INSPIRATIONAL: Young dancer not afraid of new opportunities
IN THE small coastal town of Seventeen Seventy, 12-year-old Lily Cooling proudly arabesques on a stand-up paddleboard against the blue horizon.
Lily, who attends The Rockhampton Grammar School, has been dancing for nine years, since she was three, and is trained in jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary, cabaret and much more.
She said she grew up around the dance studio watching her older sister train and perform and wanted to give it a go.
Her love for the artform blossomed from there.
After seeing an Instagram post from the Queensland Ballet, Lily decided she was going to enter in the Suncorp Dream Big Challenge with hopes of winning the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform on stage in Queensland Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.
Hundreds of children from all over Queensland submitted a photograph of their best arabesque in a location that reflected home.
“I wanted to enter because I thought it would be a great experience for people to see photos of the positions I can do and how I dance,” she said.
“The Nutcracker is a really great story and I love the costumes the Queensland Ballet wear. I thought it would be a great experience to perform in The Nutcracker.”
Lily said she wanted to capture both family and holiday in her photo, saying she was inspired by her love for stand-up paddleboarding at her favourite holiday destination.
“This is Seventeen Seventy, where my family and I have been going on holidays since I was born,” she said.
“I have very special memories of my beautiful family here. We always have so much fun on our stand-up paddleboards.”
Even though Lily didn’t make the list of finalists, she was singled out as “one of the inspiring entries” by Queensland Ballet Artistic Director Li Cunxin AO.
Lily said it was “really cool” to know they saw her entry and said she was not letting anything dampen her spirits.
“You should always go for opportunities that pop up and never let anything that doesn’t go your way let you down,” she said.
Lily said she loved dancing because it allowed her to express herself through movement.
“I love dancing because I get to have lots of fun with my teachers and my friends,” she said.
“Dancing is a big part of my life and I love being on stage where I feel as though my dancing comes to life.
“You don’t have to be the best at it, you just have to try your best.”
When asked what her favourite dance style was, Lily said she couldn’t decide between ballet and cabaret.
“I love ballet because it gives you technique and allows your personality to shine through,” she said.
“Cabaret is just so fun, and you can express yourself through a character and I love that.”
Lily said when she finished school her dream was to be a professional dancer.
Her message for other children wanting to try out for opportunities in areas they are passionate about is to “always go for it”.
“Never let anything, like not winning or not being recognised, let you down because they probably saw your work and said something good about it,” she said.
“Always keep trying.”
Tickets to The Nutcracker are on sale. It runs until December 21 at the Lyric Theatre, Brisbane.