Paul Karmiryan thinks he can dance — and, so far, the judges of the show "So You Think You Can Dance" think so as well. The 21-year-old Glendale resident is among the Top 20 dancers chosen to move on to the final round of the hit FOX TV dance show. He will compete against other dancers from throughout the U.S. who are vying to earn the title America's Favorite Dancers.
"I'm kind of in shock. It's kind of unreal," Karmiryan said this week about making it to the Top 20. "I'm very happy to be where I am right now."
Judges from the show, now in its 10th season, travel around the country to local competitions and choose dancers to compete in Las Vegas, where they work with choreographers. Twenty dancers are then chosen to take part in the live show competitions taking place this summer. Eliminations of couples take place each week until the final winning couple is chosen.
Karmiryan may have a leg up on the competition — he won the Armenian version of "So You Think You Can Dance" two years ago. It was during his first visit to his family's home country that his friends and family pushed Karmiryan, who had only been dancing Latin Ballroom for three years, to audition for the show.
"Things progressed, and I stayed for six months," he said.
Karmiryan said the experience of being on the show was quite different from the U.S. version, mainly because Armenia is quite a bit smaller than the U.S. But the experience, he said, "taught me a lot as a person … and it helped me become a better dancer."
Karmiryan moved to Glendale from Armenia with his family when he was 6 years old. The only dance experience he had prior to ballroom was traditional Armenian dancing. "Nothing serious," he said.
He started learning Latin ballroom at the age of 17, which puts him at a great disadvantage in the competition as he is going up against much more experienced dancers. However, he is determined to do his best.
"I set my mind to it," he said. "I knew I was going up against people who have been dancing their whole lives. I really knew how much [hard work] I had to put in."
He trains every day. "It's insane," Karmiryan said. "[I train] literally from morning to night."
In addition to taking classes in all genres, Karmiryan competes regularly and credits much of his success to his dance coach Grigori Sedrakyan, who is also from Armenia and owns the Matador Dance Studio in Glendale.
"He has helped me so much with everything," Karmiryan said. "As much work as I put into [dance] myself, I couldn't do anything without him."
Sedrakyan, who started late in dancing as well, at age 13, holds Armenian, U.S. and World Champion Dance titles. Now retired from competition and with additional dance studios in Armenia, Beirut and Belgrade, he said he enjoys seeing students such as Karmiryan follow in his footsteps.
"After you stop dancing, you want someone to continue [with your work]," Sedrakyan said. "Right now I am getting that from my students, and he's one of the top ones. I am enjoying dancing through him."
Karmiryan's family is also supportive of his dance aspirations.
"My family is so proud of me," he said. "My mom is so excited. She's ecstatic. It feels so good to make my parents proud. They've supported me so much. I'm really lucky to have amazing parents."
As to what will take place this summer during the final rounds of "So You Think You Can Dance," Karmiryan said he's "definitely nervous. I don't know what I am going to get. If it's my genre it will be a lot easier."
Each week he will dance with a different partner and the dance genre will be randomly "picked out of a hat." He will have one week to prepare to perform. When it comes down to the final couples and weeks, the dancers will also perform solos.
"There's a lot of factors that come into play that make it exciting, but nerve-racking," Karmiryan said. "Will America like you? Will you perform well? Will the judges like me?"
Whatever the outcome, Karmiryan hopes to keep dancing and maybe someday earn a world dance title.
"There are so many goals I have," Karmiryan said of his dancing. "This show will help."
"So You Think You Can Dance" airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Channel 11.
LAURA TATE is a regular contributor to Marquee.Copyright © 2015, CT Now