Different Pathways: Emilia Kallioinen

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

Here we speak to first-year Emilia Kallioinen about her recovery from injury and integrating her physiotherapy studies in Finland with studying dance here at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?
I wanted to study dance but I suffered an injury and couldn’t audition for any programmes. It wasn’t a serious injury but it kept me away from dancing for a few months completely, in a period when I was supposed to apply, so I had to be patient.

I have always been interested in physiotherapy and so decided to pursue that as a degree. When I recovered from my injury I did continue to dance alongside my studies in Finland. I think it’s similar to the CAT (Centre for Advanced Training) programme in here in the UK.

In Finland, the higher education system is a little bit different from the U.K. I have studied physiotherapy for two years and have been able to fast-track my studies. So, whilst I am still enrolled there and need to complete my thesis and a practical training period in the summer before I can graduate, I am also able to study at Trinity Laban. And I can use the courses here at TL as credit for my optional courses as part of my physiotherapy degree.

Before my injury I had planned to study dance, and explore physiotherapy alongside, but now I am really happy it happened the way it has.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?

I wanted to get the focus and length of a BA course and the foundation in technique. I’d heard a lot about Trinity Laban as I have friends who went here so I had insight into the course, and also I really wanted to live in London.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

It’s been really good. It’s so nice that people come from all over the world. We all learn from each other. I really find all the technique classes useful and well structured. Even though some things aren’t my main discipline I find it useful and get a lot of tools from all the classes.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?
I think dance and physiotherapy go together really well. My studies complement rather than detract from each other. I can use the knowledge from my physiotherapy studies in my dance studies. It has deepened my understanding of my body and ways of moving so it is really useful.

I feel like I actually get a lot more from dance education now that I have understanding of things I didn’t have three years ago. I’m also more mature and have learnt to organise my time and work better which is helpful.

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?

Patience. You can take so much of what you did before into your dancing, whatever it is. It feeds into the dancing you do and makes you even more individual.

Different Pathways: Lewis Sharp

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

Here we speak to second-year Lewis Sharp about his journey from a B. Tech in musical theatre and role as teaching assistant to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

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

I went to The BRIT School for sixth-form and did a musical theatre B. Tech. for 2 years. Then I applied to musical theatre courses but didn’t get in and my teacher suggested I do a year-long dance course at Lewisham College but it got to a point where I didn’t want to dance anymore, so didn’t complete the year. Later, my singing teacher asked me to choreograph for her opera company in France and I went back to BRIT to assist a dance teacher for 3 months. The teacher I was assisting suggested I should apply for dance at Trinity Laban. It took a while to realise that dance is where I should be. I feel that it’s the right place for me.

Why did you choose TL?

I looked at the dance course here and in the prospectus it said ‘we like the autonomous learner’ and that hooked me instantly – I liked the emphasis on creativity. It’s such a versatile course, it’s so much more than just dancing. It’s about becoming dance artists.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

I’m engaged the whole time, I’m never bored, and there are things to think about constantly. It’s so much more than just the timetable – you’re encouraged to take opportunities – and I’m proactive, I feel like you have to do that to develop your artistry. I’ve been exploring where I’m from and sharing my knowledge.

My first year gave me a foundation of skill level. I wasn’t much of a dancer before, I was more singer/actor so it really grounded me in my technique. I’m learning so much and I’m able to think about my body and what it’s able to do. I can now say I’m a dancer.

Before coming here I thought you had to be perfect before you could dance or that was it. But you’re learning every day and that’s the most rewarding thing. I’m glad it’s lived up to the promise of the prospectus. For me it really works.

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

I feel glad I came at 20/21 and took those two years out because I learnt so much in that time. Doing musical theatre before this gives me the skills to think about the bigger picture – to combine all the different art-forms together to push my practise now. Having experienced something already I’m now more focused on what I want to do. I have a more mature respect towards my studies and a level of professionalism, as well as punctuality and time management. And I now have this confidence and presence that I didn’t have at 18. I needed that experience to really be sure this is what I want to do.

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?

Listen to what you want to do in that moment and if you’re unsure just take that time out. As long as you’re pro-active you can learn so much. Everything is transferrable. If opportunities arrive then take them but also take your time to decide what you want to do. Personally I would recommend that everyone takes a year or two out so you can have more things under your belt.

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Different Pathways: Laura Gagliardi

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

Here we speak to first-year Laura Gagliardi about her journey from professional volleyball and a biology degree to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?
Both my parents are dancers and I started studying contemporary dance at the age of 15. I’d spent seven years playing professional level volleyball but it was very competitive and athletic and required a lot of time. I was just starting my high school and was very busy so I didn’t want to commit so much to sport but I wanted to continuing doing something physical.

I have a passion for the natural world and wanted to explore more so chose to do a BA in biology. When I started at university in Ferrara, Italy I continued to study contemporary dance alongside my course. Then I did an Erasmus year in Spain to study marine biology and genetics and met a choreographer and teacher who asked me to dance in his company, but I wanted to conclude my bachelors first. I finished my BA and was going to start my masters in biology and realised I couldn’t do it, that I should dance. I knew if I didn’t try I would regret it.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?
I decided to come to a dedicated, specialist educational institution because you’re in 5-8 hours a day, you are focused. You have your own place, your origin of training. I asked friends where was good to study dance and one of them had studied at Trinity Laban and she recommended it – and she wasn’t the only one.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?
I’m really happy. The programme and the teachers are incredible, and the quality of the teaching is very good. A lot of people spoke to me so highly of Trinity Laban and it hasn’t disappointed. And being in London while studying is wonderful. Every week you can go to shows, galleries, take advantage of free entry to museums! I have just shifted from biology to dance so I’m just starting to understand why I’m here and what this study can bring me. I’m really open.

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

I think we all have to pass through some experiences before being a dancer or choreographer. On the one hand I think it’s a positive thing that I have done a degree before because I have some knowledge and can apply that to my practise, particularly studying nutrition, and physical awareness and development…etc. I’ve noticed that it’s useful to know biology and to know your body when it comes to dance. If you want to work with your body you have to know how it works. On the other hand, obviously I’m older than some of my peers and I’m not as trained as others who have trained in dance for longer. But my previous studies also influence me particularly when we do choreography because it’s my interest to put together biology with dance in a conceptual way.

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?

If they feel this desire, this impulse to dance and study dance they have to do it. Dance is intrinsic to human experience. From our first time in this world we start to dance. All cultures have dance in some form. If you come from another history and decide to dance you have to have this sense of commitment, hard work, and belief in what you are doing. And keep studying other things – life experiences influence dance.

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Different Pathways: Hannah Thomas

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

Here we speak to first-year Hannah Thomas about her journey from CAT to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

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

From an early age, I competed in multiple sports events, including football and athletics. Because of this, I already had that muscular foundation built into me. Taking dance as an option for GCSE was where it all really began. At the age of 14, I took part in a dance ‘taster session’, where I found a natural ability for movement. Following this, I began to spend a lot of my time training in a small studio in my Upper School. I then continued to gain an interest in choreography, taking part in One Dance UK’s ‘Young Creatives’ course as a choreographer in both 2014 and 2015. I discovered Trinity Laban’s CAT programme in 2015 when my upper school dance teacher pointed it out to me on the website. Not expecting to gain a place, I successfully auditioned and joined the CAT programme in 2015. From there, my passion for contemporary dance spiralled.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?

For me, choosing Trinity Laban was not anything to do with the techniques on offer, or the facilities available. It was merely a gut feeling, a feeling that felt all warm and fuzzy. It was the perfect combination of familiarity and the desire to follow my curious instincts. It felt right.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

So far, my experience of Trinity Laban has been messy… in the best sense possible! I’ve gained connections, friends and numerous experiences. I have learnt so much about the world of dance and even more about myself. I have discovered the importance of well-established technique, and the fun in improvisation; the excitement in new collaborations, and the thrill of performing with some of the most passionate people I’ve ever some across. Genuinely wouldn’t change a thing. If I’m honest, I have no idea where I will go upon completion of my training. I find that spontaneity is a good way to live. Trinity Laban has taught me to put absolutely everything into my daily practice, in order to open as many doors as possible in the future.

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

Coming from a non-technical background, my dancing body was raised from the ground upwards. Much like young children learn to walk, we spent the time exploring efficient ways in and out of the floor. Whilst I felt like this initial training gave me a good idea of what it means to be grounded, I was never so confident performing more technically demanding phrases of movement. Trinity Laban taught me how to move confidently when standing upright. I am now able to find the verticality in my movements, without it seeming distant from what I am used to. I now embrace the versatility of movements, allowing me to be a much more adaptable and playful artist.

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?

My advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in dance is to just ‘run with it’. When it comes to your passion, there’s no point worrying about what others will think or say. Coming from someone who was close to pursuing physics in order to please my teachers, I would suggest that being upfront with what you want is the only way to get what you want.

On a side note, when I say ‘run with it’, I really mean to RUN with it. Don’t waste a minute of the time you have. I wish someone had told me that from a younger age.

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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.