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West New York Shines on FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance”



Those tuning in to season 18 of the popular dance show “So You Think You Can Dance?” may or may not see a familiar face stealing the show…

Memorial High School alum and West New Yorker Arianna Santos is the show’s newest contestant on her way to a cash prize of $100k and title of Season 18’s winner. With her vibrant personality and dance moves, Santos already has the judges arguing over their next moves. 

On this week’s episode, Santos presents a fusion dance that divided the judges and put her in danger of elimination. “I’m kind of questioning one of my decisions,” said former competitor and current judge Allison Holker who wanted to eliminate Santos for not including enough flamenco technique in her fusion dance. “I feel like I made the wrong decision with Arianna,” she later confesses to her fellow judges. 

Santos’s talent and charisma have allowed her to dance her way into the next round and episode on Monday, despite a brief moment of disappointment. “I feel like a part of me let people down,” Santos says to another dancer in the episode. 

Reflecting on that moment, Santos says: “To be honest, I’ve been put in situations before, like, in my past career where you could not be getting this job, you could be getting this job, like, so I’m pretty much used to judgment, criticism, and getting ‘no’s…But I think this one was kind of different to go on the show, trying to represent a whole community of people that really [don’t] get big opportunities in dance, besides like dancing for Lizzo or being the ‘fat best friend’ like I said on the show.” 

The risk of elimination meant that Santos could no longer represent the community of plus size dancers who stand behind and support her. A tearful Arianna is seen on screen after receiving criticism from judges, but those tears quickly turn to ones of joy when judge Holker appears and offers her to come back to the show and continue dancing. 

“I’m really grateful to be on the show and I’m really grateful to go into the next round. From a kid watching this show, you never really think you’re going to have the opportunity to be on it. Now, it’s kind of like a fever dream.” Santos says about going from being a fan of the show to being on the show. 

After this emotional episode, Santos is ready for even more dancing on next Monday’s episode and looks back on her performances proudly. 

“I mean, without taking a risk, there’s no reward. I’m very happy that my risk paid off! I’m very lucky for the redemption [the judges] have given me, I’m just ready to see what comes next.”