YLHS Grad: Jessica Richens – So You Think You Can Dance Finalist


Courtesy of Fox.com

Nathan Shube, A & E Editor

Imagine four year old Jessica Richens walking into a dance studio for the first time. Who would have guessed that she would be a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance Season 11, only 14 years later. Yorba Linda High School is only six years old, and it is already producing top level performers on a national level. According to the Fox website, “So You Think You Can Dance traveled across the country to Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Philadelphia in search of 10 males and 10 females from the thousands who auditioned. Those who shined during auditions were given a ticket to Los Angeles for callbacks, where they worked with top choreographers to learn, and then be judged on, multiple styles of dance.”


In order to be a finalist, Jessica had to make it through round upon round of eliminations. She first had to go to the open auditions, where thousands of contestants dance every year. After receiving a ticket to call backs (aka Vegas Week), dancers are tested in various styles, with eliminations after each, in addition to being assessed on how they work in a group with other candidates. At callbacks Jessica was asked to “dance for her life” when the judges were unsure about her abilities. Her solo quickly won back the hearts of the judges, and she proceeded to be accepted into the top 20. From there, she went to the SYTYCD stage. Each week, dancers would pair up with other contestants to dance in the style given to them by the SYTYCD choreographers, and the following week, one male and one female dancer were eliminated until only the top 10 remained. From then on, competitors danced with All-Stars from previous seasons of the show until only four remained. And Jessica was one of those four. In the final episode of the show, each contestant danced several routines with results being announced throughout the show. Although she didn’t win, making it through to the final four was a major accomplishment for the 18 year old from Yorba Linda.


Jessica graduated last year, but many students and teachers remember her as a dancer and as an ASB student leader on campus. Fellow dancer Chloe Quast (9) danced at the same studio as Jessica saying, “She’s such an amazing dancer! Probably the best I know.” Although they had only danced together in some larger routines, Chloe says that she has always seen Jessica as a remarkable dancer.Mrs. Runge thinks that as an ASB student, “all of Jessica’s leadership… comes from passion”, and that from a dancer’s perspective, “she was always able to pull in her audience because her passion was so sincere.” The YLHS student body should be so proud of Jessica and her accomplishments on the national stage. Have thoughts about So You Think You Can Dance or Jessica? Leave a comment down below!