LAYTON -- Finishing the biggest dance event of her life as a contestant on Fox's hit show, "So You Think You Can Dance," has been an adjustment for 19-year-old Malece Miller, from Layton, who made it as one of the top 12 dancers before being eliminated last week.
Going from dancing 14 to 16 hours a day back to her regular schedule in Los Angeles, with dance gigs and auditions, has been a shock to her system.
"I was so used to being busy every day, so now I don't know what to do with myself," Miller said.
Some mornings started at 5 a.m., with dance rehearsals as couples and as a group, and didn't end until late into the night. Miller said the only days they had off were Wednesdays, days she spent getting physical therapy and having her hair done.
All the dancing took its toll on their bodies. Miller took a picture of her feet after one of the live shows -- visible are scrapes, shoe indents and leftover tape used during the dance to protect her feet.
"I've also had calf cramps ever since I did the Bollywood dance, but they really took care of us, making sure we always told them if we were in pain, or making sure we didn't get dehydrated," Miller said.
She has watched every season of the show, but says watching and participating in the show are like night and day.
"When watching it, it looks a lot less stressful, because by the time we got on stage, we were having a good time, but it was always stressful," she said. "It's a good thing it was dance, because I wanted to do my best and push through it."
The biggest shock was the competition in Las Vegas, when they chiseled hundreds of contestants down to 20.
"Vegas was pretty crazy, because they tried to cram in as much as they could, to see who could handle the pressure," Miller said, referring to the minimal amounts of time they had to learn a routine, and then minimal hours of sleep.
During her time in Las Vegas, her partner accidently dropped her, which landed her in the hospital. She made it back from the hospital at 4 a.m., getting only a couple hours of sleep before their 6:30 a.m. audition time. The night after that, the contestants were required to stay up all night rehearsing, so she only had a couple hours of sleep in 48 hours.
"That's the first time I have done anything like that. They didn't give us a lot of time for choreography, which tested our memory and physical ability," she said.
Making it to the live L.A. shows meant a little ease up on the all-nighters, but the pressure was still ever-present.
"Learning the routines for a live show was shocking, because you just couldn't mess up," Miller said. "You always had to be on your feet, knowing what you were doing, but also knowing elimination was going to happen one day."
She remembers dealing with her nerves before going on stage, but once she hit the stage, that all faded away.
"Performing for a live audience was my favorite part, since there were genuine die-hard fans that were really loud and supportive. I worked all week for that moment," Miller said. "For me, dancing is the one thing that makes me feel complete, and it's inspiring that I can dance for other people and have fans appreciate what you do."
As a contemporary dancer, a challenge for her was learning to dance with a partner.
"I don't even know how I made it through the salsa, since I've never done ballroom, but we just worked through it, practiced on our own time and hoped for the best," she said.
Now Miller is a household name, even after being eliminated. However, the way she looks at it, it's not every day she gets to hear compliments from famous people.
"After the show, guest judge Kenny Ortega (director of the 'High School Musical' trilogy and Michael Jackson's 'This Is It' movie) told me he loved my work. You never get to hear that," she said.
Just being a part of the show and surrounded by dancers she has watched since she was young was the experience of a lifetime.
"It was amazing, learning from people I've grown up watching, to be in the same room, having them tell me what to do, was life changing, one of those things I will always take with me," Miller said.
Equally amazing, she said, was the friendships she developed with the other contestants during the show.
"We are all best friends, which is crazy, and makes it that much harder to leave," she said.
She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she continues to pursue her passion with dance auditions and performances.
"As long as I'm dancing," she says, "I'll be OK."