Alex Wong photographed by Clinton Gaughran for AfterElton
Ever since Alex Wong burst onto the scene during the seventh season of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance in 2010, we haven’t been able to get enough of the Canadian wonder. Whether he was performing one of his stunning solos, dancing with fellow faves Robert Riordan or Kent Boyd, or his collaborations with All-Stars like Stephen “tWitch” Boss, it seemed like he was a lock for winning the competition.
However, as SYTYCD fans know, his time on the reality competition show came to an abrupt end due to an Achilles injury suffered during rehearsals. That misfortune sidelined Wong for the rest of the season. Then, last summer when his injury was healed and he was set to return as one of the SYTYCD All-Star dancers, it was Wong’s other Achilles tendon that was injured, benching him yet again.
During his lengthy recuperation, Wong stayed in touch with fans regularly by posting photo and video updates on Facebook and Twitter. But was also wise to take his healing slow and is now poised to for a very big 2012. There’s a new music single, “Crave,” a movie, Broadway and, hopefully, a return to SYTYCD this summer to finally take his rightful spot as one of the All-Stars.
We recently sat down with Wong at the West Hollywood staple, The Abbey, to chat about his experience on reality shows, just where in the healing process he is, his work on Broadway and Smash, of course, his future with So You Think You Can Dance.
AfterElton.com: I knew you, of course, from SYTYCD, but then I found out you sang. And then I saw you are in an upcoming movie called The Ballet Dancer. And you also have a clothing line?
Alex Wong: I do. I have my merchandise line and it’s just a few items. Shorts, sweatpants, a gym bag, tee shirts in five or six different colors. Stuff like that. It’s basically for dancers because I teach a lot.
AE: You’re doing so many different things, is that something that’s just a part of you by nature?
AW: Well, I’ve been singing since I was young, but I guess the injury has given me a little bit more time to focus on a few other things. So it’s been nice in a way that I’ve been able to pursue things that I wouldn’t normally have been able to.
AE: And you even tried out for American Idol this season!
AW: I had auditioned on Idol on a whim just because it was something that I always wanted to do. My friends would always joke. They were like ‘oh my gosh, you should audition for Idol. You should audition for Idol!’ And, you know, dance always came first. So I was still on crutches actually when I auditioned for Idol. I was in New York and I saw on Facebook that they were coming to Jersey, and I just thought ‘well, I might as well just go.’ Yeah, it was a great experience.
AE: Speaking of reality shows like SYTYCD, how much do they mean to a career? I’m sure it’s a boost in terms of people knowing who you are, but as far as the career and the business side of it, does it have a major effect?
AW: Yeah, I think it definitely gives you a nice solid launch pad, and then you can kind of choose to do what you want with it after. It puts you in the public spotlight. So anything that can kind of put you in that limelight, it gives you a little bit more opportunity to do things.
AE: With shows like this and Dancing With The Stars, people really know who dancers are now, when they would only be able to name maybe Baryshnikov ten years ago. Is it weird when people recognize you?
AW: It’s not weird, but it’s something that is interesting. I put two and two together I guess. I was on TV, so obviously people are going to recognize me, so it’s not weird in that sense. But it’s very nice to have people recognize you for something that you do and something that you love. Most people that come to me they all just say ‘I’m big fan of your dancing,’ and it feels really good. And also with coping with my injuries and stuff like that, people always ask me how I’m doing. So it’s always good to have that positive energy thrown at you.
AE: Was all the Tweeting and posting on Facebook during your recovery helpful for you in the healing process?
AW: Yeah, it was great just because any sort of positive energy is always good. I think it helped me kind of keep myself together and keep going.
AE: So now where are you officially with with your injury?
AW: I’m doing well. This second injury has actually recovered a lot faster than my first one. At this time last year I wasn’t jumping yet. I didn’t start jumping until the very end of February. So I’m two-and-a-half months ahead of where I was last year, which is great. I’m dancing full out and medically speaking I’m a hundred percent. But just because the amount of physical activity I do is so crazy, I’m not back a hundred percent dancing-wise, but it’s very good.
AE: How does an injury or injuries affect you mentally? Do you constantly think about it, or do you have to just let that go and still just give it your all?
AW: I try not to think about it because when you have an injury it’s not nice to always remember it, especially when you’re dancing. I mean, I love dancing freely, to have no limits, so I try not to think about it. But especially during the rehab process, I have to be careful that I don’t just kind of go crazy and let it go. Or not warm up properly and things like that. So I do have to be very careful about that, especially in this timeline where it’s still quite sensitive.