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Eliana Girard always knew she wanted to audition to be on So You Think You Can Dance. What she didn’t know was that she would one day stand on the stage as a winner and receive the title of America’s Favorite Female Dancer. Eliana and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp were crowned the season nine winners, beating out their fellow competitors, Tiffany Maher and Cyrus Spencer.

In an exclusive interview with Okmagazine.com, Eliana dishes about the SYTYCD experience, what’s next in her career and what she will miss most about the show.

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How does it feel to be a winner of So You Think You Can Dance?

It’s starting to settle in a little bit, but it still feels surreal. It still feels like I’m dreaming and that this isn’t real. It’s like, you want to win the lottery, but it never happens. That’s kind of what this feels like: You imagine it, but I didn’t think it would actually happen, so it’s still pretty hard for me to grasp.

What made you decide to audition for the show?

I’ve always wanted to audition for the show, and I finally had the open schedule for it. I always wanted to do So You Think because I’m actually not very much of a competitive person. I don’t like that atmosphere. I wanted to do it because of the opportunity to work with all of the choreographers.

Did you have any hesitations about auditioning?

Absolutely. My biggest fear is that I wouldn’t make it. That’s the hardest thing for any artist—that you audition and don’t get it. It hurts.

What was the most challenging part about being on the show?

Learning how to manage the stress of the show and not let it get the best of you, just really be in the moment and enjoy everything and still be able to stay focused but don’t let the stress take over.

What was your favorite piece to dance?

I’m going to say “Bang Bang” because it brought me out of my comfort zone. What Stacey asked for in the piece was the quality of movement and the emotion behind it, not just putting up a leg or doing beautiful choreography. She wanted depth to it. She literally pushed Alex and I together, and it was such an incredible experience.

What were some highlights for you from this season?

I had so much fun working with Twitch. That was a lot of fun. It felt like I was working with my brother. He’d tell so many jokes and go on so many tangents. It was just hysterical.

Any other funny memories from the show?

[Laughs]. It’s kind of disgusting, but our first day rehearsing with Travis, we were having so much fun, but I was super gassy because I had like a bean burrito for lunch. Travis and I were improving and we were partnering together, and I totally farted on him [laughs].

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What will you miss most?

Doing the show, honestly. Of course, I miss the people and the crew because the crew are so awesome, but I miss waking up and learning a new number and working with a new choreographer. I feel like I was starting to really learn and pick up a lot more things because I just really want to grow as an artist and this is a huge outlet to do that. So, it’s sad waking up and not having to get ready to go and do a different style. I’m kind of bored right now.

Do you think fame will change you?

I don’t think it will. I don’t think I’m famous. I’m still me. I think that I got blessed with the opportunity to inspire people and give back. I don’t think it will change me, and I don’t want it to. I think some sense gets knocked into us when we leave this show and realize we still have to audition. We still have to go through the same process as we did before. We just got the opportunity of a lifetime to learn and do it in front of America, but we’re still the same people.

What have you taken away from this experience?

I got to see how much the arts impact people. I never realized how much of a difference dance can make. I never realized what a positive impact you can have on people’s lives until being on this show.

When you came on the show, you said you just wanted to give ballet a good reputation. Do you think you accomplished that?

I hope so. I really do. I think I did because Chehon and I got blessed with this honor, and I think that’s a huge sign that America got to connect with ballet the way we do.

So, what’s next?

As of now, I really, really want to do concert dance. I haven’t been able to do that yet, and I feel like I have a lot more to grow as an artist, as a dancer. Then after, I want to do Broadway and acting. I would love to do film and live theater. Pretty much, I’m trying to go for the triple threat effect.

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