Best Advice to Young Dancers
“Dancing takes an incredible amount of mental focus. The only way to push through the discipline and sometimes monotony of your technical training is to stay inspired. Look to the masters of your art form to get you to your next level. Read books, watch footage, listen to musical scores written for dance, etc. Also, you must seek balance between being an athlete, an artist, and a working professional. It can be tricky. Cross train and take care of your body, feed your soul with good art, and meet people in your field who you respect. All these things take a great amount of patience.”
Favorite Thing about an NYCDA Weekend?
“I am constantly inspired by the students in my classes. When students are fearless, they can do anything! It is also fun seeing it click for people that as a tap dancer, you are a dancer AND a musician. As a teacher, class is the perfect place to play as a choreographer, and there’s nothing like watching the students bring your movement and rhythms to life. I am so thrilled to be teaching at NYCDA and for the opportunity to meet all the students and teachers!"
Born in East Meadow, New York, and raised in Thousand Oaks, California, Melinda began tap dancing at a studio at age four, turning professional at age 14. She trained in all dance styles, but was always captivated by the great song and dance men and woman of the movies, her favorites being Fred Astaire, Ann Miller, Gregory Hines, and the Nicholas Brothers. Her tap dance mentors included Jason Samuels Smith, Chloe Arnold, Mark Mendonca, and the late Dr. Harold Cromer. In 2004, Melinda won the coveted Music Center Spotlight Award in Non-Classical Dance, culminating in a solo performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. As a high school senior, she won a role in the Cats 25th anniversary touring company. Since then, she’s continued to work in many styles and mediums, but is most proud to be a tap dance artist and teacher.
National Tours: 25th Anniversary Tour of CATS & First National of Disney’s “High School Musical. Regional: Noah Racey’s Pulse, Wonderland, High School Musical & High School Musical 2 (both directed by Jeff Calhoun). Company Work Includes: Jazz Tap Ensemble, Tapsounds Underground, Anybody Can Get It (under the direction of Jason Samuels Smith), Syncopated Ladies, & the New York Song & Dance Company Current project: "Campfire Vaudeville" with Galen Hooks.
Melinda is best known for her work on the U.S. version of So You Think You Can Dance, where she was a finalist in the television series' seventh season. She was recently the first tap dance all-star to appear on the shows tenth season. Melinda’s additional screen credits include GLEE, Dancing With The Stars, How To Rock, 90210, One on One, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, & It’s Complicated. As an actress, she was a recurring character on As The World Turns & in multiple music videos.
As a choreographer, Melinda was named “25 to Watch” in 2013 by Dance Magazine. She was the first woman and tap dancer to win the CAPEZIO ACE AWARD . The award led to Gone: A Sound and Theater Project, which debuted at New York's Ailey Citigroup Theater on August 5, 2013, with a new score by Nikos Syropoulos. Melinda is also a recent recipient of a 2013 World Dance Award for Best Choreography in the category of Television Episodic, for her work on DS2DIO’s “Remixed”. Melinda is the founder of the Melinda Sullivan Dance Project. The mission of the Melinda Sullivan Dance Project is to create an expressive body of work with a strong emphasis on sound. It is committed to presenting many styles of tap dance to a broad audience in a theatrical setting while maintaining authenticity to tap dance’s roots and musicality. The project will also present opportunities for dancers and musicians to perform together. Melinda Sullivan Dance Project has performed at Zipper Hall for the Colburn Tap Festival, Dance For Life Palm Springs, the Roy and Edna Disney Cal Arts Theater (REDCAT), and the Ailey City Group Theater in the Capezio ACE Awards Winner's Festival. Melinda has choreographed and collaborated on a variety of film shorts. You can view them at www.melindasullivan.com.
Melinda is on faculty at the Trudi Zipper Dance Institute at the Colburn School in Downtown Los Angeles. She has guest taught at Broadway Dance Center, LA Tap Festival, Vancouver International Tap Festival, Pasadena Dance Festival, UCLA, MISI Escuela Teatro Musical in Bogota, Colombia, and the Taipei Tap Festival.