Alumni Spotlight | Isabella Estrella

After graduating from the McDonald College I moved to Wellington to study for three years as a contemporary major at the New Zealand School of Dance. During my time there I had the privilege of working with some of the most inspiring and renowned choreographers and dancers from New Zealand, Australia and overseas.

After graduating from NZSD I reunited with some of my classmates to perform in a double bill of the works Subsequent Slavery by Samuel Hall and Incognito by Holly Newsome. These were performed in the 2017 Wellington Fringe Festival as part of the inaugural season of the Toi Poneke Dance Residency.

A big highlight of 2017 was being able to go on my first international tour with Okareka Dance Company. I re-joined the cast of Mana Wahine this time a full cast member on the show’s first tour to the Netherlands. We toured five different centres across the country and had some really great audiences. The show combines contemporary dance and indigenous Māori culture so it was really great to see it so well received on an international stage. We even had four curtain calls one night – the Netherland’s audiences were very lovely.



I think the diversity (and variety of) has been extremely beneficial in making me industry-ready. Employers these days are looking more and more for versatile dancers and out-of-the-box thinkers, so being able to try out different approaches to set movement in terms of dynamics and energy quality while keeping a solid technical base is something I’m also working at displaying.

The diverse training in many different styles has also helped me with creating my own sense of style when creating my own phrases for task or in improvisations. I’m also looking to how I can mesh different movement styles together to create something new as well as continuing to solidify my own individual style.



I just finished up a great season with Limitless Dance Company in Sydney and then flew straight to Perth for a two-week workshop with Maxine Doyle in collaboration with STRUT Dance. I also flew to Brussels recently to audition for Ultima Vez company, which I’m super excited for. Later this year in September I have a secondment up in Townsville with Dance North (Directors Amber Haines & Kyle Page). Straight after that I go back on tour with Mana Wahine to the Gold Coast, Darwin, Canada and Hawaii, which is amazing and I really hope the show is received well.



Try and remember that you chose this because its something that you love and you’re passionate about. Especially if you go into full-time training it can become very tiresome and daunting. Some days you literally have to drag yourself out of bed but those years can be some of the best years in your life. You get to do something that you love everyday with the people that you love everyday.

Face every challenge head on, take every opportunity you can to try something new. Try and soak in as much knowledge and experience as you can. Learn from the staff, the guest tutors, other classmates and performers. Also remember to stay grounded as well as it’s sometimes hard to remember that there is a world outside, and find something to do completely unrelated that will help you from being totally consumed by the uncertainty and stress that can come from pursuing a career in the performing arts.

Lastly, remember that you are not just a body and performer but a person as well.

Treat y’self.