Melinda Sullivan "excited" she was in 'So You Think' bottom three
By Christopher Rocchio, 07/02/2010
Melinda Sullivan was excited about every opportunity she had to perform a tap solo on the So You Think You Can Dance stage, so she saw the fact that she was in the bottom three for three consecutive weeks as a good thing.
"Every time it's a Thursday show, I just start preparing for my solo because it's actually fun for me to tap dance -- that's one of the reasons I did the show, I really wanted to tap on television. Tap isn't one of the categories that they ever give out for the competition portion of the show," Sullivan told Reality TV World during a Friday conference call.
"Once they told me I was in the bottom three, I was excited. For the first time, I knew I was going to be dancing a cappella. I just did my thing and when they said the results it was my time to go. I'm so fortunate that I got this far -- I'm the farthest a tap dancer has ever got on this show."
The 22-year-old tap dancer from Thousand Oaks, CA who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA became the third finalist eliminated from So Yo Think You Can Dance's seventh season during last night's live broadcast of the Fox reality competition series.
Sullivan was the third consecutive female finalist eliminated from So You Think You Can Dance's seventh season -- and she told reporters there are "so many ways you can think about" the fact that only female finalists have been ousted so far.
"In general, I think there's probably a certain demographic of people who watch the show, a lot of them being young girls. That might play into it, that they're voting for the boys," she explained.
"But I think every season is different. This is the way the cookie is crumbling this season. It is unfortunate there are only two girls left, but those two ladies left are strong dancers. I'm very confident that they will represent."
Sullivan and all-star partner Pasha Kovalev performed a salsa routine choreographed by Fabian Sanchez during Wednesday night's broadcast.
"I really liked doing salsa. It was very challenging," she told reporters.
"It ended up being so much fun because it was all about the character. It was all about tapping into that spicy, Latina, Colombian girl. Once we hit the stage for the performance, I had a blast. There was even technical difficulties -- my dress got caught in my heel right at the beginning. But I was just so into I just pulled it out and kept going. I would say I had the most fun with that and I was really proud of Pasha and myself."
While she enjoyed herself, Sullivan's performance was largely panned by the judges -- with Mia Michaels even stating that it was a "mistake" to cut Cristina Santana the previous week instead of her.
"I understand at the end of the day that it is a television show. It is about the dancing and what I'm doing on stage, but it is a television show. People want to be entertained. So sometimes what the judges say can be a little more exaggerated than what they feel because it's entertaining," explained Sullivan when asked about the comment.
"It was what it was. I hope to work with Mia and [fellow judges Adam Shankman and Nigel Lythgoe] after this. I don't take any of it personally because I know who I am. If I would have left last week, I still would have felt great about myself."
In addition, Shankman commented that Sullivan looked out of her comfort zone during the routine, which she agreed with.
"Any sort of ballroom I haven't trained it at all," she told reporters, adding she's used to "social salsa" since she's of Colombian decent.
"But this is competitive. There's tricks that I had to do -- Pasha's jumping over my head and I'm catching his leg when he lands. It's things that I've never done before. So I was out of my comfort zone."
Sullivan insisted she "really connected" to the performance aspect of the routine
"At the end of the day I might have not gotten all of the technicalities because I did have to learn the routine in a day. But I did connect to that music and to that Latin fire," she said.
"That's what's most important to me: That I'm entertaining. It's about having fun and people enjoying themselves as they're watching."
Overall, Sullivan was able to hold her tongue when receiving the constant criticism from the judging panel because, as she explained it, you "have to be respectful of whoever you're dealing with."
"I have to be respectful of the format of the show -- and the format of the show is that it is a competition, I'm a contestant, and those three professionals are the judges. So it's their opinion," she said.
"I know what's sometimes even more important than the dancing on the show is my character on the show and how I portray Melinda. I think actions speak louder than words. I could have said something, I could have spoken back to them or defended myself. But I think what can speak louder sometimes is just handling yourself with grace and class."
Sullivan was So You Think You Can Dance's token tap dancer for the seventh season, and she's proud of the way she represented the genre.
"The thing that I wanted to do with the show is make tap dancing more accessible," she told Reality TV World.
"I think that's part of the reason I've danced to music that people can relate to -- James Brown and Alicia Keyes, music that people already know and people already like and people get into the groove of when they hear. On top of that, I'm giving you some tap dance with it. They're like, 'Oh, okay. I can understand what she's putting down.'"
Sullivan said she started dancing at 4-years-old when she took a tap/ballet combo class.
"But I hated the ballet and I loved the tap. I loved making music with my feet, I loved that I got to wear those shoes with the metal on the bottom. I just became hooked. When I was like 9, I was introduced to rhythm tap and tap being music -- you're a musician when you're a tapper," she told reporters.
"That's when I realized, 'This is what I want to do.' I'm so inspired by the fact that I'm moving through space but I'm also making sounds. It's just more stimulating to me than other dance forms."
While she's proud of her accomplishments, she's aware that being a tapper on the show isn't easy.
"I think also what's hard about tap dance on this show is the sound, the quality of it. What's so important in tap dancing is also the floor that you're dancing on," she explained to Reality TV World.
"You have the tap on the bottom of your shoe, but you also have to have some really nice wood so you can get that sound -- that rich vibration that you can feel when you're watching tap dance. I think part of the reason why you lose some of the edge of tap on the show is because you're not dancing on a wood floor, you're not hearing the sounds live."
Because of that, Sullivan explained that she had microphones running down her legs and attached to her tap shoes "so you can get the audio feed for television"
"I think that's part of the reason why tap is a little bit harder on a show like this," she told Reality TV World.
"But I'm hoping that through my performances it's kind of opened people's minds to it and hopefully casting directors will want to put tap dancers into more films in music videos just because it is edgy, it is new, it can be sexy, it can be fun for my generation -- the MTV generation."
"I gave the competition my all -- mentally, physically, emotionally. I was really proud of myself, how focused I stayed. I came into this show, I think, with a pretty high work ethic," she told reporters.
"I think even more now, I'm just more focused and able to pick up things quicker. My rate of learning has been sped up because we learn these styles and routines so quickly and in such a short amount of time. I'm excited that it's made even more focused because now I can attack the next project even better."
According to Sullivan, that next project could touch upon a variety of entertainment endeavors.
"I'm a firm believer in training, so I will continue training in all areas -- acting, my voice, I also play a musical instrument. I want to continue growing because you can never stop growing," she explained.
"But I in particular want to continue pursuing acting. I had gotten more into TV and film before the show when I was living in New York City, and that's part of the reason why I came out to L.A. So I'll be back auditioning again, back in acting class. Hopefully those opportunities will open up now that I have a little more exposure because of the show."
"I think it has showed me that I can really do whatever I want. It's really mind over matter. I like to say, 'I am my own invention.' I can manifest my own reality," she said.
"I really wanted to be on the show, and I got on the show. I really wanted to tap dance, and I got to do four tap solos on the show. Now I really want to be acting and I really want to be creating my own projects and I'm sure that's going to happen."