Melanie Shoots for Stars

Editor's Note: Indiana Pacemates member Melanie Potesta describes her experience while attending the final auditions for the FOX-TV's hit show "So You Think You Can Dance" held in Las Vegas in April. Enjoy Melanie's journey.

By Melanie Potesta | June 8, 2007


Once all the contestants arrived in Las Vegas, we were escorted to the Mandalay Bay hotel. I kind of felt important because we went through the back entrance where the stage was being set up. The set looked amazing, even if it was not finished. That night, I got to meet all 185 contestants at the orientation meeting. We were separated into groups according geographic location. Compared to ones like New York or Los Angeles, my group, the Chicago group, was the smallest.

The taping started at 7:30 the next morning, so we had to wake up early to get into full makeup for the cameras. It didn’t take me long at all because I'm used to doing the full makeup process for the Pacemates! After breakfast we prepared for the first choreography piece, taught by Shane Sparks. I finally got to see the finished set, and let me tell you, it was absolutely gorgeous! After 30 minutes of learning choreography, we were put into groups to perform. We later learned that this performance would determine whether or not we would be eliminated. If you got a split vote from the judges, you would then have to "Dance for Your Life.” This meant meaning you better bring it and prove to them why you should be there! Because my group was one of the last to perform, I had to wait for quite some time. I thought I did an amazing job, but I got a split vote.

That meant I had to prepare to "Dance for My Life!" I performed my solo and every judge voted for me to stay! YEAH! We next learned a ballroom dancing piece. Mary Murphy taught us the Samba in about 30 minutes. My partner, Will Adams, used to dance for the Indiana Fever's Inferno. We did an awesome job together and received a "yes" from all the judges. Around 10:30 p.m. the night was finished, with just half of us left.

The next morning, Tyce Diorio taught a Broadway choreography piece. This time we were paired with different partners. Even though I forgot the dance, I managed to recover and do an awesome job. Once again I got to move on!

After lunch Mia Michaels taught us a contemporary piece, which was different from anything I had ever done. It was an extremely hard style to learn, and I thought I would be eliminated. All in all, I nailed it and even got Mia's VOTE! She doesn’t give one to everyone, and, in my opinion, she is the hardest judge to please. At that point we were down to about 60 dancers. Before they let us go for the night, we had a surprise waiting. We were put into groups of four and were given a CD. We didn’t know what song was on it, but we had from 10:00 p.m. until the next morning to create a group routine.

My group, which had another girl and two guys, had to make up choreography to an R&B song. I was tired and sick of hearing that song because we didn't finish our dance until about 2:30 a.m. Even though we needed to clean the routine, we decided to get some sleep and meet early the next morning. I got less than two hours of rest in order to to rehearse the dance with my group members. We had breakfast and had just the right amount time to perfect the dance.

I thought our dance was awesome and that we would all be staying. We performed around 11:00 a.m., and I felt I couldn't have done any better. However, two from my group received split votes, so each had to "Dance for Their Lives." The other guy in my group got a "yes" from each judge. Then when it came to me, I got three "no" votes and only one "yes" (which was from Mary - the ballroom choreographer). At that moment I couldn't believe I had been eliminated. I was so pleased with my performance, I was positive that I had it! I guess I will never know why they eliminated me. The final cut left that evening occurred after performing a solo for the judges. Those who made it would then move on to the show this summer. I was ALMOST there!

I have no regrets about any of my performances. I did the best I could do. It was an amazing experience to work with all four choreographers and to meet 185 dancers from around the country. It was an experience I will never forget and now I am ready for my next challenge! Perhaps I will try out next season!