Summit County native gains fame through dance and choreography
January 3, 2008
LOS ANGELES It was an unforgettable moment. Possibly one of the most powerful performances in So You Think You Can Dance history.A stunt table decorated the stage, and Sweet Dreams filled the studio as contestants Neil and Sabra performed a jazz number that left the audience and judges screaming with amazement. They could only hope that shows finale would measure up to what they just witnessed.That moment from season three was created by Mandy Moore, choreographer, dancer and worldwide instructor who spent her childhood in the mountains.Sometimes I have to pinch myself, she said. Here I am a kid from Summit County, Colorado.Mandy, 31, grew up watching Flashdance and Staying Alive and knew she wanted to dance in the movies. So, after graduating from Summit High School in 1994, she left for Los Angeles to make her dancing dreams a reality. I wanted to be a star, she said with a laugh.And it was a combination of natural talent, passion, dedication and hard work that led her to where she is today.The first movie role she booked was in A Time For Dancing. Throughout the month and a half that the movie was shot, she did exactly what she was trained to do, and it was then that she felt like she had truly made it.However, knowing what she does now about the business, she may never had made the gutsy move she did when she was 18. I would definitely have to say that ignorance is bliss … I didnt know what I was getting myself into.
Mandys formal dance training began when she was about 8 years old at Summit School of Dance. Her mom, Wendy Moore, put her in class there, which at the time was in the basement of the Frisco Mall.But Mandy had been dancing since before she could even walk, her mom said. As an infant in her high chair, she would bounce to the rhythm of the music on Sesame Street, added Wendy.Whatever music was on, she would just start dancing, her mom said.And once she started at the dance school, her mom wasnt the only one impressed with her natural abilities. Wendy would take her daughter to the school and she would dance all day Saturdays which are some of the favorite times she and her husband, Bob Moore, spent watching their daughter.There are so many wonderful memories, Wendy said. She was also an athlete in high school (basketball, track, gymnastics).And for Mandy, from the time she walked into the dance class, I remember thinking this is the most amazing thing Ive ever done … I always felt at home there.
Now, her passion for dance has taken her all over the world and even landed her a choreographer job on the hit television show, So You Think You Can Dance.L.A. is very much you are only as good as your last job, explained Mandy who met people with the dance show when she assisted a woman working on American Idol. They called asking her to help with the audition tour after the second season aired, which meant she traveled to cities and taught combinations to the dancers. Then, the first piece she was hired to choreograph for two contestants during the last seasons television competition was a contemporary one.On the night the piece she choreographed was being performed, she drove up to the studio where the dance show is filmed, parking the same way anyone going to see it would. She got out of her car and walked up to the front of the building. Thats when she saw it a parking spot marked by a big yellow cone with her name on it. She stopped in her tracks, so excited that she took a picture of it.I hope I always continue to stay as inspired and excited, said Mandy who is also hoping to be back for the next season of So You Think You Can Dance.She feels honored to be a part of it and truly enjoys working with the everyone there. I like that they are bringing dance back to America. … Theres more hype about it now.She also loves working with the shows contestants because of their phenomenal talent. They are only given three days to learn a routine, and not even three full days, Mandy said. With a laugh, Wendy said, Its very strange to see your child on national television … Youre yelling at the TV.
When Mandy is not working with the television show contestants, she teaches for a dance convention that travels around the states. In fact, with that company she spends 25 weekends a year traveling. Additionally, she teaches children ages 6 to 18 in Los Angeles, travels to private studios to teach across the country, is hired to do workshops in Italy, Korea and Australia and makes time to perform and audition as well. Recently, Mandy also worked on a segment of the new Celine Dion tour.And while she loves all forms of dance, her favorite to perform is jazz and her favorite to choreograph is lyrical. She says when she choreographs its like therapy. She uses her life experiences and what she is feeling to create a dance.To get paid to do what you love and to get to travel (is amazing), she said.Still, she enjoyed growing up in the mountains and someday may return. Currently, her mom, dad and sister are in Over the River and Through the Woods at the Backstage Theatre a show she plans to catch. Her parents now live in Glenwood Springs and her sister, Missy, who is an actress, is in Denver, but they frequently get back to Summit. Her dad, who helped build Summit County Preschool, worked at BigHorn in Silverthorne and her mom was a principal at Summit Middle School.Its like anything. Its not all peaches and cream … But all in all its really been an awesome journey, Mandy said.
From the moment Melanie Frey met the young student, she knew she was a dancer at heart.At that time, Mandy Moore, now a world-famous choreographer, dancer and instructor, was about 9 years old. It was obvious to me that she had big dreams and lots of talent, said Frey, director of Summit School of Dance. She was one of the kids that just ate it up.Throughout the years, Moore explored all types of dance at the school that teaches ballet, pointe, jazz modern, tap, hip-hop, musical theatre and creative movement. She was one of Freys first students and members of the CO.motion dance team that travels regionally to compete.The year Moore was on the team they even ended up at a national competition, Frey said. She would compete as a soloist and was an incredible technician.So, years later when Frey brought students to a dance convention in Denver where Moore was one of the instructors, she couldnt be more proud.She got to be my teacher, Frey said with a laugh, adding that she gave a wonderfully motivating speech.Anyone interested in information about the Summit School of Dance can contact Melanie Frey at (970) 668-3975.