Young dancer has strong ties to skating

Son of show skater reaches top 20 on FOX reality show

Akop and Gev Manoukian.
Akop and Gev Manoukian. (Marilyn Paine)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(06/11/2008) - The competition for season four of the hit FOX show So You Think You Can Dance gets underway tonight and among the top 20 is a young hip-hop/break dancer with a very tight bond to the skating world. During the audition shows Gev Manoukian, 21, from Centerville, Utah, was shown doing a bit of break dancing on ice. But skating is more than a casual hobby.

To many skating fans, his last name is quite familiar. Gev is the son of acrobatic show skater Akop Manoukian, who has performed all over the world, first with Ari Zakarian and for the past few years with Armen Saakian. Manoukian and Saakian appeared in the movie Blades of Glory. He showed a tape of Gev's on ice moves to Blades choreographer Sarah Kawahara, who said he wasn't right for the movie but she'd keep him in mind for future projects.

"Sometimes we go to the rink and I teach him a little bit. Everybody stands around watching and clapping," said Manoukian. "I'm a better skater, but he does cooler tricks."

Gev Manoukian grew up in Kazakhstan with his mother (Manoukian's ex-wife), but visited his father in the U.S. every summer. After graduating high school at 16, he moved permanently to the U.S., where he attended 11th and 12th grades in Utah, and graduated from high school again. He enrolled in the University of Utah and decided to stay there with his aunt and grandparents when Manoukian moved to Jackson, Wyoming.

Dancing was largely something Gev did with his friends. "I feel a little guilty, because I didn't take him to dance classes," he said. "Believe it or not, he learned it almost all by himself." That and working out with friends.

Before Manoukian became a show skater, he was a pretty serious competitor and he remembers that he felt less stressed when his parents didn't come to competitions. So he'll wait until Gev asks him to come to Los Angeles for So You Think You Can Dance. That doesn't stop him from encouraging friends from the skating world as well as skating fans from tuning in and voting for his son.

In the future, there may be another performing Manoukian. He and wife Andrea have a 5-year-old daughter, Jasmine. "One evening we had a party here at the house and we had a lot of people," he recalled. "My son started dancing on the floor. Then he pointed to my daughter. She started jumping around and dancing and then she pointed to my son. It was so much fun to watch. Both of them, it seems they really like performance."

So You Think You Can Dance has only phone in voting. The numbers are given during the show.