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She’s the Instagram superstar-turned-model with a bohemian bent and cult Insta following of almost 900,000, but what may come as a surprise to most is that Sydney-born Mimi Elashiry is a classically trained dancer who was once accepted to one of the most prestigious ballet schools in America.

In fact, when the now Los Angeles-based influencer was on set shooting her favourite pieces from sass & bide’s Spring 2016 Amante Amore collection for the pictures shown here, she started to dance for the camera, which soon became the theme of the shoot. Elashiry, who was recently labelled one-to-watch by Carine Roitfeld in CR Fashion Book, literally brought the silk and denim pieces to life.

Here, she about her dance career dreams, what forced her to give them up and how she’s combining that passion with her love for fashion and travel instead.

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When did you first fall in love with dance? When I was six years old a girl who was the ‘cool girl’ in pre-school was doing ballet, so I wanted to as well. My mum sent me along and I continued to do it ever since then. I’m still friends with that girl but she only danced for two or three years. Quite funny.

is it true you’re professionally trained? I was trained at The Ballet Class Rose Bay by the most amazing and nurturing teachers. I did ballet at first and a few years later began jazz, tap, contemporary and hip hop. I danced every day of the week, even on Saturday, and then competed at Eisteddfods on the weekends – one of our contemporary groups even performed at the Sydney Opera House. In 2013, I was accepted into Joffrey Ballet School in New York but I deferred as I was offered a Performing Arts scholarship at Reddam House – a prestigious high school in Bondi. I took this opportunity and continued to dance during school each day and after school the same amount for the next six years.

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Why didn’t you pursue it professionally? After I finished school and graduated from Royal Academy Of Dance Advanced Level 2, I injured my back jumping off the Island Quarry in Byron Bay. I had to stop dancing and lost all flexibility in my back so instead I took yoga and taught hip hop to young girls at The Ballet Class until I was travelling too much with work to commit. Now finally, three years later, I am fully back into dancing. I live in Los Angeles at the heart of the commercial dance industry, which inspired me so much that now I go almost every day to Edge Performing Arts to take ballet and Millenium [Dance Complex] or Debbie Reynolds Studio to take hip hop and other quirky, twerky things.

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What do you appreciate most about dancing? I love more than anything the freedom of expression through movement. To me dancing is not only a physical release, but an emotional and spiritual journey too. 

HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL? It makes me happier than almost anything. When I dance freely, for example if I choreograph my own dance, I can really feel the emotion and strength that each movement exerts to tell a certain story or connote a certain feeling. To me dancing is my meditation. A single focus exercise where I think only about the way I am moving.

Who’s your biggest influence in performing? Myself! I don’t try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself. 

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Describe your style when it comes to fashion Eclectic and a mash up of all sorts. I dress the way I feel, so usually depending on where I am in the world my style changes a little and maybe mimics the crazy fashion I see that inspires me on the streets. 

What’s on your sass & bide wish list this season? The two-piece Edit Existence and Desert Dream gold knitwear suit, the shimmery blue Trinity of Truth top and matching To My Phyme skirt, the Tough Beauty caged bra and Strangers Together studded denim jacket.

What song makes you want to break into dance? Hmmm, a few! The chairman’s waltz by John Williams and Comptine d’Un Autre Été from the Amelie soundtrack inspire me to dance ballet. I’ll dance to anything If the moment is right though, even some very commercial songs I wouldn’t listen to myself are super fun for hip hop.

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Images courtesy sass & bide. Shop the Amante Amore Mimi Edit here.