The Dirt with Melody Lacayanga

Melody and Nick Lazzarini on "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 1.

Melody Lacayanga is tiny and powerful, and she’s taking the commercial dance world by storm. The feisty, California-born dancer grew up dancing with Chris Jacobsen’s Dance Company of San Francisco (with this month’s cover girl, Chantel Aguirre!), but it was her successful turn on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 1 that made Melody famous.

During the show’s first season, ballet-trained Melody dominated each style that was thrown her way, from the jive to the paso doble. She snagged the runner-up title, coming in second to Nick Lazzarini. Since “SYTYCD,” Melody has continued dancing professionally, performing with Sonya Tayeh Dance Company and Mark Meismer’s Evolution. She has danced on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Idol Gives Back” and “Glee,” and has performed at the MTV European Music Awards. Most recently, Melody was a dancer on Miley Cyrus’ Gypsy Heart world tour and was an All-Star on “SYTYCD” Season 8. Read on for The Dirt!

What did you want to be when you were a teen?

A sports medicine doctor or a psychologist. Dance was never in my plan as an “ideal career.”

Performer you would drop everything to go see:

Robin Thicke or The Script

If you could work with any performer, past or present, who would it be?

Otis Redding. I love him!

Most-played song on your iPod:

“No One Gonna Love You,” by Jennifer  Hudson. It’s soooo good—I wanna cry right now as I hear it in my head!

Must-see TV show:

“Top Chef.” I am obsessed!

Who would play you in a movie?

Hmm…Brenda Song? Haha. Or Vanessa Hudgens.

Who is your dance crush?

I don’t have dance crushes, I have chef crushes!

What is your biggest pet peeve?

When people put their luggage in the overhead bins incorrectly.

Biggest guilty pleasure:

Shoes. I love all types, from sneakers to heels, flats to boots, TOMS, everything. I’m also a sucker for red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

One thing most people don’t know about you:

I used to sing when I was younger. I sang more than I danced, but one day I just stopped singing. I wish I hadn’t…

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?

Probably a chef. I’m actually considering going to culinary school in the future, when I’m ready to hang up my booty shorts.

Favorite city in the world:

Rio de Janeiro

Favorite dancer of all time:

I have such a long list! Sylvie Guillem , Peter Chu and Lindsay Blaufarb are way up there.

Latest Posts


Photo by Lindsay Thomas

Ashton Edwards Is Breaking Down Gender Barriers in Ballet

When Ashton Edwards was 3 years old, the Edwards family went to see a holiday production of The Nutcracker in their hometown, Flint, MI.

For the young child, it was love at first sight.

"I saw a beautiful, black Clara," Ashton says, "and I wanted to be just like her."

Ashton has dedicated 14 years of ballet training in pursuit of that childhood dream. But all the technical prowess in the world can't help Ashton surmount the biggest hurdle—this aspiring dancer was assigned male at birth, and for the vast majority of boys and men, performing in pointe shoes hasn't been a career option. But Ashton Edwards, who uses the pronouns "he" and "they," says it's high time to break down ballet's gender barrier, and their teachers and mentors believe this passionate dancer is just the person to lead the charge.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo Courtesy of Apple TV+

All the Hollywood and Broadway Musical Moments to Look for in “Schmigadoon!”

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of about two dozen dancers got the rare opportunity to work on an upcoming Apple TV+ series—one devoted entirely to celebrating, and spoofing, classic 1940s and '50s musicals from the Great White Way and Hollywood. "Schmigadoon!", which premiered on AppleTV+ July 16, stars Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key, who get stuck inside a musical and must find true love in order to leave. The show features a star-studded Broadway cast, including Aaron Tveit, Ariana DeBose, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Jane Krakowski and Dove Cameron, and is chock-full of dancing courtesy of series choreographer, Christopher Gattelli.

"The adrenaline was pretty exciting, being able to create during the pandemic," says Gattelli. "I felt like we were representing all performers at that point. There were so many who wanted to be working during the pandemic, so I really tried to embrace this opportunity for all of them."

Gattelli says it was a dream come true to pay tribute to the dance geniuses that preceded him, like Michael Kidd, Agnes de Mille, Onna White and Jerome Robbins, in his choreography. Each number shows off a "little dusting" of their work.

Dance Spirit spoke with Gattelli about all the triumphs and tribulations of choreographing in a pandemic, and got an inside look at specific homages to look out for.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Shouldering the Load: What kind of dance bag should dancers use?

Walk into any dance convention, audition or class, and you'll see a vast variety of dance bags lining the walls. But can the style of bag you use (and how you wear it) have an impact on your dancing?

Don't worry—you won't have to shoulder the load alone. Dance Spirit spoke with two physical therapists who specialize in working with dancers to find out what dance bag is best.

What should dancers look for in a dance bag?

Dr. Meghan Gearhart, physical therapist and owner of Head2Toe Physical Therapy in Charlotte, NC, recommends dancers opt for a backpack-style dance bag rather than a duffel or cross-body bag.

"A bag that pulls the weight all to one side creates a side bend and rotation in the trunk," Gearhart says. "That is going to lead to muscle imbalances that will affect dancers while they're dancing, as well as just in regular everyday life." Muscle imbalances can mean limited mobility on one side of your body, as the muscles on one side are overly contracted and the other side is overly extended to compensate.

Gearhart suggests dancers pick a backpack made from a lightweight yet durable and breathable material, such as cotton, linen, nylon or polyester. Straps should be wide enough to not dig into your shoulder muscles, so avoid drawstring styles with rope straps. Adjustable and padded straps are best, so you can wear the straps at a length where the bag rests at the middle of your back.

Dr. Bridget Kelly Sinha, physical therapist and founder of Balanced Physical Therapy and Dance Wellness in Matthews, NC, emphasizes the importance of finding an even weight distribution when choosing a dance bag.

"If a dancer has a lot to bring, like when heading to the theater for a full day of rehearsals and performances, then I recommend a rolling suitcase to offset the load," Sinha says.

How should dancers wear their bags?

Even if you've selected the perfect dance bag, it's important to be mindful of how you wear it.

Gearhart advocates wearing both straps when carrying your backpack. She also suggests placing heavier items towards the back of the bag, where they will sit closer to your body. A bag with straps that are too loose (or a bag that is too heavy) can create an increased arch in the lower back or cause a dancer to compensate for the weight by leaning forward. Ideally, Gearhart recommends a dancer's dance bag weighing no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight.

"I usually tell dancers to use their common sense. If you don't have tap today, you don't need to bring the tap shoes," she says. "If your water bottle makes the bag too heavy, just carry it." If your studio offers lockers, take advantage of that storage space to lessen the number of clothes, shoes, and dance accessories that live in your dance bag.

And if you think your bad dance-bag habits have given you alignment issues, seek out a dance physical therapist to prevent further injuries.

"As a dancer, your body is working so hard all day," Sinha says. "It does not need excess strain from your bag."

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search