- Despite her disability, Phoebe Kochis, 19, pursued her dream and auditioned for SYTYCD.
- She was initially worried that people might not give her a chance, but when she took the stage, the support was overwhelming.
- Phoebe will be a special guest in the Academy Week. And she hopes she inspires other kids like her.
The first time she watched an episode of So You Think You Can Dance, she promised her mom, “I’m going to go on that show.”
Phoebe Kochis, 19, has Down syndrome. But that didn’t stop her from being a dancer for 16 years now since she was five, even when people doubted her.
“We were told when she was born not to get our hopes up and not to expect much,” Phoebe’s mother, Jeanie Kochis, tells PEOPLE. “She would never do normal things like ride a bike or potty train, even.”
Phoebe is unstoppable. Aside from her audition, she is also going to the Academy week as a special guest of Nigel Lythgoe, the show’s judge and executive producer.
While she cannot reveal yet what’s to come, Phoebe said she was “very excited” when she received the coveted golden ticket.
Phoebe had so much fun during the audition. She wasn’t even nervous in her performance, a jazz routine to “Tore My Heart” by OONA. Besides, Phoebe had years of training at two different studios.
“I was really excited. It was so much fun,” she recalls.
Her more concern though was, if the judges and the audiences would give her a chance.
“I was thinking there’s no way that they will respect me,” she admits.
That worry quickly faded away when Phoebe took the stage. The judges and the audience were all smiles, cheering her in every jump, extension and split. And at the end, she gained a standing ovation from the judges.
“Every move you did, you did with confidence, with love, and compassion,” D-Trix said in his analysis. Murphy added, “Watching you have that much fun gave me so much joy.”
But, Lythgoe was honest in his comments—and generous too. “Technique wise, stacked up against the other dancers that are going to be in the Academy would prove really, really difficult for you,” he said. “I don’t believe we can put you into the competition, Phoebe, but I would love for you to come to the Academy as my guest and join in and enjoy yourself.”
“I just can’t wait,” she said in tears of joy thanking the judge.
Since the audition, Phoebe also pursues a new style of dance: ballroom, which she is truly enjoying.
Above all, she and her family hope that her audition has inspired others like her to pursue their dreams despite their disabilities—or as she prefers to say “reach for the stars.”
She also thanked the people who helped her accomplish everything, her dance studios, friends and family, especially her mom: “She’s my biggest fan.”