For Australian dancer Leilani de Marco it seems the world truly is her oyster. Her dance journey began in Byron Bay’s Vision Dance Studio at the age of eight at with Jill Wehner who she describes as, “my amazing first ever dance teacher”, and she has recently performed with BlackPink at Coachella. In addition to their World Tour, Leilani has just finished a run of shows called ‘Born Pink Encore’ performing in London, Paris, New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. She has worked with artists including Justin Bieber, CL, Big Bang and 2NE1 and has danced for artists including Lorde, Jolin Tsai, Six60 and more.
“I have had the privilege of dancing on some of the biggest stages in the world, showcasing my skills and passion. From my humble beginnings in regional NSW Australia, I have worked tirelessly to pursue my dreams, and I believe my story can inspire others who may come from similar backgrounds.”
Leilani de Marco onstage (far right) and in her element. Photo supplied by the artist.
From the beginning, Leilani trained in a range of styles including ballet, contemporary, hip hop, jazz, lyrical and cheerleading. She moved to Brisbane at age 13 and went to Mad Dance House for the first time. Shortly after, she trained with Davidia Lind Dance Centre (DLDC) from 2009-2012 with the final two years on their full-time course. Leilani received her Advanced Diploma in Musical Theatre and Commercial Dance at DLDC, then returned to Mad Dance House and began teaching and training more and more. She branched out into other styles including belly dancing, break dancing, popping and locking.
At the beginning of 2015 she made a big, brave move to New Zealand to dance for world renowned choreographer, Parris Goebel in The Royal Family and ReQuest Dance Crew. In the 2 years that followed she was featured in Justin Bieber’s music videos - “Sorry”, “What Do You Mean” and “No Sense”, travelling to America, Korea, Hong Kong and India for music videos and performances. In 2017 Leilani became a freelance dancer and has been travelling and performing around the world ever since. Leilani says,
“I enjoyed my time dancing in a company/crew environment but I do love the freedom of being a freelance dancer. It’s the most fulfilling feeling and I am so grateful and proud to say that I am truly living my dreams.”
Leilani De Marco (left of centre) with the BlackPink Crew. Photo by Isaiah Reid.
Speaking about the difference between performing live in a stadium vs dancing in music videos she adds “I do love dancing in music videos as it’s always fun to create and capture memories that will last forever, but there’s something about live performances that will always, always, ALWAYS make my heart skip a beat. It’s my calling and my absolute happy place! Coachella was definitely the highlight of my career so far. Performing live in front of 125,000 people with another 250,000,000 watching the live stream was an experience I’ll never forget and something I will always treasure.”
Leilani has an agent in New Zealand that she still gets jobs through, but has just recently signed with an agency in LA, California and plans to move there next year. This will be another big move for the young woman who started out in regional NSW but it sounds like this hard-working dancer is moving on to bigger and better things.
This article was first published in October, 2023.