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On My Mind: Dancer Hayley Erbert

Hayley Erbert, 18, is a contemporary dancer from Topeka who trained in North Kansas City. She’s competing on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”

“The best part is learning from all these amazing choreographers. … They’re the best in the business. It’s amazing to have this opportunity to work with all of them and have them know me by name.”

HAYLEY ERBERT, 18

Contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance”

Topeka’s Hayley Erbert is spending the summer after high school graduation a little differently from any of her classmates. Instead of prepping for college, getting a few hometown parties in or relaxing poolside, Erbert is competing on a national dancing competition. After impressing several rounds of judges at an initial audition in Austin, Texas, Erbert flew to L.A., where she spends hours daily rehearsing to perform live on Fox on Tuesdays.

Erbert has made it through several rounds of competition, all the way to the top eight. At press time, Erbert was still in the running. Go to fox.com/dance for more information on the show and to learn how to vote for Erbert.

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Dedicated dancer: Erbert drives more than an hour several times a week from her home in Topeka to her dance studio, Priscilla & Dana’s School of Dance in North Kansas City. Erbert hopes this training and her experience from “So You Think You Can Dance” will lead to a career as a multifaceted dancer, performing in commercials, movies, music videos and onstage. “I’d also really love to be in a really well-known choreographer’s company or a contemporary ballet company,” she said.

Starting early: Erbert has been dancing since age 3, becoming more dedicated and competitive as she got older. Before auditioning for “So You Think You Can Dance,” Erbert traveled around the country for dance competitions and training opportunities. She has taken classes in New York and L.A., gone to camps in Massachusetts and competed in Denver. “I really enjoy traveling and dancing; that way you get to see more of the dancers out in the world.”

On the road: No matter how Erbert does in the rest of the competition, her spot is guaranteed for more travel as part of a 42-city “So You Think You Can Dance” tour. Erbert is most excited for the two tour dates in Canada, since she has never been to that country. She and the other dancers have special plans for the Halloween stop of the tour in Florida: “We’d like to go trick-or-treating because, why not?”

Trading opportunities: To participate in this tour, Erbert is deferring her first semester of college at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. She thinks it is more than worth it and knows that college will be there later. “I’m strong enough to know that if I fall flat on my face (in the competition), I probably shouldn’t go in that direction,” she said.

False start: Erbert almost didn’t audition for this season of “So You Think You Can Dance.” She felt she was too young to succeed, but her mother encouraged her to try out. During her audition in front of the judges, she says she was thinking “Please like me, please like me, please don’t say anything mean to me on national television.”

Quick study: Erbert admits that dancing on national TV isn’t all fun. While the show may make it seem as if dancers have all week to rehearse, in reality they have 90 minutes to learn the choreography on camera and then five or six hours of off-camera rehearsal time. “I have never had to learn a dance that quickly,” she said. “I’m used to having rehearsals weekly for two or three months before a performance.”

Plaza girl: While watching Erbert perform on national TV, keep an eye out for her eye-catching rehearsal tops. She purchased most of them at Lululemon on the County Club Plaza, probably after enjoying a meal at Fogo de Chao, her favorite restaurant.

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