Lilla Harvey

Highly Commended

Category: Performing Arts

Subcategory: Classical Ballet


My career and lifelong goal is to be a professional ballet dancer in a company, eventually progressing to starring in principle roles. I have always wanted to dance a mixture of classical and contemporary works, and the epitome, my dream, is to one day join the Netherlands Dance Theatre company, after classical ballet, as a mature and experienced artist. I began my work towards these goals unknowingly at the age of four when I began commercial dance classes, by the time I was ten I was spending every spare minute in the studio learning the techniques of ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary and anything my small suburban dance school offered. I couldn’t get enough, and year by year my strength and artistry improved with the help of my inspirational teachers who then encouraged me to audition for The Australian Ballet School. The week long audition process was one of the most daunting and exhilarating experiences of my young life, but I could feel just walking down the halls, the dedication and passion of every person inside the building. It was like a temple holding the art form sacred. I wanted so badly to be a part of it. When the letter of acceptance came, without words my family and I knew there was no question, I was going.

That decision to move across the Nullarbor by myself at fourteen, and how confident I was that this was the right decision, made it obvious what I wanted from life and how committed I was to this dream. That commitment did not wane during my almost five years at the school where I earned an Award of Encouragement (2017), two Awards of Excellence (2016, 2019), and the Graeme Murphy Award for Excellence in Contemporary Dance (2019). During my years in fulltime I also discovered my passion for contemporary dance and choreography, receiving ‘Outstanding’ results for my self choreographed piece ‘Adrenaline’ which I have attached as my video submission. Had the recent pandemic not occurred, I would have had the honour of dancing a new and original contemporary work by ABS resident choreographer Margaret Wilson, as the principle female role, at the Canada National Ballet School’s ‘Assemble International 2020’ and 60th year Anniversary Gala. I am devastated to have missed out, however I am pursuing another chance to be received internationally as an Australian representative, by applying for Prix de Lausanne ‘Young Creations’ initiative to further challenge and explore my personal choreographic style. I continue to strive for distinction as I finish my graduating year this year at the ABS and complete my set of qualifications including The Graduate Diploma of Classical Ballet.

My parents and teachers have instilled in me the value of community involvement and the rewards that it brings. Growing up in Subiaco, Perth, my community was small, at seven I joined my local scout group where I was quickly named leader of my patrol. This club placed me at the forefront of community service, having responsibilities ranging from the classic Australian Bunnings snag duty, to laying the wreaths and leading the parade on ANZAC day to pay my respects. I was a volunteer for Pitcha Makin Fellas, an Indigenous artist group based in Ballarat, assisting a school holiday craft program to both Indigenous youth and adults, the program taught art, Aboriginal history and provided a social setting for new community connections. Through The Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, I had the incredible opportunity to work and assist classes at a specialist needs primary school over a four week period. It was such a memorable and gratifying experience, and I was ecstatic at the chance given by the ABS to collaborate with dancers from the E.motion21 Dance Company. This company consists of dancers from all ages with down syndrome, we spent a wonderful term sharing our skills and passion for dance and together created a lyrical piece signifying the unity of the whole group equally as dancers and people. We eventually performed for a gala performance celebrating E.motion21’s ten-year anniversary, an experience that will remain with me forever. Another involvement I’ve had, contributing to Australian art, tradition and literature, was dancing as one of four ‘Gumnut Blossoms’ at the 2019 Myer Christmas Window opening and even having the responsibility of revealing my own window. It was magical interacting with the excitable children, nostalgic parents and grandparents, sharing the spirit of Christmas and novelty of May Gibbs’ classic, ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’. During recent times I have been able to do some baking for my elderly neighbours as a small act of care and connectedness in what has been a lonely ordeal for many. Moving forward I feel my purpose is to connect with people through my gifts. If I can move just one person that would make it worthwhile. I hope to potentially one day influence Australia, and the world of dance with my ideas and interpretations of this expressive form I am so lucky to be a part of.

I applied for a BBM Scholarship to travel overseas, to Europe in particular, to be seen and immersed into the unmatched culture of Classical and Contemporary dance, broadening my prospects of fulfilling my aspirations of becoming a professional dancer. Europe is the heart of professional companies, choreographers, stars and creativity. The chance to audition, be audience to, and perhaps someday be employed by one of these institutions would ultimately be the opportunity I am seeking as I pursue my future.

An experience of this nature would expose me to the different industry standards and styles of international dancers which I have never before interacted with. As a visual and physical learner this would help me technically in my ballet embodying the European attention to detail creative expression which distinguishes them from the rest. Attending different auditions outside of the local league of dancers I am already familiar with, would personally give me the chance to showcase my unique Australian flare and develop my confidence and resilience in such a scrutinising setting – tools which are crucial to becoming a whole artist. I could learn an enormous amount by going through the different processes and facilities of diverse companies, as well as interacting with foreign or experienced dancers, about values and information concerning the forever evolving world of ballet. Being put on the spot with improvisation, new dance partners or whatever challenge that could potentially be thrown my way would give me the chance to showcase my versatility and adaptability from the multifaceted training I received at The Australian Ballet School.

Travelling to Europe for the first time I would take full advantage and want to target particularly England, Germany, Austria and surrounding as my most desired locations. I believe the companies situated in these countries have the look and style I’m best suited to and I have always admired their artistry and repertoire. I am attracted to Europe due to their more publicly funded companies and theatres meaning higher stability of contracts and employment.  The general public are more culturally attached and interested in the arts which is a factor that unfortunately is poorer in Australia’s current situation and government. European ballet companies have an incredible range of repertoire from timeless classical pieces to originals by the most esteemed and alternative choreographers, something I hold extremely high in my desires for a company. Receiving this fund would facilitate me attending performances of the likes I’ve never seen with the limited Australian companies I’m accustomed to. The Vienna State Ballet is a personal bucket list item, I’m drawn to the city’s architecture and rich art and music history which fascinates me. Other companies of particular interest to me are Het National Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, Bayerisches Staatsballett, Semperoper Ballett, just to name just a few. A point of personal and artistic enlightenment, I believe would be the chance to witness a company such as The Netherlands Dance Theatre. Their resident choreographers Sol León and Paul Lightfoot are a huge inspiration, but others such as Marco Goecke, Crystal pite and Pina Bausch are frequently featured and exist among the epitome of modern contemporary choreographers and human creativity today. You can only learn so much about movement and choreography through a screen but the reason performing arts survives, is the way live performance can impact you on a deep and soulful level. Speaking to people who have attended shows by NDT, the response paints a life changing image, I want nothing more than to be in the audience teary eyed and paralysed with the un-explainable emotions of seeing movement passion and music converge. That is how I want to make someone feel someday.


“Lilla displays a good level of control, strong technique, musicality and an unusually innovative sense of choreographic structure in her contemporary piece. An extremely well thought out application with clear goals and aspirations.” – BBM Industry Panel

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