Teen advances in opening weeks of popular TV competition

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“Kill it”-words that describe exactly what 2007 Corona del Sol graduate Ade Obayomi does every time he hits the dance floor in the popular hit TV summer show So You Think You Can Dance.

“Ade is a great guy and an awesome dancer,” said Taylor Laing, who took dance classes and performed with Ade at Corona. “I’ll never forget him saying ‘kill it’ before almost every performance.”

So You Think You Can Dance is similar to Fox’s American Idol, except that dancers instead of singers try out in auditions held across the nation to earn a spot as one of the top 20 dancers to make it to the weekly TV show.

Then, every week, the contestants put on different dance-style performances choreographed by some of the top choreographers in the business, hoping to receive enough votes from audiences at home to remain on the show for another week.

So far, three weeks into the season, Ade has received nothing but positive comments from all three judges, and has never ended up in the bottom three. Contestants in that ranking have to dance for their lives because two dancers are cut from every show the first few weeks.

“Ade has always been such a stunning dancer,” said Corona senior Danielle Willoughby. “His fluidity of movement and skill in all forms of dance make him quite exceptional.”

It is unusual to see someone who grew up to be as tall as Ade (judge Mary Murphy called him the gentle giant) turn out to be such a talented dancer. But he not only has style and technique, Ade is unique in every way, from the “lucky pick” he wears sticking out of his hair during dance rehearsals to his full name, Adetokunbo Isaac Kayode Obayomi.

Ade’s dad, Jake, is from Nigeria. Jake met Ade’s mom, Janet, while studying to become an engineer at a college in St. Louis 30-plus years ago. They moved to Arizona for Jake to take a job as an engineer for Honeywell Aerospace, and both Ade and his sister, Bukola, were born here.

“Ade became interested in dance when he was four and took pre-school tumbling and tap from Kathy Bauman at First Presbyterian Academy,” said Janet Obayomi.

“He made quite an impression on his teacher-so much so that she recommended that we put him in professional lessons which we did and have never regretted.”

Ade’s dance specialty is probably considered contemporary but he also has a background in competitive gymnastics and has taken a variety of dance classes over the years. These include the ballet and modern jazz classes he took when his family moved to Montreal, Canada, where his dad’s job took them in 1999.

While in Canada, Ade’s love for dance and performing was further enhanced when he was picked to dance in a Montreal Nutcracker ballet production and was cast for a made-for-television movie, “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” starring Vanessa Williams.

“By the time we moved back to the U.S. in 2001, Ade had starred in several local television commercials, two end-of-the-year school musicals and one TV pilot episode,” said Janet Obayomi. “We lived in Wichita, Kan., for two years before moving back to Phoenix in 2003.”

“Ade has always been an amazing dancer,” said Lina Washington, a 2008 Corona graduate.

“He would always get standing ovations whenever he performed his solos for competition, yet he’s always been so humble about his gift.”

This season was the second time Ade had tried out to be a show contestant. Last summer he made it to the Las Vegas round before being cut during the ballroom dancing portion. He applied for and was accepted to study in the Performing Arts program at Chapman College in Orange, Calif. He wasn’t sure he would even try out this season.

At the last minute he decided to go to the L.A. auditions with some fellow Chapman dancers, and not only made it through the Las Vegas rounds to become one of the top 20 dancers but has continued to impress the judges and the audiences at home every week.

“I know Ade has talent and extensive training in dance,” said his Dad Jake. “But I feel that making it this far requires luck as well as a lot of people supporting and rooting for you. I’ve come to accept that with the support of our extended families, friends, neighbors as well as strangers, nothing is impossible.”

Does Ade have the talent and the ability to stand up to the challenges thrown at the remaining competitors, including different dance styles and partners over the course of the show?

“Ade has what it takes to go far in this competition,” said Corona graduate Shelbie Kovach.

“Not only does he have the personality that people like, but he’s such an awesome dancer and he always works so hard.”

“He’s such an incredibly talented and versatile dancer that he will have so many opportunities awaiting him in his dance career,” said Lina Washington. “I’m so proud of him and have faith that he will continue to dominate (the show.)”

“Ade has the extraordinary ability to bring life to every dance,” said Willoughby. “He has a way of captivating and holding the attention of everyone in the audience. It’s a talent that so few dancers possess-that alone should help him do well on the show.”

“Ade has a great chance to go far…,” said Laing. “He likes to have fun and keep things light, but when it comes down to practicing and performing, he always gives it all he’s got and dances like an animal.”

His mom and sister are hoping he continues to give it his all and win audience votes because they have plans to go watch him dance on the live show in a couple of weeks.

“We have not had the opportunity to see his live performances yet,” said Jake Obayomi. “A few of our friends in the L.A. area went and said the show’s atmosphere, with the great audience participation through their loud screaming and dancing, is incredible.”

Hip-hop dancer and choreographer Lil’ C, one of the show’s judges, predicted that Ade will end up being one of the season’s main competitors. If that happens, Ade will be one of the last dancers standing toward the end of the season, in which case his family will get a chance to see him dance live in Hollywood.

Ade’s goal is to make it into the Top 10 so he can get on the So You Think You Can Dance nationwide tour and have what he thinks can only be an amazing opportunity. The show airs on Fox TV at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

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