Cedric Gardner, <EM>So You Think You Can Dance</EM> Cedric Gardner, So You Think You Can Dance

Despite being one of the most controversial contestants in the three seasons of Fox's So You Think You Can Dance (Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET, Thursdays at 9), hip-hopper Cedric Gardner, 23, kept his head held high, using each of his opportunities to improve. The day after he was — finally — cut, Cedric shared with TVGuide.com his relief, memories and future plans.

TVGuide.com: Do you think you deserved to go home?
Cedric Gardner:
Yes. I think I deserved to go home three weeks ago.

TVGuide.com: So when Nigel and the other judges said that you weren't improving and that you let your partner down....
They were right, and if they didn't give me feedback, I wouldn't have learned.

TVGuide.com: How much work went into preparing for your solo?
I was just freestyling.

TVGuide.com: You danced first with Faina, then with Shauna (see related Q&A). How was it different with your two partners?
I was closer with Shauna. We had a lot of fun. She was really supportive of the fact that I hadn't learned any of this before.

TVGuide.com: Which body part now hurts the most?
None of them. I kind of got a knee problem, but it's nothing severe like everyone else. My body doesn't break up that easily.

TVGuide.com: What's your favorite memory from the show?
My favorite memory is just cooking every night with Hok, Dominic, Jesús and Danny at our house. If we had time, we'd all cook together and just eat at the table and make jokes — mainly about me. [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Was it hard saying goodbye to two people every week?
To see Jesús and Ricky go, and definitely to see Jimmy go, was hard because in my heart I felt like I should be leaving. The hardest part for me personally was the fact that I was still on the show, and knowing that I had all of these chances to keep proving myself.

TVGuide.com: Do you think you'll stay in touch with the other dancers?
Yeah. We're a really close family. I've already talked to a couple of them this morning.

TVGuide.com: After you were eliminated, who did you call first?
My girlfriend in Wisconsin, and then my phone died, so that was it. My parents were already here.

TVGuide.com: Has it sunk in that your SYTYCD journey is over?
It sank in like two or three weeks ago, to be honest with you. I never joined this show to win it, I just wanted to learn from it.

TVGuide.com: What's the first thing you'll do tomorrow?
I'll probably go to my mom and dad's store and help out. Sell some cookies. We own [a] Nestlé Tollhouse cookies [franchise store] in California. So I'll do that, spend some time at the golf course and play basketball or something. After tomorrow, it starts again. I'm going to just start studying right away. I want to be able to turn better than Danny!

TVGuide.com: Will you take Debbie Allen up on her offer of attending her dance school?
Most definitely! I also got a toy-company offer that a lot of people don't know about. Wild Animal Planet wants me to come out to San Francisco for a week or so for a trip to their toy company to see how it's done, because that's my other ambition. I want to own my own toy company.

TVGuide.com: What will you take away from the show?
The whole experience of working with some of the best dancers in the world. Everything has just been such a blessing.

TVGuide.com: Who do you think will win?
Everybody's done such a good job, it's hard to predict. But, the way I'm looking at it, I think it'll definitely be a hip-hop dancer or a girl. It has to be that way because of karma and the universe.

TVGuide.com: Did you and Shauna say anything to each other after the results show?
Yeah. The thing about Shauna and me is that we both believe the same thing — if it's meant to be, then it's fine. Everything happens for a reason.

Read our Q&A with Dance castoff Shauna Noland.

Let our new Online Video Guide pair you up with some Dance clips.

Send your comments on this Q&A to online_insider@tvguide.com.