News Column

Amy Yakima: 'America's Favorite Dancer' says title 'is only the beginning'

September 12, 2013


Sept. 12--Northville teen and "America's Favorite Dancer" Amy Yakima said Wednesday that her new title "is only the beginning" of what she wants to accomplish.

"I want to keep training. I want to keep getting movies, do companies. I want to do a music video," said Yakima, 19, during a telephone interview Wednesday, conducted along with the show's male title-holder, Fik-Shun.

-- Photo gallery: Amy Yakima performs on 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Yakima, a 2011 Northville High graduate, said she plans to move to Los Angeles to give her entertainment industry opportunities. She said it also puts her closer to her L.A.-based cousin and dancing inspiration, Elizabeth Bork, originally from Dearborn and a Farmington Hills Mercy High School graduate who performs annually as a New York City Music Hall Rockette.

Yakima described several memorable moments during the months-long televised competition, citing when entertainer Paula Abdul said she'd hire Yakima for a dance video.

"It was a realization moment," said Yakima. "Yea, that's what I want to do, and you want me to do that!"

When she was announced as the winner, Yakima said she looked out to the audience to see "the people I hold the most close to me" -- her family and friends from the Detroit-area sharing the once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Her parents, her two younger sisters, her longtime dance teacher, and one of her oldest friends were among those who had traveled from the Detroit-area to be part of the night. Yakima and Fik-Shun each win prize money of more than $100,000 from the show.

When she was 3, Yakima began taking dance lessons at the Noretta Dunworth School of Dance in Dearborn. Her two younger sisters, Emma, 17, and Lauren, 11, still train and compete for the school. One of the Yakima's longtime dance instructors, Loni Lane Padesky, was in the audience Tuesday night.

"I will never forget my training and that's what brought me to this time and place," Yakima said Wednesday.

Yakima and Fik-Shun danced a variety of duets through SYTYCD's 10th season, ranging from hip-hop, to waltz, to tango. The couple was an audience favorite from the start.

"I think America loves to watch two people grow together. And we did," Yakima said. "We just grew every single week with whatever style we were given

"Team Small," -- the duos nickname because of their shorter stature -- clicked because "we have the same work ethic," said Yakima. "We are both perfectionists when it comes down to it."

Fik-Shun, whose real name is DaShaunt Stegall, credited Yakima with refining his technique as he learned styles new to him.

"I can definitely just say, thank you" to Yakima, he added.

Yakima said Fik-Shun "definitely has the best musical ear, you can imagine. He taught me how to listen with the music and live through the music."

The first stop on the "So You Think You Can Dance" 42-city tour is East Lansing at Michigan State University's Wharton Center on Oct. 1. On Oct. 4, the tour stops at Caesars Windsor.

Yakima said she was excited that the tour commences in her home state -- " so I can't wait to come back and see everyone."


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