WHEN Kaea Pearce, then 12, successfully auditioned for one of the world's best hip-hop dance crews, her entire family uprooted from Whangarei and moved to Auckland.
It was a decision that paid off, with Kaea and younger sister Ruthy recently starring in a music video for Justin Bieber's hit Sorry, which also featured fellow Whangarei dancer Samyah Powell.
The Pearces made the move south be close to The Palace Dance studio in Penrose, run by lauded choreographer and Young New Zealander of the Year Parris Goebel and the girls' lives now revolve around the studio.
When the Northern Advocate caught up with 18-year-old Kaea on Wednesday she casually mentions that she's off to Los Angeles the next day - to dance for Jennifer Lopez and to attend the Staples Centre launch of the short film Bieber made in collaboration with Goebel, which features the video the Pearce sisters and Powell danced in.
"We actually filmed the music video in Auckland City in a white studio, so we didn't get to meet [Bieber] then," Kaea said. "His manager heard about Parris and fell in love with her work... so they asked her to do this video."
Kaea and 15-year-old Ruthy both attended Totara Grove School in Whangarei and danced with the Hardcore Dance Studio's "Kani Krew" for a year. The Northern Advocate followed Ruthy when, age 7, she made it to the semifinals of New Zealand's Got Talent.
Kaea has also been a central figure in Maori Television's newest reality series, The Palace, which airs from November 19.
The show follows dancers as they prepare for the World Hip-Hop Dance championships, where dancers from The Palace Dance studio claimed silver this year, just falling short of what would have been their fourth world title.
"It follows four dancers behind the scenes," Kaea said. "They go to their homes and get to see everything. It gets really up close and personal. It was strange having dinner with the cameras there."
The 18-year-old said she almost burned out during the filming, juggling it alongside teaching and rehearsals.
During busy periods she spends up to 12 hours a day in the studio.
"I definitely want to move to LA - my biggest dream is to dance for JLo, Rihanna or Beyonce, those are my biggest goals."