Chehon Wespi-Tschopp talks about his 'So You Think You Can Dance' victory
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/19/2012
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp and Eliana Girard 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 male dancer Chehon and female dancer Eliana "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, Chehon, a 23-year-old ballet dancer from Zurich, Switzerland, and Eliana, a 21-year-old contemporary ballet dancer from West Palm Beach, FL, will each receive a $125,000 cash prize and a cover appearance on Dance Spirit magazine. 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, while Eliana bested fellow female finalist Tiffany to win the competition.
During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Chehon talked to Reality TV World about his So You Think You Can Dance victory and experience -- including whether he really did enjoy dancing all of his routines despite Nigel Lythgoe's claim he didn't early on in the season, how he believes the show changed him as a person and his ability to perform for the better, and what he plans to do with his prize money.
Below is the first half of Chehon's call. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: There was a moment during the season when Nigel told you to enjoy your performances more. Did you really enjoy dancing your routines at that point in the season or did you always kind of view your performances as work in that you had a challenge each week to deliver the best technique and movement possible?
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp: I think my first couple performances were just hindered because I was really nervous and scared of failing in this competition, and obviously, I'm a perfectionist and I wanted to be the best I could be in everything I produce. So I just focused so much on trying to get all the routines together and trying to get the technique instead of just enjoying the experience.
Because I feel like as soon as I was able to break through that barrier, I think I was able to overcome my fear of being vulnerable onstage and open myself up. I think the whole So You Think You Can Dance experience taught me in that regard, but it was definitely just the pressure that I felt in the beginning of needing to be good, and I just knew I had so much to live up to because there were such great dancers on the show.
Yes, I felt too much pressure and I think, yeah, it was just the fear of not being good enough. But then later on, I learned you don't have to be perfect on the show. It's all about the journey and about the growth, and yeah, I feel like I was able to find that strength.
Reality TV World: So it sounds like in the beginning of your So You Think You Can Dance journey, you were "competing" whereas Nigel was kind of asking you to "perform," right?
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp: Yes, absolutely! I'm just used to doing ballet competitions and going to ballet auditions, and you don't go with personality. You try to bring your best -- your best technique, your best performance -- and I didn't know what it would take to be on the show.
So, I think especially after the judges [critiqued me] and got to see my first couple episodes, I really saw myself from a different point of angle. I saw how viewers, I guess, wouldn't really connect with me, and then [choreographer Stacey Tookey] helped me a lot to kind of believe in myself as well and it was all good from there.
Reality TV World: Do you think it was just a coincidence that both you and Eliana are ballet dancers and ended up winning the show?
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Chehon Wespi-Tschopp: Yeah, that was definitely a coincidence because I don't think I was supposed to make it this far, and also, I don't think the show knew yet -- or maybe they didn't think that I could grow as much as I did -- and we both came in with a slightly different angle to ballet. Eliana has done [different] shows and pole dancing, and my ballet is like I try to come into an audition with a new take on ballet.
I didn't want to do classical routines on the show just because I wanted to form something new and something that's my own. But it was definitely a coincidence that we both made it! It would've been great to dance with Eliana more on the show, because I really felt like we would've been a great pair-up, but hopefully on tour!
Reality TV World: What do you plan to do with your winnings?
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp: I will definitely be trying to save all that I can for sure. We're in the kind of profession where you might not always have a job probably, so it'll be nice to have some money on the side.
And I'll probably just use it for whenever I want to go visit my family in Switzerland or maybe flying one of them out to come and see me for a show, because yeah, flying [that distance] isn't cheap. So that's what I'll be using it for!
Reality TV World: What is going to be on your to-do list after the So You Think You Can Dance tour ends? What are your plans and what do you hope to accomplish?
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp: I'll probably be moving out here to L.A. and will try to get my footing into the commercial world, and I've done a lot of choreographing within the ballet world and a lot in London, and I've won a couple of awards. So I hope through the show now, that I might be able to open some doors to choreograph more for commercials or TV or film work.
And I'd love to start acting and maybe start acting classes, and ultimately, I just want to do dance, acting and choreography together. I'm not really sure yet how to go about it, but I'm excited and I think so many doors will open after the tour. It's going to be exciting.
Above is the first half of Chehon's call. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.