Dude can dance: Teen tries for new Fox show

At a 2004 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new home of the Music Resource Center, Isaih Anderson– a local teen who's spent countless hours practicing his dance moves at the Center– said he hoped to eventually make as much money as the Dave Matthews Band. It seems he's on the right track.

In mid-May, Anderson made the first cut in tryouts for So You Think You Can Dance?, a new Fox network reality show by the creators of American Idol. The show is set to premiere July 20 at 8pm.

Dancing wasn't always a dream for the 19-year-old, who says he thought "dancing was for girls" until his step-dad taught him a few moves. Soon, he says, he was hooked and performing in high school talent shows and for Live Arts' Lattehouse.

But after his mother saw an ad for the new show, which offers a $1 million prize to the winner, Anderson– now a student at PVCC– convinced a cousin to drive him to D.C. for the first-round tryouts. The two arrived late, but after Anderson did some sweet-talking, producers agreed to let him join the other 400 would-be contestants.

Although "The competition was stiff," Anderson says, he hung in and survived the first cut in the hip-hop division. Next stop: New York. Anderson's family joined him for that trip the following week, so they were there to comfort him when he got the bad news that he'd been cut.

"I was disappointed," he says, "but I learned a lot."

He wasn't disappointed for long. The following morning, producers reached Anderson at home.

"We made a mistake," they told him, asking that he re-audition. The only catch: He has to pay his own way to the tryouts, which are now being held in L.A.

With help from the Music Resource Center, Anderson has raised money for his trip west. He leaves Friday, June 3– by himself this time.

Anderson's friend Chopi Ortega, also 19, says his pal has what it takes to win the show.

He recalls a night at a frat party when a group of guys were showing off their hip-hop dance moves. After a little pushing from friends, Anderson went out and "just crushed 'em," laughs Ortega. "Everyone's like, 'Ahhhh. He's nasty."

A modest Anderson shrugs, then turns serious.

"It's something I want so bad," he says, not just for himself, but for his brother, Robert Lee Cooke, who Anderson calls the "closest thing I have to a father." Cooke is currently facing charges stemming from the shooting of Albemarle police dog, Ingo, last October. Cooke, who was also shot in that incident, has been in a wheelchair since then. His case is scheduled to go before a grand jury on June 6 in Albemarle Circuit Court.

His brother's difficulties only strengthen Anderson's desire to win the show.

"Lately everything's just falling apart," he says, "so when something like this comes along, something you've worked for your whole life, you just can't let it slip past you."

Isaih Anderson will fly to L.A. for second-round tryouts for the Fox show.