Crutches rest against the cafe table as 15 year old Scarlett draws patterns with the circle of condensation left by her glass. Momentarily stilled from movement, this vivacious, entertaining and talented teen chats about her dance journey and ever-growing passion for hip hop.
Mid-recovery from surgery to repair a torn meniscus, Scarlett has struggled with enforced inactivity. 'Dance is my drug' she explains, 'I can’t function without it. When I landed my aerial and ripped my knee in half I wasn’t crying from the pain. I was crying because I had to pull out of the (hip hop) battle.’ Refusing to give in to her negative emotions, Scarlett set herself a project – to learn more about dance by researching the history and elements of her favourite dance style, hip hop.
Passion shines as Scarlett shares her new-found knowledge,
‘I can’t believe I have lived hip hop for so long but didn’t know the background and history. It’s a rich culture of acceptance and inclusion. I have a much better understanding of the different avenues, where we are today and where hip hop came from. I was naïve but, now I know, I can’t wait to get back to dance with this in my heart.’
Scarlett began her journey, like many young girls, at a local dance school where she enjoyed ‘mucking around’ with her friends. At seven, she fell completely in love with dance and, four years later, connected with hip hop. She hasn’t looked back.
‘Hip hop and breaking became my new thing. I love what it stands for; in class people wear whatever they want to wear, their hair is how they like it. You express the choreography how you want to express it, give it the flavour you want. You get to show who you are.’
Individuality suits Scarlett. The youngest of three children, her already enviable career sees her work, tour and perform at gigs, festivals and functions throughout Australia. Close to her heart is the time spent with indigenous communities teaching kids (and adults) about dance and living a healthy life. She says,
‘Dance brings people together. All colours, sizes, ages, it doesn’t matter. Supporting each other and the dance industry – that’s what I’m all about.’
One of the few Bgirls in the Australian break dance scene, Scarlett explains there are no girls to compete in Melbourne.
‘It makes me really sad. More girls need to come forward and be confident in who they are. When I compete in a battle with all the Bboys watching and I come out and smoke them, it’s a great feeling.’
Throughout the past four years, Scarlett has received ‘huge support’ from the boys. ‘There are always a few who don’t want to be beaten by a girl’ she grins, ‘but most are super encouraging.’ She believes that judges are open to the new qualities girls bring to the breaking scene, ‘Boys have more natural upper body strength, so it might take me longer or more training to achieve that stuff. But girls can do moves that guys can’t do because they tend to be naturally more flexible.’
Scarlett appreciates her position as a female role-model in the breaking community,
‘My style is to do all the things guys can’t do. I like to put a feminine spin on it. I embrace that I am a girl and I’m going to be a girl and show you I can break.’
Scarlett’s current Year 10 studies are not impeding her dedication to dance. Fully supported by her school, she’s committed to completing her VCE while continuing to follow her dreams. Once her knee has fully healed, Scarlett’s intends to study, train and dance as much as possible, planning to work in LA in a few years. Revealing a maturity that belies her age, she explains ‘I want to make sure I am as prepared as I can be before I go. When I’m about 22, when I’m ready, that’s when I will go.’
The combination of talent, confidence and Scarlett's hard-working, ‘give it a go’ attitude stands her in good stead for an exciting future in the dance world. She credits her mentors, dance teachers and parents for the unwavering support and encouragement they have shown throughout her journey.
‘I know I’m lucky to have found something I love. Not many people know what their passion is at my age, but I do and I have to follow my path.’