Changing the dream
Through the Netherlands and Poland, it was a very different path to university for this UTS Law and Business student.
Ever since she can remember, Georgia Neaverson dreamt of being a ballerina.
She started lessons at the age of three and gradually dancing became her life – so much so that at the age of fourteen, she had to make a decision between school and dancing and she chose dancing.
A little over a year later, Georgia and her family had to make another momentous decision when a Summer program at the Dutch National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam turned into an offer of a full-time position:
We always knew that if I was serious about ballet I would have to leave Australia. I had thought the move would come a bit later but when the opportunity came up, and even though it was a huge life change, I took it in a heartbeat.
Barely 16, Georgia had to learn to live independently in a foreign country; to cook for herself, negotiate an unfamiliar city and deal with the rigours of a demanding dance school.
She admits it was a steep learning curve but she was committed to ballet and had her ‘eyes on the prize’ of becoming a professional ballerina:
Going into my third year in Amsterdam, I knew I had to start the process of applying to Ballet companies so I spent a lot of time preparing audition tapes and sending off applications and then I saw an opportunity advertised in Warsaw.
Again, it was a whirlwind decision for Georgia who had just ten days to pack up her life in Amsterdam, make the move, and be ready to start work as a professional dancer with the Polish National Ballet.
She says it was a huge culture shock:
I found the language barrier very difficult so I took some lessons but it was very hard because it has little connection to English. Stepping up from being a student to being a professional dancer was also a big change with the emphasis on performance and the strict diet and exercise regime required to maintain the dancer aesthetic.
Slowly over the next two years, Georgia began to have doubts about the dancing life. She started to do some study and went through the Pathways program. She enrolled in Open Universities Australia and later a Marketing and Communications course online with the University of South Australia.
She began to look forward to her studies rather than her dancing - she looked at her friends back in Australia and at University and gradually came to realise that she wanted to change the dream:
I lived the life of a dancer but then I had to accept that it wasn’t enough for me – I felt like I had pushed my body and now it was time to push my brain and do something else.
So earlier this year Georgia decided to give notice at the company – she planned to travel for a while, find a job and then start University in 2021 but then COVID happened.
One Sunday in March, she found out in the morning that Poland would close its borders that night and so, five years dancing overseas came to an end in just six hours.
Back in Sydney she began the process of trying to get into a university course and says UTS was very open-minded about her unconventional path to tertiary education:
I put together an application package using my previous study, my Amsterdam diploma and my status as an ‘elite athlete’ and UTS was very receptive to it.
Georgia began her Law and Business degree as part of the mid-year intake. It’s early days but she’s developing an interest in marketing and the law, intellectual property law and thinking about the possibility of working as an In-House legal counsel – at the age of 21, it’s all part of the new dream.