It’s with a heavy heart that Alex Wong said goodbye to “So You Think You Can Dance” Thursday night (July 8) after a serious injury to his Achilles tendon pulled him from the competition.
Tears were shed by his fellow dancers and the audience alike, sharing in his frustration that a ballet dancer who had just electrified the competition to an unprecedented level the week before with his hip-hop routine, would have to leave before his full potential could play out.
In the interview with Wong backstage, we see just how emotional he is. He’s been incredibly gracious about the turn of events, but it is satisfying to hear him admit that “I was really pissed off” about the having his “SYTYCD” experience cut short so abruptly.
On Friday, July 9, Wong talked with the press more about his plan for recovery, his possible return to the show and his experience overall.
How much pain are you in?
Alex Wong: I’m not in too much physical pain, but my heart really hurts. Emotionally I’m in a lot of pain.
When you were injured did you know right away what had happened?
Wong: I was doing a series of jumps at the end of my Bollywood routine at the Tuesday night rehearsal. It was actually the last rehearsal. It was actually the last time I was going to do that. It was the last eight counts of the piece. I landed. I didn’t even land funny. I just thought I stepped on something. I heard a crack. I thought the floor buckled or something, but when I looked down the floor was flat. It did not buckle.
Wong: I was kind of shocked. I stopped, and the medic came on stage and looked at my Achilles. He said, “Look, it’s not there. It looked like it split in half.” I was so frustrated. I sat there and just thought to myself, “Better not be hurt. This better not take you out.” I’ve worked so hard and I’ve given up so much to be here. It was just really hard. I was very, very, very frustrated and I still am. But looking back at my journey, I’m very grateful to be here in the first place.
What is the procedure for your recovery?
Wong: I’m actually not sure yet because I haven’t been able to speak with surgeon extensively yet. I’m on the surgery table on Tuesday. It’s a long recovery process from there. I do know that it’s something like get in a boot. At first your foot is sort of pointed and then slowly they flex it as the weeks go out so your tendons don’t tear. And then there’s rehab after that and it’s slow because you’re not supposed to it too hard.
Are you definitely coming back next season?
Wong: “So You Think You Can Dance” takes out so much out of your life. I have to start from Vegas, and then you don’t know if you’ll be picked to be in the Top 20. You have to give up everything before you even know. It’s going to be a tough decision. I really do want to return because I feel like I haven’t finished my journey, but I really have to give it some thought. I feel like there’s so much more to learn. I was learning something every single day. It definitely is appealing to me to come back.
Did you at least feel good about going out on a high note with the hip-hop routine with tWitch?
Wong: Yeah, I do. I accomplished a lot of what I set out to do, but I feel like I wasn’t finished. There’s so much more I could learn. It’s very bittersweet because even though I have had a few great weeks, but it’s just not enough.
Where did you get the t-shirt that read “I am grateful” that you were wearing on Thursday’s (July 8) show?
Wong: That’s from Peace Love World. They’ve been supporters of me since the beginning. They’ve sent me a lot of the t-shirts I’ve worn on the show and I felt it was very, very appropriate that I wore something like that last night because I was so grateful.
What other styles would you have liked to have tried? Which all-stars would you have liked to partner with?
Wong: Well, this week, I had the foxtrot and the Bollywood. So that was all ready to go. I would have liked to get a Latin ballroom as well. Anything. I’m up for all the styles because there’s nowhere else you can do that. This is why I came to the show, to learn. I would have loved to have danced with every single all-star. They are all so amazing and such an inspiration and help us so much.
Which style did you enjoy trying the most?
Wong: Probably hip-hop and Bollywood. It’s really crazy, but that’s what I came to do, to learn all these different styles. I enjoyed learning them so much. To get such good feedback from judges, it’s just the cherry on top. I really enjoyed those so much.
Were you surprised how close you became to the other contestants?
Wong: Yeah it was not something I really expected. I had assumed we all get close, but I think this season was really special with just so few of us to begin with. We just all instantly clicked. It’s just luck of the draw when suddenly everything is amazing and the contestants are the most amazing people. We all get along so well. That’s going to be the hardest part for me, to leave them.
Will you be showing up for finale?
Wong: I don’t know. I think it depends on my recovery process I don’t think I will be dancing. Hopefully I’ll get to go back to at least watch though. If something amazing and I recover quickly, then who knows?
Did you think this was a good launching pad for you?
Wong: Yeah I think so, I think it exposed me to the public eye. It’s amazing that “So You Think You Can Dance” has done so much for dancers. It amazes me every single day that people are actually watching and people actually like it. When we go outside and are just walking around, people recognize us all over the street. I’m very happy [about that] because dance is such an important part of my life, and “So You Think You Can Dance” has really brought dance back to the public eye.
Photo credit: FOX