Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Young dancer on path to dream

Brylee Mills, here with James Luck, lost her arm in a car crash when she was 6. Photo / Greg Bowker
Brylee Mills, here with James Luck, lost her arm in a car crash when she was 6. Photo / Greg Bowker

A young dancer who lost an arm in a car accident as a 6-year-old has overcome the odds and been accepted into a top Sydney dance school.

Brylee Mills, 17, always dreamed of "making it" as a professional dancer.

The determined Mt Eden Ballet Academy student has competed with, and beaten, many able-bodied dancers during her meteoric rise.

But she admits she's quietly always had her doubts.

"I've always wanted to be up there ... with the two-armed dancers, you might say," Brylee said.

"I've always wanted to make it this far, but there have certainly been times when I've had my doubts. I've tried to stay quite driven."

Those doubts have now been erased with her acceptance into the Brent Street Performing Arts Centre.

Her audition DVD wowed the Sydney school's talent scouts.

"We are really looking forward to Brylee coming to do the course," said course director Jason Winters.

The one-year diploma course starts in February and is the next step in achieving her ultimate goal of becoming a professional entertainer.

"To be chosen over so many dancers - so few get in - it's quite amazing," said the Western Springs College student.

"I'm stoked and just so excited. It doesn't really feel real at the moment; it feels like a dream."

While she has trained in ballet, contemporary and jazz her whole life, she is looking forward to the more "commercial, contemporary" style on offer at Brent Street.

And she's preparing herself to be danced off her feet, with dance classes every day from 9am to 5pm.

At the end of it, she plans to land a fulltime dance job. "That's the dream - the ultimate outcome. That would be amazing."

Her dad Merlin Mills, mum Kate Stevens and sisters Lili, 11, Mikayla, 20, and Brittany, 21, are all supporting her bid - none more so than her mum. "She was an amazing ballerina when she was younger," Brylee said.

Mr Mills said his daughter was inspirational, and was not defined by having one arm.

"Since she was 6, she has tackled everything thrown at her with a very tenacious attitude, very rarely complaining, never put off having a go at something that others would shy away from," he said.

While preparing for her final year exams and keeping up with her practice schedule, she's also trying to find accommodation in Sydney - and fundraising for next year.

* Donations to help Brylee achieve her dream can be made at www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/bryleetobrentstreet.


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