Tapping Into Melinda’s Experience

Melinda Sullivan was at peace with the results.

Tap dancer Melinda Sullivan was eliminated during the Top 9 live results show. We caught up with the 22-year-old soon after her elimination to learn more about her tap background and plans for the future.

Melinda started tap dancing when she was only four years old and she instantly felt connected to it. “I loved making music with my feet,” she said. “I just became hooked. When I was nine, I was introduced to rhythm tap and tap being music…I learned about improvisation and started working with a jazz musician and learning about time signatures and training…That’s when I realized this is what I want to do. I’m so inspired by the fact that I’m moving through space but I’m also making sounds. It’s just more stimulating to me than other dance forms.”

When Melinda was told she made the Top 5 girls of Season 7, Mia Michaels revealed the good news as Melinda sat with her mentor, tap dancing legend Harold Cromer. We learned a little bit more about Harold as her inspiration just before her Top 9 week performance. During the press call, Melinda shared, “I met him at the New York City Tap Festival in 2003. We were backstage in his dressing room and he was just spitting out so much knowledge. He’s worked with everybody. He was friends with Sammy Davis, Jr. He worked with Billie Holiday, the Nicholas Brothers, Sarah Vaughan. He took a liking to me because I really want to be a complete entertainer. I sing and I act and I play instruments, and he’s all about being a complete entertainer like they had to do back in the day.”

Although Melinda was the third tap dancer eliminated, she’s also the tap dancer that made it the farthest in the competition. She explained why she thinks tap doesn’t always transfer well on the show. “Being a tap dancer, you are a musician, and it can come off sometimes a little obscure when someone is just making a lot of rhythms…I think part of the reason why you lose some of the edge of tap on a show like this is you’re not dancing on a wood floor. You’re not hearing the sounds live.”

The Thousand Oaks, CA resident has no regrets about her SYTYCD journey. “I gave the competition my all, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I was really proud of my how focus I stayed. I came into the show with a pretty high work ethic. I have been working professionally since I was 15 and I think even more now I’m more focused. I’m able to pick up things quicker.” Melinda is also an actress and her hopes for the future include portraying tap dancer Ann Miller in a biopic.

View photos of Melinda’s fancy footwork.


35 comments on “Tapping Into Melinda’s Experience“

  1. Kari - wrote:

    I don’t know if this will get to anyone who has a say in the programming for the show – BUT, how great it would be if one of the choreographers created a group performance for the remaining dancers to “Waka Waka.” It would be wonderful!

    7/7/2010 12:09 PM UTC

  2. Jason - wrote:

    I couldn’t find another place to comment, but I just got into this show 2 seasons ago. I can’t tell you enough now how much I can’t stand to watch anymore with the new way things are going. Everybody that I know agrees about having all the dancers dance with the past pros instead of learning together and improving during the season. The show sucks now and it needs to go back to the way it used to be.

    7/7/2010 4:16 PM UTC

  3. Dave - wrote:

    I don’t even want to talk about Melinda. This is about Alex. He is the best dancer on the show! If his injury disqualifies him then the season is over for me.

    7/7/2010 4:17 PM UTC

  4. George - wrote:

    Where is Mary Murphy? I truly miss her. She gave truly professional critiques to all of the dancers in the same manner. Nigel is the only one who appears to be truly objective this season. Say one thing and, stick to it across the board. Let’s not forget the ignorance directed towards one of the best dancers on the show in the past-Brandon.

    7/7/2010 6:38 PM UTC

  5. JUdy Smith - wrote:

    Until this season I have enjoyed watching SYTYCD. However, after tonight I will have to give it up as I cannot condone the meanspirited comments made by one of the judges and the obvious favortism shown by all 3 judges. Mia Michaels is a great choreographer but is misplaced as a judge. It’s one thing to give consttructive criticism and another to just tear people down. Continuing to watch the program means I condone this behavior.

    7/7/2010 6:53 PM UTC

  6. Ginger - wrote:

    I’m with Jason. I’m writing here because I didn’t know where else to send feedback/comments to the show producers. I don’t like the new format at all either. As much as I enjoy hearing about the all stars and seeing them again, I miss the way it was. I miss being able to see two new dancers learning and dancing together. It was much more interesting to watch. With that said, the new format might be tolerable if I didn’t have to see Mia and Adam EVERY SINGLE time. What happened to Mary? Where are the other judges? They used to bring different ones in every week to sit with Nigel and Mary and that made it interesting as well. I am sick of Mia’s and Adam’s comments. It is obvious which dancers they like and which ones they want to go in the bottom three.

    I never have blogged on this site until this season but I sit there and watch that and can’t stand it. It seems totally unfair how they are and I’m surprised NIgel is putting up with it. Isn’t he one of the creators of this show? Tonight, when Mia said she missed Alex and implied that Adechike was just so bad she couldn’t stand it and would’ve enjoyed it better with Alex dancing… well, it just made me sick.

    I loved that Cat Deeley actually stood up for Adechike tonight as the “devil’s advocate”. I think even Cat is getting fed up with some of the comments coming out of the judges box.

    7/7/2010 7:08 PM UTC

  7. Michelle Thompson - wrote:

    If it were not for Kent, I would not be watching this show..I fast forward through everything, but his performances…


    7/7/2010 7:09 PM UTC

  8. Jeff - wrote:

    Love Mia Michaels as a choreographer…..but hate….hate…..HATE her as a judge. I agree with you George. I lost a lot of respect for Mia because of her treatment of Brandon in a previous season. If this is going to be the judging panel in future seasons I really doubt I’ll watch.

    7/7/2010 7:16 PM UTC

  9. Cynthia - wrote:

    I agree with the comments regarding Mia Michaels. Last week after Melinda’s performance, Mia makes a comment stating that they made a mistake keeping her there another week. If that was the case, that was the judges mistake and not Melinda’s. Why say something like that to hurt her feelings. Mia doesn’t seem to think before she speaks, or maybe she doesn’t care. Talking about someone who’s arrogant & cocky, hmm! Anyway, love Jose but if the judges feel so strongly about critiquing the dancer to make them better, then they are not doing Jose any justice.

    7/7/2010 8:41 PM UTC

  10. VICK - wrote:

    post my comment about Mia she truly is not a consistent judge. Please let this be her first and only year of judging. Bring back Mary Murphy.

    7/7/2010 9:07 PM UTC

  11. Reena - wrote:

    I felt so compelled to write about tonight’s show. I’m so glad that Cat Deeley played the Devil’s Advocate and pretty much showed the judges how hypocritical they are. I’ve never once heard them say anything negative about Jose. Whatever he does, they will never find any fault in him. Yes, he has a great smile and is charming but that only goes so far. You can see the inconsistency and favoritism by the way they treat the dancers. Did you notice after Cat stood up for Adecheki (who handled the situation quite well by the way) that the judges started to “critically judge” Jose on his duo performance with Billy. I hope the three judges read our comments and realize that they are being mean, unfair, harsh, and the favoritism especially with Jose, Kent, Alex, and Asheley is VERY obvious. I can’t stand Mia and Adam. I don’t respect them as a judge or even as a dancer. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I like Mary and Debbie Allen to come back to the show. They were also unfair with Melinda. She and Robert have been in the bottom, three times and yet, the judges think Melinda is unrelatable and needs to work on her personality, but Nigel cannot fathom why Robert is not getting the votes. He starts researching and sees that people think Robert is arrogant and tells everyone otherwise. Why not do the same for Melinda and the other two girls who left so prematurely? I don’t understand why Kent is even on this show. He messed up during his audition. To me, he is goofy, annoying, and a weak dancer. I’m so glad the audience booed Mia and the judges and I hope it sinks in that what they’re doing is wrong. Thanks again Cat for speaking up. I have a newfound respect for Ms. Deeley.

    7/7/2010 9:23 PM UTC

  12. Chris - wrote:

    Me and my husband have been faithful viewers for a couple of seasons now. He has mentioned that he not in favor of the new format of the show. He says he feels there is not enough “character development” and most of the dancers are “nameless and faceless” for him. He’s lost interest. For now, I think I can live with the new format. I miss having 20 contestants, but I think by narrowing it down to 10 and having them partner with past performers allows me to really focus on the specific individual whom is competing. I am a fan of Mia Micheals choreography and I always will be, but she doesn’t make the best judge for me. I think her perspective is valuable in terms of performance and, and to a lesser extent, technique, but as judge, she often comes across as subjective, sometimes making evaluations based on her opinions of the person. I can see that most people who posted here want Mary Murphy back. I’m assuming that’s because she brought consistent “crazy excitement” and “positiveness” in contrast to Mia Michael’s “fanciful criticalness”. My husband has commented, however, that he was often annoyed with the maniacal laughter though, lol. I also believe there seems to be a harshness and bias across the judging panel, but, to be honest, I’ve noticed that in past seasons too……it may be it’s more blatant this season. Of the remaining 8 dancers, I believe Jose to be the weakest. I believe the only reason he was not voted off last week is because Melinda, justifiably, had a weaker performance (she may have been better with technique than Jose, but in terms of evaluating JUST the performances, her latin/ballroom routine did not hold water for me).

    7/8/2010 6:16 AM UTC

  13. cheryl - wrote:

    I have to agree with so many above…I too think that Mia Michaels is an amazing choreographer but she is just downright mean as a judge. Constructive criticism is very good for learning to better ourselves but when it is personal in the form of obvious dislike for a person the judge should step down.

    I had always thought of Mia as a beautiful woman…gentle and caring but now I can hardly stand to watch the show because of her arrogance…what happened???

    I truly hope she is reading these blogs…maybe she just is lost a little and will find her way back…she really is hurting the dancers more than helping.

    7/8/2010 6:51 AM UTC

  14. J - wrote:

    As many as mentioning, much props to Cat for standing up for Adechike’s Bollywood routine, which, sorry… felt miles ahead of Jose’s and yet was still trashed by Mia in what’s starting to feel like Brandon 2.0. The complete lack of respect by Mia and Adam followed by Nigel’s “we’re only trying to help you” speech was easily the critical low point of the season and that’s saying a lot after Mia’s completely unprofessional “I think we made a mistake” comments to Melinda which, even if true, was not something that was constructive at all, either for Melinda or the wrongly booted Cristina.

    Don’t get me wrong, Melinda definitely had to go and Adechike is lucky to be on the show after his first week absolutely butchering what should’ve been the sexiest Travis Wall routine ever (office nookie with Kathryn? yes, please.) But Adechike has received the performance notes and given the extraordinary weight against him (losing Alex as a partner and having considerable less impressive choreography than his competitors) had a good night.

    Yes, Adechike sure is no Alex Wong, but Mia’s “I really miss Alex right now” is a back-handed slap that does no favors to Adechike or Alex. Of course we all missed Alex and of course they made a mistake with Melinda, but you have to critique what’s in front of you and I have to agree the only one even semi-consistently doing that these days is Nigel. As much as I hated listening to her scream and could do without the hot tamale train, I gotta say I really miss Mary Murphy, who for all the pyrotechnics, has my respect and manages critique carefully and consistently.

    Mia Michaels is an inspiring individual and amazing artist who choreographs with soul, beauty, and superlatives you can’t put into words (unless those words are coming out of Lil’ C’s mouth). But as a judge, she has been as toxic and unbalanced as a freshman on high school prom committee. I desperately hope she returns to choreography this season. The judges’ booth is only big enough for one drama queen and Adam more than has that covered.

    I really feel like every dancer gave at least one solid performance last night and am impressed to see even their formidable talents growing every week. I just hope the show around them can continue be worthy of their journeys.

    7/8/2010 7:03 AM UTC

  15. Katie - wrote:

    Things wrong with this season…
    1. Christina was eliminated before Melinda…she was robbed!
    2. Judges praising the dancers they like…ie. Melinda’s AWFUL dance as mother earth…the concept was amazing and she looked a mess dancing it!! and they said she was great!! gag me!
    3. Mary Murphy, where are you??
    4. Mia as a judge, Mia trying to use words like Lil C, she just can’t pull it off
    5. Always defending Robert and his cheesy over expressive face..I swear he doesn’t know how to feel anything but cheesy happiness so he fakes everything else, makes “shocked” faces when he thinks he’s supposed to be shocked
    6. Praising Robert for that mess of a dance with him as a doll…umm, did they not see him when he dropped his partner on her ass?? They said nothing about that, just said how great he was!! Are you kidding me??
    7. Much of the choreography is lame this season
    8. Ripping on Travis Wall on television!! How unprofessional Nigel!! If you didn’t like his routine, talk to him about it later! Ugh, made me sick
    9. Being so mean to AdeChike, is this Brandon all over again?? They are going beyond constructive critisim and being plain rude.

    7/8/2010 8:05 AM UTC

  16. patricia kemp - wrote:

    I agree the judges like Mia and Adam have their favorites and are very mean with the words they say and Mia is the biggest affender of this. pleas bring back mary and debbie. Cat really sticks up for the dancers maybe she should be a judge. Put the show how it use to be this is getting bad. Nigel is a great judge and he doesn’t hurt people like Mia does. This show will start to lose ratings because of the way things are going and maybe people won’t be back to dance anymore. What a waste of a great show and I did so enjoy it. Mia please leave the show you aren’t nice at all. I hope Nigel puts a stop to all of this.

    7/8/2010 10:09 AM UTC

  17. Greta - wrote:

    I have to say that I really like the format this season (besides the fact that only 10 dancers made the finals). I enjoy seeing the old dancers and how much they have improved. In addition, I believe the quality of the dances have improved in terms of performance. The all-stars are there to help the rookies through a routine in which they specialize…therefore, the rookies benefit greatly and GROW as dancers.
    Concerning the judging…I never really listen to them anyways, and neither does America. I see that most of the time the judges comments have no weight in how the general public votes. I am glad for this, although the BEST dancer doesn’t always win. I really don’t think it matters who sits on the judging panel…although I am glad that I do not have to endure Mary’s shrieking this season. However, I do prefer Mia Michael’s choreography to some others in contemporary…by the way–what was up with the African Jazz…it made me uncomfortable to watch.
    I love Kent, although he is a bit goofy and innocent…but come on people, he is ONLY 18! He is allowed to be goofy and listen to the judges like a ‘deer caught in headlights’. I am not a huge fan of Robert, although I think he is a great dancer…I can’t stand to watch his face when he dances.
    I like Jose as a person, but think he is the one who should go next, and then AdeChike and Robert.
    Both girls are awesome…though I can’t remember their names off the top of my head…I’d like to see the 2 girls and Kent and Alex as the final four. But that is just my opinion.

    7/8/2010 10:23 AM UTC

  18. Sara - wrote:

    I really miss Mary Murphy on the panel, and as much as I love Adam Shankman, I preferred it when the third judge was rotating. Mia Michaels is an amazing coreographer, but I don’t like her as a judge, she should be working with the dancers and creating great pieces of work, not behind the judges’ table. I adore the all stars! But they could’ve just brought them back on Thursdays, it was way better when the contestants could learn from each other and form partnerships, otherwise we would never had magic like the one between Benji and Donielle or Kathee and Joshua. The show is great because they showcase great talents anyway, but I feel like we’re missing out on so much more, and I feel robbed! I really hope that Alex Wong gets well really soon!

    7/8/2010 11:48 AM UTC

  19. Peter - wrote:

    I like the show and the new format. I think Mia Michaels is doing a good job and I agree with her comments. I did not like Mary Murphy with her scream and very noisy talk.

    I do miss Mia Michaels as a choreographer. She was the best.

    The dancers are the best we have seen in several seasons and one can tell they are working hard. I do not want to see any of the leave.

    Is there going to be a tour of the top 11?

    7/8/2010 12:14 PM UTC

  20. gs - wrote:

    glad to see other viewers feel the same way I do ….Mia Michaels seems more interested in herself and makes snide comments…and what is with her makeup??? where IS MARY MURPHY??? I think if they wanted to keep the salza gal..then why did they keep the tapper…then totally trash her on the next show…totally inappropriate and unprofessional…I think
    Adechike’s bollywood routine was quite good….they keep dissing him for no reason..Jose’s was ok but they heap the praise? why? nice guy but not any better than others….Blondie has a nice body but forgetable dance routines….I don’t like the “new ” format either…or the more and more “contemporary” story routines..seems more about the choreography than the contestants….let’s see more quick step, tango, mambo, samba, waltz …the hip hop is ok as is the bollywood…but hey that all seems very difficult and the judges need to be more positive….the music does not even seem to fit the routines either…anyway….I WANT MARY MURPHY AND OTHER JUDGES…
    Kind of disappointed in this year….gs

    7/8/2010 12:27 PM UTC

  21. AAA - wrote:

    I have made a conscious effort to not watch SYTCD after the judges’ comments last night. They were being unnecessarily destructive (there was nothing constructive about their comments) to Adechike. I was absolutely appalled when Mia said Adechike’s dance was too “African” for her–as if Indian dance is not rooted in the same beats and movements and as if Adechike did not dance his heart out. The problem with his performance was that he had to go on with someone who seemed out of sync with the choreography. And the comments would not have been so problematic if they gave him a smidgen of something constructive–there was power in that performance, Ade always hit his lines, Ade is always professional despite the nonsensical overly harsh criticism we give him each week.

    And where was the criticism for Robert? What was that wooden doll performance? Why no mention of him dropping his partner?

    And to say Jose has heart but not offering actually critique of his dancing does him a great disservice. In the first dance, they accomodated him by having him do b-boy moves in a contemporary dance and he pretty much just served to lift ?kathryn as she provided the dancing. The jungle dance was a mess for both Jose and the other kid.

    7/8/2010 1:25 PM UTC

  22. P - wrote:

    Mia Michaels is mean-spirited. She doesn’t appear objective either. Mary Murphy was infinitely better. She must go.

    7/8/2010 1:36 PM UTC

  23. Judem - wrote:

    I have watched SYTYCD faithfully since the first season. My favorite
    person? Mia. Then a couple of seasons ago she made a comment at auditions to an african american male (with the greatest smile) like — I don’t like you at all and that smile doesn’t do anything for me–I don’t like it. He was an excellent dancer and the only thing that went
    thru my mind was, I wish he would win this thing. He was in the show and came in maybe second or third?? I promised myself that
    I would NEVER watch the show again and then the next year Mia was
    not a judge ( just did choreography) so I ended up watching. And now, after Melinda danced her heart out, and probably had family or
    friends in the audience, in front of millions of TV viewers, she says
    they sent the wrong person home last week. Did anyone really think
    she would last after that?? Cruel, cruel and just wrong. I will have to
    think about any future seasons. Be NICE judges.

    7/8/2010 4:45 PM UTC

  24. jackie - wrote:

    I like the new format. Although some of the comments are not positive, you can only get better through constructive criticism.
    As a pilates instructor,I invite my students to comment both positive and negative and that only helps me to get better as an instructor. The same goes for these dancers and we have seen improvement from most of them.

    7/8/2010 5:19 PM UTC

  25. M - wrote:

    Last night was ridiculous. I’m so sad about Alex- he was my favorite and I looked forward to him every Wednesday! This show is losing its magic. I think it hit its high point in season 5. It’s now going downhill. It’s time to end it, or at least take a couple of years off. The routines are lackluster, the dancers are forgettable, and the judges are mean-spirited. I’ve been watching for years, but I don’t know if I’ll continue after this season.

    7/8/2010 6:46 PM UTC

  26. Patie - wrote:

    I enjoyed watching the old format of the show. Its not fair to focus in on past contestants, and not the ones competing. I noticed the mean spirited comments last year, starting with Nigel and the rude and totally mean comments to Evan. Talking about the way his eyes weren’t right had nothing to do with his dancing. It was so obvious that he disliked him so much, it would have been kinder to eliminate him than have him take the rudeness every time he performed. Tonight Mia apologized to Adechike, and her comments to him were no where near as awful as they were to Melinda. Melinda did not deserve the personal put downs she endured by all the judges. That was not constructive criticism, and were of no benefit to better her performance. I was so upset by the remarks by Mia and Nigel, I said that was the last time I would watch. They owe Melinda an apology, and stick to criticising the dance. I never heard this negativity from Mary. Where is she? Nigel as producer should set a higher standard, starting with himself. He is just as rude as Mia.

    7/8/2010 7:09 PM UTC

  27. Things - wrote:

    Ok, so obviously no one cares about Melinda’s experience. So…lets get real….for a second. Melinda you are beautiful and talented. No one can deny this. And you know it. The combination of your talent and obvious confidence will take you somewhere. Any who, moving on. I don’t really give a whoot about how they parter people, in fact I would much rather see the re-cap of the “all stars” (although I would prefer a different name) than the teeny bopper American Idol bs that goes on Thursdays. Thanks. Who reads this anyway. Keep dancing yall!

    7/8/2010 7:47 PM UTC

  28. Lacey - wrote:

    I believe Mia Michaels is a bigot and this is coming from a non-minority. Last season she made horrid comments to Brandon and this season Adechike. She does not give critiques, but makes vague comments that are not useful. When she said, “your performance was donut holes.” No one knew what she was talking about. I think the constant badgering and lack of constructive criticism is killing the show. I wonder if Adechike were not a person of color would she have made that reference to the Bollywood dance being African. Please send Mia back to choreography and a class in diversity.

    7/8/2010 9:41 PM UTC

  29. Ernest - wrote:

    Mia Michaels’ comments to Brandon (past season), Melinda and Adechikehave were extremely biased, rude and more of a character assasination. SYTYCD, please, please replace her with the rotating judges (Mary Murphy, Debbie Allen, etc.) My guess is that she only apologized last night because of all the negative postings on ‘her performance’ the last few weeks and the producers fear they’ll lose viewers.

    7/9/2010 6:43 AM UTC

  30. Kelly - wrote:

    I have been watching SYTYCD since day one and NEVER miss an episode. It is truly an amazing show with every bit of heart and soul one could hope for. I think Mia Michaels is an amazing choreographer!
    However, I strongly feel that she negatively impacts and changes the dynamics of the judging panel.
    The integrity of the show has been jeopardized with flagrant cruelty rather than constructive criticism. This gives the judging portion of the show a Jerry Springer feel. Even Mia’s on air apologies come with a condescending tone. Again, she is a brilliant choreographer and truly wish that Mia would stay in the area that she is truly gifted.
    Mary Murphy’s heart, respect and class is deeply missed at this point!!!

    7/9/2010 6:53 AM UTC

  31. j daniel arthur - wrote:

    Let this be the last season for Mia as judge. Her comments are rude and not constructive. Where is Marry? This my favorite show but after this season, maybe not!

    7/10/2010 3:48 AM UTC

  32. RandR88 - wrote:

    Melinda was sabotaged. She grasped new genres better than Jose and way better than people like Twitch and Comfort did when they were on the show. Hip Hop dancers and b-boys get too much of a free pass. I’m getting sick of it. And I don’t think it’s a necessary evil. Look at Joshua. And Russell. And Legacy! These guys busted out some awesome hip hop, krump, and b-boy stuff but they worked their BUTTS off and delivered amazing performances of all genres. meanwhile people like Jose, Twitch, and Comfort were thrown slow balls by the choreographers. And the judges ignore this assuming that these people being on the show will help bolster ratings. It’s so annoying! And Mia’s remarks toward Melinda were beyond forgivable. In fact they were even more hurtful to Cristina Santana! Completely unnecessary to say what she said.

    7/10/2010 1:06 PM UTC

  33. ~Flow~ - wrote:

    Melinda has a lovely spirit – I’m inspired by the way she carried herself throughout her elimination! She was the most disadvantage contestent (because she tapped) but she pushed on through and earned my respect, that’s for sure. Can tell she really loves dance & she’s open to the creative process. I wish her well in her acting and tapping. Her mum must be proud to have raised such a confident strong woman. (If it had been me subjected to the comments that she received ~ I would have cried and ran off stage … )

    7/13/2010 3:34 AM UTC

  34. Kim - wrote:

    Yes Melinda handled herself with so much grace….definitely could say “grace under fire”! Maybe some of the judges could follow her lead. It’s sad to say but it is interesting to see that so many of us viewers are on the same page. We aren’t happy with the judge’s comments/behavior and we are supportive of the dancers. These kids go through so much pressure and although it is the opportunity of a life time and I do hope they enjoy themselves and are able to handle the constructive criticism…when it’s constructive and not mean spirited. YOu go Melinda!

    7/28/2010 9:37 AM UTC

  35. Olivia Spencer - wrote:

    Where is Mary Murphy??? She was by far the best judge and Mia Michaels is by far the worst. I am not a minority viewer but am appalled by Mia’s obvious racism. Her comments to the performers are biased and so subjective and vague that it is next to impossible to understand what she is saying. I have been getting so angry because of Mia that this is NOT MY FAVORITE SHOW ANYMORE. I can’t believe someone replaced Mary Murphy with such an inarticulate, cold-hearted self-serving bigot.

    8/5/2010 2:53 PM UTC

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