ELOISE Alsop was four years old when she started begging her mother to let her join her neighbour in a children's ballet class, held in a church hall on Sunday mornings.
"I went along and my friend quit straight away because she wanted to play soccer," Eloise, 17, said.
"I stuck with it and looking back on old home videos, I have not found one when I'm not spinning in circles around the room several times. It was destined to happen, to be honest.
"It makes me so happy to be able to do what I love every day, I never wake up not wanting to turn up."
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Fast forward more than a decade and Eloise and her fellow National College of Dance (NCD) Lambton student Imogen Hart have seen their dedication to dance pay off, with both offered opportunities to further develop their skills and careers in Europe.
Eloise will leave between August 23 and 28 to join Bayerisches Junior Ballet Company in Munich. Imogen, 16, will leave on September 1 to join Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham.
Both will leave having completed a Certificate IV in Dance and Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance) at NCD.
"I'm feeling extremely grateful for this extremely professional school having offered me a place," Imogen said.
"It's a dream come true after all these years from being young to now as a 16-year-old. It's really quite surreal."
Eloise said they were also thankful for their NCD teachers.
"I'm very nervous but incredibly excited, especially during these times, the fact we've still been able to go ahead," she said.
The girls' parents had been planning to travel with them to help them settle into their new home cities, but will not be able to due to Australia's border restrictions.
Both girls have had to apply for an exemption to leave the country and have had to be cautious about where they will spend their layover.
Imogen's flight will stop in Singapore, and Eloise's is likely to as well.
Eloise is fully vaccinated and won't need to quarantine when she lands, while Imogen will be vaccinated in coming weeks.
She will have to be tested before leaving and within two days of landing.
The rules could change at any time.
"COVID has definitely been a huge thing to take into consideration," Eloise said.
"We've had to accept the fact that it could be well over a year before we manage to see our families again.
"It means we have to work harder and really take in the experience while we're there.
"I can tell I'm going to get homesick, but it has to happen, it's going to be such an incredible experience and I just never even imagined this was possible, so it's very exciting as it comes closer."
Imogen said the girls would have to be careful, because it's a "completely different world over there with how they're dealing with things".
She said she was thankful for her parents' support, especially during such uncertainty.
"It's a big step [going over alone] but I will come out of it such a better person and more knowledgeable with how to deal with whatever goes on in my journey," she said.
"Not many 16 and 17-year-olds get the opportunity to do what we're doing, so I think we're very lucky."
Imogen is joining Elmhurst Ballet School for a three-year program, which will begin with studying A-level subjects for two hours each day and spending the rest of her time on ballet. In her third year she will dance with Elmhurst Ballet Company.
"I would really love the opportunity to work with Birmingham Royal Ballet during my time at the school and graduate after my three years and head to a European ballet company and hopefully get some incredible roles," she said.
"I'd love to dance the really beautiful ballets of Romeo and Juliet, L'histoire de Manon, or a classic like Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake."
Eloise is joining a one to two-year program that will see her taking classes, including some with the Bavarian State Ballet, and performing regularly.
"I'd like to look back and know I pushed myself as hard as I could and made the most of every opportunity," she said.
"I'd love to immerse myself in all of the performances and it would be amazing to have the opportunity to perform with the main company, just in the background roles, while I'm completing my training with the junior ballet company and just make the most of the surroundings, because with ballet you never really know how long it's going to last.
"Romeo and Juliet is definitely my dream ballet to perform."
Eloise said she loved the challenge of ballet.
"It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but - and this sounds cliched - you really can't get that feeling from anything else. It's exhilarating."
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