Local teen dancer working to fulfill goal of attending Juilliard

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Years of strife and dedication have paid off for a South Florida teen who got accepted into the Juilliard School of Dance. Now the real work begins.

Eighteen-year-old Jamaii Melvin knows the prospect of attending the prestigious New York City academy is a unique and special opportunity.

It’s a goal he’s been working on for years.

“I looked into more detail after the age of 9, into the actual curriculum and what they offered,” he said, “and right then and there, I had to go. I needed to go. It wasn’t even a question anymore. It was, ‘I have to work for this.'”

Melvin has received offers from other dance schools, but for him, it has to be Juilliard.

“When I went in the summer, I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t in a place of where I was content with myself,” he said. “I was almost so welcoming, that feeling of, ‘Oh, I’m home.'” He paused, then added, “almost.”

Melvin attended school by day and danced at night. This past weekend, he competed in a regional dance competition held at the Miami Beach Convention Center for the chance to win a much-needed scholarship.

Melvin was one of only 12 male dancers to be accepted into Juilliard this year, an incredible feat.

But there’s a problem. The tuition costs and the expensive costs of living in New York have put a price tag on his dream that his family is finding tough to afford.

“My mom and dad, they talked to me about the financial aspect of it,” he said. ‘I went through it, and me being the dancer, I was like, ‘I have to do it, I have to. We just need to figure it out.’ But in reality, it’s hard.”

Melvin’s family supports his dreams to going to Juilliard and said they are determined to help him find a way to make it to the school.

“Well, Juilliard is, I think, the next step in his progression, and he wants it so bad,” said his father, James Melvin, “and he’s wanted it for so many years. We have to make it happen. No matter what it takes, no matter what we have to do, he’s going to Juilliard.”

Meanwhile, the aspiring performer continues to work to win scholarships and other means to pay his way to achieve his lifelong goal.

“We’re going to try to find people to help,” he said.

If you’d like contribute to Melvin’s GoFundMe page, click here.

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