By Kristyn Burtt
From week to week, So You Think You Can Dance always has an element of the unexpected — injuries or illness can strike at any time, yet the show must go on. That’s what happened to Jordan Betscher in the third week of the series, she was sick with symptoms that mimicked COVID-19, which meant isolating her from the cast and crew immediately.
Betscher updated Inside Dance after the show to reveal that she had bronchitis and was being treated with antibiotics for the respiratory infection. While she was grateful to perform in the show, it required a lot of behind-the-scenes scrambling to make her rehearsals with partner Beau Harmon work. Choreographers, and Dancing With the Stars pros, Emma Slater and Sasha Farber “were worried about the Zoom rehearsals with Jordan” since they were “up against the clock” to teach two non-ballroom dancers the Viennese Waltz with a four-day turnaround, according to Slater.
Betscher revealed, “I was in my apartment on Zoom, not at 100%, just trying to learn the steps, so that when I was in person, I would be able to execute them to the best of my ability.” Season 14 runner-up and All-Star Koine “Koko” Iwasaki stepped in for her to help get Harmon used to leading his partner around the stage and understanding the frame required for the dance.
“We felt like there could have been a lot of challenges, but Beau was so easy to work with,” the DWTS pro told us, “He has this natural grace that is very adaptable to the ballroom style. Jordan is this extremely talented, very technical, dancer who had the most incredible arm movements and long legs.” Betscher did her best to keep up with what Harmon and Iwasaki were doing in the studio while Farber and Slater kept checking in on her over Zoom.
“They were so supportive of me throughout the entire process,” she laughed. “I even had a Zoom performance where everyone crowded around the camera and watched me do it by myself in my apartment around my kitchen island — waltzing around and trying not to pass out.”
Harmon also had to learn to partner Iwasaki, who is approximately five inches shorter than Betscher — that’s a huge difference to adjust to in terms of height. “With Beau, we worked really hard in instilling him with the ballroom knowledge in those two days and reaffirming to him that he will have to lead no matter who is dancing with him,” Slater added. “We wanted him to feel comfortable and in charge as the strong leading man.”
For Harmon, he shared that Farber and Slater were “always encouraging” and helped “support [him] through this process.” He continued, “It really did matter that I felt solid because if I didn’t feel solid, Jordan would never feel solid.” In the end, Betscher was cleared to dance in the show, but that meant she only had three hours to learn and perfect the piece.
“When I got back in it, Koko, along with Emma and Sasha gave me pointers, tips, and tricks to make it through the dance,” she said gratefully. “It was so helpful. It was a whirlwind because it was so much information. I wanted every single note because I let it marinate, slept on it, and came back refreshed for show day.” Slater also sang Iwasaki’s praises for stepping in during such a stressful time.
“We know how insanely talented she is from the Dancing With the Stars Tour, and how adaptable and versatile she is. We suggested Koko and she was someone, So You Think was happy for us to pick. In the rehearsal room, she allowed Beau to figure out his movements and gave him that time. She was a really good support, and let this natural process happen for Beau. Plus, she did the Viennese Waltz with Sasha for the last three months on tour, so she’s great with the frame — she’s really good at ballroom.”
What resulted was a stunning piece that Slater said she was “personally proud of.” Harmon believes that it also showed a different side to him that hasn’t been seen in prior weeks. “I think what America doesn’t see is that I love different styles and I’ve trained in them my whole life,” he explained. “I’ve had to carry a lot of confidence because so many people didn’t believe in me. Regardless of what I bring to the stage today, the viewers either love me or hate me — and that’s fine. I know what I bring to the table, that’s why I am here.”
While it was the end of the competition for Betscher, she felt like she left So You Think You Can Dance on a high note. “I have dreamt of being on this show since I was 12 years old, the fact that it became a reality after going through so many hardships, it’s unreal,” she summed up. “Tonight, I am proud of myself for being here. I’m very happy that I can leave here with my head held high after performing such a beautiful piece.”
Photos: Michael Becker
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