Dancing into the spotlight
Sanford native Mariah Reives went to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts after attending San Lee Middle School. Earlier this summer, she auditioned for "So You Think You Can Dance," a reality show that allows dancers from across the country to showcase their talents.
After receiving a standing ovation for her performance, Reives got a call back and headed to Los Angeles.
Though she did not make it to the Top 20 round of the competition, Reives said she wouldn't trade the experience for anything, and that she was nothing but grateful at the opportunity to display her passion for dance in front of a national audience.
Reives heads off to New York in the fall to continue dancing at Marymount Manhattan College.
When and why did you decide to try out for "So You Think You Can Dance?"
The reason why I auditioned was because I have heard so many awesome things about the show, and I have never missed a season. I just imagined myself being on that stage one day.
Have you received support from people in Sanford?
I have received more support than I could ever imagine! There were so many people who have given me more support and love than I ever thought was possible. It was great knowing that I have such awesome people from Sanford to support a little girl like me.
Can you talk a bit about how your mom has influenced you through your dancing career?
My mom has been the one person who I can truly say has supported me ever since my very first dance class. She has never missed a class, rehearsal, performance or competition, and she said she was definitely not going to miss a chance for me to be on TV.
She has sacrificed a lot for me to dance and to be successful. She has taken me all over the state of North Carolina to learn from awesome teachers and choreographers, and has also taken me to several different states to compete in national competitions throughout my 16 years of dancing. She has had to work three jobs to be able to support me in what I want to do and pursue my dreams while also supporting my older brother and sister at the same time.
She has been my inspiration since day one. She loves me unconditionally. Even though she may not know dance completely, she is always helping me become a better dancer.
I am headed to Marymount Manhattan College in New York in the fall to major in dance. I am very excited about this new chapter in my life and can't wait to take it on and be in the city. I am also thinking about auditioning again for the show to see how it goes now that I know what to expect, and hopefully I can make it farther. I just have to train harder and prepare myself a little more.
What would you say to your friends, family and teachers in Sanford who helped you along the way?
I would like to thank them all for their support that they have shown me. They don't even understand how awesome it truly feels to have so many people who actually know who you are say that they are always going to be with me, and that I can always count on them to have my back!
What does it mean to you to be able to get on stage in front of a national television audience and do what you love?
Being in front of the national TV and those judges, I would have to say, was one of the best experiences of my life! I was able to show the world, or whoever was watching the show, what I really and truly love to do! I got so many people to tell me that they enjoyed my audition and that I have inspired them to keep dancing. A parent told me that I was every little girls' hope, that if they keep doing what they put their heart and soul to that they can achieve whatever they want. That has pushed me to keep doing what I do and inspire younger dancers to keep pushing and become whatever they want to [be].
What was your favorite moment during your experience with "So You Think You Can Dance?"
My favorite moment would have to be every single moment that I auditioned, from my audition in Atlanta to LA week. I enjoyed meeting all of these amazing dancers and creating friendships and memories that I have made that will be lifelong!
Did you miss Sanford?
Yes, I missed Sanford. But I was doing what I loved, and the support back at home made it feel like Sanford was with me the whole time!
Are there any funny stories you can tell about your time on the show?
Well, everyone for the most part who knows my mom knows how protective she is of me. In Atlanta, we went to do a video shoot with a couple people who were at the audition. No one else's parent went but mine. I was okay with that because she just wanted to watch.
Well, in order for her to go with us at the different stops that we made, she had to follow the van. And after the second or third stop, the people in the car were like, "Okay, who is this person following the van?"
And of course, I said, "Oh, that's my mom." And everyone started laughing and saying, "Oh, funny joke, Mariah."
I said, "No, seriously, that's my mom!"
The van couldn't hold in their laughter any more than I could. So we got out at our next stop, and we all turned around and yelled, "Hi, mom!"
She got super embarrassed, but that's okay because everyone knew her as "Mariah's mom" and loved her! And we all could see by the audition that she never left my side and was jumping higher than I was.
With that said, she was unable to come with me to LA when I went, and everyone kept asking, "Where is your mom?" "Did your mom go with you?" "How is your mom handling not being with you all the way across the country?"
My answer to them all was, "I text her every second of the day that I can and tell her everything, so it's like she is here!" I am so lucky to have her as a mother and the support that she gives to me!