Passion. Commitment. Determination. Grace. All of these qualities and more make up Melanie Mah. The Canadian native has done more than just dance her way to the top – she created her own lane. From dancing with Janet Jackson to merging dance and yoga, Melanie’s ambition is one to inspire a whole nation. We spoke with the professional dancer about her career and what keeps her dancing. Check out the insightful interview below.
What was it like growing up in Ontario?
I grew up in a small suburb just outside of Toronto called Richmond Hill and I seriously had an awesome childhood. I was very fortunate to have amazing parents who pushed me and my older sister to be well-rounded, so we were thrown into lots of different hobbies like dance, karate, piano, chess, and swimming. Once I was in middle school, all my focus went to dance and I was training about 20 hours a week. I also went to a small private school where I was very involved and I was actually head of student council in my senior year. When I had free time, I enjoyed hanging out with friends and exploring nature. I feel lucky to have the kind of upbringing I had and my parents deserve gold stars for all the opportunities they gave me.
You began dancing ballet at a very young age. Was the art of dancing something you were always passionate about?
It actually wasn’t my personal decision to start dancing and my passion didn’t develop until later. My mom put me in ballet class when I was 5-years-old because she wanted me to have good posture and be a little less clumsy (unfortunately… still clumsy haha). I think it took both my mom and I by surprise when I realized how much I loved it. I definitely never thought it would turn into a career. I was brought up to be very school-oriented and was totally set on crossing medical school off my bucket list, but my passion for dance really grew as I got into my teen years. I knew I had a strong passion for it because I was the one pushing myself to intensify my training and to explore other styles. There was always a little voice pushing me to continue into dance and there was a fire inside me whenever I was onstage. I now know that the key to success is to have a passion and own it. Everything in your life should be done with passion or not at all.
At what point in your life did you decide to venture onto other types of dance?
I started to venture into other styles of dance when I was 11 years old. I took my first jazz class at my dance studio’s summer workshop, and I immediately fell in love with the style. I just thought it was so cool that I was dancing to “Toxic” by Britney Spears! I remember there was something in me that lit up that summer. My passion for dance was sparking. I asked my mom if I could do the jazz competitive team, and from there it was no turning back. Once I dove into other styles like lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop, my heart was sold.
Was it challenging at all being on So You Think You Can Dance Canada (SYTYCDC)?
Extremely. Being on national television at 19 years old taught me a lot about myself in a very short period of time. The whole, entire experience was completely life-changing… I went from studying biomedical sciences at university to performing on TV once a week and putting myself subject to the entire country’s opinion. Above the challenging part of it, I was so happy to be dancing every single day and it really was an incredible experience. No matter how physically or mentally draining it was for those 3 months, it was the time of my life and a dream come true. Being on SYTYCDC really launched my dance career and a lot of the people I met on the show are some of my closest friends today.
**Sourced exclusively for HYPEFRESH, Inc. For MISSBISH**