Freestyle dancer tWitch steps up into movies

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Freestyle dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss may not have won the TV contest “So You Think You Can Dance”, but he took the prize in the charisma stakes which is now paying off with a flourishing career in dance and movies.

Dancer Stephen 'tWitch' Boss is shown in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters July 22, 2010. Boss may not have won the TV contest "So You Think You Can Dance", but he took the prize in the charisma stakes which is now paying off with a flourishing career in dance and movies. REUTERS/Handout

His engaging smile and oversized black eye-glasses earned tWitch the nickname Mr. Personality on the show in 2008, and helped secure his place in this season’s “All-Star” group of returning contestants.

It could all have been very different. TWitch, 27, who only began serious dance training 10 years ago, was planning to join the Navy if he failed to get onto the Fox dance show in 2008.

Instead, he’s taking on his first major film acting role in “Step Up 3-D”, which opens on Aug 6, and performing some of the most-talked about “So You Think You Can Dance” numbers this season by teaming up with ballet dancer Alex Wong, and contemporary dancers Kent Boyd and Lauren Froderman.

tWitch -- the nickname was earned in childhood for his unique popping and ticking style that looked like a twitch -- talked with Reuters about life after “So You Think You Can Dance”, where he finished as runner-up in 2008.

Q: What opportunities did being on SYTYCD open up for you?

“I really enjoy teaching so it has provided me an opportunity to do that. It also gave me an avenue into acting.”

Q; Tell us a little about your role in “Step Up 3-D”.

A; “It’s a dance movie and I also have a speaking role. My character’s name is Jason. He’s a comic book nerd and science geek, which hits a little close to home...I loved it. It is another branch of performing, whether it be dancing or being another person it resonates in the same way. I certainly hope to do more acting-- getting my Gene Kelly on if you will.”

Q; You started dancing as a kid in Montgomery, Alabama. But when did you start formal training?

A; “My senior year at high school was when I started taking it seriously. I was very ignorant of the art form and what it could evolve into. There were some girls in my class who went to ballet classes, but I didn’t know there was jazz and other things. I didn’t know you could have a career, much less about what dancing could do for you as an individual. I had to play catch up, but it made me work that much harder.”

Q; How would you best describe your dance style?

A; “Freestyle. I definitely do hip-hop. I can hop and lock I can do a little bit of b-boy (break dancing). I have the basics of ballet and jazz. But mixing all that together is what really excites me.”

Q; How tall are you? And what’s with the big black-rimmed glasses?

A; “From what I understand, I am a little shorter in life than I am on TV. I’m 6ft, but my girlfriends think I should be taller! Sometimes I feel the need to apologize. I am a very big Superman fan. So that Clark Kent look is what the glasses is about. Also I like the 80s look of the old school b-boys and street dancers who used to rock frames without lens in them.”

Q; What has it been like being back on “So You Think You Can Dance”, and what about that routine with Alex?

A; “When they came along with the idea of All-stars, I was ecstatic. There is no cattiness, no diva-like attitudes, which is amazing. Alex Wong is a true testament to dance not being by bracket or style. He dispelled any kinds of rumors that ballet dancers can only do ballet. It was tragedy what happened to him with the Achilles tendon injury.”

Q; What do you see yourself doing in 10 years time?

A; “I will be acting and I will be on the education side of dance. I’ll always have some kind of hand in dance. It is my passion.”

Editing by Christine Kearney