So You Think You Can Dance

Mike Cohen meets dancers Jaja, Gaby, Virgil and Hailee.

Montreal dance fans got a real treat last Thursday night when the Top 10 finishers from Season 12 of Fox TV’s So You Think You Can Dance concluded an exhausting 70 city tour at the Theatre St. Denis. It was at the much larger Bell Centre the past few years. This venue was a much better fit.

Like I had the previous three years, I was able to meet privately and interview the top four dancers — champion Gaby Diaz and runners up Jana “Jaja” Vankova, Hailee Payne and Virgil Gadson — a few hours before the curtain went up. They were later joined on stage by Edson Juarez, Jim Nowakowski, Derek Piquette, Megan “Megz” Alfonso, Eddie “Neptune” Eskridge and Jessica “JJ” Rabone for a spectacular two-hour performance.

Please check out my blog for interviews and a recap of the show, as well as the Multimedia-video section of our website for my video chat with Gaby, Jaja, Hailee and Virgil. What was their favorite restaurant while in town? “We went to this placed called Eggspectation downtown and it was amazing,” said Virgil, as his dance mates nodded in agreement. “I wish we had more time here.”

ROBINSON’S POKER HAND: Why was Larry Robinson never asked to be part of the Montreal Canadiens coaching staff? The legendary former Habs defenceman was not saying last week when I met with him at the Playground Poker Club in Kahnawake, where as director of charitable initiatives he was helping to raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Since he is presently under contract to the San Jose Sharks, he stayed away from any Habs talk and reiterated his love and affection for Montreal. See my blog for a more detailed story.

DIAMOND’S FIND: The highly respected Israeli newspaper Haaretz reached out to Côte St. Luc’s Stanley Diamond last week to confirm a claim that Yisrael Kristal, an Auschwitz survivor living in Haifa, is the oldest man in the world. Following the death in Japan of a man nearing his 113th birthday, 112-year-old Kristal gets into the Guinness Book of Records. Diamond is the director of the JRI (Jewish Records Index), which took on the task of locating archived documents that are required in order to substantiate a claim and recognize it as a record. The organization specializes in finding documentation relating to Polish Jews and has a database of more than five million records of births, marriages and deaths among Polish Jewry. Soon after I submitted my column to the editor, I learned that Laval resident Cicilia Laurent turned 120 on Sunday. So it seems Guinness needs to come here.

THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF GENOCIDE SURVIVORS: Montreal’s Myra Giberovitch, a noted adjunct professor at the McGill School of Social Work, a Genocidal Trauma consultant and the author of Recovering from Genocidal Trauma, recently gave a TEDxMontreal talk that focused on her work with Holocaust survivors and their contributions to society. Last week she released a video, which we have posted on the Multimedia-video section of our website. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events, celebrating locally-driven ideas and elevating them to a global stage. “I’d like to create awareness about genocide survivors’ contributions,” says Myra. You can also log on to

COHEN CHATTER This is Poutine Week and NDG’s Sarah Segal-Lazar has created a very funny song for the occasion which you can watch in our Multimedia-video section. “As a gluten-free vegetarian, poutine is rarely an option for me these days,” she says. “However when I find out that it’s a recipe that I can eat, I order it straight away!” Check out Dave Stubbs is still smarting after Postmedia, owners of The Gazette, did not let him publish a farewell column. Scroll down my blog until you arrive at Stubbs or check out The Suburban Facebook page for the full transcript.

Have something to share? E-mail me at or leave a message at 514-484- 9203, ext. 307. Follow me on Twitter @mikecohencsl and on our blog section at

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