Melanie Moore on winning 'SYTYCD,' working with Lady Gaga and the 'Dirty Dancing' remake
Melanie Moore was crowned the winner of “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 8 on last Thursday’s finale with 47 per cent of viewer votes. The 19-year-old contemporary dancer from Marietta, Ga., beat out runner-up Sasha Mallory, 23, of Bakersfield, Calif., and third-place finisher Marko Germar, 22, of Los Angeles to take home the title of “America’s Favourite Dancer.”
Moore spoke to reporters in a recent conference call about winning the title, the offers she’s received from Lady Gaga and Kenny Ortega and her future plans. Excerpts are below.
On what she plans to do when she comes home to Marietta:
Melanie: I have ten days off and I was planning on definitely being at my studio and taking classes because that’s one thing about me I can never sit still for that long, ever. Yes, so I’ll probably sleep for about a day then I’ll be ready to go again, and I don’t know—my boyfriend, Mitchell, is moving back up to Athens to go back to the University of Georgia. He’s been out here this whole time so I was definitely going to go out there and help him get all of his stuff together because he’s been out here and not prepared to go back to school. I was going to make stuff about him instead of me for a little bit… I’m ready to step out of the spotlight for just a couple of minutes at least.
On the offers she’s received while on the show – joining Lady Gaga on tour and working with Kenny Ortega on “Dirty Dancing”:
Melanie: Well, I would definitely be interested in going on tour with Lady Gaga. I think she’s an amazing artist and I’ve seen a lot of her stuff. I never got to go to her tour but… I’ve seen the ACO Specials and just everything she does is so amazing so I would be more than happy and overjoyed to work with her. As far as offers, I haven’t really been scouted for anything like that besides what Kenny Ortega said about “Dirty Dancing.” I don’t know. I’m just really excited about the (SYTYCD) tour. That’s what I’m looking forward to right now and trying to keep my head in that and trying to remember all those routines that they’re going to make us do. It’s kind of like a throwback to the finale.
On whether she has seen the original “Dirty Dancing” and if she’d like to be part of a remake:
Melanie: Of course I’ve seen “Dirty Dancing.” It’s one of my mom’s favourite movies but I don’t know. I feel like it would just be sort of electric to be a part of it. I have a friend who worked on the “Footloose” remake, and they said that everyone’s energy was just crazy because everyone knows how great the first one was so they’re expecting so much from the second one. And I feel like it would be so much fun and the choreography would be amazing because Kenny Ortega is absolutely amazing and it would just be a blast. I would really hope that works out because everybody saw it so I’m hoping that was a verbal contract.
On whether she went into the finale thinking she could win the whole thing:
Melanie: Well, going into the finale I definitely thought I had a chance but sitting there on stage next to Sasha, Marko and Tadd really I couldn’t pick a favorite because all of us are so great at the things that we do and I don’t know how America picked… I definitely felt confident with what I did on Thursday and what I had done in the course of the competition because I just tried to do what I could every week and really focus on the dances that were given to me and not look backward—not look forward but really focus on what was going on and keep my head in the game sort of. I mean I don’t know. I didn’t want to put any extra pressure on myself by thinking that I was like a favourite or I really had this amazing shot at it but I always kept in my head that there was definitely a shot and it was worth going for.
On how she gained enough trust to do “the big leap” with all-star partner Neil Haskell for the “Total Eclipse of the Heart” choreography:
Melanie: I don’t know. Neil and I sort of just clicked from the very beginning. He’s so funny and he made me feel so comfortable, so when (choreographer) Mandy (Moore) told me that I was going to be sprinting across the stage jumping into his arms I wasn’t too nervous because Neil’s got a lot of muscle. I knew he could handle it but we started out just a couple of steps away and within three tries I was across the room just because we were both like okay, that was fine, let’s keep going. Let’s keep moving back. Let’s keep moving back, so we both were sort of daredevils about it but I feel like whoever I’m partnering with I usually have complete trust in them because I want them to have total trust in me because what you give is sort of what you receive in that relationship. I don’t know. We were sort of fearless together in that respect.
On which routine she was most proud of:
Melanie: The routine that I think I was the most proud of was the tango routine that I did with Marko because it was our first ballroom style and they gave us the standard American tango, which is so hard because you have to keep your connection basically the whole time… Nigel (Lythgoe) even said in rehearsals it didn’t look like that. I didn’t even look that good, and Marko and I just kept working on it and we kept working at it. We went to rehearsal space everyday afterwards and we were there until like 11:45 at night. We were pounding it to the ground with that number and to get positive comments about it and for Mary (Murphy) to say, “No, it wasn’t perfect but it was good, it was not bad” was just such a relief because we worked so hard. And we wanted our first ballroom number to just come out well, and that’s definitely the one I was most proud of that we got through.
On why she went to New York City to study art when dance was her first love:
Melanie: I knew that I wanted to go to New York because I have always loved it. We always took family vacations there and I knew that if I wanted to pursue dancing that it was the best place, and then when I decided that I wasn’t going to do dancing in college it was sort of my mom’s and my decision. We just thought that dancing is such a hard industry to break into and it is smarter to have a backup plan and something that you can really go off of because you can get hurt…
art is definitely my second love and that’s why I went to school for that, and then it was my final decision to go to New York City was when I knew that I would be pursuing art and not dance because I knew that I could take amazing classes in the city so I sort of got the best of both worlds… My specialty is oil painting. I mean I’ve done a lot of everything but oil painting is definitely my favourite. I like to do portraits, more impressionistic because those are just my favourite.
On winning 47% of the 11.5 million home viewer votes:
Melanie: I was just surprised. Literally I was just like, oh my gosh; 47, wow. I don’t know I tried to make sure that my personality really came through in everything that I was saying and I definitely think it had—I always laugh. I always laugh at myself. I can never take myself too seriously and I definitely think that came through. I mean I hope that I’m relatable to people. I would hope that they see something in me that inspires them to get up and do something. Maybe that’s why, I don’t know.
On her plans for the $250,000 prize money:
Melanie: I don’t know. Everyone has said to sort of like indulge myself on one thing … and then put the rest of it away, and I don’t know. This is so stupid and crazy but I sort of want to get really nice carry-on luggage so I can feel really cool when I walk into the airport when I travel or maybe like a nice ring or something.
On what she hopes to accomplish in the future:
Melanie: I don’t know. Right now I’m thinking that I really want to go back to school but major in dance rather than art just because I’m so inspired and people have asked me about choreography and things like that and I don’t consider myself a choreographer at all. I can improve my solos and I can do that kind of stuff but I’m definitely a dancer right now and not a choreographer, and I look up to people like Stacey and Sonya so much, and I would not classify myself with them in any way. Maybe after some schooling and learning how to choreograph and really just a little bit of growing up then I’ll really be able to choreograph. I don’t know. I’m definitely going to be auditioning though.