ASA Presents Dominic "D-Trix" Sandoval

Two months ago, dancer and YouTube sensation Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval was scheduled to make an appearance at Carnegie Mellon, but the event had to be postponed. However, the wait was worth it when he finally took the stage in McConomy this past Thursday.

I have loosely followed D-Trix since 2007, when he first came into the public eye as a contestant on the third season of So You Think You Can Dance, one of my favorite shows. After a win on America’s Best Dance Crew in 2009 (which I sadly missed as a 10-year-old with no control of the TV remote), he met and befriended YouTuber Ryan Higa while touring with his dance crew in Las Vegas. Higa, the most popular YouTuber at the time, encouraged Sandoval to join the platform, and D-Trix’s channel TheDOMINICshow has amassed 3.6 million subscribers since its creation in Jan. 2010.

His channel consists of a wide variety of content, including but not limited to comedy sketches, “ULTIMATE DANCE CHALLENGE” videos where he teaches other YouTubers dance routines in a single day, and food challenges where he and his friends try to eat an excessive amount of food in a short time period. While maintaining his YouTube channel, he has also recently picked up the piano and joined the cast of So You Think You Can Dance as a judge this past year. Sandoval seems to do it all.

His appearance at Carnegie Mellon proved this point even further. Hosted by Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Asian Student Association (ASA), Sandoval came to the university with a unique show that featured a piano duet, some iconic D-Trix dance moves, a last-minute inspirational speech, and a whole lot of self-deprecating comedy.

He shared his more difficult experiences and infused them with humor without detracting from the seriousness of the topics discussed, which included alcoholism, family, and faith. His duet with girlfriend Bethany Mota was a sweet and funny back and forth about their romance and about ignor- ing the hate that their 10-year age gap brings. To be perfectly honest, I was so engrossed in his stories that I didn’t take any notes about the specific jokes that hit. His way of looking at the bright side of everything was really admirable, and his more inappropriate (considering some of Dietrich’s administration was present) jokes were met with uproarious laughter.

After his main set, which ran overtime because everyone was so engaged in his storytelling that they lost track of time, there was a question and answer session with D-Trix, which was moderated by ASA’s Vice President of Events, sophomore Justin Wang. Although led by Wang, the questions were primarily from the audience, who mostly asked questions about his experiences and asked for advice.

D-Trix finished in a respectable eighth place on So You Think You Can Dance, which is impressive considering he had never had prior training due to his freestyling, b-boy background. Someone asked him about his experience on the show, and he said that there’s something about “having an ego as a hip hop dancer.” He explained, “I thought every other dance style was trash ... I was so unaware, and the whole thing was a joke.” He didn’t expect to get that far in the show, which he attributes it to the fact that he was playing around while going through the whole experience. Even though he didn’t have an awareness of the other styles, he said there was something beneficial about “be[ing] the first one to call yourself out.” Skill isn’t everything, a big part of it is your “ability to show up.”

As for shifting platforms, he isn’t hostile to others who rise to fame rapidly on the internet. Someone asked about his opinion on TikTok dancers, and he thought it was “completely cool whatever people use as a platform.” As a person who jokes about dance himself, he thinks it’s great that people can “continue to get paid to play.”

D-Trix himself hopes to contribute more on Instagram and potentially join the ranks of TikTok, although he has bigger dreams in the future. He plans to release a music video album on his YouTube this summer and hopes to work on short and feature films. He wants to create musicals that speak to him and feel real, calling out High School Musical as an unrealistic representation of teenage life.

When asked about how to stay focused, improve, and stay calm when faced with challenges such as dance auditions, he advised that it is important to have “the ability to turn off your brain and enjoy while you’re there.” Speaking on choreography, he said, “It’s not about what it is, but about creating what it is.”

Lastly, there was a meet-and-greet session. Finally meeting someone you’ve watched since you were eight is a hard experience to describe. It’s surreal. Especially when they’re as authentic as you expect them to be. D-Trix was funny, humble, and gracious, on and off stage, which made the event all the more meaningful.