Virginia Crouse and James “Lord Fin” Thomas Stay Grateful | SYTYCD Week 2! | Inside Dance

Virginia Crouse and James “Lord Fin” Thomas Stay Grateful | SYTYCD Week 2! | Inside Dance

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By Kristyn Burtt

It isn’t easy being the first two contestants eliminated on So You Think You Can Dance, but Virginia Crouse and James “Lord Fin” Thomas are both “grateful” and “proud” to have been a part of the Season 17 cast. The 20-year-old contemporary dancer and the 26-year-old bone breaker might have made an unlikely pair, but the duo appreciated their partnership.

Having choreographer Jaci Royal in the second week was the ultimate test of Thomas’ abilities, but Crouse said he was “incredible” picking up “a hard style so quickly.” She explained to Inside Dance, “From the very first time we were working, he didn’t know how to hold his arms, he didn’t know how to lift, he barely knew how to plié — and to see where he is now is absolutely astonishing.” 

The couple shared a moment onstage that TV viewers didn’t get to see, and the hip-hop dancer whispered something to Crouse before the music began. He revealed details of what he told her, sharing, “We went through a lot to get here, so let’s show it. Nobody knows the backstory of what we went through to make this piece happen, like injuries and choreography changes. It resembled what the story was about, so many obstacles and breaking down barriers.” The contemporary dancer noted that she “felt so safe” at that moment where it seemed like they were “the only two in the room.”

What SYTYCD fans weren’t privy to, was the fact that Thomas was battling a left-knee injury since the first week of competition. He even skipped Brian Friedman’s group number to rest his body. “I was injured the first week when I was in the hip-hop routine. It was a previous injury I had back when I was 18 and it was worse than it’s ever been,” he said. “After a full day of rehearsal, I couldn’t fully bend or extend it. It was a process that I had to overcome because I couldn’t really perform to my full ability.”

Crouse also disclosed in the video package something very personal: that she had been taken advantage of by a dance teacher when she was younger. The safety of children has been a hot topic in the dance industry, and she felt compelled to tell her story to the SYTYCD audience. “It was very hard to speak about something so personal, but I took myself out of the equation, and thought, what would I have needed as a kid? Just having that one person to look up to would have made a difference and I want kids to know that it’s always OK to reach out for help,” she said confidently.

The Louisiana native hopes to bring her talents to the convention circuit “to teach younger kids to let them know if you put in the hard work and put in your passion, it’s possible to get far.” Thomas hopes his time (and perseverance in auditioning four times before making the show) puts the spotlight on his dance style. “It’s hard with bone breakers because even in the street dance culture, people don’t see it as dancing,” he summed up. “So I hope I made it digestible and allowed it to make sense to the So You Think You Can Dance audience.”

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Photos: Michael Becker

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