At 17, Karwin Knox was so determined to pursue his dream career in dance that he left his family and friends in Tamworth for the bright lights of Sydney.
Karwin said the decision to leave his dad was tough, but one that his father supported.
"He was proud of me. He wants me to be happy and he knew I loved dancing."
The aspiring dancer also had the support of his famous grandfather, Roger Knox, the Australian country singer affectionately known as the Black Elvis.
"He's like my other father figure, so he's supportive. He just said the same thing my dad said; follow your dreams and don't let anyone hold you back."
Karwin is one of 28 students from more than 700 applicants chosen to join the NSW Public Schools Aboriginal Dance Company. Formed in 2011, the state government program provides workshops and mentoring for young indigenous dancers.
Moving to a new school in his final year of studies, Karwin was determined to follow that advice.
Ashfield Boys High School principal Daisy Kokkalis described Karwin as a humble and gifted student. "He has a lot of talent and he undersells himself. He has a very gentle calmness with him … He's been a wonderful ambassador for the school."
After participating in the program from his father's home in Tamworth last year, Karwin decided at the start of the year to move to Sydney where his mother lived in order to chase his dream. Karwin is the only year 12 student in the company, and sees himself as a leader to the program's younger participants.
"I'm the oldest, I'm like the big brother. I'm a bit above the kids that made it this year, so if they need any help, I help them out."
But Karwin himself has found mentors and role models at Bangarra Dance Theatre. He said he spends as much time as he can around Bangarra's dancers.
Karwin has his eyes set on a spot at NAISDA Dance College in Gosford next year with a dream of one day dancing for Bangarra professionally.
"I've never got professional support so I've got to go to a dance college to bring my level up,'' he said. ''But my big goal is to be a dancer with Bangarra … I'm prepared to put in as many hours as necessary."