'Studying in Scotland is preparing me for an international dance career'

Devon, from the US, is pursuing an undergraduate degree in modern ballet at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. He shares why he chose to study in the UK, the supportive community he's found with fellow students and how he's preparing for a career as an internationally touring professional dancer.

'Glasgow is a creative city. You can see creativity wherever you go'.

'There is a huge appreciation for the arts in the UK and Europe'

There is a lot of funding for the arts in the UK and Europe. People here have a real love and appreciation for the arts and the fact that there are discounted tickets available makes it more affordable and accessible to a wider section of the population. There are a lot of full-run shows and audiences love going to the theatre here. It's an amazing place to study as there is so much going on.

'I've come so far in the past year because of the support of my community'.

'Celebrating Friendsgiving (Thanksgiving celebrated with friends, rather than family) at home in Glasgow'.

'I'm part of a tight-knit community of dancers'

I got really close with my classmates really quickly and we have become a real community together. Our classes are relatively small, around 25 students per class, and we're in the studio from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. It's so important to have a supportive community and we all help each other out. Even if it is just applauding someone when they do a triple pirouette. I feel like the only reason I have come so far in the past year of training is because of the support of my community. We're with each other all the time, we do everything together. So, having these positive relationships means that we can thrive together.

'My school has a partnership with Scottish Ballet'

The partnership between Scottish Ballet and the BA Modern Ballet course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is very important. It's very well advertised and supported throughout. Most of the third years who are in the graduating class have opportunities to take company classes, and the possibility of going on tour with the company they do their winter performances with. We also have some of their dancers come and teach us throughout our degree, and we can go to them and do classes or receive workshops from guest choreographers.

Getting active insights from working professional dancers and choreographers is helpful. When we work with them we can imagine ourselves in their places and we take all of their advice and guidance to heart and put it into practice.

'Learning a range of styles makes me so much more adaptable as a dancer'.

'Learning different styles of ballet is giving me a competitive edge'

One of the benefits of studying in the UK is that I'm receiving training in lots of different styles of ballet. For example from American to RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) which is the UK-based style. Then there's Cecchetti, Italian, Russian. Learning a range of styles makes me so much more adaptable and reliable as a dancer, which is vital in the context of the changing world of classic and contemporary ballet. My training in different styles definitely gives me a competitive edge. If I'm able to be versatile, I can stand out over other dancers who may have just studied one. If I'm able to show that I can pick things up quickly, that will help me be the dancer whos chosen.

'I have had the chance to work with dance professionals outside of my course'.

'I am working with Scottish Ballet as part of their youth exchange programme'

Scottish Ballet’s Youth Exchange is a one-year dance programme for young dancers aged 14-24. It is designed to prepare you for a career in the dance industry. I auditioned for it and was accepted for it, which has been an amazing platform for me. It has been an opportunity for me to work with people, both students and choreographers, who sit outside the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. There are chances to develop technical and creative skills, and we get the chance to travel and work with other young dancers from all over the world and experience new cultures, for example, on national and international trips, including to New York.

I would like to join Scottish Ballet because seeing their work and how the company thrives, it's a dream come true.

'Being in the UK has exposed me to a world-renowned creative arts scene'.

'As a dancer, building and growing connections is essential'

Doing my course, I'm making global connections in the classroom and beyond. The dance world is actually really small. There are some people I'm studying with now, and in the future, we'll end up working in the same company. Just having connections around the world is essential. If you know a dancer in the company you're applying for, you'll most likely have a better shot at being accepted. Additionally, going to things like summer intensives and interacting with guest choreographers during my courses and the Scottish Ballet Youth Exchange programme gives me a chance to make a lasting impression. Being remembered down the line could have an impact on my career.

'Glasgow has a very warm and welcoming community and people are really friendly'.

'Glaswegians are some of the nicest people I've ever met'

Glasgow is a fairly contained city. There are signs all over the place that say 'People make Glasgow' and I really think it's true. It's a very warm community and Glaswegians (people from Glasgow) are some of the nicest people I've ever met. People here are really friendly, including strangers on the street. You'll talk to them and they'll be nice to you. It's inspiring, and you hear stories about other people and their creative processes. One night, I went for dinner and met some people. It turned out they were going across the street to watch the ballet. We had a full conversation about how I could join the company. They were cheering me on. It was one of the sweetest moments I've had.

'We learn to perform; to project to the audience and captivate them'.

'In five years time, I'd like to be in a professional dance company touring the world'

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is helping me prepare for the career I want. I would like to be in a professional dance company touring the world, just doing what I love. The school focuses on techniques and artistry.

In first year, we focus on what will define us dancers - that being technique - and making sure what we're doing is refined and clean as that is what companies are looking for. In second year, we focus on artistry. Of course we want the technique. But we also need to be able to perform because people aren't necessarily just going to be looking at our technique. We want to be able to project to the audience and captivate them. And that can be done simply with your expression on your face. The third year is about getting out into the real world and getting experience while maintaining the technique but figuring out what makes us special.

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