Hoosier Valerie Rockey Taps Into Reality-Show Stardom

The Indy native tries to quick-step into the hearts of America and carry on the torch ignited by Josh Kaufman.
What are you doing tonight? This: rooting for Valerie Rockey, the first Indiana native to make it into the top 20 finalists in 11 seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, Fox’s Emmy-winning reality dance competition. Last week, she got a leg up on the competition and advanced to the top 10, a place that will ensure she gets to tour with the show following the end of the current season.
The 20-year-old Franklin Central grad began dancing at age 3 at the Tippy Toes School of Dance on the south side (and later taught there). She specializes in tap, but her prowess in contemporary dance shone last week during an all-girl group number. Until last week, I was not sure that an Evanescence song could move me to goosebumps, but beautiful miracles do happen. (Rockey, in a deep-purple dress, starts at the far right in the first clip below.)
Even more impressive than wringing emotion from an early-aughts alternative band was her joyful duet set to “Turn Down for What.” The track by DJ Snake and Lil Jon was never more entertaining than when it was masterfully paired with a schadenfreude boat trip. That is, until SYTYCD choreographers worked a little voodoo magic on the song with the whimsical help of Valerie and her partner, Ricky Ubeda.
Tonight, the top 10 pair up with all-stars from previous seasons as they vie for votes to be crowned America’s Favorite Dancer. And our hometown girl, a crowd and judge favorite, has the luck of partnering with the powerful Ade Obayomi. Tune in tonight at 8 p.m. for the live performances, or set your DVR, and have your smartphone out to support our local talent.