SOUTH OGDEN -- One South Ogden young woman has beaten out thousands of dancers across the nation to become one of the Top 20 contestants on Fox's hit show "So You Think You Can Dance."
Nineteen-year-old Malece Miller has intrigued the judges with her mystique, strength and incredible flexibility, said Kassie Searle, an instructor at Infinity Dance in Ogden who choreographed Miller's audition dance.
"A lot of her strengths come from her acrobatic ability because she can do a lot of cool tricks that other people only wish they could do," she said.
"It's been fun to come up with ideas for her because I know she is able to do them."
Along with her gymnastic abilities is Miller's sense of intrigue when she dances, said Mandy Shaw, owner of Infinity Dance, who has taught Miller for several years.
"She is almost a mystery, with the ability to attain the goal and don't give up."
Miller's mom, Wendy Simonson, said the best advice her daughter received going into the show was, because the dancers are pushed so hard, to take a pillow with her throughout the process and sleep every chance she could get.
Because of the intense training schedule, Simonson gets only brief moments a day or two a week to visit with her daughter. Many days, Miller begins rehearsing for the show at 6 a.m. and doesn't finish until 10 p.m. -- and that's on top of several sleepless nights.
Rehearsals and show commitments keep her so busy that she couldn't break free to speak with the Standard-Examiner.
"Malece says she is exhausted, but she is strong and humble and very grateful to be where she is, so that keeps her going," Simonson said.
While growing up, their family came upon hard times, but Simonson was determined to keep her daughter in dance.
Malece has been dancing since she was 5, and there is no stopping her passion for the activity, said Simonson, who spent extra hours cleaning houses and the dance studio to help keep her daughter going.
Having the sacrifices pay off is almost surreal, Simonson said.
"Seeing her dance on TV is unexplainable when you stop and think about how crazy it is that your baby is dancing in front of the world," she said.
"I want this so bad for her that it is almost impossible to watch. I'm her biggest fan, so every time the judges turn to critique her, I hold my breath.
"Dancing for Malece isn't just about dancing. Dance is a language for her. It is how she communicates with the world. She cannot even take more than two steps without putting some kind of twirl or hand wave into it."
Something that stood out about Miller's dance style over the years, her teacher said, was her ability to understand movement.
"It's almost like it's in her bones and she and the music become one," Shaw said. "She has a way of drawing things out and can make you hear every part of the music, whether it is hip-hop or contemporary."
Shaw said Miller is trained in every dance style, but contemporary is the one she used to audition for the show.
"Contemporary tends to be more emotional, with a deeper style of dance with a lot of story to it, which is something she is really drawn to."