Beauty in Ballet: Meet Amy Russell

SO… Amy Russell, is a beautiful reminder for young females to be brave and to courageously take chances. A talented dancer and performer, Amy balances her role as a young professional to devote her time to some of her passions including theatre, ballet and pilates (and planning her upcoming wedding!)

We’re thrilled to share Amy’s journey growing up in a creative family, how a talk at high school inspired her take on her love for ballet and her future hopes and dreams as wife and one day mother.

Bev: First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself. What are you passionate about?

Amy: I’m a Personal Assistant at a law firm in Sydney, which I am really enjoying, but it’s what I do in my spare time that I am passionate about, namely performing and dancing. I’m also getting married very soon, so whilst my interests have always been in the area of performance, I am now also really passionate about being the best wife (and hopefully mother) that I can be.

BB: How did you first get involved with your love for ballet/dance? Do you come from a creative family? Has this influenced your interest?

AR: My mum enrolled my sisters and I in ballet when we were very young (I was four). I think it was just something that she thought would be creative, fun and wholesome for us to get involved in. Both sisters left ballet after a few years but I continued. I absolutely loved ballet. I loved the costumes, wearing my hair in a bun, even the smell of hairspray (is that weird?) As I’ve grown I’ve learned to love ballet as a form of expression and a creative outlet (trust me, you need that when you’re working in an office from 9 to 5, five days a week). Most of my family are very artistic, whether they are good at music, painting, drawing or writing. Only one sibling is also interested in the theatre, my younger brother, so it’s been really fun sharing experiences with him.

BB: What were your interests growing up in school? How do you keep active today?

AR: My interests at school were definitely dancing. I participated in annual concerts which were always the highlight of the year for me. Interestingly, I never enjoyed sport classes. I found that dancing was so much more interesting and creative. I still feel that way today, which is why I have kept up dancing as a way to keep fit whilst still having fun. I’ve also started pilates, which I still find way more interesting than running on a treadmill.

BB: We admire that you have been involved in ballet, theatre and performance throughout school and now as a young professional. What motivated you to pursue this?

AR: When I was younger it was a simple enjoyment of ballet that kept me wanting to go back. As I grew up I started looking into what else I could do. I decided to quit ballet before I finished my exams and started modern ballet and jazz. I came to regret that, as after a few years, when I was fifteen, I really wanted to teach. But this was almost impossible because I hadn’t finished my training.

Fortunately there was a former student of the high school I went to who gave a talk in Year 10 about how important it was to follow your dreams, challenge yourself and take chances. So even though I was terrified, and really doubted my abilities as a dancer, I approached the principal of my dance school and asked her if I could be an assistant dance teacher. To my surprise, she said yes! I loved it so much and to this day and am thankful. Without her encouragement I would not have pursued that dream. That also encouraged me to pursue my other dream, which was taking pointe classes, and although it took me several years I finally found a school that would teach pointe to someone my age (as a nineteen year old at the time). Again, I loved it so much and though I’ve had to pause my training to prepare for my wedding, I am so excited to pick it up again.

BB: What are some valuable life lessons that you have learned through this experience?Β 

AR: The biggest lesson I learned was to persevere and also to be brave. As I said before, I seriously doubted my abilities, but a little bit of encouragement pushed me to not only become a teacher but also start learning something new. It was really challenging and frustrating at times. At one point I even gave up, but I went back, and I am so glad I did.

BB: Are there any particular dancers or performers that you look up to? What qualities do you admire most about them?

AR: I really admire pretty much every ballet dancer at the Australian Ballet Company. I could just watch them dance all day. They’re very inspiring. I also really admire the girl who encouraged me to take up teaching, she probably doesn’t realise what an impact she had on a little fifteen year old with a big dream.

BB: What advice would you like to personally share to young girls interested in pursuing dance or performance?

AR: I would encourage you to persevere. I would also encourage you to not be intimidated by the performance world, which can be really challenging. Many times I was faced with really difficult decisions. These always revolved around raunchy music, costumes or dance moves that I just wasn’t comfortable with. Many times I had to have a word to the teachers about certain things I didn’t want to do, and as a young girl in a competitive environment, that was really hard. But my mum always really encouraged me to act like a lady at all times, and to not do anything I knew I would be ashamed of, just because of peer pressure. It’s thanks to her that I was able to able to make the right choices.

I would also encourage you to think outside the square, and not give up just because you don’t feel like you fit into the description of a typical ballet dancer. It took me about five years to finally achieve my dream of dancing in pointe shoes, and even though it probably seems like a really small dream to many, it was something that was important to me, and I am so happy that I made it.

BB: What are your future plans, hopes and dreams? Final message.

AR: My dreams at the moment mainly revolve around having a family, and as I said, trying to be the best wife I can be to my wonderful future husband. I still want to continue pursuing my dream of dancing in pointe shoes, and also my most recent dream of becoming a pilates instructor (and who knows, maybe I could even open up my own pilates school?) The possibilities are endless!

Everyone on the SO team would love to send our heartfelt wishes to Amy prior to her wedding day this month – may the years of married life be fruitful, filled with blessings and love!

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