Rockhampton dancer en pointe for European stages
COUNTLESS hours of physical training are a given when it comes to competitive and professional dancing.
But Anastasia Lewis has also discovered taking to the stage also requires a mental strength which sometimes has to exceed any other preparation.
Anastasia, 16, is well on her way to carving out a career in the spotlight, having given up school to pursue full-time ballet study in Sydney at the start of the year.
The former Rockhampton Grammar School and Capricorn School of Dancing student left her friends and family in Rockhampton for the chance to study with a renowned teacher at Professional Ballet Coaching Australia.
Although it was daunting to move in with a host family and come to grips with city life, Anastasia said the experience has so far been rewarding.
"It was a bit nerve-wracking at the beginning, but now I've settled in it's amazing," she said.
"My mum really missed me at the beginning, but (my parents have) kind of accepted it was time for me to move on.
"They've been really supportive."
The two year course Anastasia has started is aimed at preparing her to join national or international schools and companies.
Anastasia has her eye on Europe, having applied for a summer school in Prague with the ultimate aim of landing a place at the Rambert School in London.
Yet it was Anastasia's years in Rockhampton which provided the perfect foundation to build a career.
Anastasia performed in the Rockhampton Dance Festival for eight years and has returned this week to watch the magic unfold on stage at the Pilbeam Theatre.
She said the experience on stage was invaluable.
"With the auditions and competitions that lead to getting scholarships, having experience on stage can be so important," Anastasia said.
"It's so important to have that exposure to the anxiety and nerves that comes from performing on stage before you're thrust into that sort of situation where it's really important to perform well.
"It's important to perform to an audience too because in a classroom, you don't realise how much you have to project for the audience to show your intention while you're dancing so that's why dancing in a theatre in a competition setting can really prepare you for later life."
Each day Anastasia spends over four hours commuting and trains in classical ballet for six hours, as well as doing Pilates classes and physiotherapy.
When she's about to audition or step on stage, it's her state of mind which is most important.
"You don't realise how much mental strength and maturity you need going into one of these situations," she said.
"You're away from home, you're constantly exhausted, you're opened up to all these new experiences and you don't have the support base of your family.
"If you overthink things too much then you're never going to make it on stage."
Anastasia said she loved the expression which came with being on stage and dancing for an audience.
"You get to express yourself, you get to tell a story and just perform to people," she said.
"I love pulling something off and knowing people are enjoying it and you're creating something beautiful."