Keeping others on their toes

Headshot of Nicolette Barbas
Nicolette BarbasSouth Western Times
Champion dancer Lily Birch is excited to compete as a regional champion in a dance competition in Queensland next month.
Camera IconChampion dancer Lily Birch is excited to compete as a regional champion in a dance competition in Queensland next month. Credit: Nicolette Barbas

Standing in a room filled with trophies and awards, 17-year-old Lily Birch gracefully lifts her left leg up to her head in one quick motion to show off her favourite dance stance.

Dancing has been Lily’s passion for more than 14 years.

“I started dancing when I was three in Harvey,” Lily said.

“Then around the age of six I moved to Top Jazz Ballet Dance School in Bunbury and that was when it became more serious.”

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Acrobatics, jazz, ballet, hip hop and contemporary are just a few of the dance styles Lily practices.

“I started off doing ‘acro’, but I soon picked up other styles and now I do everything,” she said.

Juggling could also be considered a talent of Lily’s.

Not only does she work part-time, but in between finishing her Year 12 studies, Lily trains six times a week and also teaches dance classes.

“During competition time I train every day after school for around three hours and then on a Friday I drive up to Perth to a ballet school,” she said.

“I think my biggest challenge is that I’m quite injury prone. At the moment I’ve got a really bad back so I have to be careful.”

Challenges aside, Lily has had some amazing opportunities.

“A few years ago I was fortunate enough to dance with a group that opened Justice Crew’s concert, then I was lucky enough to dance on stage for Samantha Jade when she visited Bunbury,” Lily said. “My biggest achievement would have to be the theatrical scholarship I won at this year’s Bunbury Eisteddfod.

“The last four years I have competed I’ve come second, and this year I managed to win by half a point.”

Lily has been competing at the Australian Dance Festival in Sydney for the last few years, but this year will be a little different.

“This year at the ADF I will be doing a round of auditions for the full-time dance schools based in Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland.

“I’m also doing a round of auditions for cruise ship dancing, so once I’ve finished school I’ll have a few options.

“I think if I could have any job as a dancer it would be on stage as a backup for a famous singer.”

After her auditions in Sydney, Lily will fly to Queensland to compete in a national competition, representing regional Western Australia.

“I did a competition in Perth last week which I entered on a whim and won three of the four solos I performed,” she said.

“As well as that, my contemporary solo was the highest scoring of the night which meant I qualified for the national championships in September and get to dance with the Dream Dance Company.

“I used to get really worked up by my competition when I would compete, but if I don’t know who I’m competing against, I tend to be more relaxed. Dancing gives me a way to express myself, and that’s what I love most about it.”

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