Playing through the pain

Their bodies are sore and sleep-deprived. Some have shed blood, and all have shed tears.

Tara-Jean Popowich and Everett Smith perform a Quick Step routine in So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Try letting yourself be carried around with displaced ribs

TORONTO — Their bodies are sore and sleep-deprived. Some have shed blood, and all have shed tears.

Yet the four contestants still standing on So You Think You Can Dance Canada “never have a broken spirit,” says Jean Marc Genereux, a judge on the CTV series that wraps its second season on Sunday.

“Those kids make it look like it’s so easy, and it’s not — it’s just an illusion,” Genereux, a Montreal ballroom champion, said in a recent phone interview.

“They’re just very very good.”

Season 2, hosted by Leah Miller, has seen several injuries since it began in August.

Contemporary dancer Tara-Jean Popowich, 20, of Lethbridge, who is in the Top 4, said she’s had “a couple of breakdowns” and has collapsed while dancing because of her two displaced ribs.

“Every morning I go to see someone to pop them back in again,” she said this week in a conference call with reporters after rehearsing for Sunday’s finale.

“So it’s been quite the struggle because I want to dance on that stage, I want to dance full out, but sometimes your body is not letting you.”

Another Top 4 finalist, Everett Smith of Glen Morris, Ont., also had two displaced ribs, as well as vertebrae problems in his neck, earlier this season.

And this week, he sustained a shoulder injury after lifting Montreal’s Jayme Rae Dailey — a 21-year-old contemporary specialist who is also in the Top 4 — during a samba.

“It’s just go big or go home,” said Smith, 25, known for his tap dancing.

“We love doing what we do so much that there is no way that a little injury, no matter how big or how small it is, is going to keep us from going on that stage and doing what we love to do.”

Dailey and Vincent Desjardins — a Trois-Rivieres, Que., ballroom expert who rounds out the Top 4 — haven’t broken anything but are exhausted nonetheless.

“We are always sore,” said Desjardins, 20. “I try to tell myself all the time: ’This is what you signed up for, this is the most amazing experience ever, just go for it,’ ” added Dailey, who has a twin sister who’s also a dancer.

Sunday night’s winner, as chosen by viewers, will receive $100,000 and a 2010 Mazda 3 Sport car. The runner-up will also get the same car.

At the start of Tuesday’s final performance episode, Genereux and his fellow judges Tre Armstrong, Blake McGrath and Luther Brown predicted a woman would win.

But stellar performances from the guys that night changed their minds, said Genereux: “At the end, I was totally confused.”

Like Season 1, in which Montreal’s Nico Archambault was the victor, this season has been a steamy one, with slinky outfits showing hard bodies and raunchy moves.

In Tuesday’s episode, a burlesque-style performance from Popowich and Dailey had the male judges practically panting.

“For me, it needs to remain tasteful and I think so far we’ve done a pretty good job,” said Genereux, who also choreographs on the U.S. version of the show.

“Obviously it was sometimes very hot in the studio — and keep in mind that I’m wearing a three-piece suit all the time, and I’ve got my tie — so yes my blood pressure went a little high.”

American star choreographer Mia Michaels, who recently left the U.S. series, will be at Sunday’s finale.

Genereux said he doesn’t know if Michaels plans to continue as a guest choreographer on the Canadian show, which was recently renewed for a third season.

“I am going to tell you this for a fact, though: Mia Michaels loves the Canadian production,” he said.

“She loves the way we’re doing business, she likes the freedom they allow her. They allow her to be the artist she wants to be.”

Canadian dancer Rex Harrington will also be a guest judge on Sunday’s finale, along with Kenny Ortega, who directed the “High School Musical” films and the upcoming Michael Jackson documentary.

The audition tour for Season 3 kicks off next month, with stops in five cities including Toronto on Nov. 14, Montreal during the weekend of Nov. 28 and Vancouver on Dec. 5.

There are no dates yet for the other stops: Calgary and an East Coast city still to be announced.

The Top 10 from this season will go on an 18-city Canadian tour beginning Nov. 25 in Kelowna, B.C.

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