CL: How is the tour going so far?
Maher: It has been amazing. To meet everyone around the country that has been supporting you .… that you inspire. It makes me so happy.
What is a day in your tour life been like?
On show days we wake up, we have a call time of about 12 o'clock; we get on the bus and go to the venue. We rehearse, then we eat dinner. We stretch then we do wardrobe check then we get ready for the show then we put our costumes on then it’s show time. And it goes by so fast … after the show there is an indoor meet and greet for family and friends and people who have really good tickets then there is an outdoor meet and greet people wait outside for a few hours. It is so awesome to meet everyone around the country and thank them personally for their love and support.
You are 19; you are pretty young for all this to be happening.
It’s absolutely mind-blowing. I am so grateful because I have watched the show since it began, season one. My dream was to be able to meet one of the dancers from the show and to be one of the dancers that were on So You Think You Can Dance, it’s out of this world, I don’t even believe it. Sometimes I have to sit there and watch and tell myself, “Yes, you were on the show." It was the most amazing summer and fall, to work with those choreographers, the best choreographers in the business it is true honor and a privilege, and I’ve grown so much as a person and a dancer and it’s just the beginning, hopefully.
When did you audition for SYTYCD? What was that like?
I auditioned in January — in Atlanta —it was the most nerve-racking experience because I didn’t know what to expect. There are a bunch of rounds that go one before you even see what happens on TV; there are a bunch of cuts before that. It was so nerve-racking because it is something that I wanted so badly just to be able to learn and to grow and show my passion ... but it was also the best experience at the same time. Every step I felt like I was challenging myself and working the hardest I have ever worked and I met so many people along the way through the audition process.
Your parents must be pretty proud then?
It is such a cool thing to share with my parents they supported me through dance my whole life. It’s an expensive hobby to have. They supported me traveling ... my parents are so proud of me it is such a cool experience to share with them. It was great to have them coming out to LA for the shows and stuff to see all their money they spent had paid off hopefully.
Are you expecting a lot of your friends and family to come to the last shows in Florida?
Yea, I am really excited. A lot of people from my dance studio are coming to that show. I actually went to college in Orlando. So, some of my friends from college are coming to the Tampa show. I am so excited to come home for those last Florida shows. It is going to be bittersweet though because I’m so excited to see everybody but at the same time once those shows are over that’s a wrap for this whole experience from January ... It’s sad to say goodbye to it but I know when we move on there will, hopefully, be open doors.
What are you plans after the holidays?
I am planning on moving to LA and continue college online. Right now I feel like I have to go for it. Because I have gotten to work with so many choreographers so I think now’s the time. I feel like if I don’t ever go out, if I don’t give it a shot, I’m going to always regret it. I have to shoot past the fear. I want to audition and I have an agent out there who is really awesome. I am just so excited to see what happens. I want to get into acting and singing and everything. I would love to be seen in a movie or television shows, like Glee.
So You Think You Can Dance is tonight, Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m. at the Straz Center, 1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place. Tickets are $39.59 to $59.50. For more information, call 813-229-7827.