This past summer, Courtney Galiano proved she was the little engine that could. The petite Commack High School graduate placed fourth in the August finale of "So You Think You Can Dance." It was no small feat for the 20-year-old former New York Knicks City Dancer. By all measures, this was the toughest season of the 4-year-old Fox TV series.
Wednesday night, the top 11 contestants display their skills at Nassau Coliseum when the show's tour comes to town, a triumphant homecoming for Galiano.
The personable dancer bubbled over with enthusiasm in a phone interview from Boston last week. "I love, love, love performing," she said. "I think it is so great that dance is getting the recognition it deserves."
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Galiano said she learned something from each of her partners on the show, but perhaps it was Mark Kanemura's "calm, serene presence" that helped her the most during the grueling contest. "Working with him was the least stressed I was during the whole competition."
She performed her favorite routine, "The Garden," choreographed by Sonya Tayeh, with Kanemura (her cha-cha with Gev Manoukian was a close second). Galiano said Tayeh taught her the most. "She's so tough that I took five Tylenols before rehearsal. ... But she gave me positive re-enforcement all the time."
Galiano is "so excited" that her close, supportive family will be in the audience Wednesday. Tomorrow night, the entire dance troupe is convening at the Galiano residence in Dix Hills for an Italian meal prepared by Galiano's mother. "My mom makes the best sauce on the planet."
The dancer also loves to cook, especially for Brett, her boyfriend since 10th grade. "He's great. My boyfriend plays a huge role in supporting me."
Galiano wants to take acting and singing lessons, but she's not sure where. "I'm still debating. I definitely do want to work in L.A., but I'm such a family girl."
No matter where she winds up, Galiano said she'll live by her favorite quote: "I'll walk forward in the certainty that my dance is secure."
WHAT "So You Think You Can Dance" Tour 2008
WHEN|WHERE Wednesday, 7:30p.m.; Nassau Coliseum
INFO 631-888-9000, ticketmaster.com
Auditions for next season's show kick off in Brooklyn at 8 a.m. on Nov. 13 at the Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Ave., markmorrisdance group.org/the_dance_center