This month we are very excited to introduce a rising star to the dboot family, who has taken the competition circuit by storm this year - Nalini Finnendahl. In this interview, Nalini shares her story including starting to compete at solo competitions at a later age; changing dance schools and her dance goals for the future.
Nalini, 12 started dancing when she was 2 ½ years old at Van Loon Dance Academy studying Cecchetti ballet and has achieved outstanding results in all of her exams.
She now dances at Elite Performance Studios and trains in ballet, lyrical, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, tap, musical theatre and acrobatics. She recently also won her first Agency Contract with Dargie Junior this year.
Nalini only started as a soloist in the competition world a year ago. She has achieved fantastic results in all sections including in championships at every competition she has attended.
In her first-ever competition, Evolution she qualified for Regionals and Nationals where she competed against talented dancers from Australia and New Zealand and placed in the Top 3 EVO ELITE!
In only three months Nalini had three solos stage -ready in lyrical, ballet and contemporary and won every single dance at KAR (ELITE TOP FIRST). She won the highest point score in her age division 9-11. She was also crowned the Overall Highest Scorer (Miss Teen Dance) against more than 84 competitors as a New Rising Star. As a result she qualified for KAR Nationals in Las Vegas, US July 2020. Unfortunately this didn't happen due to Covid 19.
As the highest overall score winner at KAR, she also won a scholarship to the Dream Dance Experience with Marko Panzic. Here she met and trained with dancers and choreographers Briar Nolet and Myles Erlick. A special highlight for Nalini was being chosen to win a free scholarship to the prestigious Briar & Myles Masterclass workshop.
In October this year, she won the highest overall score at Adrenaline Dance Competition in every age division beating over 700 dances.
Nalini will have a busy start to 2021 as she has qualified to go to three nationals in January to compete with the best dancers in her age division. She will also start high school. She successfully auditioned and attained one of the very few spots at Newtown Performing Arts High School.
Nalini has achieved amazing milestones just in the last year and is of course very excited about what the future holds for her!
photo: Terry Cullinane
1. It was great to meet you at the Live to Dance Ultimate Challenge comp in Forster in July. You only started competing in solo competitions recently and you are doing so well. Why did you decide to start competing in eisteddfods as a soloist when you were older? Do you think this has been beneficial? If so why?
It was lovely to meet you guys too! I also cannot believe that I started as a soloist in the competition world a year ago! I think it is difficult to answer whether it is beneficial to start earlier or later as it is not only a personal choice but also you might want to think about getting advice from industry and medical professionals on the impact on your body for example.
For me, it has worked well to start later. Also, having the knowledge that Misty Copeland started ballet at age 13 has also been reassuring. It shows that with passion, determination and having the right people who believe in you, you can achieve anything.
I believe it's important not to force your competition experience but rather embrace it as part of your dance journey.
2. We know you are passionate about dancing, especially ballet. Why do you love Cecchetti ballet?
I have a huge respect for ballet because it is one of the most difficult dance styles - you can't hide any mistakes!
I found my love for Cecchetti ballet when I was 2 ½ years old and so it made sense for me to continue to learn the Cecchetti method. The syllabus at every grade has definitely helped me a lot with other dance styles.
3. Congratulations, you have just got your first pair of pointe shoes. What are you looking forward to?
Thank you so much!
Yes, I am very excited and happy to receive my first pair of pointe shoes. I have been passionate about ballet since I was a little girl and it has been my dream to do a solo en pointe. But I will not rush it as it can be very dangerous to go en pointe without the proper teaching and preparation as your feet are still developing.
4. We understand that you have changed dance schools before. What advice would you give to dancers wanting to change dance schools?
I have loved all my dance schools as I have beautiful memories from amazing teachers who helped me to grow as a dancer. I will always be thankful and grateful to them for supporting my passion for dance.
When I had to move from my last dance school because of my parents' work, it was a scary and an uncertain time. I hoped I would still be happy and would keep growing as a dancer. But I accepted the situaton and I remained positive and excited to find a new dance studio.
I would advise those who are thinking about changing dance schools that they should listen to their own heart and not let anyone persuade them.
Like the quote says: “You will never be able to escape from your own heart. So it is better to listen to what it has to say!” And don't be afraid, as I am confident that you can overcome any challenges that come your way. Remember it is your journey and life is too precious.
5. You have been accepted into Newton High School of Performing Arts for year 7 starting in 2021. What was the online audition process like?
This is such an exciting chapter in my life! The online audition process was in my opinion more challenging than seeing someone face to face. A lot of dancers submitted auditions to the Newtown High School of the Performing Arts (NHSPA) as it has built a great reputation nationally and internationally for many years. So I was overjoyed that I was one of the 30 that got in! I also visited other high schools but I just felt immediately that NHSPA is where I belonged. I cannot wait to start there next year!
photo: Terry Cullinane
6. Who are your heroes and why?
My biggest heroes are my parents. I feel that my Mum has always respected, listened and protected me to help me to grow and to follow my own dreams. I don't think I would be where I am today without my Mum. Seeing her smiling, being kind and so supportive inspires me every day. And my Dad, I feel so protected and he supports my passion and my dreams with his whole heart. They both always give me such great advice. I love them so much!
7. What is your ultimate dance goal?
My short term goal is to be successful at Nationals next year (January 2021). I would love to use this opportunity as a way to of thanking my amazing dance studio Elite Performance Studios for my training, preparation and for creating insane choreographies for me.
Long term, I hope that I continue to meet amazing people in the arts industry, as it would be a dream come true if I could be a successful international artist one day whether it be being in the Australian Ballet, modeling, dancing, singing or acting. I am really excited for what the future holds for me!
Thank you Nalini. It has been a pleasure to meet you. We can't wait to follow your journey and we wish you all the very best for Nationals in January.