Different Pathways: Paula Jankowska

A series highlighting different ways in which people can join our BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme.

We speak to first-year Paula Jankowska about her journey from a graphic and communication design degree to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

Paula Headshot

Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?

Before coming to Trinity Laban I did a graphic and communication design degree course at the University of Leeds that included a year in industry. Before going to Leeds I did an arts/media foundation and was dancing but stopped when I went to university. In my second year at uni, I joined a dance society which rekindled my passion for dance I guess.

After I graduated I worked as a graphic designer for a year. It was good transitional year, to put the skills I’d learned to work, but it was nice to know that I was looking towards something else after. I love graphics but it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I don’t like sitting in front of a laptop for eight hours a day.

My final year was so intense that my way of relaxing was to take other dance classes and I would end up spending more time in the studio. I realised that that’s what I wanted to do. Every project that I did, especially towards the end, was somehow related to dance, motion and the body. It tells you that you should be doing that.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?
I did a dance summer school at Trinity Laban at the end of my fourth year at university, when I was graduating, and the atmosphere here felt open and welcoming. I wanted to do a BA here because I wanted the intense training rather than a diploma etc. and I could apply what I learned in my four years at Leeds, my academic skills, as well as my dance skills.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

I didn’t have too many expectations as I was trying not to expect too much. Apart from just wanting to dance of course! I’m combining dancing and doing research, which is what I wanted. There are a lot of people here who’ve done a lot of things, there is a mix, so I don’t feel like a mother on the course. You’re physically spending so much time together and putting in as much effort as everyone else that it doesn’t matter what your journey was to get here.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?

My degree and year in the profession opened me up to people and contacts and helped cultivate my communication and business skills that are useful in the real world.

I wasn’t ready to do dance at 18. Even if I had got into schools, I don’t think it would have been as beneficial as it is now, because I have a completely different mind-set towards myself as a dancer and towards education in general. When you’re 18 it’s just a completely different world. I’m taking a lot more out of it now which I’m glad about. I was really scared at first. I was scared I was too old at 23 and was so concerned, but now, being here and experiencing what I’m experiencing, I’m really glad. And I’m not too old. Twenty-something is not too old to dance.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of a change in study and what advice would you give to yourself looking back at your changing path?

You’ll be fine. The world’s not going to end. It feels like that when you’re changing, turning your whole life around, but it’s not as scary as it seems. I’m actually where I’m meant to be now. Everything goes smoother because you want to do it. If you’re not sure about something, waiting is not such a bad thing, and to actually follow what you think you should do.

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