“So You Think You Can Dance” Winner Alexis Warr Goes From Student to Star

January 24, 2023

Even though she grew up dreaming about making it onto “So You Think You Can Dance,” Alexis Warr was hesitant to put herself out there when she became eligible to audition in 2018. “I actually filled out the application, but I didn’t submit it because fear and insecurity crept into my brain,” recalls Warr, who started ballet and jazz at the age of 7. At 13, the Utah native added ballroom to her training, discovering along the way that dance could be a respite from personal struggles, and even a source of strength. By 18, she had already landed gigs on “America’s Got Talent” and “World of Dance,” as well as a spot on Derek Hough’s tour. Yet Warr couldn’t shake her doubts when audition season came around again in 2019. And in 2020, the pandemic put the show on pause entirely. “I finally accepted the fact that there might never be a moment where I felt ready to chase that dream, so I decided to just dive into it and give it my all,” says Warr of what pushed her to eventually click “submit” when “SYTYCD” returned last summer. After making it through multiple audition rounds, Warr eventually won Season 17 of “SYTYCD,” and has since moved to Los Angeles, where she appeared as a troupe member on Season 31 of “Dancing with the Stars.” “I’m still processing everything that’s happened and really enjoying the moment. But I’m constantly looking for more ways to improve myself and my dancing, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.”

On Her Start:
“My sister was in musical theater, and I was obsessed with the dance bits when I would watch her perform in her school plays. Also, at this time, my mom was dealing with a lot of health issues. As a little girl, you want to help, but you don’t really know how. I noticed that when I danced, it would put a smile on her face.”

Overcoming Dance Bullies:
“I had a really tough bullying situation in high school, and it got to a point where I was so low on myself that I stepped away from jazz and contemporary. What helped me get through that was leaning on my family and trying to believe in myself in a new way. It was really a turning point, knowing that I don’t have control over others—all I can focus on is how I want to carry myself and how I want to respond.”

Warr is currently on a national tour with “Dancing with the Stars.” Photo by Michael Higgins.

An Unforgettable Performance:
“I’m really proud of my contemporary on ‘SYTYCD’ with Carter Williams because that was one of my turning points of connecting my real-life experiences to my dancing. That dance truly hit the most sensitive subjects in our lives, and Carter and I were able to use the trust that we have with our friendship and as dance partners to really come together and create something beautiful.”

Finding Her Calling:
“After high school, I did my first tour performance with Derek Hough. After the first show, I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I was just bawling because I knew, in that moment, that this is where I’m meant to be—that I wanted to perform.”

Deciding to Train in Multiple Techniques:
“I just love what every style brings. Each one has a different story to me, and I just didn’t feel complete without all of them. When ‘SYTYCD’ happened, that was just the most magical process of all because I really got to play into all of those characters, all of those stories, all of those styles. I learned from incredibly talented choreographers who are all versatile.”

Her Last-Minute Pro Moment on “DWTS”:
“It was early in the morning, and I got a call from our casting director that Daniella Karagach had tested positive for COVID and I needed to step in to dance with her partner, Joe Baena. I was only able to practice the dance with Joe a couple of times, and I still had to do all of my troupe moments as well, so I was just running around frantically the whole time.”

Dealing With Self-Doubt:
“That’s something I still struggle with to this day. It’s just so easy to compare yourself to others, especially in this industry, and I constantly remind myself that everyone has their own path. You’re your hardest critic, and sometimes you just have to give yourself grace and accept that you’re human and you’re here to learn and grow.”