3. Zara Milner

25 May

One two step, tutu step.

Flashback, a little girl in Perth, dressed in a tutu ignites her lifelong passion for dance. Eyes sparkling, set on nothing else, she dreams of becoming a dancer and spreading her joys to the world. Flash forward, the same girl, now a brilliant young woman in Melbourne, stands in front of a class of girls vividly reminiscent of herself, and shares her skills and excitement to their tutu wearing, smile bearing selves.

Zara is a vivacious, welcoming and vibrant person. Through meeting her I was able to take a glimpse at her journey and witness how her supportive glow ripples to others. She taught me that dance is about expression of self, creating confidence and searching for a middle ground of support that enables you to find your feet, create raw moves and showcase that particular part of yourself through choreography.

Studying at ‘The Space Dance and Arts Centre’, a prestigious dance company on Chapel St, Zara discovered her versatility and talent, learnt she could plant her own emotions into her dance, especially through powerful, lyrical contemporary pieces, and most importantly, consolidated her own self belief.

Her ability to run, jump and leap across the room however, was halted by a serious knee injury in 2010, forcing her to temporarily hang up her dancing shoes and focus on rehabilitation. The following stagnancy and lack of creative outlet sent her to a rut where she could “barely walk and was at a loss of what to do”. Through sheer determination, embracing the change and an active pursuit of exciting prospects, Zara found a new way to be involved in the dance community. And this she has done with a true grace, as she now works in a diverse and worthwhile range of programs.  Through teaching hip hop to children of low income families, ballet to young girls at Methodist Ladies College, movement and musicality as an after school care facilitator coach and providing fun creative learning to children living with disabilities, she continues to share her positivity.

Coming from a single parent family herself, Zara understands the struggle that can be associated with the expensive costs of studio dance, so through the ‘Let it Loose’ hip hop program, in conjunction with Banyule City Council and Bendigo Bank, she strives to make her classes as “cheap as possible, as fun as possible and as accessible as possible” for all children, creating opportunity beneficial to both community and child.

Zara also speaks enthusiastically of her work in the special needs field and her compassionate nature becomes very apparent as she does so. As coordinator of the ‘Saturday Sounds’ program this term she enjoys exploring music, art and drama to help children with disabilities discover themselves and magnify their imagination by having good time. “They may be Autistic or have Down syndrome, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to have a go, and that you don’t give them one. Everyone deserves the same amount of treatment.”

From teaching a little girl how to skip, to helping a young girl break out of her shell, Zara truly is creating a memory bank of rewarding and invaluable experience, which she and the people she shines her light upon will always remember. In the future, she plans to return to ‘The Space’ to complete her studies, take her dancing talent with her as she travels the world, introduce movement and dance to the school curriculum and continue working in special needs care. It is her warm heart and passion for dance that ties these activities together into the beautiful package that is Zara.

© Sean Porter 2011

Words by : Alannah McLaughlin

Photos by : Sean Porter (www.seanporter.com.au)

© Sean Porter 2011



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