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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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So You Think You Can Dance: Mandy Montanez

Mandy Montanez

She's a self-confessed chatterbox who's lived her life by the motto 'happiness is something you earn'.

Originally from Maryland, Mandy moved to the UK eight years ago after meeting her husband when she was dancing on a cruise ship.

Her work has included dancing in the recent run of X Factor live shows and the 2007 series, plus being one of the lead dancers in Cheryl Cole's current music video Three Words.

She loves teaching and has a passion for working with talented young dancers – something she does regularly in the Ukraine and Russia where she works as a tutor in the Drive Dance Project which involves teaching Eastern European celebrities to dance.

Mandy heard about the competition in February and, hoping it would come to the UK, got herself back into class and became focused on being a contender for Britain's Favourite Dancer.

Greatest dancing fear?

"Not doing my best. Because I'm hard on myself and I want to show my best every time – I hate messing up."

Best physical feature?

"People say it's my butt! But I think it's my legs."

Worst habit in dance?

"My thumbs. I get a lot of tension in my hands and they stick out."

Most embarrassing moment on stage?

"I have a lot! But the worst would have to be when I was 14 doing a tap solo on stage. The floor was already slippery and they put Mr Muscle on there, which made it 10 times worse! I fell down about 25 times but I wouldn't give up. I had a sprained ankle but refused to leave the stage – they literally had to drag me off."

How did you get into dance?

"Through gymnastics. I was quite young when I started, and it gave me a great strength base and flexibility."

Where did you train?

"I trained in the US. I got my degree from Point Park Conservatoire and then I trained in Chicago at the Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Company."

What is your favourite type of dance?

"Deep down, I love cheesy jazz! I love all that! I've just seen Hot Gossip for the first time and I love it. I want to be in Hot Gossip."

What is it like working on a TV show?

"My first time was daunting but I'm getting used to it."

Have you bonded with the other contestants?

"Yeah. I've made some really good friends. Everyone is so different, it's like a psychological experiment – I love it!"

Are the judges as scary as they seem?

"No. I think they're pussy cats!"

What are your future plans?

"I want to dance. Not teach – perform."

Why did you enter the competition?

"For a challenge. To see how far I could go and what I could do. And because it's stressful and exciting – I crave that in my life."

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