Showing her artistry: Former Albuquerque resident Mariyah Hawkins eliminated before top four on 'So You Think You Can Dance'

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May 11—There are days Mariyah Hawkins wakes up and misses the big sky and mountains of New Mexico.

"I grew up knowing those views," Hawkins says. "I don't get too many opportunities to go see my Albuquerque people anymore."

Since March 4, millions of viewers have been able to witness Hawkins compete on the 18th season of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance."

Last week, the former Albuquerque resident was eliminated from the show, just missing out on the top four.

The May 6 episode of the reality dance competition had the top five contestants learn choreography to be backup dancers for Grammy Award winner T-Pain.

Judge and professional dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy told Hawkins he was a fan of hers.

"There was a stand-out moment with T-Pain," Chmerkovskiy told Hawkins. "After that, I felt like you were a half-count behind. ... You have it all in there to be great."

Hawkins found herself in the bottom three, where she had to dance for her life.

"I'm really grateful for the experience," she says. "I feel like I've shown my artistry throughout the entire show."

Hawkins is now based in Dallas, where she is part of the faculty at the Joffrey Ballet School.

Growing up in Albuquerque, she lived with her mother and grandparents and spent the majority of her formative years in a dance studio.

She trained at Triple Threat Performing Arts, which closed down during the pandemic, as well as VIIIZON Academy.

Hawkins grew up watching the dance competition show, where she auditioned for the children's version when she was a teenager.

"I auditioned and I was promptly cut," she recalls. "It was devastating. I told myself when I turned 18, I would audition for the regular version. During the audition for this season, I wasn't trying to deliver what I thought they wanted from me or what the judges would respond to. I went in and performed and showed the artistry I've been working on my entire life."

Hawkins' credits her foundation in dance to the studios in Albuquerque.

"I really had to explore for myself," she says of dancing. "I wasn't really dancing with people who look like me or people that I resonated with when I was growing up."

Hawkins credits Cindy Sikelianos at Triple Threat Performing Arts for being an influential force in her life.

"She provided me with so many training opportunities as possible," she says. "She was a big proponent of me being myself. She was in the audience the night I got eliminated. Having her present in the live episode felt like a full-circle moment."

Hawkings also has profound respect for Trey Pickett and Vanessa Mathis of VIIZON Academy.

"They both care so much about arts and the history of arts," she says. "They helped lay down the foundation for me and helped propel me within their space."

While Mathis is grateful for the experience, she would have liked there to be more shown during the series.

There were pieces of unaired interviews that she wishes an audience could have seen.

"In this particular experience, I felt like I accomplished a lot," she says. "I'm still finding my place in life. My mother and grandmother would drive out to Atlanta each week to watch the show live and support me. Nothing really feels at home lately. I'm really indebted to my family. Any chance I could spotlight those bonds, I do. I can't wait to see what's next."

The season finale will be broadcast on May 20, when a winner will be named.