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Ashi Ross: Her Challenges And Triumphs

Ashi Ross: Her Challenges And Triumphs

Dance Writer exclusively interviewed Dance Academy star, Ashi Ross. Read her perspective on making dance a career and what is involved.

1. Describe what dance means to you. Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you stay motivated when you are balancing education, social events and professional dance requirements?

AR: “I think it is hard for anyone trying to balance many things all at once. If you are focused and just take things as they are presented to you, you can make it work. It helps to have a good diary and schedule in place.  Sometimes things clash and you have to choose what works best for you in that moment, but usually, things work out.”

2. You have been involved in Dance Academy, playing the role of ‘Scout’ when you were younger.  Describe a memory from the filming of the show that made you smile or laugh.

AR: “I absolutely loved filming Dance Academy.  Everyone from casting to rehearsing to filming all were so positive and helpful.  I always remember filming on location on a pier in The Rocks in Sydney’s CBD. It was the scene where “Christian” (Jordan Rodrigues) was sitting on the pier eating a packet of potato chips and he offered my character “Scout” some and we had to for whatever reason, film it over and over again, we went through so many packets of chips, but I wasn’t complaining, I just kept eating!”

Ashi Ross playing ‘Scout’ in Dance Academy. Photo from @ashleighmareeross Instagram.

3.  With your experience from musicals such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins, how does performing on stage compare to performing on TV? How do you find the audiences respond to different platforms of performance?

AR: “It is so incredibly different! I remember receiving the scripts for my Musical Theatre characters and I was like, “How am I ever going to remember all this?” With a television series, if you get something wrong, you get second, third or however many chances to retake the scene if you make a mistake.  Also, with the audiences during a live performance you are all living in the moment, so for me I really prepare and make sure my performance is the best it can be as I want to get it right each and every time, as I want every new audience to get the best experience they can.”

Ashi Ross at the 2017 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards for her nomination and win in the Favourite Aussie/Kiwi #Famous category.

4.   You are so young and have already got the proud support of Energetiks to release two clothing lines. How did this initially come about? Did you have a say on the designs, and if so, what inspired those designs?

AR: “Energetiks contacted me through my social media and asked if I would like to come to Melbourne and do a photoshoot with them. I felt so honoured and obviously jumped at the chance.  Towards the end of the shoot, they asked my parents and I if I would like to come onboard and be sponsored by them, which both shocked and excited me! After working with them for a few months, they invited me in again and to ask if I would like to design my very own dance wear line. I felt so blessed to have been asked and of course said yes. I drew many sketches of crop tops and pants and had all the freedom and say I wanted. The team was incredible and just trusted what I was going with! I then sent the final design off to them and later got together in a room and worked on logistics such as selecting different fabrics and styles.  So I had a great deal of input into both my lines!” 

Ashi Ross new collection by Energetiks. Photography by Energetiks.

5.   Can you describe a memory from your dancing where you faced a challenge and found a way to overcome that challenge? How did you get passed this certain obstacle? What changed mentally for you to achieve this?

AR: “My biggest challenge occurred was when I was around 9-years-old.  I had been dancing almost five days a week at this stage and I was having a lot of pain in my right knee.  I kept dancing through it for a while until it became unbearable and I eventually told my mum.  She took me to a dance physiotherapist who then referred me to this amazing osteo-specialist, who sent me for an MRI. I was soon diagnosed with a condition called Osteochondritis dissecans, which is a joint disorder where cracks form in the cartilage and possibly the bone. This causes pain and swelling during movement. 

I was told I had to stop all physical activity; I couldn’t dance and I had to have a brace and be in a wheel chair for at least 12 months.

This is when I took up singing. Although this is still not my favourite thing to do, it was a new skill I acquired that definitely helped me with my Musical Theatre auditions.

6.   As a public figure in the dance industry, how important is social media to young dancers? Do people reach out to you asking for dance advice? How do you respond?

AR: “I believe I have a responsibility to be positive and truthful in all I do and share on my social media, as I do have young dancers asking me for advice on many things from flexibility to performance. I try and answer as many people as I can! I love talking to them.

Ashi Ross representing her line with Energetiks. Photo by Energetiks.

7.   How can you help young dancers become informed about safe dance practice? Not only physical safety but emotional and mental safety too! How did you become informed?

AR: “For me personally, I have learnt to deal with many different circumstances both physically and mentally, but I have always had the support of my parents to help me overcome any issue or injury I have endured. Having my parents to confide in, whether I was nervous about a performance or being nursed back to health during an injury, I am lucky I can tell them anything.”

8.   What is your opinion of having a ‘back-up plan’? Do you think dancers should have a different career path in case a professional dance career does not work out? Also, how important is it to learn other skills that take you out of your comfort zone?

AR: “Definitely 100 per cent!

I believe you should gather as many skills as you can both physically and academically.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a “back up plan” but the more skills you gain along the way, the better prepared you are to move into the future.

Dance is not just about dance; it’s about learning to manage your own career, if you are lucky enough to have dance as your profession, you need to be able to understand small business, invoicing and money management, maybe you want to end up running your own dance school or small business some day, so any skills obtained along the way, whilst at school or University, even short online courses, could help you in your future. Knowledge is power.”

Ashi Ross is a dreamer and a goal setter. Photo supplied from @ashleighmareeross Instagram.

9.   Name one goal you have that you want to achieve. Why is it so significant to you?

AR: “I would really love to be in a feature film! I love to dance, but acting has always been my passion.  Dancers make great actors as they have the physical abilities to do anything from drama to fight scenes.”

We thank Ashi Ross for speaking to Dance Writer.

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