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Clocked 38 hours of preschool dance classes.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success offers a formula for success—being born at the right place and time and investing at least 10,000 hours in pursuit of your goal. It’s about being well-placed and driven, and following a dream. Meet one of AU’s outliers: dance wonk Melanie George, CAS/MA ’03 .


Started afterschool classes in ballet, jazz, and acrobatics.

Melanie George, AU dance program director

1980 Debut of TV series Solid Gold. “If you wanted to see dance, it was easily accessible.” Realized dance was something she could do.

1982 Began studio dance classes. Debut of TV series Fame. “I would get into costume and watch.”


Parents docked dance classes when grades dropped. Grades improved. Logged 510 hours.


Born in Detroit. No first memory of dance. “There hasn’t been a time that I haven’t been doing this.”

1984–85 Earned a spot in a studio performing company. Logged 360 hours in classes and rehearsals.

1983 Auditioned for but not accepted into studio dance company. She cried, devastated.


Worked office jobs 9 to 5, taught dance evenings and weekends. Danced for 5,616 hours with a community company.

Saw Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Began imagining full-length shows.

1996–99 1993–94

“You have to want it because there are days when it sucks.” Breakthrough: “got” how to move her pelvis.


Graduated from college. Snagged two job offers by cold-calling numbers from a phone book.


Considered quitting dance when she didn’t land roles at Western Michigan University. Photo for 2008 by Tracy J. Brooks


Taught dance at two schools and one studio. Danced 19,520 hours.


Joined Dance Nonce company.


Started AU graduate program.

2002 Hired as AU adjunct dance instructor.


Named assistant professor of dance at Kent State University. Spent 6,080 hours performing and choreographing.

2008 Named dance program director at AU. Let’s talk #americanmag  9

American magazine