How long have you been dancing?
10 Years! I started when I was 6 years old at a local dance school just down the road from where I live.
What got you into dancing?
I started dancing because my best friend at the time was going there and I thought it would be fun. Originally when I started I thought it would just be a hobby but it has grown into a necessity for me now.
What dancer(s) inspire you?
Inspiration from other dancers around me and in the public eye is definitely what motivates me to work harder. I have always looked up Talia Fowler ever since I first saw her on So You Think You Can Dance. I am in love with the amount of control she has and her style of combining classical ballet pointe work with contemporary. I am also inspired every week by my fellow company members at Dance Dr. Being around such talented girls really pushes me to try harder and makes me more determined.
Do you hope to become a professional dancer?
I don’t necessarily want to become a professional dancer however dance is always going to be in my life some way or another. I would love to work in a ballet company as a set designer or costume designer. My goal is to become a secondary school dance teacher because the theory side of dance has always fascinated me.
Why do you love to dance?
If I didn’t have dance in my life I would be completely lost. For me, dancing is therapeutic. In many ways it has helped me grow as a person especially with my confidence and expressing my emotions. Not only does it keep my body strong but also my mind and in some aspects I think that is more important than anything. I also love the way that dancing can make the audience feel. I love that the way that different dances and how you dance can make people feel different things.
What kind of emotions do you feel/give off when you dance?
I tend to give off different emotions depending on the genre and subject matter of the dance. I personally love lyrical dances as you are able to explore so many different emotions rather than just happy or sad. I also try and connect any dance I perform to a personal experience or emotion I have felt so that the emotions given off are more authentic.
What are some of your goals for dance?
I am studying dance at school for the HSC, so my biggest goal at the moment is to become the best dancer I can be in order to get good marks when it comes to my HSC performances. Short term goals include improving my core strength to help with my stability and control.
Tell us how you balance schoolwork and dance.
I’m lucky because I dance Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays so I have three days in the week that I can dedicate to schoolwork. Participating in any physical activity while studying really helps to improve your focus on your studies. Having that break from schoolwork a couple of afternoons a week keeps a good balance, which definitely helps me regain focus.
Do you have a favourite style of dance?
My favourite style of dance is contemporary, however I also love classical ballet. I really love contemporary as you can take the audience on a journey and express emotions that may not be explored in other genres. It’s also such a broad style of dance and it’s great to explore the different types of contemporary dance to improve and find your style. Classical ballet however has always been a favourite of mine. I love how structured and elegant it is, as well as the feelings you get when you dance a classical piece.
Is there another style of dance that you like to try?
I used to participate in competitive sports aerobics at high school in years 8-10. It was such a different experience from the common styles of dance and I would have loved to have kept going with that and advanced further in it.
How do you feel when you perform?
Most of the time I feel this new found confidence especially at the end of year concerts. I find that throughout the year, nothing can prepare you for the final time you perform each dance. It’s a really special feeling and compares to nothing I have felt before.
What inspires you to keep dancing?
Keeping fit and having that balance, as well as dance at school is what inspires me. Also being around other people that share the same love for dancing.
Do you have any dancer role models?
Every teacher I have ever had has played a massive role in where I am today. From teachers I have had once to teachers that have been supporting me for years; every one of them leaves a mark and helps you improve in some way or another. Melissa Pronti, the owner of my dance studio I have been with for these 10 years, iDance@Lugarno, has been strong role model for me as she has been there by my side and has never given up on me, supporting every choice I make. I also cherish the bond that we have and I am so grateful for where she has gotten me. Lastly my two dance teachers at Dance Dr, Lucy Mary-Claire and Chloe O’Shea have recently been two major role models as they have exposed me to new choreography and ways of teaching that have helped me improve so much, as well as helping me find my own style.
What is your favourite part about dancing?
It’s so hard to find one thing I love most about dancing. It has given me some of the most incredible memories of my life and also some of the best of friends. Overall I think my favourite part about dancing is the amount of growth that you gain as a person. I really would not be the person I am today without it.
Why are costumes so important for dance competition?
Costumes really help to get you in the headspace of the character you are portraying and the mood of the dance. It completes the story you’re trying to tell and helps to express even more emotion.
What advice can you offer young dancers who are just starting out?
I have always been terrible with focusing on myself and my own goals and growth within dance. I think my main advice would be to just focus on yourself and where you want to be. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to other people, because once you let go of that insecurity you will be shocked at how much you improve as a dancer and how much more you will enjoy dancing.
How do you connect with other dancers, and audience?
Projection using your eyes and body language makes such a difference when watching a performance and helps engage the audience with the dancer.
Do you have a book you would like to recommend?
I love the book You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. It’s not at all a dance related book however it did help me to focus on the positive rather than the negatives and also with confidence, which did end up helping me with my dancing.
Where do we find you? (list office, links websites and contacts)
Facebook- Bella Russell
Melissa Pronti (iDance@Lugarno)- email@example.com