Piimio Mei was turned down twice to attend The New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington, but that didn't deter the 17 year old from pursuing her dream of becoming a Ballerina.
A late starter to Ballet at 12 years old, Piimio was taught a few techniques from her mother and then moved into formal lessons at Kapiti Dance Centre with Alison Pond. It was after watching the movie First Position that she learned about The Rock, a dance school in Philladelphia, United States.
Piimio, who practises on the hard wooden floor of the kitchen at her home in Wellington, decided to send in an audition tape to attend their summer school Ballet Intensive programme, she learned in March she was accepted.
Aside from studying engineering at Weltech, she is busy fundraising for the school fees, travel and accomodation costs. A marae in Newlands, Wellington is hosting a hangi fundraiser this weekend.
My dream is to come back to New Zealand and start up a school and do outreach programmes for Māori and Pasifica and create that connection. That's something I think we are lacking in New Zealand. I've been through a lot in my life, and the scariest thing I have ever done was start Ballet...there are so many factors, the money is a factor and how you look is a factor...the social barriers felt like an obstacle for me. I feel like it should be for everyone.
Piimio Mei nō Ngāti Kahungunu, Tūhoe.