz, hip-hop, everything. And because it is a musical theater school, I also did acting and singing, so I got a little bit of everything in there."
From this broad exposure to many styles, Deloch discovered jazz is his favorite.
"I like how you can take jazz dancing in so many different directions, and it's so in-your-face, upbeat, energetic, and that's just the kind of dancing I like to do," he says.
'So You Think You Can Dance'
WHEN: 7 p.m. Mondays
CHANNEL: WGMB, Channel 44 (cable Channel 6 in Baton Rouge and Lafayette), WVUE, Channel 8 (cable Channel 9 in New Orleans)