The Classic Ballerina: Redefined

Ryan Wallace/New University

For nine seasons now, FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance” has brought all genres of dance to the forefront through their unique approach to a reality talent show. And this season is no different.

With the most talented Top 20 to date, technique and ability are not lacking. But this season, one thing is different: the competition is not clearly dominated by a group of contemporary dancers—something that hasn’t been seen in previous seasons.

But one dancer has, through his leaps and turns,  brought one of the oldest forms of dance into the 21st century—ballet. Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, a classically trained ballet dancer, stunned the judges in his New York City audition, where to the rhythm of “Sail” by American electronic rock band, AWOLNATION, he transformed traditional ballet into pure artistic expression.

But despite his obvious talent and personable nature, America has been reluctant to give him their full support. Partnered with Witney Carson, a young ballroom dancer, with a larger-than-life personality, Chehon struggled the first couple of weeks tackling genres way out of his comfort zone.

Week 1 brought a Latin ballroom classic, the samba. Chehon learned to twist his hips and  brought enough intensity to rival his ballroom-trained partner Witney, yet America did not give him enough votes. Both Chehon and Witney landed in the bottom six, while four were eliminated in the season’s first round. But with an impressive Bollywood routine, which was even farther from his realm of expertise, Chehon and Witney remained in the competition by the grace of the judges.

Good thing he did! This last week, Chehon and Witney finally received a genre that they could excel at: Contemporary. With a tribute to Whitney Houston, Chehon and Witney received the first standing ovation from the judges as they had the audience in awe. With stunning lifts and impeccable technique, Chehon and Witney made their talent clear to all naysayers.

With a unique look and stunning extensions, Chehon has defined himself as not only a ballet dancer, but also as an artist. The fluidity of his movements and the power that is behind every step looks effortless, even when he dances the most difficult of genres.

But to succeed in the show, Chehon must not only win over the judges with his technique, but also America with his personality.

In an exclusive photoshoot a few weeks ago, Chehon talked about his life in dance and his ambitions while he leaped and did perfect arabesques in SoCal couture by Aviator Nation.

Born in Chicago, Chehon moved to Switzerland at a young age with his adoptive family. Much later than other dancers, Chehon found his passion for ballet at the late age of 12.

After watching a ballet show with his family, Chehon came home and practiced on his own… it wasn’t a success. Bumping his head, the turns in the living room landed him in the hospital where a nice doctor told his parents of a nearby dance school. A year later, Chehon joined The Royal Ballet School in London where he honed his technique & skill.

After graduating, Chehon joined the Los Angeles Ballet for two seasons and has spent the past few months touring with Twyla Tharps’ Broadway show “Come Fly Away.”

Already a decorated dancer in his own right, Chehon has decided to take his classical career to a more commercial setting by joining the cast of “So You Think You Can Dance.” And although America has been slow to realize the talent before their eyes, Chehon has forced them to pay attention. And all eyes are on him.

With so much to offer with his technique, choreography, strength and elegance—Chehon deserves all of the votes he can get. So tune in Wednesdays at 8 p.m. to FOX to see artistic perfection and vote, vote, VOTE!