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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



Crafting our Future Dancers: A Review of The School of Dance Spring Performances

We sometimes forget that some of the most remarkable dance performances are those performed by student dancers. Don’t let the idea of a “student” fool you, as the most rigorous training a dancer will ever go through in their lifetime is during their years in school.

Kicking off the 35th Anniversary Academy Festival at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts was the School of Dance Spring Performances. The students from Ballet, Chinese and Contemporary Dance streams demonstrated virtuosic technique, a fresh breath of artistry and the pure passion of young professional performers. Through a programme of four contrastingly stunning works of dance, performance, theatre and art, The School of Dance reminds us to be curious, imaginative and creative.

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Opening the show was a dance piece titled, Red Fan. Choreographed by Xing Liang, this work explores the space of dreams where endless possibilities unfold. Performed by the Chinese Dance stream students who moved with such versatility, this work seamlessly blends classical Chinese dance with contemporary configurations. Xing Liang’s clever transitions that linked one dancer’s movement into another’s, contributed to this continuous engagement that captivated its viewers to study each and every detail. Liang transported the audience through various realms of reverie, filled with meditative sounds of Paul Yip’s live musical accompaniment and images of vibrant red fans and a cool midnight moon. This was a dream in which one could not close their eyes.

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Continuing with this streamline of contrasting images, sounds, and movements was a contemporary ballet piece choreographed by Jonathan Watkins. His work titled, Osmosis shares a conglomerate of musical influences and movements through the performance of the Ballet stream students. The dancers were like scattered puzzle pieces, connecting, disconnecting and reconnecting themselves into harmonious and sometimes disjunct lines and shapes. Osmosis connected the stage with the mind of viewers, by creating a space for the audience to think and reconfigure new meanings and understandings of ballet.

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Feeding into the end of the intermission, gradually pulling the audience away from their mobile phones was Rick Nodine’s work, Breath Sounds 3.0. Subtly building momentum of movement and breathe were the Contemporary Dance stream students who grabbed the audience’s attention as a collective group rather than as individuals. On the stage were 20 microphones hanging from the ceiling, in which 20 dancers each placed themselves under to create a live soundtrack. Moving through variations of breathing together, separately and in different group patterns, these human metronomes fed into the bodies of the audience. As a viewer, or in this instance a participant, one could not help but be conscious of their own breathe in connection with the performers. Rick Nodine’s ingenuity for bridging the performer to the audience through our bodies was effectively inventive. Allowing the audience access to the stage by bringing complexity and simplicity together in one space and time.

To conclude the programme, was a celebratory work that showcased the numerous talents and personalities of the Ballet, Chinese and Contemporary Dance streams. Choreographed by Anh Ngoc Nguyen, Eye highlights the unique qualities of the graduating dance majors and merges them together into a colourful work of exuberance and great achievements. The growth of a dancer is one of the most exciting things to witness, as they develop their skills and artistry to make their mark in this world! As our future dancers are crafting their careers, it inspires us all to embark on our own journey of growth and experience regardless of our individual stages in life.


Photos: Dance Students performing in The School of Dance Spring Performances. Photos provided by The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.