Dance dreams coming true for Taliah
TECHNICAL skill is a must for successful dancers, but it's the emotion of a performance which connects Taliah Edwards with her audience when she's in the spotlight.
Although she's won dozens of trophies and medals, there's still no bigger compliment than someone who tells Taliah how her dancing made them feel.
In one case, a woman was moved to tears.
And that's all Taliah hopes to achieve when she steps on stage.
The 16-year-old Rockhampton girl has been dancing since she was five and has her sights set on travelling the world through performance.
But before that dream can become a reality, Taliah will spend endless hours on stage and in the studio building her talents along with her reputation.
While she's still in high school, Taliah is working hard to secure her future beyond graduation.
Taliah plans to study at a full-time dance school in either Sydney or Brisbane, but said getting her name out there in competitions as a teenager was essential.
But this means Taliah and her family spent the last school holidays at three different competitions across the region.
Taliah was honoured with more than 20 awards at the Rockhampton Dance Festival and Gladstone Eisteddfod, as well as earning third place in the Dancer of the Year competition at Showcase Frazer Coast in Maryborough.
The Frazer Coast competition also saw Taliah qualify for a national event to be held in January.
Outside dancing, Taliah has also taken on some modelling gigs this year, working with Cloud Dancer Photography and Loznpoz Activewear.
Although she didn't get much time to rest, having the competitions in the holidays was a break from Taliah's school term routine.
Taliah said her daily life was "pretty hectic”, especially during competition time.
A regular day involves school, with homework sandwiched between classes, and group dance classes from 3.30pm to 7.30pm, followed by a private lesson.
Competition sessions can be even more draining, with classes leading up to them finishing later and the events themselves sometimes running as late as 11pm.
Taliah takes a philosophical approach to this hard slog.
"Because I competed for three weeks over the holidays, by showcase competition I was super tired, but you just have to take it one dance at a time,” she said.
"I think I did eight dances in the afternoon at Showcase. If you think of it all as eight dances in the afternoon you're never going to get through it so you just take it one dance at a time and then you're done.”
Although they're tiring, competitions have also proved extremely beneficial to Taliah.
"It's really great to have different adjudicators because every single adjudicator has a different opinion and they give you something new to correct,” she said.
"Once you take on all multiple corrections, it's really beneficial to your dancing.
"It's always constructive.
"Sometimes if you go out there and you know it's not your best you do feel it in yourself, but then they give you critiques on how you could have performed better.”
Taliah said she also drew strength from performing, learning something from each new audience.
"You might be a really good technical dancer, but it's the emotion that really counts,” she said. "I feel like people either have the performance factor or they don't.”