"She's very strong, very focused, an intelligent and passionate dancer."
These are the words dance school principal Andrea Rowsell uses to describe student Mia Paske, who has just been accepted into an associate program with the Queensland Ballet Academy for next year.
The 14-year-old from Old Bar, who is in her sixth year at the Andrea Rowsell Academy of Dance in Taree, is excited for the opportunity.
She will attend the prestigious ballet academy four times during the year for three to four days at a time and will attend the elite summer program in December without the need to audition (she successfully auditioned to be part of the summer program held last year).
Mia is part of a new associate program being offered by the Queensland Ballet for dancers who live out of the state, after the academy previously only offered associates for dancers living in Queensland, who would attend once a week.
The news comes on top a big year for Mia who, among many other achievements, was a finalist in the Royal Academy of Dance Isobel Anderson Memorial Awards in Sydney and a quarter finalist in the Alana Haines Australasia Ballet competition in New Zealand.
"It's been pretty full on and I've enjoyed every moment," said Mia.
With a goal to become a fulltime dancer, this program, which allows the Queensland Ballet to monitor a dancer's potential and development, brings Mia one step closer to achieving that dream.
"I hope to go there full time. They keep seeing me and hopefully they see that I'm working hard all the time and I'm maturing and obviously getting better and hopefully will be up to standard around next year," said Mia.
The teenager breaks into a grin and her eyes sparkle as she talks about her dancing.
"I love the movement and expressing myself. I do love perfecting things and at the same time, when you do a good turn you feel really good. You feel like you have accomplished something and I really enjoy that."
Mia spends a big part of her week at the Taree dance studio.
"Monday is ballet and pointe class, I don't dance Tuesdays, Wednesday at school we have school sport and I leave school and come here for sport. I do a group class, an open class, grade 7, and jazz. Thursday is ballet, jazz, a private and contemporary and on Friday I leave school during my elective to come to the studio for extra training with Andrea. On Saturday I do a stretch class and a private class with (teacher) Ayesha. Before class I stretch and do strengthening.
"I love it, I look forward to it every day."
She's proof that hard work and following your passion pays off.
Andrea is delighted for Mia.
"It's great. She really likes it and loves the teaching there and loves the environment. It's somewhere she would love to go full time and it looks like she's going in the right direction.
"You have to have a dream to aim for something and a dream can direct you where you want to go.
"If it doesn't work out she's on the right training for when it does work out... everyone has their own path. This seems to be a good fit for Mia."
Andrea said Mia's only downfall would be her self-criticism.
"But that makes a good dancer. You have to be able to critique to improve but sometimes she's too hard on herself."
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