When Cootamundra teen Melissa Lott started ballet as a two year old no one, not herself nor her parents, could have imagined she was taking her first steps toward a place with the English National Ballet (ENBS) School in London.
Melissa will fly out of Australia on September 2 to join the prestigious ballet school for three years, to train and study Diploma in Classical Ballet and Dance Performances. Students from at least 18 countries attend the school which accepts 30 students annually via an audition process.
"ENB School has a proud tradition of excellence and achievement on which we continue to build," the school's artistic director Viviana Durante said.
"Standards are very high and we expect a great deal from our students," Ms Durante says.
"In turn we owe them the best possible training and support to enable them to realise their full potential."
And the training will be intense, but nothing new for Melissa who attend currently attends The McDonald College in Sydney.
Explaining the process she had to undertake to be accepted into the ENBS Melissa said: "I participated in a live two hour online zoom audition with the ENBS artistic director in February in Sydney".
This involved 40 applicants demonstrating selected exercises chosen by the ENBS.
"From that, I was the only person asked to submit a final audition for consideration.
"I was asked to demonstrate additional exercises and a couple of weeks after, in May, I received an email with an offer of a place at into the school," Melissa said.
"It'll definitely be scary moving to another country, but I've been lucky I've been boarding away from home for three years, so I feel that's prepared me for it, but I am still quite nervous," Melissa said.
Melissa made the move from school in Cootamundra to performing arts school The McDonald College in Year 7 and currently trains in ballet and dance for a minimum of two hours a day, six days a week (up to 26 hours a week).
Prior to that she was a student with Chris Edwards School of Dance in Cootamundra where she started at just two and a half years of age.
Even at that early age her talent was already obvious.
She also danced with Dance 2590 (Hannah Morton-Northey and Nadia Johnson).
"From a little girl she was an amazing student, she certainly had a feeling for becoming a professional dancer," Mrs Edwards said.
"She's always been delightful and very very talented.
"When she had the opportunity to go to McDonald College I knew she would go from strength to strength.
"We had some truly beautiful years, I've been teaching 37 years and we've had a lot of successes over the years but we're just delighted Melissa is doing so well.
"We feel very very proud of her and the way she has handled all of this.
'She's very humble and just a beautiful person.
"We've been fortunate to get to know her and her family, we've had some wonderful times together.
"I am sure we will have more, we've been blessed, I'm just so proud," she said of her experiences with Melissa.
Inspired by members of the Australian Ballet pursuing a career in ballet is Melissa's ultimate goal performing with either the Australian Ballet or English National Ballet.
She also draws inspiration to succeed from her family.
"They've been so supportive which makes me want to try even harder and push more," Melissa said.
Melissa is the daughter of Peter and Christine Lott of Cootamundra.