A DIF­FI­CULT PATH TO DANCE DOWN

THE DAUGH­TER OF GREAT ACHIEV­ERS, TAYLA MOR­RI­SON HUNGERS FOR LIFE AS A BAL­LE­RINA DE­SPITE THE IN­JURIES, HARD­SHIPS, WEIRD FOOD AND ICE BATHS

Life & Style Weekend - - READ - WORDS: LAYNE WHITBURN

Her fa­ther is a re­tired pro­fes­sional crick­eter and her mother is a five-times best­selling au­thor, but 19-year-old Tayla Mor­ri­son is cre­at­ing her own show­stop­ping jour­ney one (per­fectly poised) pirou­ette at a time. “I love it when peo­ple ask me what I do and I say I’m a bal­le­rina,” Tayla said. “It’s so dif­fer­ent and seen as such an el­e­gant but ex­tremely strong sport. I feel proud know­ing I’ve cho­sen such a dif­fi­cult path to go down. It makes me hun­gry to be the best.” De­spite start­ing at the age of 12, which is con­sid­ered late in the bal­let world, Tayla hasn’t let her de­layed start get in the way of chas­ing her dreams of be­com­ing an in­ter­na­tional bal­le­rina. “I was def­i­nitely far be­hind from most of the girls as they’ve all been do­ing bal­let since they were five, but that didn’t seem to get to me,” she said. “If any­thing, it made me more hun­gry and pas­sion­ate to work for it.” While she dab­bled with the idea of bal­let as a five-year-old, Tayla re­calls think­ing it was “slow and bor­ing” so she ven­tured off to try other forms of dance in­clud­ing gym­nas­tics and cal­is­then­ics. “Danc­ing has been my whole life. I’ve al­ways been in­volved in that world so, when I started back up at bal­let again at 12, it wasn’t so much dif­fer­ent but rather ex­cit­ing for a new chal­lenge. I was ready for a fresh start… some­thing to make me hun­gry again,” she said. “Phys­i­cally I was very weak and frail and I didn’t know how to work or re­plen­ish my body right so I could work harder to keep go­ing ev­ery day. Build­ing up strength took a long time for me. “In the bal­let in­dus­try, you have to be just as men­tally strong as you do phys­i­cally. It’s an ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive and chal­leng­ing in­dus­try. You just have to put your ‘head­lights’ on as my teacher would say… fo­cus on your­self, ev­ery­one’s on their own jour­ney.” So far Tayla’s short yet hard-work­ing jour­ney has led to her be­ing se­lected to join the Queens­land Na­tional Bal­let, where she dances full-time with world-renowned chore­og­ra­phers and teach­ers. Tayla trains about 40 hours a week. That’s 40 hours of keep­ing her shoul­ders back, stom­ach in, el­bows up, arms out, pointed toes, bum tucked, thumbs in, hips square, ex­tend­ing, reach­ing, breath­ing and, of course, smil­ing. Oh, and then she comes home on week­ends to work ev­ery Sun­day at CK Whole­foods in Mooloolaba and see her fam­ily. Then there are the end­less ice baths, foot stretches and bizarre foods such as raw liver to get her through the day. “It sounds so gross (raw liver) but I’ve got to do what­ever it takes to find a good source of en­ergy, oth­er­wise the days are just too painful to get through,” Tayla said. She also soaks her feet reg­u­larly in methy­lated spir­its to harden them up as pointe work can do some very un­com­fort­able dam­age to the feet, caus­ing cal­luses, bruised or lifted toe­nails, blis­ters and protruding bunions. Ice baths are a saviour. De­spite how un­com­fort­able they may be in the mo­ment, Tayla says she thanks her­self the next day. “Ev­ery­thing in bal­let has to be ex­treme and very few are born blessed with it all so you ‘break’ your body to achieve some­thing close to per­fec­tion,” she said. While it may be hard on the body and the mind, Tayla says she wouldn’t be the woman she is to­day if it wasn’t for bal­let. “Hav­ing some­thing drive me ev­ery day and be pas­sion­ate about has given me such a sense of struc­ture and pur­pose,” she said. With two highly suc­cess­ful par­ents as role mod­els, Tayla says she is in awe of their achieve­ments and how far they’ve pushed them­selves to ac­com­plish great­ness. “Any sport­ing in­dus­try is bru­tal but oh-so re­ward­ing as well and I’ve seen that through my Dad’s ca­reer,” she said. Tayla’s fa­ther, Danny Mor­ri­son, is a for­mer

New Zealand crick­eter. He took a hat-trick in a One Day In­ter­na­tional against In­dia in 1994, be­com­ing one of only two New Zealan­ders and 21 play­ers to do so. “He’s taught me that it’s not al­ways about fa­cil­ity, but about how much you want it and work for it. Hard work beats tal­ent if tal­ent doesn’t work hard. He was told he doesn’t have the right build for a fast bowler but I guess he proved them wrong,” Tayla said. “That’s what I love about the sport­ing in­dus­try. One per­son can tell you you’re not go­ing to make it or you don’t have the right fa­cil­ity, then the next minute you’re prov­ing them wrong and achiev­ing great­ness. I guess that’s where my hunger for bal­let came from, my Dad. He’s def­i­nitely one of my big­gest heroes.” And then there is her mother, Kim Mor­ri­son. “Oh man, where do I start … my mother is the most in­spir­ing, lov­ing and wise woman I know. She’s my men­tor, carer, psy­chol­o­gist and best friend,” Tayla said. Kim has writ­ten five in­ter­na­tional best­selling books in­clud­ing Like Choco­late For Women, Like An Ap­ple A Day, About Face, Read My Lips and The LCFW 28 Day Pro­gramme. She also founded Twenty8 Es­sen­tials, an organic chem­i­cal-free skin­care and aromathera­py com­pany with in­spir­ing, on­line ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams around the fun­da­men­tals of self-care. Kim is well-re­spected on the speak­ing cir­cuit and has pro­grams that fo­cus on per­son­al­ity pro­fil­ing as well as lead­er­ship, team­work and go­ing the dis­tance. So what ad­vice has she given her own daugh­ter? “To state the best ad­vice she’s given me would be very dif­fi­cult; she doesn’t say a word wrong,” Tayla said. “Some­thing that al­ways sticks with me that she says is that you need to know what you want. If you don’t know what you want or what you’re go­ing af­ter, how can you put it out there to the uni­verse? “There is no pres­sure on hav­ing to know what I want right now from my Mum or Dad but it’s al­ways just food for thought that if I can’t vi­su­alise my suc­cess, how is it ever go­ing to come true? It’s al­ways good to dream big rather than lim­it­ing your­self and wish­ing I should have gone for that.” Tayla’s next big dream is to dance over­seas. De­spite suf­fer­ing two stress frac­tures in her L3 (spine) in May this year and hav­ing to take four months off, she’s been back in the tutu full-time since Oc­to­ber and is more de­ter­mined than ever. This was Tayla’s first se­ri­ous in­jury so she strug­gled to come to terms with the idea of stop­ping and rest­ing. She even laughed in dis­be­lief at the physio when she was told to take four months off. “It was the long­est time of my life. Go­ing into danc­ing ev­ery day, do­ing my re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ex­er­cises, sit­ting and watch­ing all my peers dance all day, ev­ery day. But I had to do what was best for me and rest. It was the only way I was go­ing to get bet­ter,” she said. How­ever, Tayla now agrees the in­jury was a bless­ing in dis­guise. “I was at a point where I thought bal­let was just get­ting too hard, it wasn’t for me, could I re­ally do this for the rest of my life… it forced me to take a step back and re­group my­self. Un­der­stand what I truly wanted. It could have been my ticket out of there but in­stead it drove me to know how much I re­ally wanted it. The in­jury wasn’t just a process of re­cov­ery, it was a process of dis­cov­ery.” Now Tayla is so ex­cited to dis­cover what 2018 brings. While she is go­ing on hol­i­days with her fam­ily to Dubai and New Zealand over the Christ­mas break, Tayla will start pre­par­ing for au­di­tions and send­ing videos to com­pa­nies all over the world in the new year. “I’m very open to so many op­tions of where this ca­reer could take me but be­ing over­seas in either Europe, Amer­ica or the UK would be amaz­ing.” She’s got the tal­ent, de­ter­mi­na­tion and a very unique pre-stage rit­ual to get her piv­ot­ing across the globe. “A lit­tle thing I do be­fore I go on stage is be on my own in the wings, stand­ing in ‘superman pose’ – legs spread apart, arms on hips, el­bows bent,” Tayla said. “It changes your neuro-en­dro­crine lev­els and is sup­posed to in­crease your sense of power and lower your stress lev­els. “Nerves are good though, that’s when you know it means some­thing to you.”

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