GALLERY: Bay dance school taking students to the top
FOR Emily Howell, dancing is her life.
The 14-year-old is one of 11 students who live and breathe dancing five days a week at the Hervey Bay Performing Arts College and Hervey Bay Dance School.
It's a place where students from Year 7 to 12 can pursue their dream of becoming professional performers while keeping up with their studies through distance education.
Emily and her fellow students keep to a gruelling schedule but, she says, it's well worth the effort.
"I've been performing at the school since 2017 and I've been dancing since I was about eight," Emily said.
"What I love about dancing is showing me feelings and expressions through my dance movements and emotions.
"All my dance teachers at the college are really supportive about my dancing as well as my schooling."
The passion for the art is evident, with the college blitzing the competition at All Star Cheer and Dance Federation State Championships at the Gold Coast last weekend.
College director Jonathon Heeley couldn't be more proud of his students who took out the State Champions for hip hop and lyrical and third for jazz.
They also placed second overall in Queensland for Senior Lyrical and won the bid to attend the exclusive Australasian Cheer and Dance Pinnacle being staged in Melbourne on December 2.
Only a chosen few grand champions are invited to compete for the Pinnacle Ring.
"It's an awesome achievement as they only take selected teams to the Pinnacle ... so looking as this weekend they really only took three teams from each style and that's out of all the age groups," Mr Heeley said.
"They only take so many teams that score around the highest marks and they do that from all the other state competitions, events and other All Star events around the country as well so they take the top ones and they compete in the Pinnacle at the end.
"So it really is an amazing achievement. I was very proud, it was a very nice moment.
"I feel like it's put a small regional school on the map which is really nice for these kids."
Now that the college has secured their place at the prestigious competition, the college will now look for ways to help pay for the students travel and accommodation costs through holding fundraising events and applying for community grants.
"It's a very expensive thing to get the kids down to Melbourne so we're going to be doing some fundraising around the place and applying for some grants and we're looking for anyone out there that might be able to help support the kids.
"It wasn't something we were planning on going to until they got through so it was a bit of a shock for us."
To find out more about the college or assist with fundraising, Phone Mr Heeley on 0434 010 026 or visit herveybaydanceschool.com.au.