Eliana Girard discusses more about her 'So You Think You Can Dance' win
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/21/2012
Eliana Girard and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp were crowned So You Think You Can Dance's two ninth-season champions during Tuesday night's live finale broadcast of the Fox reality dance competition.
So You Think You Can Dance's ninth season declared female dancer Eliana and male dancer Chehon "America's favorite dancers" based upon home viewer votes cast following last Tuesday night's final performance show, which had featured the Top 4 dancers each performing five times for So You Think You Can Dance judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and guest judge Rob Marshall.
As the season's champions, Eliana, a 21-year-old contemporary ballet dancer from West Palm Beach, FL, and Chehon, a 23-year-old ballet dancer from Zurich, Switzerland, will each receive a $125,000 cash prize and a cover appearance on Dance Spirit magazine. Eliana bested fellow female finalist Tiffany to win the competition, while Chehon beat out fellow male finalist Cyrus Spencer -- who had never once landed in the bottom group of dancers -- for the So You Think You Can Dance title.
During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Eliana talked to Reality TV World about her So You Think You Can Dance victory and experience. To read what she had to say, click here.
Below are some additional details from the rest of Eliana's call -- including whether she's actually interested in joining choreographer Desmond Richardson's dance company, what she had to say about pole dancing that most people probably wouldn't expect and whether she knew runner-up Tiffany before meeting her on the show.
Tiffany had never landed in the bottom group of dancers all season. So what was going through your mind before the results were revealed?
Eliana Girard: I forgot my name. (Laughs) [Cat Deeley] said my name and then I was like, "Wait, what just happened?" I honestly was not expecting this. I was prepared to just be the runner-up, because that's such an awesome honor as well. But it was kind of like I blacked out. I was like, "What just happened?!"
What was your defining moment from the season?
Eliana Girard: "Bang Bang." (Laughs) I know I talk about it a lot, but I think it definitely challenged me and I think I really got to show my vulnerability. So yeah!
Nigel Lythgoe announced Desmond Richardson had wanted you to join his dance company if you got kicked off of So You Think You Can Dance, which is exciting. What are your thoughts on that? Would you be interested in joining his company?
Eliana Girard: Absolutely! When I heard that, my jaw dropped. I was like, "Are you serious?!" Because that's definitely one of the companies I want to work with. And working with him on the first week [of the show], Chehon, [Daniel Baker] and I got to work with him and [Dwight Rhoden].
It was amazing because they're such brilliant minds, and when I heard that, I was like, "Are you serious?! This is another dream about to come true." So absolutely. I would love to work with him after the tour.
Ballet dancers appear to be under-appreciated on the show even though there have been other ballet dancers in the past. However, within the last few years, it seems like ballet dancers have been making more of an impact. Why do you think that is?
Eliana Girard: I think that America's gotten to see how hard it is and the work it takes and how beautiful it is. It is another beautiful genre of dance. I think they're being able to relate to it more.
How excited were you when you saw the pole during one rehearsal?
Eliana Girard: It was a celebratory experience. Oh my gosh, I literally became a little kid in a candy store. I was like, "Yay! I get to play!"
I think it's another art that people have a perception of as being very sexual, but honestly, it's a beautiful performance with transitions and emotion and the tricks are so powerful. I think it's something that America's got to get ready for, and I'm so excited that we got to show a little bit of that on the show.
What was the hardest style for you to pick up on during the season?
Eliana Girard: Any ballroom, absolutely any ballroom, because that's something that Chehon and I have never done before. That's another style that you cannot fake. If you've never done any, good luck! And also, hip-hop, because it's just a natural groove and funk, and that's hard to tap into!
Who was your favorite choreographer to work with all season?
Eliana Girard: Do we have to pick just one?! (Laughs) Well, it'd be between [Sonya Tayeh] and [Stacey Tookey]. But I'll say Stacey, because it was such an incredible experience because she was pushing for movement. She was pushing for quality of movement as opposed to just a leg up or anything of that sort.
She wanted me to connect with the emotion of that, and that was a challenge. But it was an incredible experience, and she's such a beautiful person. She's a one-of-a-kind choreographer. She's the type you want to work for and you want to work hard because she brings that out of you.
Did you and Tiffany ever cross paths in West Palm, FL?
Eliana Girard: No, we never did! That's so funny. We were talking about that because we went to similar competitions when we were younger, but no, we never crossed paths. Because she's really south in Fort Lauderdale and I'm in West Palm.
I'm still super duper connected with my hometown Susan Lyle dance studio and that's just where my roots come from. That's where I really learned about and appreciated dance.
Is your mom your biggest fan?
Eliana Girard: She is, and she's my biggest support system. I couldn't have done this without her. She rented a house out here thinking I'd stay out here this whole time and honestly, it was such an emotional roller coaster that I couldn't have done it without her. When I hugged her [after I won], we were speechless.
It just meant the world to me to see how happy she was and how proud of me she was, because she gave up so much so I could dance. I've always been like, "How can I repay my mom back? Because she's done everything so that I can do what I love." And just to see her so happy and proud, it just means so much to me.
What types of things did your mom give up for you so that you could dance?
Eliana Girard: Money, absolutely. She had retirement funds and she spent it all on me. She re-mortgaged the house so I could do it, and she actually moved across the street from my dance studio just so I could go, because she couldn't drive me. So she had it where we were right across the street so I could ride my bike there.
Any closing remarks?
Eliana Girard: This has been incredible and thank you. Thank you for all the letters and all the messages that we got from the fans.
We spent so many nights crying over them, because they just mean so much that people are going for what they want to do and they're not giving up on themselves. It's just so fulfilling and rewarding and we couldn't have done this without the fans. We're excited to put faces to the letters on the tour!
Above are some additional details from the rest of Eliana's call. To read what she had to say to Reality TV World, click here.