Twin dancers double down on the American Dream
Story by Jessica Koslow | Photo by Maria Martin
“You guys are the cutest things on planet Earth,” gushed “So You Think You Can Dance” judge Vanessa Hudgens. “My heart is melting for you guys.”
“You guys are adorable,” added judge Mary Murphy. “I wish I could be your sister.”
For 25-year-old twins Gratsiela (Gracie) and Desislava (Desi) Sandeva of Dobrich, Bulgaria, being on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 15 was a dream come true — from the day they applied for the hit show online to the moment they stepped on the stage to audition in front of a live audience and TV cameras in New York City.
“Our life has changed for sure — for good, of course,” says Gracie. “I think we are the same Desi and Gracie from before, we are just more confident in ourselves. There was also a few times that little kids on the streets recognized us from the show.”
Although they didn’t make the cut, Gracie and Desi are not giving up their dreams just yet.
“Our biggest dream since our childhood was to be actresses in the U.S.,” says Gracie. “We have always imagined that we will be filming together with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.”
If the past is any indication of what the future holds, this dream might come true. As high school students in Bulgaria, the twins and their friends didn’t have the opportunity to watch American TV, so they watched “So You Think You Can Dance” episodes on YouTube on their phones. Desi and Gracie attempted to learn all the choreography from the show. Their favorite contestant was Stephen “Twitch” Boss, who, fast forward 10 years, was at the table of judges watching the twins groove on Season 15.
The Sandeva twins are readymade for fame, sporting bright smiles, fit bodies and energy to spare. One of their most appealing attributes is … there are two of them. They’ve never been separated.
“We are so grateful and blessed that we have each other and we know what it is to always look after someone,” Desi says. “Me and Gracie, we are so close, since [we were] kids. Our parents taught us that. For us, our family is first — always.”
Like many dancers their age, Desi and Gracie’s passion to move began by watching the film “Step Up” starring Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan.
“Our family couldn’t pay for us both to take dance classes,” says Gracie. “In school, we had our own group of girls, and we made choreography together by watching videos.”
About two years ago, the twins landed in Miami Beach on an internship program at a golf country club.
“We had a really difficult time at the beginning, everything was new — new people, new place, new home, so far away from our family and for such a long period,” says Gracie. “One day, I had a really bad day at work. Crying on my way home, I realized that if you are not happy where you are, you are the only person that can make the change. Nobody else will make it for you. I went online looking for castings, and then I saw that there was a ‘SYTYCD’ audition. We sent them one random video of us practicing a dance show that we used to do every night when we were hotel entertainers back in Bulgaria.”
“I received an email to expect a phone call the next day,” Gracie continues. “When I saw the email, I was screaming like crazy, and running to my sister to show her the email. The first thing she said was, ‘Gracie, this is our miracle, our dream will come true!’”
Twins Sandeva are still pursuing a career in entertainment while working at the Conference Room in Playa Vista, where they might start teaching classes soon.
“We are blessed that we may not have had the perfect parents, but they were the perfect parents for us,” says Gracie. “They didn’t have everything that they wanted us to have, but they gave us something more important: the courage to start taking care of ourselves since age 17. We do all of this because of them: Mama Vesi and Tati Alex, obichame vi [Mom and Dad, we love you]!”
Check out Gracie and Desi on their YouTube channel and Instagram: twinssandev.