out perform // outlast // out work
They may not have made the Top 10 on Season 11 of So You Think You Can Dance, but they still managed to dance into everybody’s hearts regardless. The endearingly hilarious fan favorite “Teddily” duo, which comprises of Rochester, New York’s 19-year-old hip hop/tap dancer Teddy Coffey and North Kingstown, Rhode Island’s 22-year-old contemporary dancer Emily James, made the Top 14 on the national dancing competition television show. They are now both currently performing as alternates on the So You Think You Can Dance Season 11 Tour. Charming audiences with their contagious personalities, constant laughter, uplifting spirits, endless focus and dedication, and of course, top-notch dancing, they have been a huge positive influence on many lives and have gained quite the following. It turns out that they are also very fascinating individuals.
What makes the “Teddily” partnership such a success and what sets you apart from the other couples on the show?
Teddy: During Hollywood Week, Emily and I became really close the last three days because we had a couple days off. We were sitting in a van and I remember one of us said, “Oh, I want to be partners with you.” We were just laughing and having a good time. So I had a feeling the whole time that if we both made Top 20 we would end up being partners, and we did.
Emily: Yeah, Teddy knew the whole time. He was like, “I knew I was going to be your partner.”
Teddy: I just had a gut feeling. Emily is such a happy, down to earth person, someone very relatable, so it was very easy to feel chemistry with her and build a great friendship. I’ve only known her for less than a year; I feel like I’ve known her for five years, you know? We’re always supporting each other. We’re good at communicating what we feel. We read each other very well and help each other out.
Emily: I think we’re definitely the two goofballs of the group. We like to have a good time all the time. Out of everybody I think on a partnership basis our personalities matched up probably the best. We’re very, very similar. I know what Teddy’s feeling without him saying it.
Fellow Season 11 competitor Serge Onik once said that you two deserve your own show. Describe the pilot episode of “The Teddily Show”.
Teddy: Wow! That’s really tough! You start.
Emily: Ooh! Okay, wait; I need to think about this for a second. Would it be a talk show…?
Teddy: That’s a good question. A sitcom? Or like an SNL? No matter what it is, we play ourselves.
Emily: I think it would be a funny reality show, just us everyday because honestly we don’t try to be funny but things just happen to us that are funny.
Teddy: The smallest things during our days make us crack up. It would be a bunch of silly, day-to-day events.
In addition to her dancing and deep-sea activities, Emily obtained a business degree from Wake Forest University and started her own business. She invented a new type of workout class called “Unleashed”, which is a dance fitness program for girls designed to build self-confidence. After dance helped her overcome her own minor struggles with self-confidence, she set out to do the same for others, thus proving herself to be an empowering inspiration for all women.
Emily, what sparked your interest in business? Tell me more about “Unleashed”.
Emily: When I was in college in the first couple years I had to declare a major and changed it 500 times. I love art and I didn’t want to lose that creative side so I thought business is a very broad spectrum of the industry where I could try to combine my love for art and creativity with a successful career. I was in a leadership class and it was my senior project and we basically could do anything we wanted as long as we had a team that we were leading and I wanted to take it a step further and create a business, something that I could continue on after that class. I did a lot of research, just talking to young girls. Self-confidence was always an issue that was brought up, especially on college campuses. Dancing to me really helped. I was always a little bit self-conscious and I struggled with that a little bit when I was younger. Dancing, when I would be on the stage, I felt like a whole new person. That’s where I was the most confident. I wanted to allow people who weren’t dancers to feel that way and also do it as an exercise class to make it more fun. On college campuses, I think self-confidence is a huge factor that is often overlooked and a lot of girls struggle with it. I decided to do a similar workout class but at a venue like a club or something with dance instructors on a stage with fun music and flashing lights like a girls night out but while working out. It was taking a workout class and making it the most fun with your girlfriends.
Teddy is the ultimate performer, well known for his dancing, singing, and flexible eyebrows, but he also has a small background in acting. He performed in two Webster Schroeder High School musicals, particularly in senior year when he portrayed lead character Ren McCormack in “Footloose”, and is said to do really good impersonations. Even when dancing he always plays his character well. However, he plans to embark on commercial work with his professional dance career.
Teddy, elaborate more on your acting side and define “dance commercial work.”
Teddy: I go throughout my day pretending I’m in an acting skit or in a music video. Whatever I do I just pretend that I’m performing the whole time. In my head, that’s what it is, my life’s a music video. I think it would be nice to do something like SNL later on in my life because that’s bringing me joy, just making people laugh and laughing myself. I like to laugh a lot. So the LA scene right now offers opportunity in the commercial work with dance. That’s basically being a backup dancer for a recording artist in a music video or touring with a recording artist around the world. And also doing an actual commercial but you’re dancing in it. So it’s not like the Broadway or the company route. It’s like another route with videos and film, digital.
So you’re halfway through the tour now. Do you feel any differently now than when you first started?
Emily: I feel about the same. I think the show is definitely…
Emily: …smoother than it was in the beginning just because it’s in our bodies. We still get nervous for the show. It’s still a big show every single night.
Teddy: We have to pretend every show is our first time doing the show because it’s a new audience and we want to give them our best. Some nights it’s harder than others and on the nights that it’s hard we pump each other up.
What are your holiday plans? How is that going to feel leaving your dance family and then going back to your own families and then having to resume the tour after?
Emily: I think it’ll be a long needed break. We’re going to miss each other. It’s going to be weird not waking up to everybody every morning but I think it’s going to make the second leg of the tour even more exciting to come back. I’m going home for the holidays to see my family. I’m spending New Years in Florida. I’m going to be teaching some classes around the New England area, like four classes. It’s the holidays so a lot of studios are really busy or either closed.
Teddy: I am going home to Rochester with my family for that month. I’m excited to see my family but at the same time I don’t want to wish the tour away because I know once we go back to tour we only have about 17 shows and that goes by really fast. I too would like to teach some classes over break. And I also plan on taking a lot of tap classes over break with my Aunt Cindy.
How do you plan on positively impacting the world in the future?
Teddy: I think just being yourself, following your dreams, and doing what you love. I always took the phrase “follow your dreams” very seriously. I truly believe that if you work hard at what you love doing, you can do it for the rest of your life. I also think it’s important to not change or be negatively influenced by other people. Stay true to who are while doing what you love for a living.
Emily: I agree 100% with that. I think now that we’ve had a lot of exposure from the show we can use it in a positive way. We’re going to be teaching classes and working with younger dancers and younger kids. I’m definitely going to make sure to not just teach them the steps and moves but to translate how dance can help you grow as an individual and as a person. I think we can now go forward and have a little bit more life experience and just talking to younger girls, boys, and dancers about just to be yourself. That’s probably the best thing about it.
When asked how a dictionary would define the word “Teddily,” Emily answers: “carefree, goofy, rambunctious, spontaneous pair who lives to make others smile and laugh.”
I would say that is pretty accurate and spot on.
Want to see Teddy and Emily in action? Their tour will continue through February! You can find performances near you at fox.com/dance.