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Michael Becker, Fox
Chelsea Traille, left, and Utahn Thayne Jasperson dance the cha-cha.

Dancer Gev Manoukian got into the moves when he was in elementary school.

"I just saw my friends doing some break dancing," said the Centerville resident in an interview with the Deseret News. "I loved what they were doing, and I wanted to be a part of it. So I tried it out."

Recently, Manoukian danced his way into the hearts of reality TV fans across the nation. He was one of the 10 finalists in this season of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance." That earned him a place on the "Dance" tour, which will make a stop at the E Center Tuesday.

The performers include the show's 10 finalists — winner Joshua Allen, Utahns Manoukian and Chelsie Hightower, Comfort Fedoke, Mark Kanemura, Kherington Payne, Twitch Boss, Courtney Galiano, Katee Shean and Will Wingfield.

In addition, dancers who were eliminated before the Top 10 will also be on the tour. They include Utahn and Odyssey Dance Theatre's Thayne Jasperson, Chelsea Traille and Jessica King.

"I'm so, so, so excited," said Hightower, the Utahn who made it furthest in the televised competition — the top six. "The tour is going to be awesome. We're all really excited for that."

Manoukian, who lives with his aunt and attends the University of Utah, was born in Kazakhstan and moved here when he was 5.

"My father then moved to Jackson Hole, Wyo., and I stayed here," he said. "I got into hip-hop dancing with a little company here when I was a teenager. But then the owner moved to Los Angeles. I stayed in Utah and practiced dancing in my garage."

Throughout the years, Manoukian has done some independent shows, taken on dance jobs and taught dance a bit, he said. "I was not expecting Utah to have such a large dance scene, but it does. And people love dance here."

Early this year, at the prodding of friends, Manoukian auditioned for "So You Think You Can Dance" and made it.

"Being a part of the show was a wake-up call for me," said Manoukian. "I realized that I really wanted to be a part of this show. But I saw all this talent and thought I need to step up my game."

And competing in "So You Think You Can Dance" was tougher than any of the contestants anticipated.

"One of the things I learned about this competition is that it's so much mental strength that you need," said Hightower. "No matter what time of day it is, no matter how tired you are, no matter how beaten down you are, you have to do your best. Because there's only one take of it and no one cares what you did in rehearsal because they don't see that."

Consistently throughout the competition, contestants Manoukian, Jasperson, Matt Dorame (another Odyssey dancer) and Hightower talked about how all the contestants bonded.

"We all know that no matter what happens, we're all going to be there for each other," Hightower said. "And it's odd because ... it sounds like we're just saying that for TV, but really, it's true that we all get along so well."

And the ballroom dancer encouraged other dancers to give it a shot.

"I would just say prepare your mind, be positive and know that you can do it," Hightower said. "And ... take as many classes in the other styles as you can because you have to do everything on this show.

"I have no regrets at all. I was always myself on the camera. That always mattered to me the most — just being who I am and staying true to who I am. And I'm feeling great right now. I'm very grateful and so blessed to even be a part of this show. And to make it (to the top six) was awesome."

If you go ...

What: So You Think You Can Dance

Where: E Center, 3200 S. Decker Lake Drive

When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $35-$54.50

Phone: 328-7328

Web: www.ticketmaster.com


E-mail: scott@desnews.com; pierce@desnews.com