Monday, December 6, 2010

[EXCLUSIVE] DBSKnights Interviews JYJ Dancer Telisha Shaw

Interview by 
Rachel (MrCKDexter)
Photos by 
Anthony Cabaero

Touring with JYJ in America and performing in the JYJ Worldwide Showcase in Seoul has turned dancer Telisha Shaw into an enthusiastic new Cassie.

Only two days after her return to LA, still slightly jet-lagged, Telisha agreed to a phone interview with DBSKnights. She was excited to share about her experience with Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu (whom she called "JJ, Micky and Jun"). In the past, Telisha has also danced with artists such as Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, and Green Day. But her experience is not limited to dancing, her "first love". Telisha has also acted in television shows Weeds and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and in the Hollywood film Step Up 2; The Streets as Felicia.

DBSKnights: So how did you get involved with JYJ?

Telisha Shaw: I knew of an acquaintance out here in LA that I had worked with before and he randomly gave me a call and asked if I knew anyone that could choreograph for this new group that they were working with. I immediately thought of Jeri (Slaughter). Based on our friendship and his repertoire, I figured he’d be a perfect fit especially because it involved the artist dancing. ... I suggested him for the job and everything worked out. ... [JYJ's management] fell in love with him. And after Jeri came aboard, he brought me on as a dancer. ... Pretty quick process! (laughs)

As the JYJ trio were busy in Korea, Jeri Slaughter sent them footage of the choreography to learn. At the same time, the dancers started rehearsals in LA.  A few days before the New York concert on November 12th, they finally all met in a studio in New York.

Telisha: That’s when we learned the power of their work ethic. 'Cause usually when you send an artist material, 9 times out of 10 they really don’t go over it or they come in and you can tell they have no idea what’s going on. [JYJ] knew things better than we did. They were correcting us. I remember one day Jun came in and started going like, “No, that part goes here” and we were like “Are you kidding?” (laughs)

From the getgo, Telisha Shaw knew this experience would be extraordinary. "It was just like an establishment of a little family – the JYJ family. We had heard how amazing they are to work for ... but instantaneously when they walked in the room, it all set in." On November 15th, she tweeted "Thank you God/Universe...thus far this is the best gig I've ever had." DBSKnights asked her what made it one of the best gigs:

Telisha: It’s really rare that you get a total package from the artist where a) they act real in front of you, b) they’re not afraid for you to shine around them and just other variables that you really just don’t encounter.
As a whole, from top to bottom, I’ve never worked on a job where there was so much good energy. There was not one negative person or a weak link. Even when people were tired or even, you know, having one of those days where you’re just messing up, there was always this camaraderie, this support.
I’ve danced with Janet (Jackson) in the past, and in all honesty, that was a very high bar. Because of her work ethic and her just being an amazingly nice person. And surprisingly, it got topped. I never thought it would get topped and it did by this experience.

Telisha explained that before October, she didn't know anything about of K-pop and didn't realize how deeply rooted the K-pop fandom is. When the the US tour began, Telisha and the other dancers were shocked by the turnout. 'When we were in New York, we all had friends and family coming to the show and [they] were just like, “Um, the line is a couple of avenues long.” I was like, “No way, you’re exaggerating.”'

Thus followed the whirlwind tour through New York, Vegas and Los Angeles. Directly after the show at the Galen Center in LA, Telisha and the JYJ dancers hopped on a plane for Seoul. (We showered in the USC locker room and then got on the plane. I was like “Whoa, this is so rockstar!” (laughs). Then in Seoul, they began rehearsals for the two day finale on November 27th and 28th.

Telisha: On our first day, JJ lost his voice so everybody was kind of nervous about that. Everybody was getting sick cause you just get so run down. I don’t know if people understood this but the show that Jeri put on in Seoul with his team at Slaughterhouse - usually a show like that takes two months to rehearse. We had nine days to do it together. We knew some of the material just from the US shows but we had brought in additional cast members so that’s teaching them, learning the (new) material and we did all of it in nine days.

In addition to the time crunch, the production was plagued by bad weather. Although the Jamsil Olympic Stadium was covered by a canvas roof for the JYJ concert, the roof was torn and had to be taken down because of snow and hail early in the morning on the 27th. Both the performers and the fans were exposed to the elements.

Telisha: When we rehearsed outside, I had on three pairs of leggings, some tights, three shirts and a down vest. ... To go from that to literally a bustier, leggings, a small skirt and some boots (for the show) and to stand there during the intro - I was like “Oh my God!” There’s ice on the steps, there’s snow on the ground.
When we came off stage, you know, you try to find a portable heater just to warm up a little bit. It came to a point where I couldn't feel my fingers one time. But you just keep going and try to do the best show ever.

Telisha and the JYJ dancers were very impressed by the fans who attended the showcase in Seoul.“This is really fandom right here. Because the fans were like, 'I'm freezing and I'm sitting here watching this entire show.' They were definitely troopers."

DBSKnights: Was there a difference between fans in America and fans in Korea?

Telisha: No, not really. As a whole, their fans are consistent. Whether it’s two thousand or twenty thousand, you’re still going to get that intensity regardless of if it’s in America (or Korea). ... As far as the intensity, and the pride of being a Cassie, there was no difference to me. Across the board, it's a strong support system and I know [the fans] traveled and came from all walks of life. It was amazing to see.

DBSKnights: What was Thanksgiving like in Seoul?

Telisha: It was kind of unexpected. We just walked in. … It was one of those days where we were like, “Is it Thanksgiving here or back home?” We couldn’t figure it out. And finally I was like, “Oh no, it’s Thanksgiving here.” They had taken care of us, getting a turkey – I have no idea where they got this turkey from! We had a pretty nice Thanksgiving dinner.
Jun was teaching us magic tricks backstage. He’s really good with cards and sleight of hand! We were just cracking up, like, “Oh my god!” We couldn’t figure it out. (laughs)

DBSKnights: From your tweets, it sounded like Junsu hung out with the dancers more. Was that the case?

Telisha: JJ and Jun hung out with us the most. ... Micky is amazing at disappearing. Like literally, you could be in a full on conversation and see him across the room and you look again and “Where’d Micky go? Did you see Micky? Where’d he go?” (laughs) He’s so good at vanishing! It’s like he evaporates. I remember at the after party, he did it again. We were just like, “Have you seen Micky? Okay. Wow. He’s gone.”
Definitely Jun hung out with us and so did JJ. JJ was super playful, getting on the aerialist ring and goofing off. It was super funny! (laughs) ... They were just amazing people, amazing guys to work with. Really deserving of everything that they get.

One of Telisha's favorite foods is kimchi, and when the JYJ boys discovered this, they teased her. "They thought I was kidding. But no, I really love this stuff! So every time they came out, they were like, “Teli!” – which cracks me up that they call me by my nickname – and they were like “I see you! Stop eating everybody’s food!” (laughs)"

Telisha talked briefly about the JYJ boys learning English and I was struck by her great respect from them as artists. "I think it’s an extension of them communicating with their fans and having their music come across more clearly to a wider audience," she told DBSKnights. "I think it has to have been hard. … When it comes to verbalizing and expressing yourself, to not be able to – I know sometimes they were getting, you know, a little frustrated because they couldn’t express themselves. That’s what they are, they’re vocalists. But I can definitely see them learning English even better because it will give them another channel for them to reach people with their music.

DBSKnights: Any final words for the fans of JYJ?

Telisha: For JYJ fans, I want to thank them for welcoming me and being such an amazing support group for the boys. They’re really amazing people and really amazing artists to work with. I can’t wait to do it again. I can’t wait to see everybody’s faces again. … I’m so overwhelmed and so overjoyed by the support that they get. And I think it’s really amazing. I loved it, I really did. And I can’t wait to experience it again.

Telisha says, "I’m super geeked to be a newfound Cassie now and so excited that everybody accepted me so well!" Please welcome her at @telishashaw. This December, Telisha will be going in to the recording studio to record with Justin Timberlake's artist Free Sol. We look forward to seeing much more from you, Telisha!

Welcome to the fandom! We're happy to have you!


  1. Aww that was really sweet. I'm so happy she had so many nice things to say about our boys! I hope more people can realize how special they really are :). Thanks for the great interview Rachel!

  2. Oh, she seems to be such a nice person! I'm glad jyj had people like her around on their tour.
    And thank you so much for doing this interview! DBSKnights, you're amazing!

  3. i love her :)
    she is amaizing and i think her fav is junsu xp

  4. awwwww so cute I wanna call Jaejoong 'JJ' too! like "JJ come here~" ahhh sounds so sexy lol. Telisha is awesome and our boys are awesome too :) Thanks DBSKnights!

  5. aaawwwwwes. such a sweet person.. wish her all the best! hope she gets to collaborate with the boys more!

  6. She is an amazing dancer...I really like all JYJ's dancers in their concert, they look really professionals in another level.
    Telisha thank you so much for your words. I hope you guys join JYJ in the next date concert tour, and this time I hope the weather be nice.

  7. Great interview!!! Wasn't Micky disappearing because of SSK?

  8. Welcome to the cassies' world.
    She isso sweet !!!

  9. THIS IS SO Super!!! :D <3 Yayyyyy. :] So glas it was so wonderful and that the power of Cassie-dom (lol) has converted yet another. We're so powerfulllzzz.. yup yup ^___^ After this interview I still can't imagine how amazing it was for her. It's like the first time hearing DBSK in your life, like everyday for a whole showcase. haha

  10. I like the picture of her with Junsu mainly because I imagine, I'm her. I'm black and I also dance but not professionally, though. :-) Plus Junsu is my main bias and I'm a little jealous but not too much because she's so nice! lol

  11. i love this post! its great to read about someone who never even heard of JYJ take such a liking to them <333

  12. such an honest intrview
    Very proud of JYJ for leaving such a nice memory to all the people who work with them

  13. i am happy to read it because many people who work with 'em keep telling how great their work ethic and how nice and positive their attitude are.
    for telisha, it's really nice that you enjoyed your time with the boys! next time, work with 'em again!

  14. Thank you for reaching out to interview Telisha! It was a wonderful read - not only because she praised JYJ, but because of the way she praised JYJ! She definitely sounded like a veteran in working with artists and to have her impressed by out boys, fortifies even further why I love them so much. Thank you again!

  15. Ya Junchan sure knows his stuff, And Telisha you just got hit by the JYJ virus!!!! I think all the back up dancer and recorders are like all in love with Junsu. I saw this video of making films and these girls would go crazy for Junsu. Ofcourse I can't blame them, am beyond crazy for Junsu.

  16. i love telisha, i love

  17. "On our first day, JJ lost his voice so everybody was kind of nervous about that"..OMG don't tell it happened again in Seoul..I'm worried for JJ, something it's not right.

  18. ngehngehngeh...micky was evaporating...actually everytme he went to see me...

  19. awww sweet. thanks, dbsknights!

  20. Telisha, thanks for the words~~~~ i was crying and laughing at the same time reading this~ i am so proud of the boys T___T thanks!

  21. she so sweet^^ JYJ the best! HWaiting!!!!!!

  22. ~wow~ i really LOVE the fact that our boys had such a NICE and Sweet person like her to work with = Always Keep the Faith. AH! Welcome to our FanDom too, Cassie ^^

  23. I'm a PROUD CASSIE now = Our PRIDE never dissapointed us ^^ Thanks for your words, Telisha.

  24. T^T thx for interviewing her

  25. this is so awesome^^ it's nice to see other's point of view of things^^i glad she found working with JYJ a amazing experience this article just makes me so much more sure that becoming a cassie is the best thing that has ever happened to me^^ AKTF!!^^

  26. What a great interview! Telisha seems like a really cool girl! I wish her all the best in the future! :)

  27. i LOVE this interview xDDDDDDDDDDDD
    and that B&W pic of her with junsu is soooooooooo gorgeous *_______*
    junsu is such a perfect creature lol

  28. One word for this interview, LOVELY!

  29. you all are awesome!
    DBSK turned dbsknights cassies into professional interviwers! HAHA


  31. The interview very touching me to know more about the boys, who are amazing...Thx so much Telisha. Thx so much DBSKnight...XD

  32. Great read. I was wondering how the boys took to their American crew. Glad to see such nice things written about them.

  33. wow!
    lucky her! XD
    even have JJ following here on twitter now *-*
    *i just saw it right now*

    imagine how will be when is yunnie and minnie~
    YJ will have a new daughter XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

    welcome to cassie world~!

  34. hahaaaha DBSKnight you are guys so Awesome...
    I love this Interview
    For Telisha Welcome to Cassie World...
    you found THE BEST FANDOM ever
    CASSIOPEIA daebak

  35. She's really nice----good thing she wasnt freaking out 'coz other cassies were bashing her. She's a pro!