Interview with a BNU Dance Student
Abbie: Hi Michelle, should we jump straight in? So why did you choose to come to study at BNU?
Michelle: So there aren’t a lot of universities that actually specialise in jazz as their main genre of dance on a dance course. Most of them do contemporary dance or commercial/street but I thought jazz is just a form of dance I've always really loved, and I know a lot of musical Theatre shows that have a lot of Theatre jazz so I thought that would be really nice to come and study at BNU. Plus, it is close to where I live in High Wycombe so it was really convenient and it's not a massive University but it's just somewhere that I thought I could fit into the community really nicely and I think that I have done that, so it's been a good experience.
Abbie: Nice! And when you did audition to come to BNU, how did you find the experience of the audition and interview process?
Michelle: The audition process was really good, I did audition at a couple of other places and the atmosphere was definitely different than at BNU. It was a friendly atmosphere without crazy amounts of pressure. For the audition I was in a little group with other potential students as well as current students, we basically got to join a masterclass. There was no being singled out and forced to the front! For the interview process it was in a group setting and we got to have a conversation with our future teachers from the dance course. It was a great chance to hear other people’s experiences and give my own as well.
Abbie: That’s so good to hear that it was a good experience, I know auditions are really nerve racking so having a positive environment like that sounds perfect! So as a dance student, what kind of opportunities do you get?
Michelle: There are so many opportunities that are available to dance students but also students in general. I’ve been able to run my own society which is a great opportunity that the Students’ Union provided, and I know a couple of my friends are also on society committees and are able to teach dance and get involved with extra classes. If you do want to be self-employed in the future, then it gives you a chance to have that work experience of running your own society/business because the Students’ Union leaves all the technical stuff like grant forms and buying kits down to you. So that alone was a really great opportunity and I’m always grateful for that.
On the BA (Hons) Dance and Performance course itself we also got the opportunity to do some work experience, I actually went into a care home and taught dance once a week for several weeks, which was super rewarding.
You also have a lot of masterclasses where industry professionals come in from all genres of dance like ballet, k-pop, commercial, etc. It’s always been super diverse and there’s always something for everyone. So it’s all of these little opportunities that give you an extra step into your career and help you build yourself and establish yourself in the working world.
Abbie: Nice! Quite a fair bit then… so on the dance course itself, how do you find the workload of practical and theory work?
Michelle: It’s a good balance of both practical and theory. I do feel like there are a lot of modules mixed from first to third year and the work load is balanced quite evenly throughout those three years. It is all very manageable, and the staff are always there to help you. We also have an advice centre to help with theory work and there are so many external people that are willing to help you with anything else you might be struggling with.
Abbie: Yeah? That’s great! And how has BNU helped you to achieve for your future career goals?
Michelle: Oh, they have been amazing. Even at times where I started to doubt myself or kind of changed my career goal in the middle, they never actually tried to hold me back or say that it was unachievable. From first year onwards, they’ve always asked “what do you want to do”, they always try to personalise our course and give us extra help to help us to achieve what we want in the future.
I want to be a pole instructor one day and through the leadership academy they offered to help me pay for my pole teaching qualification. BNU has helped with a little bit of everything like the course modules, our teachers who point you in the right direction, provide us with dance experiences and help with networking too, and the students’ union who have this amazing leadership academy and societies.
Abbie: Nice, so what has been the most positive experience for you at BNU?
Michelle: I think it was the end of year shows and the fact that we’re able to choreograph our own pieces which we then go into the Wycombe Swan to perform (pre-covid) for all of our assessments and shows. So you can invite all your friends and family to come and watch and it’s not like a typical exam because it’s more like a show and you can be backstage with your friends and even though you’re all panicking you can still have a good time together. It’s a great opportunity to work together, work with theatre technicians, showcasing your work and being with your friends in a professional dance environment.
Abbie: Nice! Last question, what is one thing you wish you had known before coming to BNU?
Michelle: I think I wish I had known more about the activities going on at BNU, like the Students’ Union put on so many activities and it’s all free to students… and they actually ask you what you want to do each year too! So if you wanted to go to Harry Potter World, they’d put on a trip for that and then you and your friends can go along, like it’s really personalised. Because I want to become a pole instructor in Japan they actually started putting on Japanese lessons and if you want to continue then they’d just put it on again and I know it’s really expensive outside of university so that’s amazing. At BNU there’s not a lot of limitations to what you can or can’t do, they’ll always help, and the amount of opportunities you have… like BNU just is the place for opportunities.