Phillipa's road to stardom takes shape

A PERFORMANCE at a dance showcase in February could open doors for 17-year-old Phillipa Mills.

Phillipa will dance her major study performance piece called The Other Side which shows the transition between one time and another time.

The work, choreographed by teacher Shelly Baker, captures feelings of movement, journey, change, metamorphosis, passing over and progression between the old and familiar into a new, unknown place.

It exaggerates the moment of transition to "the other side" to emphasise the variety of feelings amid great change.

Phillipa was selected to perform the piece in the Callback, which showcases exemplary performances and compositions by HSC dance students.

"It's really exciting," Phillipa says about the opportunity.

The St Columba Anglican School student says it is encouraging to know she is part of the top cohort of HSC dancers.

Phillipa will perform at 1pm and 7pm on February 8 at Sydney's Seymour Theatre.

Callback performances have provided valuable demonstrations of HSC standards to students and teachers of dance since 1993.

It is hailed as an opportunity for those studying HSC dance as well as for students who are contemplating the course.

There is a question and answer session with the performers and HSC markers at the end of each matinee performance.

"You never know who is watching," Phillipa says about the Callback.

"There might be someone in the audience who is linked to a company or a school."

Phillipa has been dancing since she was six, starting with Francessca-Louise Academy of Dance in Wauchope.

She now dances with Wauchope and Port Macquarie Performing Arts with Stacey Morgan and is trained there by Cathy Smith and Spencer Parker.

Phillipa has studied dance at St Columba Anglican School with Shelly Baker since Year 7, performing in ensembles at the Rock Eisteddfod and Sydney, Taree and Port Macquarie eisteddfods.

She was accelerated into Year 12 dance in Year 11.

Phillipa studies a range of dance techniques at school, and outside of school pursues contemporary, ballet, modern, jazz and musical theatre.

This year also held a month-long dance experience in the USA.

Montgomery Ballet artistic director Darren McIntyre, originally from Port Macquarie, selected dancers to attend the Montgomery Ballet summer intensive.

Phillipa danced with the company every day and performed Giselle with the company.

"It was good to experience the full-time dancing life and to experience what it is like to be in the company," Phillipa says.

"It was definitely life changing."

Before the month-long ballet experience, Phillipa was determined to be a contemporary dancer.

The Montgomery Ballet opportunity changed her focus.

"I'm such a tall person, getting into ballet would be difficult," she said.

"But there are quite a few tall people in the company and it opened my eyes."

Now the 17-year-old wants to become a professional ballet dancer and contemporary dancer.

Phillipa is looking to audition next year for the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and some Sydney schools.

The next challenge will be summer intensive application with a company in Milwaukee in the USA.

Phillipa likens dance to meditation.

"It relaxes your mind ... I think it's healthy for a HSC student," she says.

Meanwhile, Callback tickets are on sale through the Seymour Centre Box Office.

General admission costs $27 for those interested in attending.

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