The season 3 ''So You Think You Can Dance'' champ talks to about the hectic final week, her final week fast-food binge, and her favorite partner (even if he did drop her on her head)

By Annie Barrett
August 17, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Kelsey McNeal

Thanks to confetti, general pandemonium, and a way harsh commercial cutoff, we didn’t get to see or hear from tiny ball of dance-awesomeness Sabra Johnson after she learned she’d won season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance. Luckily, she called in to talk to this morning. Ladies and gentlemen…your…winner!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Have you been up all night? It’s early where you are.
SABRA JOHNSON: Sorry! I’ve been screaming and crying so I’ve kind of lost my voice.

That’s totally fine. But you did sleep?
A few hours. So, about the same as the rest of the week.

Have you ever been more exhausted in life than you were during the final week?
No! We worked so hard. People know it’s hard and we keep telling them, but no one understands. It’s just rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal, on summer days. It was just 14- to 15-hour days with half-hour breaks. It was really hard, but I think that was part of the test.

Was it enough time? Would you go back to your rooms and start halfheartedly remembering your steps?
No, there was literally no time. As soon as we got home we went to bed. We didn’t want to think about it. We had enough rehearsal time to know what we were doing…but no time to really think about how we’d do it.

Did you have any idea you could learn so many routines so quickly?
No. Actually, it never really crossed my mind. I tend to pick up choreography pretty easily. Probably the ones that got me the most were the ballroom and Latin, because I don’t even know what those steps are called.

How big is your sense of relief that the competition is finally over? Are you going to miss it, like, tomorrow?
[Laughs] No, I’m not going to miss it tomorrow. We’ll be back soon for the tour, which will be crazy. I missed all the people. Having everyone come back [this week] was great. But it’s definitely a big weight off my shoulders, to be finished.

They said that you only broke for lunch for an hour between 7 a.m. and midnight?!
No, we had small breaks in between the three-hour rehearsals. So we’d be in wardrobe and trying to eat really fast at the same time. It was really hectic.

What do they feed you? Besides, like, magic sparkles?
Oh, my goodness, everything, and especially [in the final] week because it was every three hours — we were starving! Chinese, Subway, McDonald’s…

Oh wow! They let you eat all that delicious crap?
Yeah, we work it off right away. For the first two months, they wouldn’t pick up any fast food for us, which was good. But yeah, that last week, they were like ”Well, if you want it, you know…”

NEXT PAGE: ”You know, I always have a lot to say, but [the producers] tell you, ‘Okay, put that into three words’ and ‘Make yourself look interesting.”’

You must be happy that your head won’t have to break any falls for the next, what, week?
[Laughs] Yeah, for the next week…until I work with [Dominic, who dropped her during a group rehearsal] again!

Were you really okay after that tumble? Is there a huge dent in your skull we just aren’t seeing?
Noooooo! They just kept making it seem worse and worse. It [just] happened to be in front of the entire studio.

How hard was it for you to adapt to all the reality TV rules, like Look at this camera! Now this one! Now this one…
That was new to me. I was in Disney’s High School Musical, but just in the background. It was new, having to speak for [myself]. You know, I always have a lot to say, but [the producers] tell you, ”Okay, put that into three words” and ”Make yourself look interesting.” And you know, it’s a popularity contest, and I hate to ever, ever be fake. Toward the end, I kept thinking, I don’t ever want to put off the impression that I’m not being myself. It was hard, and then it got even harder, trying to always stay the same person and not change just because of the situation.

I think that’s really important. You didn’t seem so hammy, you know, with the hand gestures and Big, Big Smiles. You seemed very natural.
I’m glad! Dance teachers always say ”You have to be happy! You have to practice in front of a mirror!” And you know, that’s just not me. No matter how much I’d practice, it just wouldn’t come out like that. I was glad I just got to be myself.

What was your favorite partnership?
It’d have to be Dominic, just because we were together from the beginning and we were at the very bottom the first week. So, I have that with him forever. And then second, it’s Neil. We had just so much fun. In the beginning, he had to kind of find how he wanted to do things, and by the end, he’d started to open up more. He’s just such a great person. I was so excited to dance in the top four with him.

See Sabra and Neil’s ”table dance”:

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.
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