SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Winner Melanie Moore Explores Reasons for Her Success

On Friday, I was invited to participate in a press conference, via phone, with Melanie Moore, the 19-year-old contemporary dancer from Marietta, Georgia, who just won season eight of So You Think You Can Dance. I thought I’d share some of what she said, especially what she attributed at least some of her success to.

She attributes it to discipline and work ethic, unsurprisingly. She said she and Marko, her partner for the first half of the season, were the only couple to rent studio space outside of the regular rehearsal space they were given by the show’s producers. She and Marko would go to the studio and rehearse for a few hours after hours at the regular rehearsal space were over. They’d stay until about a quarter til midnight and practice over and over again their routine for that week. She’s thankful to Marko, who allowed himself to be pushed so, and said he was a wonderful partner.

She was surprised she’d won. She really thought it would be Sasha, she said, mainly because the judges kept telling her throughout that she was a favorite, and usually favorites don’t win. Plus, Sasha had improved a great deal throughout the show, and audiences love that. They love to root for someone. Another thing she attributed her success to was not allowing herself really to be affected by the judges’ continuous praise of her performances. She knew they could easily jinx her or that she could let their praise all go to her head, but she didn’t allow either to happen. She just took every week as it came, didn’t think about the judges’ comments from the former week, and just tried her hardest to do as well as she could with the new choreography.

Asked what’s ahead for her in the near future, she answered that she’s just going to relax for a couple of weeks. Her boyfriend is returning to school in Georgia and she sweetly said she’s going to help him, let it be all about him for a change. She was nice and polite, and sweet, by the way, without being overly giggly. She seemed very sophisticated and mature.

As for her professional future – she’s currently enrolled at Fordham University as an art major. She may re-think that and major in dance instead. She’d chosen the art major (she specializes in oil paintings, and likes portraiture) after lengthy conversations with her mother. She realized a dance career could be short – she could be injured – and wanted something else to fall back on. After she tours with the show, she’ll move back to NY and likely continue at Fordham, though she’ll also try out with various companies. Her goal has been to dance in a company, since that is what her movement style is most suited to and that is what her dream has been. She’d really love to be able to sustain a living dancing though. She said she’d also love to tour with someone like Lady Gaga (Gaga had made that suggestion when she guested on the show), and she’d love to be in a movie, like Dirty Dancing (director Kenny Ortega had also suggested she might be cast when he guested on the show). She has no formal offers for tours or movies at this point, though. She may want to choreograph at some point. She’s never considered herself much of a choreographer, though she’d like to get more exposure to that, and try. She definitely wants to return to SYTYCD as an all-star. She laughed when she said she told the producers many many times, since making it into the top ten, that she couldn’t wait to return.

The dances she struggled most with were the American-style tango, because of the closed handhold, which was so unnatural to Marko and her. She also struggled with hip hop since it’s so far from her style. But tWitch really helped her when he partnered her. She was extremely grateful to him.

When asked what she planned to do with the award money, she laughed and said she really didn’t know but thought she’d buy a really nice piece of luggage since she expected to do a lot of traveling. The rest she’d probably put away. One of the media participants asked her if she planned to buy something big, like a car, and she quickly said, “No, no. I don’t want to drive. I want to go to New York!”

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