By Jeneal Wood
Born and raised in Bakersfield, Sasha Mallory knew early on what she wanted to do in life -- dance. And Mallory plans on dancing straight to the top. The 25-year-old was the runner-up on the Fox television show, "So You Think You Can Dance," and has danced behind Adam Lambert and Rihanna, and most recently, the Queen of Pop: Madonna.
Mallory was placed in ballet classes at age 5, and continued with it until she was 15. Eventually, Mallory became adventurous and learned new styles. She took her first jazz steps at Civic Dance Center, a local Bakersfield dance studio, where Mallory said she still likes to teach from time to time. She also learned hip-hip and breakdancing, among other styles.
While going to all of these dance classes, Mallory attended Ridgeview High School, and later left to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York for a year and a half.
The school was amazing for her career, Mallory said, and she learned a lot, but she found the actual school part "boring."
"I was too eager to move the ball," Mallory said. "I need to stay active, and sitting in a desk wasn't easy. I gotta move."
After returning home from school, Mallory's activities consisted of judging dance competitions and touring with West Coast Dance Explosion Company.
Mallory finally got her break in 2009, when she had the opportunity to tour as a dancer for American Idol alumnus Adam Lambert. This is where her career really began to take off, she said.
"Although West Coast Explosion was a paying gig, it isn't somewhere you can be credited," Mallory said. "People started to recognize me once I toured with Adam Lambert."
After touring with Lambert, Mallory auditioned for "So You Think You Can Dance" for the second time. She had auditioned for the sixth season once before, but didn't make it. Mallory didn't think that was her time.
But the eighth season, aired in 2011, was her time. She and her sister Natalia auditioned together, but only Mallory made it to the top 20. Lambert would advocate for Mallory, using Twitter to say "You're amazing," and to tell his fans to vote for her.
"I have to thank Adam's fans for voting for me on 'So You Think You Can Dance,'" Mallory said, adding that Lambert was a "big bundle of love" who was very supportive of her.
As local family and friends printed "Team Sasha" T-shirts and fliers, and hosted viewing parties across Bakersfield, Mallory gathered millions of votes.
She advanced and made it to the final two, and finished as the runner-up. The same year, The Bakersfield Californian named Mallory the "entertainer of the year."
In 2012, Mallory spent her time touring as a dancer again, this time on one of the biggest stages -- with Madonna.
That was a big learning experience, she said, along with it being very strenuous and fun at the same time. She traveled in style, too, and Madonna treated her dancers like royalty, she said. She even found love on the tour.
Now, Mallory has plans to teach in Arizona, and at West Coast Dance Explosion where she used to dance. Mallory also has plans to teach choreography to dancers on "So You Think You Can Dance" during the preliminary rounds, before viewers pick their top 20.
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