LYNN — It was a dream come true when 19-year-old Gino Cosculluela placed third on the Fox television dance show “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE.” But, the dream isn’t over yet.
The Miami native, and former “Dance Moms” reality television star, is on tour with nine other finalists from season 16 of the competition show and they are coming to Lynn next week. The live tour is a first for the dancer, he said, but the environment among him and his former competitors is entirely different now that the pressure is off.
“It’s so surreal to me,” Cosculluela said. “I truly don’t believe this is all happening, but it really is … There is still stress, but it’s more relaxing now because there isn’t that competitive aspect. It’s definitely hard work, but it wouldn’t be as great of a show as it is without that hard work.”
The show, at the Lynn Auditorium on Oct. 24, will be a showcase from the top 10 finalists of the audience’s favorite dances and duets of the season, Cosculluela said. There will also be fresh performances with some newly-formed groups.
Rehearsals are day in and day out, he said, which means each of the 10 performers need to stay on top of eating right, staying hydrated, and taking care of their bodies. But, even though Cosculluela has been dancing since he was 5 years old, eating right hasn’t always been easy for him.
“I eat a lot,” he said. “People don’t think I do. No one expects it, but food is my second love.”
The year Cosculluela fell in love with dance is the same year that “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE” premiered. He said placing third on a show he grew up obsessing over was a full-circle moment.
“I learned a lot about myself on this show, like it’s OK to just be yourself,” he said. “I learned that if you do that, while putting yourself in a vulnerable place, people will respect you and want to join your journey.”
Before that life-fulfilling moment, Cosculluela said he got a taste of reality television. At the age of 11, he joined the cast of “Dance Moms,” the reality dance show where people like dance studio owner Abby Lee Miller and dancer Maddie Ziegler rose to fame. He said the experience of being on that show was vastly different than the experience on SYTYCD.
“‘Dance Moms’ was a show that existed for little kid dancers,” he said. “It was an amazing experience, but it was way more dreamlike when I arrived to audition for ‘SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE …’ The first show was so reality-TV, staged and all about the drama, and this show is about you as an individual and making America see who you truly are.”
The highlight moment of the season for him was his audition. He said he took a risk and used his moves to tell a story about living in the moment, because you never know what tomorrow holds. It really connected with the judges and the audience, which was all he could have asked for, he said.
While his audition was his biggest highlight, Cosculluela said there were even more highlight moments where he got to collaborate with other dancers. Some of those dances he gets to perform every single night on tour.
“I’m excited for people to have the chance to be up close and see their favorite dancers on this tour and just connect with us,” Cosculluela said.