Bay dancer scores national award after year of training
SURROUNDED by inspirational messages scrawled in white writing on the mirrors lining the walls of the dance studio, a young dancer with 'Flexi Lexi' on the back of her uniform causally stretches in the splits.
Unlike most award-winning dancers, Hervey Bay's Alexis Calis didn't start training at a young age.
It took just over a year of training, along with countless hours of hard work, for the 14-year-old dancer to land a National Student Star Award.
She is one of 17 award recipients throughout Australia.
She was nominated for the award, presented by Dance Train Magazine, after completing summer school on a scholarship at Village Nation Performing Arts in Sydney in January.
Alexis has been cheer-leading since she was three but had never tried her hand at dancing until attending a public 'come and try session' at Hervey Bay Performing Arts College.
After being invited to attend HBPAC, the former Urangan State High School student said she jumped at the chance.
"I discovered I just loved dancing, it's such a great way to express myself," she said.
"My family have been so supportive and they didn't take much convincing.
"I had the flexibility from cheer-leading but I definitely had to work very hard to gain the skills everyone else had learnt when they were younger.
"I just had the attitude to grab every opportunity and try my best."
Alexis added one-on-one tutoring to her already packed schedule of 13 hours spent practising during school time.
She also attends after-school lessons.
Rather than traditional lessons, Alexis completes school subjects by correspondence.
"It takes a lot of dedication and a greater understanding of how you learn, when you don't have a teacher in the classroom with you," she said.
"Ultimately I would love to get into a full time dance course and make a career out of dancing."
Although Alexis dances all styles and recently cleaned up at Get the Beat Fraser Coast, placing in group performances for the under 15 and open categories, lyrical and acrobatic remain her favourite routines.
As part of the award, Alexis will fly to Sydney on Friday with her mother and grandmother.
She will attend a photo shoot and interview for the magazine's edition later this year.
"I'm nervous and excited," she said.
"I'm incredibly grateful and shocked to receive the award.
"I'll be using the time in Sydney for some one-on-one lessons with teachers as well."
Lexi is the first student ever at Hervey Bay Performing Arts College to receive this award.