Jan 3 2013 By Stuart Gillespie, Galloway News
From the Stewartry to New York, via Hong Kong, Emma Wainwright’s pursuit of her dreams has taken her across the world.
The former Castle Douglas High School pupil has already shown model behaviour, but now she wants to return to her roots and become a dancing queen.
The 25-year-old had a taste of life in the Big Apple last year when she studied for six months at the prestigious Broadway Dance Center.
And just before Christmas she returned to Hong Kong to continue her modelling career in a bid to fund a permanent move to New York to train and work as a dancer. She said: “Broadway Dance Center is arguably one of the best dance schools in the world. Their teachers and students are disgustingly talented, many having worked on “So You Think You Can Dance”, the “Step Up” movies, Broadway shows and much more.
“While I was there, I studied ballet, jazz, hip hop, jazz funk and break dancing. My favourite classes were with Ephrat Asherie, Chio Yamada and Ms Vee.”
Emma has always had a passion for dance and at one stage was the youngest tango teacher in Scotland.
When she moved from Castle Douglas to Glasgow just before she turned 17 a lack of high quality tango clubs saw her turn to salsa, where she impressed the teachers despite never previously having taken a lesson. After a few years working in call centres a visit to a friend’s salsa school in Hong Kong resulted in a change of pace.
“When I went to Hong Kong, I met so many friendly people and the salsa scene there was beginning to grow, plus the weather was great!” she remembered. “I decided on the spot that I was going to move there. I don’t think they believed me when I told them I was going to come back. But I returned to Scotland, handed in my notice, did a teaching English as a foreign language certificate and two months later was on a flight to Hong Kong.
“Life there was hard at first. I went over with no job initially, intending on working as an English teacher, and there were times in the first six months where I was surviving on instant noodles and toast and when I would literally be a week away from having no choice but to return to Scotland. However fate was good to me and a last minute job would always come up saving my bacon.”
It was through her dancing that Emma got involved in modelling and she was able to make great strides on the catwalk to success thanks to the power of social networking.
She explained: “After around six months, I was out at a salsa club talking to a friend of mine who is an amateur photographer. He explained to me that he is part of a club that hires models between 10 photographers so that they can practice various shoots. The next one was to be a dance shoot so that they could practice photographing movement.
“When I participated in this shoot, I met a few photographers that took my details to do further ‘test’ shoots. This is when everyone involved – the photographer, model, stylist and makeup artist – donates their time in return for the photographs for their portfolio.
“I added all the pictures I was starting to collect to a folder on Facebook. By this time I was dancing freestyle in clubs and had met many other dancers and models. These people were my friends on Facebook and their agencies were on their Facebook and after a while I started getting contacted by agencies asking if I was available for jobs and casting. At the start, the bulk of my income was from dancing, with modelling as extra money, but as this started to snowball I realised that if this was how I could work without trying, maybe I could build a career out of it. Eventually I was working with 25 different agents and agencies and have done some very prominent jobs.”
Famous names such as Reebok, Levi and Pepe Jeans are among the big brands Emma has modelled, while she has also been involved in Hong Kong Fashion Week.
But a visit with another friend to another continent saw another change of direction that looks likely to lead to its ultimate destination in the next few months.
She said: “Although I love modelling, dancing has always been and will always be my passion. I became frustrated in Hong Kong because it was difficult to get the level of training I needed to progress at a reasonable rate.
“Me and a good friend went to New York to train for a month in the summer of 2011 and, as seems to be a trend with me, I fell in love with the city and decided to go back.
“I went back to Hong Kong, worked like a dog seven days a week for nine months and in June started a dance course at Broadway Dance Center.
“I’m now back in Hong Kong and I’m working for just one modelling agency on a three month contract called Mission Models. I’m applying for an artist’s visa to go work and train as a dancer in New York. All going well, I hope to be out there permanently come March.”