In the fast paced and constantly evolving world of cheer and dance there are always a few trendsetters leading the way into new styles, new skills and new rules. Bonded together by a love of the sport, these people often share a simple moment in the spotlight, but we’d like to take some time and feature 11 of the Hottest People in Cheer & Dance in 2011.
Melody Mills has taken the cheer and dance industry by storm and is leaving her mark on every stage she graces. It is not often that one person can boast dancing with Shakira, Rhianna, The New Jersey Nets, The Cleveland Cavaliers, and most recently bringing the most famous cheer movie, Bring It On, to life in an off-Broadway production. Melody is not just a good dancer or an incredible cheerleader… she is a remarkable performer, and that very trait has established her as a major force in cheer and dance.
Melody graciously took time out of her busy schedule (8 performances a week of Bring It On) to answer some questions about her journey in cheer and dance, and to offer some advice to those aspiring to one day follow in her footsteps.
Q: At what age did you begin cheering and dancing? What was your experience with cheer and dance like as a child?
A: I began gymnastics when I was six years old. At my gym, there was an all-star cheerleading program and that quickly grabbed my attention. I traded in my leotard for a pair of Asics when I was nine years old.
I have been dancing all my life, but I didn’t join an organized dance team or program until I was 12. I have always loved to perform… so naturally performing on stage in front of judges was an easy part of cheer and dance for me.
Q: While cheering, did you ever have difficulty with choreography? Do you have advice for those who may struggle picking up choreography?
A: I have always been a fast learner, so picking up choreography has never truly been hard for me, but just like any other cheerleader/dancer, keeping up with the newest and most difficult tricks is a struggle. While I was cheering, the good thing was that I was surrounded by a really strong and talented team.
Q: How did you know that you wanted to pursue dance as a career? Was that an easy decision to make?
A: Since the day I was born I was singing, dancing, and performing all around the house for anyone who would watch me. I knew at a very young age that performing was what made me the happiest. So pursuing dance was actually an easy decision because my mother always raised me to follow my heart and listen to what God tells you.
Q: You’ve danced on so many large stages and for so many huge audiences. Do you ever get nervous, and if so, what helps to calm your nerves? Do you have any tips for others on how to perform well in front of large audiences?
A: I AM ALWAYS NERVOUS! Every single performance, every single time. I don’t think of it as a bad thing, though; it’s an excited nervousness. I usually pray and try to take deep breaths. Sometimes I’ll scream to the top of my lungs just for a quick second and that helps. I find it easier to perform for larger audiences because you might not be able to see every single person there. So my advice would be to picture the person you feel most comfortable performing in front of and give it to them…even if that person is yourself.
Q: Bring It On is basically the most watched cheer movie EVER. How does it feel to bring that to life on stage? What has the experience of being in a play been like versus your past dance/cheer roles?
A: I truly believe that I am making history. Show after show and rehearsal after rehearsal I often get a surreal feeling. It is truly a blessing. I am used to doing live cheer/dance performances, but adding in the element of singing takes it to the next level. Being a part of Bring It On the musical has allowed me to learn so much more about myself and who I am as an artist. When I was just cheering competitively in high school, we would have to wait for the competitions and only perform one or twice a month. Now, I am performing eight times a week. It is extremely demanding on the body, but in return I am satisfying a desire in my soul. I am working with some of the most talented and creative people in the world and I am falling in love with cheerleading all over again.
Q: What is your ultimate dance goal?
A: That is a difficult one. I want to perform as long as these legs will let me. I want to be able to touch live lives of the next generation. I want to be able to travel around the world, work with different artists and leave a lasting positive impression on the entertainment industry. Now which one of those is the ultimate goal, I don’t know. But I do know one thing, I won’t stop until I achieve them all!
Q: What is the one cheer/dance accessory you couldn’t live without?
A: I dont think cheering would be the same for me without my high ponytail and HUGE bow.
You can follow Melody on twitter (@MsMelodyMills) and witness her quest to change the world of cheer and dance first hand. If you want to check out Melody’s dance skills, head to her youtube page www.youtube.com/MsMelody100.
Keep an eye out for the remaining ten people to be highlighted in 11 People in Cheer & Dance to Know & Watch in 2011.