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Utahn bounds into top 10 on 'So You Think You Can Dance'
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Posted: 10:09 AM- BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Nineteen-year-old Sabra Elise Johnson may look compact, but she's bursting with energy.

For one, she couldn't be more than 5 feet, 5 inches tall, but she talks like she's ready to split open with boundless force.

Most impressive of all, she has a pair of powerful legs that boost her to unbelievable heights - both on the dance floor and in the minds of TV viewers who have seen her spin, tap and hip-hop her way to the top 10 on this season's hit show, "So You Think You Can Dance."

Once again, Johnson, who turns 20 this week, will get on stage before millions of viewers on the Fox reality competition series and prove she has the right stuff to be a professional dancer. The show airs Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on KSTU Channel 13. The results show where someone is eliminated from the competition every week, airs tonight at 8.

So far, it's been an arduous journey for Johnson to reach the final 10.

Making the top 10 is definitely an accomplishment, she said while promoting the show in Beverly Hills for the Television Critics Association summer press tour. "From the audition in February, to the auditions in Las Vegas, to the last five weeks of having to do a new dance every week, it really was a big audition to make it to the top 10."

Her days so far have been long learning new routines and performing countless rehearsals. And she says it is only liable to get worse as the finale draws near (if she lasts that long).

"We just wake up, we can't get out of bed, we can barely walk. It is hard," she said. "Wake up at 6:30 in the morning and go to bed at 12 at night, it's just long days, long hours and dancing all the time."

Johnson is the second Utahn to make it to the finals in the top-rated show. Last year, Orem's Allison Holker was in the final eight before she was knocked off the series, which has a panel of judges and voting by America just like its sister program, "American Idol" (both series share the same executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe).

Johnson hails from Roy but moved to Henderson, Nev., in 2005 where she trained in dance for a year after high school. She then moved to New York City and is now staying in Los Angeles while she performs on the show. Meanwhile, her sisters and the man she calls her "Dad" (actually, her best friend's father who has cared for her) cheer for her back home.

"I just feel like...everybody is so proud of me," she said about her support in Utah. "That feels so good to do something. I almost feel like that being here and doing this is also giving back to them."

The winner of the competition receives $100,000 and a professional dancing contract. But as executive producer Lythgoe says, a dancer's career can be painfully short, unlike a singer on "American Idol" who can develop a lengthy career.

"You have to absolutely bloody love this to do it. It kills you" he said.

Johnson knows her career as a dancer could be fleeting, but in the meantime, she's enjoying her success on the show and she'll also be gearing up for the national "So You Think You Can Dance" tour, which she will be performing in as a top-10 finalist.

"When the tour is over, I'm sure there's going to be a couple of months of a lot of phone calls," she said. "But I'm sure it will end fast. But that's OK because I think that this show... is showing - coming from our world - how hard we work to get what we want."

VINCE HORIUCHI can be reached at vince@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">vince@sltrib.com or 801-257-8607. Send comments about this column to livingeditor@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">livingeditor@sltrib.com.

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