This week TEARAWAY talks to former Hastings Girls’ High School student Brylee Mills, who also performed in Western Springs College’s Stage Challenge® during her high school years. Brylee is continuing her passion for dance while overcoming every challenge that life throws her way, with a positivity that has inspired many.


You got accepted into one of the best performance schools in Australasia, Brent Street Studios, and spent last year there in Sydney. Have you always wanted to pursue a career in the arts industry?

I have always wanted to dance and I think the older I got, the more I wanted to pursue it as a career. The more I was exposed to in the dance world, the more I fell in love with it and wanted/needed to be part of it.


You’ve been very open with the challenges you face on your Facebook page. How has being in Stage Challenge helped you?

I did my very first Stage Challenge in 2010 followed by 2012 and 2013. I took on leadership roles in both the 2012 and 2013 years and I loved the experience I gained from it. Being involved in something that I was passionate about was exciting, especially because I learnt so much throughout the process of it. Learning to work through the challenges we faced as a team and creating something that we were proud of was such a highlight.


What was your favourite highlight of participating in Stage Challenge?

My first year doing Stage Challenge at Hastings Girls’ High was definitely my favourite. Both my older sisters were involved in it that year and I remember being overwhelmed with the school spirit that HGHS had. I was so proud to be part of an amazing group of girls who were humble and excited to just be putting their hard work onto the stage. We won that night and it was the best feeling, but either way it wouldn’t have mattered, as all day I had just felt proud to be on stage and sharing the day with my sisters and amazing school family.


Describe your overall Stage Challenge experience?

Oh that is tricky. My overall experience was so exciting. Every year it was different and every year I loved being able to perform. I loved the school spirit and sense of community in the dressing rooms, as well as stepping onto that stage in front of the over-enthusiastic audience. I learnt so much from Stage Challenge and I am so grateful to my schools and my parents for allowing me to be involved.


Why do you think Stage Challenge is an important event for students to be a part of?

Stage Challenge is supporting the arts in New Zealand and as a country we are way too focused on sports. For something so big to travel around the country and for so many kids to be exposed to the arts is such a positive thing. Dance and the performing arts is something that we should celebrate and embrace so much more and I think it is amazing that Stage Challenge allows anyone and everyone to have the opportunity to do just that.


You have taken part with Hastings Girls’ High School and Western Springs College during your school years. Do you have any advice for future Stage Challenge participants?

My biggest [piece of] advice would be to remember that it is all about the people – enjoy the process of creating something and enjoy the people that you get to do it with! We are so privileged to live in a country and to go to schools that allow us to be involved in such a fun, positive event so be gracious and remember it wouldn’t happen without the people.


Stage Challenge involves dancers, actors, performers, lighting liaisons, teachers, set and design crew and make-up teams. There’s an opportunity for everyone of all different backgrounds to let their talent shine on and off stage.

Don’t miss the 2016 Stage Challenge touring this May and June! To find out more information and for this year’s show dates, head along to