What Leilani Holmes-Skrill learnt
Level of education before beginning full-time?
I graduated from Mosman High School in 2018 after completing my HSC, with an ATAR above 97. Regarding my dance background, I had trained since I was about eight years old in classical and contemporary and was completing my RAD Advanced 1. I had also completed HSC Dance at high school, undertaking the subject accelerated in Year 11, to allow more time for dance training while I was in Year 12. Most recently, I have just completed my Advanced Diploma of Dance from Sydney College of Dance.
Did you make any unexpected discoveries while undertaking your full-time studies?
I think the most important things you need to discover throughout full-time training are your strengths and weaknesses—both of which can be unexpected. It is important to know what movements and styles come to you naturally so that you can put these forward to directors and in audition settings. In my training at SCD, I ascertained that my strengths related to flexibility, extensions and styles that possessed a more sustained dynamic. I have also learnt how my love for theatre influences my creation of diverse roles; I love incorporating in-depth facial expressions and body language into movements to create a certain character or atmosphere.
However, equally important is to learn where your weak areas are so that you know how to conceal them in pressured environments, and you can invest more energy into improving these. My teachers and I quickly realised that I needed more strength in my larger muscle groups and core, to provide more power in my jumps and improve my stability. Therefore, I allocated more time and focus on strength training, and developed individualised exercises to help me both gain more control of my body and start my day with activated muscles.
A main life lesson you gained from full-time studies?
Studying as a full-time dancer has expanded my perception of my physical and psychological capabilities. On top of my comprehensive and invaluable training at SCD, which helped refine my technique and artistic abilities, I have learnt discipline, time management, self-motivation and have developed a strong work ethic.
Just “doing full-time” isn’t enough—you need to be driven and determined every single day, aiming to be better than you were yesterday. That could just mean refining one specific element, such as holding a balance for a second longer, lifting your leg one millimetre higher, or simply tweaking the headline in a certain movement.
Therefore, this would be my biggest lesson from full-time studies: only you are responsible for your own progress. You cannot rely on external sources or allow yourself to get comfortable. Of course, we all need to take care of ourselves too, but dance is about pushing boundaries, learning what you are capable of, and maintaining enthusiasm and curiosity for the endless possibilities within the international arts scene.
How quickly did you gain a professional position after graduation?
I am very excited that I have been offered a position before graduation at SCD, in the Young KC Dance Company at The Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, in The Netherlands, commencing in August, 2020. I will have the opportunity to perform in joint productions with the Netherlands Dance Theatre and perform both romantic ballets and neoclassical repertoire, as well as new contemporary pieces. There will be opportunities to work with world famous choreographers such as Hans van Manen, Jiři Kylian, Nils Christe, Johan Inger and Crystal Pite. I am beyond excited to begin the next chapter of my dance career, and I am extremely grateful to my teachers at SCD for helping me obtain this opportunity.
Note: Despite the pandemic, Leilani is still studying in Holland and expects to continue until mid 2021.
Photo: PEDRO GREIG
Leilani Holmes-Skrill was profiled in our annual pullout Full-Time Studies Guide in Spring (September/October/November) issue. Did you miss it? See our special 40% off Christmas offer: one year (four issues) print + digital subscription to Dance Australia for only $31!