Young dancers raising the barre
AT THE age of 15, Riley Bryen has already completed a decade of dance training and has started teaching the next generation of dancers to stay en pointe.
The ambitious teenager has been named as Dance wEST03's dance captain for 2019, and will assume the leadership role on top of a lengthy list of classes that she takes or co-teaches.
"I've been dancing since I was five, so that's going on 10 years now, and Dance wEST03 is where I started.
"When I started out I remember being really nervous and only doing one class,” she said.
"Now I do hip-hop, ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, and street jazz, and I also help teach some classes.
"(Co-teaching classes) started about three years ago,” she said.
It's a role Riley will leap into with enthusiasm, with a love for nurturing younger talent in the dance company's ranks.
"I'll help out Miss Jodie, volunteer with classes, and make sure all the students are OK - do what I can to help the school,” Riley said.
"I like having the responsibility and think it's going to be a fun year with a few challenges,” she said.
Ella McLean is one of the tiny yet mighty dancers rising through the ranks, with a flair for dance that carries her across an impressive range of styles for someone of her age and experience.
This year she has been awarded the academy's scholarship.
"I've been dancing for about three years.
"I like to do ballet, jazz, tap, and go on dance camp; this year I'm hoping to do more,” she said.
Ella's biggest supporter, her mum Libby McLean, is proud of her growth through dance, and was delighted to hear her daughter had won the 2019 scholarship.
"It's awarded to students who really achieve and commit really well - students who practise a lot and commit themselves 100 per cent to dance.
"When a student is awarded a scholarship they get their tuition fees subsidised 50 per cent.
"It's very much welcome, especially when they do lots of different modes of dance.
"As a parent, it's very exciting,” she said.
Like many families in the region, the McLeans travel a fair distance to be involved in dancing, but Libby said it was easily overcome once Ella's commitment to dance shone through.
"Ella was always interested in dancing, right from a very young age.
"We live in Surat, so for us to come up to Roma for dancing when she was quite little was something I sort of resisted until she started prep.
"But once she was old enough I thought 'well, we will make the trip to Roma'.
"It was then when we spoke to Jodie and came up on Saturdays for ballet that she suggested 'look, Ella is very capable, why don't you put her into jazz and tap as well',” she said.