Dance enthusiast Emma White juggles her passion for learning and her passion to dance on an everyday basis. Just seventeen years old, she spends her days studying for her upcoming HSC exams and participating in five separate dance classes to set herself up for the future. Although she has struggled a bit with finding time to attend school, dance, work and maintain a social life, she has a lot of people surrounding her that help her live out her dreams.
Dance may run through Emma’s veins but she is passionate about many other things as well. In her very limited spare time she enjoys singing, acting, drawing, styling and photography. One of the things she loves most of all is learning- about everything and anything. She believes that having knowledge is one of life’s most powerful tools. This can be seen through Emma’s schooling and the classes she is taking for her final years at high school. Utilising both the academic and creative sides to her personalities, Emma is currently studying English, Mathematics, Modern History, Music and Drama.
“I’ve always had issues throughout my schooling with putting my thoughts to paper… Dance is my way that I get to show people what I’m feeling…”
Even though she has been involved in many different styles of dance throughout her life (technique/ stretch and strength, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, troupe, tap, ballet and Broadway jazz) she names contemporary and hip-hop as her absolute favourites. Although the two styles are almost polar opposites, Emma believes that they’re the yin and yang that make her up. “I guess I just feel that those two genres sit comfortably on me and I really just love the concepts of those two styles in general. With hip-hop, I love that there is so many sub-types of it. I love that one minute you could be doing a routine with lots of relaxed, liquid-like movements and grooves and the next, be dancing so big and hard out to a gangster song. The best thing that I enjoy about contemporary is that it allows me to let out and relinquish any frustrations or negative experiences through my movements… Contemporary allows me to be the softer, vulnerable and more feminine side of myself, whilst hip-hop just lets me groove to a really awesome song and connect with the stronger part of myself.”
Up until the age of ten, dancing was a monotonous; draining activity that Emma wanted no part of. After moving and enrolling to countless dance studios, Emma was just about to quit. Something that she started when she was three years old had lost all appeal and was no longer as fun as it should have been. That is until she went to her current studio. She says, “Something ignited within me”. All of a sudden she was trying harder, and as her passion grew, so did her need to be good. Looking back now, Emma believes it was a combination of a new location and new teachers that played such a big role in igniting that passion for dance.
“I knew at 10 that I loved this beautiful art so much that all I wanted to do was do it as often as I could and that I had to make something of it”
Even though she is still so young, Emma has a couple of highlights under her belt when it comes to her dance career. After hundreds of eisteddfods and a couple of thousand hours dancing, Emma says her biggest achievement would have to be the time she flew to Queensland and performed her solo routines at Showcase National Dance in 2013. These performances were unlike the ones she had previously participated in as this happened to be one of the most prestigious dance competitions in the country. “I placed 4th overall with my lyrical solo in a big section and received a double platinum gold, [I also] placed 1st with my hip-hop and won the National Champion of Hip-Hop for 2013 title”
“I don’t think I’ll ever not be nervous before I go on stage, ever. While I perform I feel an adrenaline rush. I love to entertain people and tell a story or send a message. I usually feel energetic and super happy to be on stage doing what I feel most comfortable doing”
Emma’s biggest challenge to date would be accepting that everybody makes mistakes. She believes it is important to “always look back and see and appreciate how far you’ve come” as the task can become mentally exhaustive. Emma described her self as a perfectionist and says that she is known to set high expectations for herself, which can cause her to become overwhelmed with disappointment. This stopped her from choreographing for a long time as she thought that the result wouldn’t be as good as the image she had created in her mind. The idea of choreographing dances for herself freaked Emma out but she found that improvising was something that comes quite naturally to her. Thinking of movements to piece together was not the issue in this case… It was the idea of setting the routine in stone that had her doubting whether or not another step looked better, or if there was a different technique she could utilise.
“Different aspects of different people inspire me. I either see a personality trait, or the way someone moves when they dance. I like to take those parts that I love about other people and incorporate them within myself”. Emma names her mum and grandparents as people who inspire her, as they’ve been the most supporting and encouraging people in her life. Naming her dance teacher and close friend as her biggest influence, Emma says that “She has not only believed in me when I didn’t give myself that, but she’s taught me a lot about who I am and who I want to be.”
“Dance fills me with hope and determination. It requires an extreme amount of hard work and commitment to succeed. If I can stay committed to this art for twelve years, it reminds and inspires me that the mind is much more capable than we think. It motivates me to never want to stop learning as a dancer or a person. I feel the more that I grow as a dancer, the more that I grow as a person too. I have realised so many things about myself because of dance”
For someone so young, Emma has a great outlook on life. She doesn’t see the point in creating goals in relation to her career, as a job she envisages may not exist in a few years. All she wants out of life, post HSC, is to be happy and successful wherever she ends up. Her career is yet to officially start but Emma is taking it upon herself to audition at some of the top performing arts schools for a placement next year, and although she doesn’t know where that will eventually take her, there are a multitude of opportunities that have caught her eye in the dance industry. “…commercial dancing and being an artist’ backup dancer, or in a music video. Or I would love to be apart of a hip-hop crew, or participate in different courses and companies in Australia and overseas, just to name a few…” With so many opportunities floating around Emma is keeping an open mind about where she could possibly end up, and what paths she could potentially follow. She remains optimistic and excited for the future and whatever life ends up throwing her way. She continues to believe that everything happens for a reason.
“I’ve always wanted to make a difference, whether big or small, and be an instigator for change”
Naming her dance teacher as one of her biggest influences and having her current studio take dance from a hobby to something much greater, Emma understand how important it is to teach the younger generations. Although she is currently is taking a break from teaching and assisting the junior students due to her heavy work load, she spent a good three years choreographing and instructing them. Emma did mention that she found it difficult to choreograph for herself, but found it was an entirely different story when it came to a class full of seven year olds. “This choreography was simple and quite easy, so it wasn’t too hard to think of something”. One of the most rewarding things to her about teaching is watching the journey each student takes. “I get to pass my knowledge on, make corrections and assist in their growth”
One of Emma’s most recent achievements is being offered a scholarship to attend Brent Street for a workshop. Brent Street is one of Australia’s leading performance arts centres situated in Sydney. It’s one of the most reputable and the most commended that there is available in the country. It’s most known by their one-year full-time triple threat dance courses that offers a certificate IV when you graduate. Brent Street was the home to a large number of extras in The Great Gatsby and had students in various roles in the production of Annie: The Musical. Emma says she’s looking forward to taking classes from some of her potential choreographers, if she is accepted into their full-time program next year, and experiencing what one-week of full-time dance will be like.