July 30, 2009

15 Minutes of Fame: So you think you can nuke

Forget the Brothers Karamazov. If you're looking for artistic expression, passion and the bonds of brotherhood -- plus a healthy dash of World of Warcraft -- it's all about the Brothers Kasprzak. Evan Kasprzak, a Top 6 finalist in the reality show So You Think You Can Dance, has gamed his entire life with brothers Ryan (also a top finisher in this year's SYTYCD show) and Ian. There's no denying how tight this trio is. One viewing of Evan and Ryan's journey through the beginning of this season's SYTYCD competition as a team (see video, above) or a glance at photos of the threesome with their matching wrist tattoos ("brother" in Greek) show the obvious depth of their bond. And so while Evan is socked in right now beneath the insane pace of the competition's home stretch, we snuck in a visit with Ian to find out how the family finds a foothold to fit all the pieces together.

For the gaming, dancing Kasprzaks, support from family includes the WoW family. "In top 6, you can use all the support you can get," Ian notes, "and I know how amazingly supportive the smaller WoW community on my server has been. I also love how WoW.com highlights the multidimensionality of gamers. I think it helps break down some of those stereotypes that gaming is somehow isolating and anti-social, when it is very much a social medium. ... Sometimes, the person behind that Mage that just Frostbolted you might just be someone climbing up their way to the top as America's next favorite dancer."

The Fantastic Kasprzaks and their WoW machines (left to right)
Evan Kasprzak, Kaztastic of Unknown (Andorhal-US), age 22, SYTYCD Top 6 finalist
Ian Kasprzak, Totemtastic of Unknown (Andorhal-US), age 30, supportive big brother
Ryan Kasprzak, Beartastic of Guildtastic (Andorhal-US), age 29, SYTYDC contestant

15 Minutes of Fame: So Ian -- in all of this, you're frequently pegged with the moniker "the non-dancing brother." What do you do?
Ian Kasprzak: I am a firmware (Video BIOS) programmer at NVIDIA in Silicon Valley. I have been with NVIDIA eight years. It's the perfect career path for a lifetime gamer looking to work in the industry (or at least close to it).

So how long has the Kasprzak clan been gaming?
I had an 8-bit Nintendo the year that came out (whenever that was), and my first computer was a 286, first PC game was King's Quest III, so it goes way back.

Evan, I think it would be safe to say, has been gaming his entire life. We played console games when he was younger, and as he got older he got into the Diablo II craze (he went way beyond what I did in that game). And it goes forward from there. His favorite game types are racing (NFS, mostly), the COD series -- and of course like everyone in his generation, he plays Halo pretty well. (It's embarrassing how bad he beats me at the family holiday season matches.)

WoW is the only MMO Evan has ever played; it stuck. Evan's first introduction to WoW was the semi-famous video of the interrupted funeral. After the funeral got interrupted by a PvP raid on it, one character stood up from the crowd and started massive AoE on the attackers. Evan's response: "I want to be that guy." So he rolled a Mage.

Ryan, the tapping brother from the SYTYCD Vegas episodes, is the most casual of the WoW family. He has a Hunter who is casually leveling his way to 80. He never was huge into the PC gaming thing, but we do all (and I mean all, my dad and occasionally mom included) do some family gaming over the holidays (mostly Rock Band). We bought my Mom a Wii for Mother's Day a few years ago, so it definitely runs in the family, but we each have our own gaming flavor preferences.

So do you brothers all play WoW together?
I started playing in the open beta of vanilla WoW as a Rogue; Evan was not far behind. He joined during vanilla with a bunch of his friends from college on Andorhal. That is where the -tastic naming convention got its start.

I originally was on a PVE server, and I had retired at some point after BC, lacking an endgame raiding guild (and before Arena), when I went home one holiday to find out Evan was playing actively and in a fairly strong endgame raiding guild. So back I went, this time in BC and on a PvP server, to level a Shaman. And I have been hooked ever since.

Evan is sort of on a "when he can" raiding schedule. Over the summer we raid together every week; during school, in particular because he does a lot of shows (musical theatre major at Illinois Wesleyan University), he can't always make every raid. Outside of that, we do some BGing together and have tried to stay in touch with some of our buddies by hitting the daily heroic now and again.

I am our healing officer on Andorhal, so I try to make every raid. SYTYCD has of course made that a little difficult, but my guild has helped by moving raid nights around to let me raid and still be there for Evan, watching the show, holding callout parties and of course, voting. :)

Evan does struggle to make the regular raiding part of life during school, especially with dance commitments and shows. He does PvP casually, and he will come on the occasional weekend raid when one comes up. He missed most/all of Ulduar because of SYTYCD, but we are hoping when it all calms down that we can go through it together with Guildtastic, an ad hoc group of our friends from various guilds who used to raid Naxx late at night (when Naxx was end game).

What's the in-game reaction to Evan's success been like, on your realm and/or in your guild?
It's a very interesting experience. When we knew Evan was in the final 32 (and possibly the final 20), we just told our GM that he had some "work thing" that might be coming up, since we couldn't tell anyone what was going on. Then right before the Memphis episode with Evan aired, I let the guild know to watch SYTYCD to see Kaztastic. I think most of them thought he might be in the audience. They were pretty shocked to see him onstage, and even more shocked when he went to Vegas. Being an endgame raider and PVPer, I know a lot of people on Andorhal, and near every one of them is now following along with Evan.

The most interesting thing about WoW is that you think you know people, especially with Vent, until you realize they could have this whole different skill set (like dancing) and be world class at it. I think it has been very surreal for all of them. Before this, Evan and I were just another set of brothers who hung out in the WoW world (since we live several thousand miles apart).

Has Evan had the time to play much since his SYTYCD journey began? Are there restrictions on his contact with the outside world and virtual worlds?
Evan does stop in from time to time, usually before he goes to bed. He managed to knock off the last few levels on his alt Shaman (I couldn't be prouder that he rolled a Shammie), Ankhtastic.

There aren't restrictions with the outside world -- at least, not the virtual one. The contestants are physically limited to the Los Angeles area during the competition, but they are insanely busy practicing and practicing and taping. The great thing is when he is on WoW, we get to chat (whispers and occasionally Vent), so even though I barely ever see him (I have been to LA twice since the top 20 began), I still feel connected to him.

For Evan, WoW is his outlet. The competition is intense, so everyone needs a little stress reliever. What could be better than blowing up a few Horde in a BG or beating down a boss or two?

Does anyone else on the show play WoW that you know of? Anyone that Evan can share geek-talk with?
Gamers on the show? Not that Evan has mentioned. I know Jason has at least watched Evan play WoW. And him and Phillip Chbeeb could definitely talk geek together. Phillip is a physics major and has a strong interest in inventions, so I am sure they had a common bond of geekiness.

How much do you hear from Evan at this point in the competition? Is anyone from your family with him in LA at this point?
We are a very tight-knit family. Even spaced across the U.S., we keep in touch. I mostly hear from Evan, to be honest, on WoW. It is really hard to know when he is going to have free time, so just calling him usually fails. We text also; that seems to work in between the crazy schedule he is keeping.

Right now, representing the family in LA are my mom (Barb Kasprzak), my wife (Elizabeth Kasprzak) and Mr. Rutherford, the theatre director at Groves High School in Birmingham, Mich., where we all went to school. (We all did theatre -- that also runs in the family, even those of us who went pro in a more geeky pursuit.)

It doesn't sound as if you've had much chance at all to meet up in game during these last weeks.
When Lich King came out and until Ulduar, we were meeting at minimum once a week to do a full clear of Naxx 10 every Tuesday (till like 2 a.m. California time, so 4 a.m. where he was) with Guildtastic. Other than that, it was kind of random.

WoW has always been our way to virtually keep in touch. Plane flights are vastly more expensive than a headset and a WoW account. Generally, if Evan is on, we try to do something, whether it is knocking out a few group quests for an alt leveling (that is most of what we did during SYTYCD, due to the very limited amount of time Ev was available) or hitting up a few BGs. Things that can fit in smallish time blocks -- a full time student/dancer/musical theatre player has some very small and random schedule holes.

After the competition, Evan will be heading out for the tour, won't he? Does he have a WoW-capable laptop to be able to take WoW on the road?
YES! Evan will be touring, and he has a WoW-capable laptop with him even now at SYTYCD. We went out and shopped for a very beefy Mac laptop so he could do video/audio editing for dance-related things at school ... but it is also very good as a gaming box.

So for any readers who are still wondering why we're talking to you instead of directly to Evan -- as this article goes up, what will be on Evan's agenda for the day?
Evan will be dancing for a spot in the finals on Tuesday. The actual taping of the Wednesday show on Fox is done on Tuesday, because they use Wednesday to learn the opening number for the results show. So as this article goes up, Evan will be dancing his heart out for a shot at performing at the Kodak Theatre in the Final 4 episode. The episode actually airs at 8/7c on Fox on Wednesday night.

When you last spoke with Evan, what was his outlook? How's he holding up under the pressure?
As you might imagine, the whole experience is very surreal. Evan said at least the first week, everything you did, you were like "Wow, I am really on a national television show dancing!" The first time he stepped on stage, the first time the theme music played from the speakers, etc., etc. ...

Evan is very excited about the numbers he is dancing this week. He has become very close to all the remaining dancers, so every week is a little bittersweet, no matter what the outcome is. I would say his current mood is excited for the finals. He is working very hard, and he is dancing the best he has in his whole life -- dedicating two solid months to nothing but eating, sleeping, dancing (and the occasional group quest) will do that. He is very excited at the prospect of getting to dance on the stage of the Kodak Theater in the finals and of course getting to tour the country showing off his unique Broadway stylings.

Sounds like exciting times ahead – but we're going to have to break off here and wrap up with the burning question on every reader's mind: What is Evan's favorite in-game dance?
I (just) texted him. He has two favorites: of course, the Boomkin dance (How can you not love it? Comes with instant costume ...); and the male Troll dance, because of the break dancing and the sweet stall in that dance. (See Evan's version of a stall, right.)

Here's to hoping his progress in the finals doesn't take a Trollish stall! Thanks, Ian – give our best to Evan when you next log in.

Follow Evan's progress on So You Think You Can Dance:

Ian on Twitter @Kazovation Ryan on Twitter @BearKaz (Evan isn't on Twitter and FOX rules don't allow him to change that until the competition is over.) Evan's Facebook fan page (the best place for news, updates and voting instructions)

1 评论:

maaza said...


It was a nice post about Kasprzak brothers and their dancing skills.

While dancing does a lot to lighten the mood and raise your spirits it can also help your heart and overall fitness in other ways. Dancing is a great way to get up and moving and does not feel as though you are exercising. This means that you can keep a healthy heart by dancing a little every day. The more you dance, the better you will feel and the healthier your heart will become.