By Joan Goodchild
Shrewsbury – Like many kids, 18-year-old Deanna Tomasetta tried her hand at soccer and other sports as a child, but for some reason, nothing really appealed to her.
“They tried to put me in sports camps, but I would end up spinning cartwheels in the outfield,” she said.
Tomasetta now knows that's because her passion wasn’t chasing a ball – instead, it is ballroom. Ballroom dancing, that is. Really, it's dancing of any kind. Tomasetta, a Millbury native who just graduated from Holy Name High School in Worcester, now dances at Elite Academy of Dance in Shrewsbury, where she trains under the guiding eye of owner and Director Lauren Mangano, a veteran dancer herself.
“She is very dedicated,” Mangano said. “She's here seven days a week.”
That dedication recently earned Tomasetta a spot on the popular reality TV dance show, “So You Think You can Dance,” bringing Tomasetta one-step closer to her lifelong desire to take her dancing to a large audience.
“Every since I was little, I wanted to be on stage,” Tomasetta said. “I feel like I can really be myself and express myself with dance.”
Tomasetta, who said contemporary dance style is her specialty, first drove with Mangano to New York to audition for the television show in November 2010, but was a few weeks shy of the 18-year-age minimum, so audition coordinators turned her away.
Several weeks later, after turning 18, Tomasetta went to Los Angeles to audition, and this time, she got in. Once there, Tomasetta impressed judges so much she received her “golden ticket” to go on to the next round in Las Vegas. Tomasetta was one of only 30 dancers among thousands who tried out to make it on to Las Vegas.
There's a lot that goes on behind the camera that you don’t see,” Tomasetta said. “When I made the cut, one of the judges asked why I came all the way from Boston. Then he said he was glad I did, and handed me the ticket. I cried. I always said I wouldn's be one of those people who cried, but I couldn's help it! There are just so many emotions going on.”
Once in Las Vegas, unfortunately, Tomasetta did not make it on to the top-20 round, which features the dancers live on the show. But for now, in the fall, she is heading to the University of Michigan, where she received a full scholarship for dance. Undeterred by being cut this year, she said she will be back to the auditions for the show next year, and she plans to make it to the finals.
“My mom always said with hard work, anything can happen,” she said. “And I know that's what I want.”