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Twitch’s impact on dance: Derek Hough, Alex Wong call him hero



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JoJo Gomez Okimura was 16 when she first met Stephen “Twitch” Boss at a conference for the hit Fox competitors sequence “So You Assume You Can Dance.” She enrolled in Boss’ class and was overjoyed when he known as her up onstage to help him.

“I used to be so nervous, however he made me really feel so secure onstage with him,” she says about her first interplay together with her idol. “He made me really feel seen.”

Whether or not she was auditioning or dancing at school, Gomez Okimura says she felt valued and safe within the “SYTYCD” alum’s presence.

Boss had the same impact on everybody he interacted with throughout his life, she says. When information broke of his death by suicide on Dec. 13, members of the dance neighborhood flooded social media with condolences and tributes. “After we all came upon the information, it was like we had been paralyzed,” Gomez Okimura says.

Dancers and choreographers collectively grieved on-line and offline, sharing their favourite reminiscences of the “So You Assume You Can Dance” contestant, all-star and choose. His legacy of pleasure and inspiration lives on by means of their tales, Gomez Okimura says.

“Being in a room with somebody like Twitch, you develop as an individual, you evolve in your craft,” she says.

Two dancers pose for a photo together.

Jojo Gomez Okimura and Stephen “Twitch” Boss.

(Courtesy of Jojo Gomez Okimura)

One of many greatest classes she realized from him was that kindness trumps all the things.

“The way you deal with individuals is what they’re going to recollect without end,” she says. “It’s not your dance skills. That could possibly be a part of it, however earlier than something, you’re a human being, and the best way you deal with individuals is crucial factor.”

Dancer Dezi Saenz remembers the time she spent making dance movies with Boss and his spouse, Allison Holker. After dancing collectively, that they had a deep dialog about life. Saenz was fascinated by the sunshine, pleasure and vitality he exuded.

“I feel simply who he was, except for all of the accolades and accomplishments, needs to be one thing that’s celebrated inside not solely the dance neighborhood, however by everybody,” Saenz says.

When Boss returned to “So You Assume You Can Dance” throughout Season 7 as an all-star, he was paired with Alex Wong for a hip-hop routine set to Lil Jon’s “Outta Your Thoughts” — choreographed by Nappytabs’ Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo. Adored by the judges and followers, the routine turned one of many present’s most memorable moments and has been reshared far and broad within the wake of his dying.

Wong, who practiced ballet, grew as a dancer due to Boss’ steerage in the course of the routine.

“The message behind that routine is that [Twitch] believed in everyone,” Gomez Okimura says. “He helped them attain their fullest potential, standing proper by their aspect.”

Wong nonetheless remembers how “optimistic and caring” Twitch was all through the rehearsal course of, and past the episode.

“He was all the time laughing,” he says. “I might all the time be joking round with him.”

Wong needed to drop out of the competitors resulting from an damage and was unable to carry out the routine once more in the course of the finale. Comic Ellen DeGeneres took his place for a hilarious and surprising re-creation, he says. It’s additionally what sparked Boss’ profession on “The Ellen DeGeneres Present.” Boss started DJing the favored discuss present in 2014 and was promoted to co-executive producer in 2020.

Wong went on to work with Boss once more for initiatives like Disney+’s “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” and varied dance conventions. Wong says Boss’ legacy in dance is “unparalleled.”

“He was such a optimistic power and outspoken in a good way, and an idol and mentor to so many individuals,” says Wong. “He’s simply irreplaceable.”

Two men and two women pose and smile at an event.

Stephen “Twitch” Boss, from left, Allison Holker, Derek Hough and Hayley Erbert on the reception following the Tv Academy’s “Whose Dance Is It Anyway?” occasion celebrating the artwork of choreography in 2017.

(Vince Bucci / Invision / AP)

Boss had a powerful influence and presence within the dance business, Derek Hough says.

Hough obtained to know Boss by means of Holker, whom he labored with on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” Their bond grew when Boss joined Hough as a visitor choose on NBC’s competitors sequence “World of Dance.” He remembers the “significant and philosophical and emotional” conversations that they had. Hough says Boss seemed for the silver lining, regardless of how unhealthy the state of affairs.

“He was a curious particular person,” he says. “At any time when we had conversations, it was all the time like, ‘Let’s go deeper than what’s on the floor on this state of affairs,’ or about this particular person, or concerning the dance neighborhood, or no matter was happening all over the world.”

There are just a few people who find themselves synonymous with the dance neighborhood, and Hough says Boss is on the high of that record. Boss additionally “transcended being a dancer,” he provides.

“The second you consider Twitch, you consider that infectious, stunning smile that he has, and the best way he was capable of soften an entire room or soften an individual simply by his presence,” says Hough.

Hough says Twitch didn’t simply sport Superman attire. To his household, associates and neighborhood, he was Superman.

“I feel the dance neighborhood and everybody who met him actually checked out him like a superhero,” Hough says.