What can Amy and Fik-Shun expect now that they’re officially the winners of “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 10? We caught up with all 10 former champs to find out about their post-“SYTYCD” lives.

Eliana with Dmitry Chaplin on an episode of "Bones." (photo by Patrick McElhenney/Fox)

Eliana Girard, Season 9

Eliana started rehearsals for Taylor Swift’s Red Tour just a few months after her win. “The show made me more inspired to grow as an artist,” says the ballerina, who will spend this month performing with T-Swift in Australia.

(photo by Gilles Toucas)

Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, Season 9

Talk about branching out—this ballet boy-wonder has got acting (a guest-starring role on “Bones,” plus several commercials), clothing design (an upcoming “CheForce” line for dancers) and choreography projects (alongside Mia Michaels) in the works. He’s also launched his own dance convention, CheForce. “I couldn’t be more grateful that America gave me the chance to grow on the show,” he says. “The journey completely changed me.”

(photo by Jonathan Ressler)

Lauren Froderman, Season 7

Lauren had just graduated high school when she made it onto the show, and she put off college to tour as the “SYTYCD” champion. She then danced full-time for a while—teaching master classes and performing on “Glee” and at the Kids’ Choice Awards. But now she’s a full-fledged college girl! Lauren will graduate from Loyola Marymount University in 2015 with a BA in liberal studies. “Then I’ll get back into the grind of auditioning,” she says.

(courtesy Russell Ferguson)

Russell Ferguson, Season 6

Krumper Russell recently choreographed for Ukraine’s version of “SYTYCD,” started his own company called SideStreet and snagged a featured role (alongside Chehon) in the new dance flick East Side Story. Bostonians can catch him in Tony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker, December 6–22, at John Hancock Hall.

(photo by Josh Williams)

Jeanine Mason, Season 5

“SYTYCD” was the first of many TV appearances for Jeanine. In addition to her former recurring role on “Bunheads,” she’ll appear on TNT’s “Major Crimes” this month and recently shot pilots for MTV and Fox. She’s also been attending University of California—Los Angeles. “Graduating this year will be a proud moment!” she says.

(courtesy Joshua Allen)

Joshua Allen, Season 4

In addition to being a Season 10 All-Star, Joshua’s pursuing a career as a triple threat. He was featured in Step Up 3D and Footloose, appeared on “Community” and “American Horror Story” and plans to release his first album this year.

(photo by Quinn Baston)

Sabra Johnson, Season 3

Since her win, Sabra has been dancing all over the world. She spent a year with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in NYC, danced in Mexico City and Germany and is now a member of dance theater company Staatstheater Darmstadt in Austria.

Benji Performing on "Dancing with the Stars" (photo by Adam Taylor/ABC)

Benji Schwimmer, Season 2

Benji’s been busy choreographing for the stars: He created and danced in Paula Abdul’s final “American Idol” performance. Staying true to his swing-dance roots, he’s also won the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championship the past four years in a row with partner Torri Smith.

Melanie and Nick performing at The Dance Awards (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Melanie Moore, Season 8

If it seems like Melanie’s all over your TV screen, that’s because she is. She burned up the dance floor as a Season 10 All-Star, danced at the Primetime Emmy Awards in September and played a New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts student on Season 4 of “Glee.” She’s also a member of contemporary company Shaping Sound.

Nick Lazzarini, Season 1

Besides his fame as the very first “SYTYCD” champ, Nick is probably best known as a founding member of Shaping Sound. He’s also a beloved faculty member at JUMP dance convention. How can future contestants achieve his level of success? “Make sure you’re open to anything and everything,” he says.

Every year, Dance Spirit partners with competitions to choose on-the-rise dancers who have what it takes to make it in the dance world: technique, performance quality and a great personality. We’re proud to present the 2013 winners of the DS Future Star Award!

Jeremy Kelly, 16

Encore Performing Arts Center

Turn It Up Dance Challenge, Ocean City, MD

(courtesy Jeremy Kelly)

Leah Roga, 12

All About Dance, Scottsdale, AZ

Spotlight Dance Cup, Las Vegas, NV

(courtesy Leah Roga)

Brooke Judge, 9

Performance Edge Dance Company, Weston, FL
Starpower Talent Competition, Orlando, FL

(courtesy Brooke Judge)

Camila Carrera, 15

Pointe Coupee Dance Academy, New Roads, LA

Celebration Talent Competition, Panama City, FL

(courtesy Camila Carrera)

Colleen Loverde, 18

Denise Sabala Dance Studios, Lake Zurich, IL

Revolution Talent Competition, Chicago, IL

(photo by Caroline Cliff Photography)

Gavin Morales, 8

Dolce Dance Studio, Fresno, CA

Starpower Talent Competition, Las Vegas, NV

(courtesy Gavin Morales)

Emili Elkins, 9

Mountain Home School of the Arts, Mountain Home, AR

Starpower Talent Competition, Branson, MO

(courtesy Emili Elkins)

Kenya Slaughter, 15

Deborah’s Stage Door, Rochester Hills, MI

Starpower Talent Competition, Orlando, FL

(courtesy Kenya Slaughter)

Kiley McDermott, 10

Central Florida Dance Center, Winter Garden, FL

Starpower Talent Competition, Orlando, FL

(photo by Todd Adams Photography)

Lotus Colley, 13

Dancensations Dance Center, Alexandria, VA

Starpower Talent Competition, Ocean City, MD

(courtesy Lotus Colley)

Madelyn Manlove, 14

Collective Dance Artistry, Helotes, TX

Encore Performing Arts Showcase, Las Vegas, NV

(courtesy Break the Floor Productions)

Mallory McGeorge, 14

Rock City Dance Center, Little Rock, AR

Starpower Talent Competition, Branson, MO

(photo by John David Pittman)

Luke Zuliani, 18

Annemarie’s Dance Academy, Orangeville, Ontario

Starpower Talent Competition, Myrtle Beach, SC

(courtesy Luke Zuliani)

Nathan C. Beech, 16

DeGrasse Dance Studio, Woodbridge, VA

Elite Performance Challenge, Boston, MA

(photo by Suhail Mir)

Rhianna Kelba, 14

The Dance Factory, Calgary, Alberta

Dance Olympus/DANCEAMERICA, Chicago, IL

(photo by Dancesnaps)

Rosie Salazar, 18

Dance Unlimited, Buda, TX

Starbound National Talent Competition, San Antonio, TX

(courtesy Rosie Salazar)

Serena Shea, 13

TDS Dance & Acrobatics, North Easton, MA

Starpower Talent Competition, Uncasville, CT

(photo by Timothy Lentz)

Sydney Parker, 16

Dancers Corner, Greer, SC

Encore Dance Competition, Savannah, GA

(courtesy Sydney Parker)

Takia Hopson, 16

DanceMakers of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA

L.A. DanceMagic, Irvine, CA

(photo by Fred Brooks)

Tessa Miracle, 9

8 Count Dance Studio, Green, OH

Open Call Competition, Virginia Beach, VA

(photo by Platoon Dance Competition Photography and Video)

Ali Cerza, 18

Premiere Dance of Hillsborough,Hillsborough Township, NJ

Starbound National Talent Competition, Orlando, FL

(photo by Susan Harding-Milan Rose Photography)

Amanda Peet, 11

Rolann’s School of the Dance, Longwood, FL

Headliners Dance Competition, Lancaster, PA

(photo by Carlin Canfield)

Ashley Pollicelli, 15

Innovation Academy Charter School, Tyngsboro, MA

Step Up 2 Dance, Manchester, NH

(courtesy Step Up 2 Dance)

Chase Whitacre, 11

Movement Dance Academy, Eatontown, NJ

Starbound National Talent Competition, Atlantic City, NJ

(courtesy Chase Whitacre)

Courtney Scarr, 19

Pam Rossi’s Dance Ten and Performing Arts, Moorpark, CA

Spotlight Dance Cup, Las Vegas, NV

(courtesy Break the Floor Productions)

Dominique Cevasco, 16

Dance Connection Performing Arts Centre, Concord, CA

Starbound National Talent Competition, Buena Park, CA

(photo by Paul Da Silva)

Emily Long, 18

Deborah Moore Academy of Dance, Harrison, AR

Spotlight Dance Cup, Branson, MO

(photo by Rodda Photography)

Hannah Winship, 11

McKeon Dance and Gymnastics Center, Hopedale, MA

Starpower Talent Competition, Ocean City, MD

(courtesy Hanna Winship)

Julia Touhey, 18

EXPRESS Dance and Acrobatics, Milford, MA

Turn It Up Dance Challenge, Cape Cod, MA

(photo by 4 Star Productions)

Katie Kitzenberg, 16

Diversity Dance Studio, Billings, MT

Velocity Dance Competition, Las Vegas, NV

(courtesy Katie Kitzenberg)

Kennedy Brown, 14

Eclipse Performing Arts Center, Chesterton, IN

Hall of Fame Dance Challenge,  Sandusky, OH

(photo by David Hofmann)

Laura Haver, 17

Broadway Dance Theatre, North Plainfield, NJ

Starpower Talent Competition, Ocean City, MD

(courtesy Laura Haver)

Lexi Tonniges, 13

Intermix Dance Company, Lincoln, NE

Hall of Fame Dance Challenge, Las Vegas, NV

(courtesy Hall of Fame)

Madison Gabrielle Ross, 15

Arielettes, Wheeling, WV

Extreme Talent Showcase, Pittsburgh, PA

(photo by Betsy Shuttleworth)

Melanie Gugino, 13

Fusion Dance Studio, Buffalo, NY

Starbound National Talent Competition, Chicago, IL

(photo by Team Creative)

Melanie Spilatore, 18

Artists In Motion, Kendall Park, NJ

Groove National Dance Competition, Atlantic City, NJ

(photo by Brian Mengini)

Nevaeh Lynn Meraz, 12

Dance Productions, Pearland, TX

Artists Simply Human, Atlantic City, NJ

(courtesy Star Systems National Talent Competition)

Paige Thomas, 16

Elite Academy of Dance, South Elgin, IL

Celebration Talent Competition, Wisconsin Dells, WI

(photo by Roque Me Photos)

Rachael Jackson, 15

Sierra Performing Arts Center, Visalia, CA

Starbound National Talent Competition, Lake Tahoe, CA

(photo by Shinn Photography)

Rebecca Corrigan, 17

Adagio Dance Company, Rochester Hills, MI

Hall of Fame Dance Challenge, Virginia Beach, VA

(courtesy Rebecca Corrigan)

Ricky Ubeda, 17

Stars Dance Studio, Miami, FL

Hall of Fame Dance Challenge, Orlando, FL

(courtesy Ricky Ubeda)

Rose Iannaccone, 14

Dance Unlimited, Hamden, CT

Starpower Talent Competition, Uncasville, CT

(courtesy Rose Iannaccone)

Ross Lindhout, 16

Dance Dimensions, Grand Rapids, MI

Encore Dance Competition, Atlantic City, NJ

(photo by Darren Breen)

Summer Locke, 10

N.Y.C. Dance, Ocoee, FL

Starpower Talent Competition, Myrtle Beach, SC

(photo by Paul Riccardi-Five Star Photography)

Taylor Warren, 16

Academie de Ballet, Chesapeake, VA

Marvonna National Dance Competition, Supply, NC

(photo by Katie Auletti-Smith)

Dance News

Congratulations to the newest "Dancing with the Stars" champs, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver and his pro partner Peta Murgatroyd!

In the end, the final three stars—Driver, Katherine Jenkins and William Levy—were all earning perfect and near-perfect scores for their full-out routines. (Dare we say this has been the most-talented season yet?) But when America weighed in, Driver had stolen the hearts and votes of viewers around the country and was awarded the coveted mirror ball trophy.

Now you tell us: Did the right star win? Who was your favorite? Who do you want to see dance again in the upcoming all-star season? We want to know!

Dance News

On Friday night, the Dance Spirit editors got all gussied up to head to The Dance Awards! Always a fabulous event, this year’s evening didn't disappoint. It included tons of dance celebs and fantastic guest performances. (My favorite? A funny/sexy/super-cute tango number by Nick Lazzarini and Melanie Moore.)

The best parts by far, though, were the student performances. Comp kids we’ve been watching for years stood out in number after number, and these dancers are doing a great job growing up. Jayci Kalb was stronger than ever. Kayla Mak was radiant (and still oh-so-cute). And former Cover Model Search finalist Alyssa Ness was beaming, front and center in the opening number.

The big stars of the night were the Best Dancer winners. Can’t wait to see what these talented dancers do next:

Mini Male Best Dancer, Joey Britt

Mini Female Best Dancer, Tate McCrae:

Junior Male Best Dancer, Julian Lombardi

Junior Female Best Dancer, Kallani Hilliker:

Teen Male Best Dancer, Jhaleil Swaby

Teen Female Best Dancer, Christina Ricucci

Senior Male Best Dancer, Zelig Williams

Senior Female Best Dancer, Miriam Gittens

And the 2013 Studio of the Year: JCSOD

Congratulations, dancers!

Dance News

Kellie and Derek perform their "Instant Dance" to surprise music on last night's finale. Check out how together they are! (ABC/Adam Taylor)


Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough!

On last night’s “DWTS” finale, these two blonde cuties nabbed the coveted Mirrorball Trophy. And they certainly earned it at Monday night’s finals, snagging a perfect score with their fun quickstep and moving the judges to tears with their freestyle. But the competition was tough, and we were left guessing until the bitter end about whether Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy would steal the prize.

In case you missed it, check out the video of their awesome quickstep here:

Then, watch their fun “After Party” on "Good Morning America" this morning:

What do you think? Did Kellie and Derek deserve the prize? Or were you rooting for someone else?

by Joe Toreno

There’s no better feeling than rooting for your favorite “So You Think You Can Dance” contestants all season long and then seeing them come out on top. That’s exactly what happened for ballet enthusiasts across the country, who have been hoping since Vegas Week that America would recognize Eliana Girard and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp’s fantastic technical skills (not to mention their onstage charisma). The Season 9 winners—the first male/female pair to be named America’s Favorite Dancers—have come a long way, and their journeys started long before they set foot in front of the judges.

Click here to read how Eliana Girard became America's Favorite Girl in "Dancing Queen."

Click here to get the inside scoop on Chehon Wespi-Tschopp's rise to the top in "Dancing King."

Photography by Joe Toreno

It was one of the most emotional moments in one of “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 9’s most emotional routines: Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, 23, leapt across the stage, his face a picture of anguish, to rest his head on a suitcase that represented all the possessions he had left in the world. By the time the dance was over and the judges were wiping away tears, there was no doubt: Ballet dancer Chehon had proven that his passion and performance were every bit as strong as his classical technique.

Still, no one was more surprised than Chehon himself when Cat Deeley announced he was the season’s male winner. “I knew I would be the runner-up, and I was OK with that! I was ready to hug Cyrus [Spencer] and congratulate him,” Chehon says. “When Cat said my name, I was shocked. I didn’t know I had that much support from the viewers.”

It wasn’t an easy road to “SYTYCD” success, but Chehon earned his title as America’s Favorite Guy. Here’s how he made the most of his time in the Top 20—and found a place in America’s hearts. Overcoming a Late Start

Born in Chicago and raised in Australia and Switzerland, Chehon didn’t take his first ballet class until he was 13. “I saw my first ballet performance—Swan Lake,” he says. “Afterward, I tried to do the choreography in my living room. I hit my head and had to go to the hospital—so my parents decided to find me a proper dance school.”

He started at a ballet school in Zurich, and a year later asked his parents about going abroad to study more seriously. After auditioning and being accepted to Germany’s Hamburg Ballet School, the John Cranko School at Stuttgart Ballet and The Royal Ballet School in London, he chose RBS.

“When I got to London, it was a shock,” Chehon says. “I’d never seen so many guys in ballet. I showed up thinking I’d be the next Mikhail Baryshnikov, and it burst my bubble. I had a lot of catching up to do.” But he did catch up, going on to win the 2009 Senior Grand Prix at the American Dance Competition. He was ready to go pro.

Finding a Professional Path

In September 2009, Chehon joined Los Angeles Ballet, where he stayed for two seasons. With LAB, Chehon performed Giselle, The Nutcracker, George Balanchine pieces and works by “SYTYCD” notables Sonya Tayeh and Mandy Moore. “Chehon really matured during his time with us,” says Colleen Neary, co-director of LAB. “When we hired him, he had very good technique, but he didn’t have much performing experience. In those two years, he grew into an artist.”

Working with Tayeh and Moore exposed Chehon to a side of dance he’d never seen. “They opened my eyes,” he says. “From then on, I knew I wanted to move into the commercial world.” He started by taking himself further from his classical comfort zone by joining the national tour of Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away. He was on that tour when he took the leap and auditioned for “SYTYCD.”

A “SYTYCD” Journey

Unlike fellow winner Eliana Girard, Chehon wasn’t an early favorite. He struggled in Vegas Week, never having studied anything besides ballet, and in the live shows he had trouble emoting. “Leaving home at a young age meant I had to let go of a lot of friends. I find it hard to open up,” he says. “And I treated the first episodes as a ballet audition, without thinking to bring personality.”

He landed in the bottom three early on, but the judges were quick to save him. “We had so much faith in Chehon,” says judge Mary Murphy. “We wanted everyone to see what we saw.”

After his brush with elimination, Chehon was shaken. “Chehon’s extraordinary, but when we were working on ‘I Will Always Love You,’ his confidence was low,” says choreographer Stacey Tookey. “I’d give him a step and he’d do what I wanted and more—and then he’d ask, ‘Was that okay?’ ” The piece was a triumph for Chehon and partner Witney Carson, but it took a few more weeks for Chehon to truly open up onstage. The week his mom traveled from Switzerland to see the show, he danced a steamy Argentine tango with All-Star Anya Garnis and an emotional solo. The next week, he moved the judges to tears in Tyce Diorio’s suitcase routine. “We’d just seen him make an enormous jump forward,” Murphy says. “Just like that, Chehon stepped into stardom.”

In the Top 4, Chehon’s vulnerable performance in Tookey’s “Leave” with All-Star Allison Holker brought the house down. “On top of the tricks, we finally saw Chehon the artist,” Tookey says.

For Chehon, being on the show “turned everything upside-down,” he says. “I entered the show feeling like I had so much growing to do­­—but I definitely didn’t expect to win!”

And now that he has won? “I want to use this as a stepping stone,” he says. “I’d like to take acting classes and do more choreography. Whatever’s next, I’m excited!”


Full name: Chehon Biko Fidelio Wespi-Tschopp

Favorite movies: Star Wars, Avatar, Watchmen—“any epic science fiction”

On his iPod: Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter, District 78

Non-dance hobbies: “I like going snowboarding whenever I’m home in Switzerland. I love to choreograph and can spend hours listening to new music. I also like to cook!”

Dance idols: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Carlos Acosta

Advice for Dance Spirit readers: “Dance with honesty and find ways to push through negativity. There will always be someone who can do something better than you can, so you have to find a way to make it yours. Also, ‘SYTYCD’ taught me that it’s not always about being perfect. Ultimately, the audience doesn’t connect to perfection—they connect to the passion and love in your movement. Watch everything and everyone—

there’s something to learn from even the most inexperienced dancer.”

Photography by Joe Toreno

“I went blank!” That was 21-year-old Eliana Girard’s reaction when Cat Deeley announced her as the “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 9 female winner. “People were clapping, I was crying and I honestly didn’t know what was going on,” Eliana says. “I’d dreamed of winning, but I never thought it would actually happen.”

That’s right: The girl who got nothing but praise from the judges all season never thought of herself as a shoo-in for the title. For Eliana, the journey to the finale was a reward in itself. “Every week, I got excited all over again,” she says. “I told myself, ‘This only happens once. Stay in the moment. Remember everything.’ ”

As a viewer, it was easy to see that enthusiasm and gratitude—both in Eliana’s complete commitment in the studio and onstage, and in her radiant smile after each performance. “Eliana is a ray of sunshine,” says choreographer Stacey Tookey, who created the stunning “Bang Bang” contemporary duet with All-Star Alex Wong that Eliana picked as her favorite routine of the season. “In addition to having this gorgeous ability and a great personality, she spent the show going, ‘Okay, what else can I learn?’ ”

Superb classical technique, natural artistry, the ability to adapt to any style, a genuine desire to grow and a positive attitude? Sounds like a recipe for a long and fulfilling career.

A Solid Foundation

A native of West Palm Beach, FL, Eliana started dancing when she was 3. She began at Jon Mullen Performing Arts Center, and then followed her best friend to Susan Lyle Studios, where she studied jazz, modern and acrobatics in addition to ballet. As a teen, Eliana attended summer programs at American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC. In 2007, the Joffrey Ballet School offered her a spot in its year-round program on full scholarship.

“Going from living at home to being on my own in NYC was a huge challenge,” Eliana says, “but I was ready to get out there.” After a year at the Joffrey Ballet School, Eliana realized classical ballet wasn’t her final destination. “I wanted to dance professionally, but in ballet, my body type was scrutinized,” she says. She wanted to branch out and learn other styles, which is how she ended up on scholarship at The Ailey School in 2008.

The Ailey faculty saw the seeds of what would captivate America on “SYTYCD.” “Eliana came to us with a wonderful facility,” says Tracy Inman, co-director of The Ailey School. “I was impressed with her ability not only to pick up choreography and perform it well, but also to understand that artistry is as important as technique.”

Going Pro 

One day in 2009, Eliana showed up for class at Ailey and saw Cirque du Soleil was holding an audition in the building. “I went in and said, ‘I don’t have a headshot or a resumé, but I’d love to audition,’ ” she says. The gamble paid off: Eliana was chosen for the original cast of Viva ELVIS in Las Vegas. When the school year was done, she went to Montreal to start rehearsals.

Performing with Cirque was a life-changing experience. In addition to mastering the aerial skills she showcased on “SYTYCD,” Eliana “learned to make the same choreography fresh every time, because we did the same show 10 times a week,” she says. “You have to make your work interesting for the audience, but also for yourself.”

Eliana danced in Viva ELVIS until February 2012. At that point, she was ready to see what other opportunities the dance world had to offer. “I heard ‘SYTYCD’ was having auditions in L.A. I’ve been a fan of the show since day one and I’d always wanted to audition,” she says. “So I thought, Why not?”

A Winning Performance 

It was obvious from Eliana’s first audition that she was special. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe’s comments while she was dancing—including “Love her” and “Wow, those legs”—led to a ticket right back to Vegas. Eliana sailed through to the Top 20. “The first live show was the most nerve-racking experience I’ve ever had,” Eliana says. “You’re onstage and you can see the whole audience, and then you see the cameras and realize this is going to be on TV. But I went into the show with no expectations other than to have the time of my life.”

In the Top 20, Eliana was partnered with animator Cyrus Spencer—a unique challenge, given his lack of formal dance training. But Eliana made the partnership into a learning experience for herself. “Cyrus helped me see how dancers from different backgrounds learn choreography,” she says. “I developed a new way of explaining dance so he could understand it.”

Not even an early dip into the bottom three—which judge Mary Murphy says made her jaw drop—could slow Eliana’s momentum toward the finale. She won over viewers with her passion and humility. The way she effortlessly combined classical pointe work with contemporary movement and acrobatics didn’t hurt, either.  “Eliana never took a wrong step,” Murphy says. “She was a great partner, and she had her perfect moment in ‘Bang Bang.’ She entered a new league. She’s exquisite.”

What’s next for Eliana, now that the confetti from her win has settled? “I want to do concert dance,” she says. Among her dream companies: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Nederlands Dans Theater. “I also want to sing, act and do Broadway and film,” she says. With her combination of talent, drive and optimism, the sky truly is her limit.


Favorite color: Mint green

Favorite foods: Sushi and ice cream

Favorite book: The Shack by William P. Young

Favorite TV show: “Community”

Non-dance hobby: Raising birds

If she weren’t a dancer, Eliana would be: A pilot or a child psychologist

Dance idols: Alessandra Ferri, Sylvie Guillem

Advice for Dance Spirit readers: “Never take no for an answer! The amount of work you put into your craft is the amount of growth and success that will happen. And remember to be patient. Everything happens at the right time!”


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