• Kristyn Burtt

Why Rudy Abreu Took A Career Risk With ‘World Of Dance’

Updated: Jul 17


Rudy Abreu is well known to Season 11 So You Think You Can Dance fans— not only because of his Top 8 finish — but because he went out on a high note with an incredible Ray Leeper jazz piece. The “Dirty Diana” number with All-Star Allison Holker is still a fan favorite.

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Post-SYTYCD, Abreu has been seen in Derek and Julianne Hough’s second Move Live Tour and he joined Jennifer Lopez’s show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. While a consistent performer, he’s also focused on his work as a choreographer.

That path led him to Season 2 of World of Dance. He decided to present his work with Embodiment because he “wanted to show a different side of male dancers — I wanted to show we could be sensitive and emotional as contemporary dancers, but also strong, manly and aggressive as men are.”

Taking a break from J.Lo’s show was no easy decision because it was a risk; another dancer in the Vegas show temporarily replaced him.

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“I spoke to Jennifer and NappyTabs about it. They both gave me the thumbs up and they allowed me to leave and come back. I didn’t want to leave and do World of Dance, but not be able to come back to Jennifer’s show,” he said to Dance Dish in a recent interview. “After I had that stamp of approval, I was good. I didn’t think I would do another TV show. I really thought I was done after So You Think You Can Dance, but this allowed me to showcase my choreography and my company.”

Abreu was also prepared to handle any criticism from viewers who might think there is favoritism because he’s already worked for J.Lo.

“They could also say I worked for Derek. I did the Move Live Tour. They can say that it is unfair, but I also think the work speaks for itself,” he explained. “You can think it’s favoritism, but I actually think they were expecting more from me because they know my work.”

Embodiment walked into the Qualifiers confidently, but Abreu knew they weren’t going to just breeze through the competition.

“We came into the Qualifiers super confident knowing that I had something to offer. Embodiment is something new and cool, so I think people were excited. But I also knew to never get too comfortable or be too prepared,” Abreu shared. “Royal Flux, Pursuit, Brotherhood — all these big groups were there getting ready to compete and you think you’ve seen everything — lies! People are doing things you’ve never seen before.”

While the judges loved Abreu’s piece giving Embodiment an average of 84.7, it was Hough’s comment that stuck with him.

“Derek talked about moving through the music and not on the music. That is my style — creating rhythm and music to whatever I put in front of myself. I like to create my own musicality and choreography,” he said. “It threw me off, but it pushed me to try and win the show. I tried to step away from my musicality and take Derek’s note. It opened my brain to a different side of my choreography that I had never attempted before.”

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Viewers will have wait and see how Embodiment fares in The Duels, but in the meantime, Abreu is already looking to the future for the company.

“We are pushing forward with performances, we did World of Dance Live in LA and the All-Stars Showcase in Canada,” Abreu explained. “I’m also looking to teach an all-male contemporary intensive this summer. The future is open for us.”

And for SYTYCD fans, who loved the fact that Abreu wore his heart on his sleeve during Season 11, don’t worry, that emotional side is still there.

“If you love the crying, you will love this season,” he promised.


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