Dancer-performer Stephen “tWitch” Boss is being remembered for his immense talent and “beautiful heart” by members of the Chapman University and entertainment communities. His wife, Allison Holker Boss, confirmed in a statement released Wednesday that Boss has died. He was 40.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to share my husband Stephen has left us,” Holker Boss said. “Stephen lit up every room he stepped into. He valued family, friends and community above all else and leading with love and light was everything to him. He was the backbone of our family, the best husband and father, and an inspiration to his fans.”
Boss, perhaps best known for his magnetic presence as DJ on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” died by suicide at a hotel on Tuesday, as reported by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner.
“It is always heartbreaking to lose family, and we are crushed by the loss of a vibrant member of ours,” said Giulio Ongaro, dean of Chapman’s College of Performing Arts. “Stephen was an incredible performer. Seeing his career flourish, from ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ to the ‘Ellen Show,’ was truly amazing. We mourn for Stephen’s loss but also for the loss his family has experienced. Our condolences to his wife, Allison, and their three children. He will be greatly missed.”
Boss thrived across multiple entertainment industry platforms, leaving his mark as a dancer, choreographer, actor and producer. But before that, he blazed across the stages and studio spaces during his two years as a student at Chapman.
“He was a lively, energetic, enthusiastic and open dancer – an engaging performer who danced in faculty and student work,” remembered Jennifer Backhaus, assistant professor in the Dance Department at Chapman. “I worked with him in the studio and when I directed concerts. Before he went on ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ he auditioned for Backhausdance, my contemporary dance company. We were going to bring him on for a season, and then he got ‘So You Think,’ and his path changed. All of us in the Chapman Dance Department were so proud of his accomplishments. My heart goes out to his family.”
“Dancers are givers of light and energy, and his reach extended far,” added Julianne O’Brien Pedersen, professor and chair of the Dance Department at Chapman. “To think that he must have suffered as deeply as he touched and inspired gives pause. Our hearts are with his family.”
Messages of Love and Loss Shared
The impact Boss had on the broader entertainment community was evident from the huge outpouring of love and remembrance being shared on social media.
“I’m heartbroken,” DeGeneres said in her Instagram post. “I loved him with all my heart. I will miss him. Please send your love and support to Allison and his beautiful children – Weslie, Maddox, and Zaia.”
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“TWitch greeted the world every day with a beautiful smile that was a direct reflection of his beautiful heart,” Paula Abdul posted. “He was a beacon of light & a true talent whose legacy & impact will live on in the dance community.”
A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Boss studied at Southern Union State Community College before transferring to Chapman, where he studied for two years before leaving in 2008 to pursue professional opportunities. He took his nickname with him. He earned the moniker as a child because of his inability to sit still.
In its story on the passing of Boss, CNN shared quotes that reflect his restless energy, from a podcast appearance by Boss with author Lewis Howes.
“I have always been that type ‘Don’t tell me what I won’t do,’” Boss said. “I remember talking to [his father] outside of his work in the parking lot and telling him, ‘Hey, I’m joining the dance team. I’m going to need some shows and some money to get supplies,’ and he went on this tangent. …I was like, ‘Oh, that means I’m really supposed to do this then.’”
As part of her statement, Holker Boss – also a dancer – shared a message for her husband.
“Stephen, we love you, we miss you,” she said, “and I will always save the last dance for you.”
If you or anyone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.