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BACKSTAGE with Elysia Baker

Updated: May 28, 2020

How old were you when you started dancing?

"I started really young, about 3yrs or so with Kindy gym stuff, then moved into Ballet."

Tell us about your training. Where, who with, what styles etc?

"I studied Classical Ballet for about 16 years with some wonderful, inspiring teachers, Christine Walsh, and in later years the Cecchetti syllabus with Carole Oliver and teachers of the Australian Ballet School. Ballet was always my thing until I took a break for a short while, then found Salsa in my early 20's. It opened my eyes to the incredible world of Latin dance and all the different styles that are housed under it's umbrella. Salsa, Cha Cha, Mambo, Son Cubano, Bachata, Afro-Cuban, Tango, Zouk the list goes on.. I have been lucky to enough to be trained by some of the best in the world."

What has been your favourite professional moment?

"I have had many! Highlights would be placing 2nd at two different World Championships in the USA. Founding my dance company & school La Encantada Collective, and working as an artist at some amazing international festivals are all moments that I still pinch myself to see if they were real."

What was your first professional job?

"A contract for Singapore Latin Extravaganza to teach and perform as an artist. It was a steep learning curve, but I loved it and made me realise this is what I want to keep doing, I love this industry so much and the opportunities and people you meet!"

What advice to can you give to young dancers/choreographers in training?

"If you want this, you've got to work hard! Work on your fundamentals, your basics, your technique. Get your foundations in place first before you try to build the house! I love to work with different people, and watch a lot of videos, it opens your eyes to what's going on around you and gives you fresh inspiration. Be brave and try on something new. A new way of thinking, a new way of dancing, until you find the true 'you' (which will of course continue to evolve as the dance world does!)"

What advice would you give to dancers who want to become professional?

"It's not just about being a great dancer. You need to realise this is a business and you need to be organised and respectful. Keep a diary, build a website, get on social media, create your brand. Be punctual, polite & professional. You never know where your next job will come from! Build and maintain working relationships. This industry is small, if you burn bridges you're going to limit your work opportunities. One more thing..think big! Stop thinking about next week, look outside your comfort zone, scare yourself with your own ambition."

What does 2019 hold for you?

"I have a big year ahead with running my new school and my company, we have some new choreographies coming up for competition/shows. I will also be doing quite a bit of travel to teach/perform/compete around Australia (including VDF yesss!) and to then some Latin congresses in New Zealand, Thailand and Europe."

Elysia is the current Australian Salsa & Latin Champion, has claimed two Runner-Up World Titles in the USA and is the founder/director of La Encantada Collective in Melbourne. She will be teaching at VDF 2019.


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