A KIAMA teenager has taken a vital step towards her dream of travelling the world as a professional dancer.
Kiama High School year 11 student Cassidy Richardson has been selected for the prestigious State Dance Ensemble.
The 16-year-old said she took up dancing later than many others, but had long been intrigued by it.
"I was always dancing everywhere as a kid," she said.
"I only started taking lessons at eight.
"I think that's also why it's such a big thing.
"A lot of my friends started at three, but I'm still getting into all of this."
The State Ensembles program provides tuition and performance experiences which complement and extend individual school and regional dance ensembles programs.
The program is open to high-quality performers and students from years 7 to 12 in public schools throughout NSW.
Among Cassidy's inspirations were television programs such as So You Think You Can Dance.
"It was mainly because I saw how the dancers moved," she said. "I saw how they moved, and really wanted to be like that."
Cassidy practises a variety of dance styles and said contemporary was her favourite.
"With contemporary, it's expressing the emotions you're feeling at the time you're performing."
The program lasts until the end of the year.
"One of the things I hope to get out of it is more friends involved in dance.
"Making friends who are dancers is good, so you have something in common," she said.
"I want to be able to dance on cruise ships and also travel the world."
Cassidy's dance teacher at Kiama High, Elizabeth Gilbert, encouraged her to audition. She said Cassidy was the first student from the school to be accepted into the company.
"It's a huge honour for her to be accepted," Mrs Gilbert said.
Earlier this year, the school installed a new state-of-the-art dance facility into one of their classrooms, partially funded by the school P&C.