They say that only 30 per cent of communication is verbal. And Shelayna Boorer can relate to this more than most.
Despite being remarkably eloquent for her tender years, physical expression through movement has always allowed her to address issues that she would find impossible to translate through words alone.
“I leave nothing unsaid because I’m able to express myself through my body,” she said.
“It just puts everything on a whole new level – you can really bare your soul.”
And dancing has been her emotional outlet through some turbulent times.
“I was severely bullied for 18 months, and I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without dance – it’s made me stronger,” she said.
Shelayna said dancing came as naturally to her as breathing.
“I was always a fidgety kid – I’m almost sure that if I didn't dance I’d have the worst ADD. I’m always moving, and dance is always what I’ve wanted to do. My passion has only grown over the years,” she said.
And that passion has paid off big time this year after the gifted sixteen-year-old auditioned for three different genres of dance in the NSW Schools Spectacular.
Shelayna was shortlisted from 400 students for round two jazz, tap and musical theatre dance auditions after her filmed routines wowed the panel of judges.
In May, Shelayna and her parents travelled down to three separate intensives in Sydney in which aspiring stars were run through a vigorous process of combinations, dance routines and solo auditions in front of the Spectacular’s artistic director, choreographer, and feature dancer manager.
“At the auditions there were these amazing dancers that I was completely in awe of,” Shelayna said.
“I just knew there was no way I was good enough to be selected.”
But in July this year, after suddenly losing her human anchor and hitting one of the lowest emotional points in her life so far, Shelayna heard word that she had been chosen for all three genre ensembles she had auditioned for.
“That was just insane!” she said.
“To be selected and dancing with and making friends with these dancers from all over NSW is just insane.”
The Nambucca Heads High student will team up with four others from the North Coast, and 165 from around NSW who have been chosen as featured ensemble dancers.
They will be joining more than 5,000 stars including 40 featured performers, an incredible 100-piece symphony orchestra, stage band, 2,700-voice choir, 2,300 amazing dancers, the D’Arts Ensemble disability program, the Aboriginal Dance Company, puppets and an indispensable behind-the-scenes team.
And to prove that creative talent runs in the Boorer family, Shelayna’s twin brother Delaney has also been selected as a voice in the feature choir.
Shelayna and her parents are currently in the process of making the trek down to Sydney for the 15 scheduled rehearsals before the Spectacular premieres at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney’s Olympic Park on Friday and Saturday, November 23 and 24.
Despite an exhausting schedule, Shelayna said she’s thrilled to be part of such a major production.
“It was worth it just to see how much work goes into putting something like this on,” she said.
And she’s already thinking about her auditions for next year’s Spectacular when she plans to try out for every dance genre on offer.
She also has her eyes firmly set on a scholarship at one of Sydney’s or Brisbane’s major dance companies, and plans one day to star as a back-up dancer on a world tour.
“I’d also love to be a Rockette, dance for the Moulin Rouge, or basically do anything on Broadway,” she said.
“The stage is where I feel the most confident, without a doubt.”
And while she’s admittedly a “sensitive sort” and knows already just how cut-throat the dance industry can be, her past trials with bullies have allowed Shelayna to practise the art of fortification.
“My aspirations and life goals will always be more important than how someone else perceives me,” she said.
“You need to learn to be able to take rejection and turn it into something powerful.
“I’ve recently been learning how to surround myself with the right people. I know now that I don’t need everyone’s validation.”
Right now though, like most teenage girls, Shelayna is navigating the tricky world of self-validation.
She may be a sweet, six-foot, sixteen-year-old blonde dynamite with legs for days, but even someone as skilled and aesthetically delightful as Shelayna has admitted to issues with her self image.
A perfectionist at heart, she often pushes herself beyond her limits, at which point anxiety takes hold of her mind and works its way through every muscle of her being.
“At one point this year I found it emotionally painful to answer the phone or have a conversation. I realised at that point that I needed to take time for myself. And at the same time reassure myself that it’s ok not to be ok – that nobody’s 100 per cent at any given time,” she said.
Shelayna badly desires to be a source of inspiration for others.
“I want to motivate others to be the best versions of themselves that they can be,” she said.
“But there’s no use spreading love if you don’t have that love for yourself – you have to have something to give it to someone else.”
You are the embodiment of life and beauty, even though the mirror doesn't always say that. You are the only person that can make you happy.
So in between year 11 exams, persistent excursions to Sydney for rehearsals, tutoring at the Valley Performing Arts, and the daily dramas of teenage existence, Shelayna is trying to take the time to find the beauty in the everyday… one sunset at a time.
And when all else fails, there’s always the release that comes from dance!