Ella Havelka has proven that female dancers do play a pivotal role in changing the world, especially when it comes to female influence. As the winner of InStyle and Audi Women of Style Award in the Arts and Culture category, Ella Havelka is now an eminent role model for women of all ages around Australia.

The award means so much more than just style. Ella now represents striving women from all over Australia to be the best person they can be. To win the award has been a true honour for Ella, and has demonstrated that her achievements have not gone unnoticed. “I felt rather humbled because, in that moment, I realised that I have been so blessed with my path in life,” Ella said with a smile.

As an Indigenous Australian-born dancer, Ella has always internally struggled with finding her own identity. She is originally from the small town Dubbo in New South Wales, where opportunities in dance were few and far between. She felt limited in what she could apply for in dance, but she soon found a sense of her identity when she was blessed with the acceptance of Bangarra Dance Company, the most renowned all-Indigenous Australian Dance Company. 

“My time at Bangarra had a huge impact on my search for identity and I guess only time will tell what kind of person The Australian Ballet shapes me into,” Ella said. Four years at Bangarra for Ella was a very different experience to The Australian Ballet now—both challenging and rewarding, however, it was the difference in emotional and physical expression that was new to Ella.

“Stephen Page once described ballet as being a very external experience while Bangarra is a very internal experience. I like to find ways to bring the two experiences together wherever possible,” Ella told Dance Writer. “Dance is so much more enjoyable when it’s experienced from the inside out and I think audiences can feel the difference,” Ella added.

Ella felt her passion for classical ballet was still alight, and if she didn’t chase that dream immediately, she might never be able to in the future. To her astonishment, she was accepted into The Australian Ballet company with open arms, working hard ever since to make something of herself.

Ella’s story has become so prominent in the dance world she now has a documentary about her journey. ‘Ella’ is an exploration of her dance career through the lens of her as an Indigenous Australian dancer. “I knew I wanted a career in the arts but I definitely never expected a feature documentary. I’m sure my mother never expected to see her face up on the big screen either!” Ella laughed.

Ella was the very first Indigenous Australian dancer to be accepted into The Australian Ballet. “It was a dream come true,” Ella said. “But as reality sunk in, I became overwhelmed with the desire to be like everyone else in the company.” Ella did not want to be the “Indigenous poster girl,” she wanted to be accepted as Ella. “I was determined to push myself to fit into a mould that I soon realised I was never going to fit,” Ella added. She said it has certainly been challenging for her—some days harder than others, but rewards are not just on paper, it is being satisfied with yourself that you have been honest with yourself.

As soon as Ella decided to be the person only she could be, she strived in her own right. She made her own opportunities and accepted the fact that she could not please everyone. “Knowing that no matter where I dance, what style I dance, who I dance with, the reason why I dance will always stay the same. Dance gives me purpose and is part of who I am,” Ella told Dance Writer.

Ella has managed to be successful mostly due to her inspiring outlook on life. All role models have this in common it seems—to work hard and be kind to yourself. “Keep getting up when you get knocked down,” Ella said. “Look at the things that are in your control and work on those things until the things that aren’t in your control move into place for you or are no longer an issue,” she added.

For Ella it is about surrounding herself with the right kind of people—those who admire and inspire her, and most importantly those who push her to be the best she can be in a supportive way. She has finally found her place in the dance world.

“I would tell myself that everything is going to be okay.”

See the trailer of Ella below.

Dance Writer would like to thank Ella Havelka for sharing her story with us.

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