Dancers

The Big Leap: Studying Dance Abroad

Dance itself is an adventure, so it’s only natural that as dancers we like to challenge ourselves! It starts by challenging yourself to jump higher, to do more pirouettes, deepen your stretches, or to take on a new role in a dance number. The list goes on, and as you accomplish each milestone, you find yourself in search of something more challenging or something deeper. And maybe, just maybe it’s stepping outside your borders and challenging yourself to learn dance in an entirely new country, with new people, teachers, cultures and languages. Here’s our tips on the big leap!

 

Where to go?

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No matter where you decide to go, only you can gage your level of comfortability or willingness to take risks. So it’s great to challenge yourself by studying abroad, but you also don’t want to make it an impossible dream. Here are some questions to consider:


  • Are you fluent in the country’s official language?

If not, it’s important to find out the language in which courses are taught and what type of language qualifications are required to study there. But it could be a great opportunity for learning a new language or brushing up on some rusty language skills.


  • What area of dance would you like to study?

Speak to any graduate in the workforce today, and they will likely tell you that their current occupation is not what they actually majored in. However, many graduates can attest to the fact that they have applied many useful skills and knowledge attained from their past studies.

There are four major areas of study in Dance; Performance, Dance Education, Dance Science, and Dance Studies. The programs offered are usually dependent on the current market in dance and the arts within that country or region. So make sure to do your research on the schools that offer the programs you are interested in. All of these can lead to some great career opportunities in the arts!

 

  • What’s the day to day life like when you are studying in the program?

Work your way through the grapevine and speak with some graduates or current students of the school you are interested in. Or better yet, take a campus tour if it’s offered!

 

Time is of the Essence

Depending on how long you would like to study abroad, there are various study paths you can explore.

Short and Sweet

If you just want a bit of a taste of what it’s like to study dance in a different city, then make a trip of it! During a long holiday period, join a 1-4 week dance intensive abroad! Dance intensives are usually offered during major holiday periods in that country. So search up Winter, Summer, Spring Break, or even Chinese New Year dance intensives that might be offered overseas.

The Honorary Local

Exchange programs are an excellent way to dive into a new city, culture, and dance learning environment without making the commitment of a lifetime (maybe a bit melodramatic, as we all know that nothing in dance is forever). When considering dance at a school in your home country, look into the types of exchange programs they offer. Part of the beauty of exchange programs is simpler logistics, such as visas and accommodation arrangements, which can be easily arranged because of the length of the programs which are generally one semester long (3-4 months). However, not just anyone can join an exchange program, there are usually grade requirements, certain credits that must be met, and it can cost a pretty penny. But doing your research and working some extra shifts in the summer can totally be worth this experience of a lifetime!

 

I Pledge My Allegiance to The Stage

Wherever the stage goes, I go. Sound familiar? If you ever dreamed of running away with the circus, you might just have what it takes to make the big leap and study dance full-time in another country.

For those who choose to study abroad in a full-time dance program, it is not only a matter of studying overseas, but following your dream in dance…which also happens being a million miles away. With the choice of following your dream, making your own mark, immersing yourself into a new culture and discovering a whole new world, comes the sacrifice of leaving behind your friends and family back home only to visit them one or maybe three times a year. Sometimes it helps to make a list of pros and cons, and more often than not you just gotta go with your gut and what your heart is telling you. It is a big commitment, but it’s not forever. Most importantly, you’ll never regret it. Because hey, at the end of the day, we’re studying dance and pursuing a career that challenges us to be creative, passionate and expressive. What a way to live!

 

The Nitty-Gritty

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Before you take the big leap, make sure to consider these last few questions. Yeah, they may not be all that fun, but they are necessary.

 

  • How do you apply for a student visa in that country?

  • How much is tuition, boarding/rent, and the general cost of living?

  • Will you need to work, and if so can you get a working visa?

  • Does the school offer scholarships?

 

It’s a lot of work to take the big leap and study dance abroad. But nothing ever stopped a dancer from learning a grand jeté or learning the meaning of “the show must go on”! So savor every moment, work hard, and pursue your dreams to the fullest!



Photo Credits: Main Photo by The Dancewear Centre , Content Photos by Luis Fernandes, rawpixel.com, and Beto Franklin from Pexels



10 Tips to Stand Out in an Audition

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Remember it’s not a job, it’s your career. If you want it bad enough, you have to push your limits and get yourself out there.


We’ve cooked up a recipe that involves a lot of focus, hard work, and of course a dash of spice to help our young pre-professional dancers get ready for that big audition.

Auditions don’t differ that much from a normal class, except for the fact that there is ten times more pressure, a little extra judgement and perhaps some directors or choreographers making obvious hints at who’s got what they’re looking for.

Get out your ingredients and let’s start cooking up the perfect recipe for a successful audition!

Learn to adapt

Great dancers aren’t just good at dancing. One of the things that make professional dancers great is their ability to adapt.

Directors, choreographers, and dance masters just love that! Knowing that a dancer is versatile in their movement, with mannerisms that can easily change is an exciting thing for any choreographer. Plus, you’ll be booking more jobs! The judge panel will always look for dancers who can maintain their technique while moving with versatility. A clean, performance-ready technique is the baseline.

Learn Quickly and Apply Corrections

Most dance masters or directors may teach very quickly and of course, expect you to pick up things real quick too. More often than not, that 32-count combination will be demonstrated only ONCE by the dance master and it shows who’s willing to focus, commit, pick up and deliver.

Dress to Impress

First impressions definitely last in auditions. So don’t come in looking like you’ve just woken up and missed your bus. Lose those fuzzy leg warmers! Pick out an appropriate dance wardrobe that will emphasise your “lines”, and show your extremities. Unless given explicit instructions on the required audition uniform, you can never go wrong with something clean and neat in a bright color. It’s also important to feel good, comfortable and confident in what you wear, so dress up in dancewear that compliments those attributes. Try not to hide your body under baggy clothes, otherwise the director or choreographer won’t have a chance to see the full potential of your movement skills. It’s all about honesty.

Keep Calm and “5,6,7,8!” On

Treat yourself to your favourite music playlist, sip a cup of lavender tea, or do whatever helps calm down your nerves. Focus on your own movement, process and journey, never compare yourself to the other dancers around you. Confidence and focus is key to bringing your best to an audition. No one wants to be that dancer who desperately searches for approval after every combination--just do your thing and focus.

Roll With the Punches

One part of standing out is being professional, and it means that if you make a mistake, don’t make it so obvious. Be cool and act like nothing happened. At the end of the day, it’s all about your performance skills, and part of performing is overcoming movement mishaps and the art of reshaping mistakes into something innovative.

Personality Matters

Most of the time when we say audition, we think technique, artistry, but actually personality plays a big role in auditions.

The kind of dancer who not only knows how to move, but is also able to cooperate and get along with the other dancers is important. If you are taking a ballet audition for example, don’t just go to the barre and take someone else’s spot. Always ask if that spot is taken or not, because for all you know it may be the principal dancer’s spot you are standing on.

Always be aware of the people and spacing. Remember that manners matter too!

Show Off

Outside the world of dance, most people despise a show off, but when it comes to auditioning, it is a must.

Now is the time to go all out. Stand in front, go to the middle, take in corrections even if they weren’t directed to you. Repeat combinations three, or four times, because they may have not seen you the first time or the second, hold those extra balances---perform like its your last performance.


Fake it until you make it

There’s gonna be a bit of research involved here. Before coming into the audition, you have to know what they like, and what they’re looking for in a dancer. Do your research, no matter what kind of dance audition it is that you are doing. If you’re auditioning for a certain role, you have to learn about the character, the mood of what or who you are portraying to bring the character to life.

Be Flexible

Now I don’t mean legs going 180 degrees, and high extensions, etc. But just like adapting, showing how versatile you could be is actually such a big plus!

Let’s take a dancer with a background of classical training for example, just because that dancer is classically trained doesn’t mean that they’ll get the job, because the job might require them to execute other genres of dance.

The Must-Haves

If you have done your research, you’ll know the style of the company, and other specifics required of a certain role or gig, therefore choreographers and directors will look for different qualities in dancers.

But mainly, a good work ethic, musicality, amazing technique and versatility always make a dancer stand out and that only proves one thing when you get into an audition, like Christine Cox says, “You’re either a good dancer or you aren’t”.

Choreographer, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa once said, “There is no band-aid for rejection” and that can be the hardest thing for a dancer to face, but like competitions, auditions can be pretty subjective.

Remember that each and every dance company can be so specific and different about what they are looking for, so even if you don’t make it, it doesn’t always reflect your ability to dance and perform. Not all auditions have a happy ending, and if you’ve been told that you are not suitable for the company or the role, despite trying your best to stand out, that is perfectly fine. Shake it off, and maybe that next audition will open up doors for you!

Photo: Dancers auditioning in New York City for The School at Jacob's Pillow. Photo by Karli Cadel.









Dancing Instagrammers Transform their Dreams into a Reality

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The transformation from studio student to stage star does not happen overnight, and it is always a healthy reminder for young dancers to see the hard work, long hours, perseverance and passion that goes into the making of a professional dancer. Instagram lets us share our stories both literally and figuratively, giving the world a glimpse into our everyday lives. It also provides a world of inspiration, and this is no exception to the world of dance, as we see influential emerging and professional dancers making their mark on the stage and the social media scene. To highlight some of the spotlight worthy dance instagrammers of our time, we are bringing you the greatest pointed toes, split leaps, pirouettes (oh there will be plenty), and free styling from around the world!


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Every young dancer’s journey almost always begins with a ballet class. The moment of truth in which a dancer must decide whether to keep that tutu on, or break free from those tights and trade them in for some roomy track pants and stylish high-tops. This also sounds like the synopsis to pretty much every Step Up movie. Here to represent the ballerinos, we can’t help but keep our eyes wide open when soloist of the Cincinnati Ballet, Jorge Barani steps onto stage. Dedicated to everything ballet, Barani’s instagram account @balletbarani features endless mesmerizing dance moments that defy gravity and exemplify the result of many years of drive and determination.


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No pas de deux is complete without a ballerina, and luckily we have a few instagramming bunheads that prefer to fouetté their way to the main stage of social media. It goes without saying that the principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has changed the face of ballet, bringing a new definition and life to the dance form and industry. Misty is without a doubt one of the best ballerinas of our time, and she’s made it from the stage to the big screen in films such as A Ballerina’s Tale and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. More importantly, she has taken her talent to touch the hearts of many young dancers, inspiring us to overcome adversity and embrace our true selves to achieve greatness. To experience the empowerment of Misty Copeland, check out her instagram account @mistyonpointe.


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The world of dance does not require one to choose a side, though it’s a no brainer when it comes to Star Wars, you always side with Yoda and the Jedi. Dance is about embracing versatility and diversity, and some dancers can wear so many hats, well I guess in this case it would be shoes...and the occasional bare feet. Former principal dancer of the Miami City Ballet and So You Think You Can Dance all star, Alex Wong is the epitome of a versatile dancer, and a true standout performer. In an unconventional manner and humorous tone, Alex’s instagram account @alexdwong demonstrates some jaw dropping moves while showing us that although dance requires a lot of hard work, it doesn’t always need to be so serious and there is certainly room for fun! A particular favourite from his series of posts, is his dance training gym workouts that always add in a little twist, whether it’s doing Russian leap burpees or walking the treadmill in pointe shoes.


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Within the spectrum of dance styles, there tends to be a crossover where ballet meets contemporary dance. Corps de ballet dancer of the Royal Ballet of Flanders, Juliano Nunes takes his foundations in ballet to a whole new level of movement with articulation, complexity and intricacy. Definitely the black sheep of the ballet herd, his movement style and presence makes him a true stand out, and Juliano always leaves us wanting more. Follow Juliano Nunes @nunes.art, and prepare to be mind blown by the way he merges movement originality with years of technical training. Because without quirk, there is no way to ‘werk’!


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Okay, so we’ve shown you the dancers who have “made it” to the big stage and are active professionals in the dance industry, but now we want to highlight the emerging dancers who are ready to take the future of dance to new heights! Not quite the ballet pas de deux, but these two hip-hoppin’ dancers, Reese and Taylor Hatala are sisters who were both born to dance with style, strength and pizzazz. At just 12 and 15 years old, these girls may look young and innocent, but when they take the dance floor, their fierce presence and show stopping dance moves could intimidate a WBA boxer. Keeping it breezy, the Hatala sisters might be able to teach you a few cool moves, so check out their dance adventures @reeses_pieces77 and @tayd_dance.


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Bouncing between hip hop and contemporary dance, while sometimes meeting in the middle, 18 year old Sean Lew dances with authentic emotion and undeniable artistry. On Sean’s instagram account @seanlew, you will find his greatest hits in dance, as well as a humble homage of gratitude towards his family and supporters. Because the key ingredient to any great dancer, is a good attitude.


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As some might know her from the documentary film, First Position, Michaela DePrince is already a soloist with the Dutch National Ballet at just 24 years old. Communicating through her beautiful movement may be one thing, but Michaela has also wrote and talked about the struggles and triumphs in her life’s story of, Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina. Truly an inspirational dancer who teaches us about survival, courage, love, determination and passion, Michaela DePrince is one of the greatest motivational movers of our time. Be sure to follow her @michaeladeprince for an extra boost of positivity to brighten up your dance day!


Whether you are looking to learn more about dance, or for new inspiration, these dancing instagrammers give us a sneak peak into the wonderful world of art, movement and life. Each dancer has their own unique story to tell, and there is always something to learn from one artist to another. Though we might be at different stages in our dance careers, we all want to transform our dance dreams into a reality, and we can do that with the support of our fellow dance community, both locally and globally. Make your mark, whether it’s on stage or on social media, and with that last note, be sure to dance strong and carry on!