Experience. The dazzling streets of Hollywood left a lasting impression on Smithton’s Romany Nicholls, as she successfully made her presence felt on the world stage.
The 17-year-old touched down on home soil last Tuesday, returning with a silver medal and two bronze earned at the World Championships of Performing Arts in Los Angeles.
Having also made it into the top 12 of 60 participants in a dance boot camp, Romany said the 15-day trip has inspired her to continue pursuing a career as a professional back-up dancer.
“I had no idea what I was in for!” she laughed. “I’m still in shock that I even got into it.
“Now I look back, I’m pretty happy; it’s made me more determined.”
Supported by mum Rachel on her trip, Romany’s third-place honours came from individual Hip Hop/Funk and Jazz routines in the 16/17-year-old category, while a group performance representing Australia resulted in the runner-up medallion.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Hobart-based student: weeks before heading overseas, she became seriously ill with an infection in her chest and lungs.
“It was really bad – she was really sick,” Rachel said; the infection exasperating an issue since birth affecting Romany’s diaphragm and her ability to breathe.
Luckily, Romany was able to recover in time to travel, but her preparations in the lead-up to the event suffered as a result.
It was at the Millennium Dance Complex – the event’s base – where the pair met Sydney-based dancer and previous Millennium scholarship winner Laree Gadenne.
Striking up a friendship instantly, Gadenne offered to help Romany with her routine preparations before she performed.
“We made [the routines] up on the spot,” Romany said. “We got along really well – she helped with my confidence.”
Rachel added: “The dance lessons were three hours long – to have a half a dozen of those was invaluable.”
With one-minute routines performed to the songs of Justin Bieber, Beyonce and Usher, Romany was able to hold her nerve in front of a dozen-strong judging panel.
“I was freaking out,” she said. “I’m used to performing in front of people, but it was hard with so many judges watching.”
She added networking with other dancers and members in the industry was a highlight, earning praise from Millennium choreographer Kenya Clay and a “go see” meet with an agent during her visit.
Rachel thanked the Circular Head community’s generosity, after $11,000 was raised to give her daughter the opportunity to travel.
“It makes you appreciate the community support,” Rachel said. “They got her there – if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have gone.”
Romany will complete her Year 12 schooling at Box Hill Secondary College in Melbourne next year, hoping the move will create even more openings towards her ultimate goal of a scholarship at Millennium.
“I don’t want to do a job that I don’t want to do for the rest of my life: I just want dancing,” Romany said.