Freedom to Fail: Reflections from PPY17 Student Lilly Smith


19 October 2017

By Lilly Smith

My understanding of PPY was as a prestigious and challenging year that would help propel me into the dance industry. I wanted to learn from a variety of industry professionals and receive as much information as I could to prepare myself for a strong career in contemporary dance.

I was expecting to be taught. I was expecting to be told how to dance. Instead, I’ve been discovering. Discovering what dance means to me, how I like to move, how I can challenge myself and everything in between. The environment is encouraging, supportive and dedicated to allowing us to have freedom to explore and make mistakes. Most importantly, I wasn’t expecting to have so much freedom to fail.

It has been a wonderful platform to explore, develop and refine my own authentic movement and I now feel confident to be true to my artistic identity when navigating through the industry.

Improvisational skills are vital in the dance industry today because a thinking dancer is a desired dancer. Often a choreographer uses improvisation as a tool to develop movement for their work. From my experience, improvisation is also an important skill to use for exploring and understanding how your body can move. Enhanced improvisation skills can lead to more precise dancing, dancing deliberately with conviction.

Dance is expression through movement. It’s a language without words. But even that broad statement excludes what dance can be. I love that dance can encapsulate huge themes, and can also express nothing other than the simple joy of moving.

My idea of dance has expanded to no longer something I just do in the studio or on a stage, but in everyday life as I wait for a coffee and nod my head to the catchy café music. I love that dance can be shared with the world to entertain, share ideas or continue cultural customs, and can also be shared with no one but yourself.


Lilly Smith is a Pre-Professional Year 2017 student. PPY is proudly supported by Lexus Australia.

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