I decided to go to Barcelona around Christmas time . I was starting to look at options for universities. I knew that I wanted to do Dance - I’ve known that for a long time! But where I’ve gained so much experience in the UK already, I thought to myself, I want to try a new experience somewhere and gain dance skills in a new place.
I had a lot of contacts who had just gone off to university [last September] who I kept in touch with. I was asking them about their experiences and how they felt about it. One of my friends who went to Barcelona was telling me about it all and it just seemed so much different, I felt it would really suit me.
If Covid-19 hadn’t happened I’d probably be in a different place. I would have stayed in the UK and perhaps studied a more academic subject at university like French and done a bit of freelance dance work first. I’ve tried to take the virus pandemic in my stride. I’ve worked through it so have had two minds about it: every day is still happening [for me] but I know the virus is still about so it’s been really weird. I try to be as knowledgeable as I can about it but try not to let it affect me and keep going.
My mum wanted to cut up my passport! [laughs]. That was the first conversation we had! I remember that quite vividly. I told her ‘I’m thinking about studying in Barcelona, and she was like, what? Wow! But I think my parents are happy now. They know that I know what I want to do! That’s the most important thing. We sat down and spoke about it together, looked through all the information, so they were happy after getting to grips with it. Plus hey can come over for a holiday in Spain!
I found the application process for Barcelona a lot simpler than here. It was just one paper form for the audition and then my actual practical audition was in London. I went to Rambert Studios and auditioned for them in December. The teachers flew over and we had workshops with them and a one-to-one interview. It was quite a different way to go about it and nice to be in the studios. I definitely prefer the more practical side of things. They like to take a range of students from across the world. I’ve spoken to a few students already and they’re from the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and America. Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of Spanish people that go there.
I’m hoping that after my degree I can audition for dance companies, and be a professional dancer.. I’m undecided whether that will be back in the UK or not. I definitely want to use my A-Level French and I would like to spend some time in France, especially with its ballet origins. It’s definitely a place to look into after Spain.
I think the college was really good at reacting to lockdown quickly. I feel we were one of the first colleges to be up online and running. For some of my friends at other colleges, they were quite slow at that and things came to a halt really quickly for them, whereas we were still sending work through and communicating with teachers. I think it was a really important thing that the college did. I was thankful to have supportive teachers who were online all the time. We had our online lessons and I was always able to chat to them on email. Work was being transferred back and forth, and if you had any queries you could talk to them openly, so that was really nice.
For Dance, I spent a lot of hours of training in the week and they all went online. That was really difficult, as I had all these Zoom IDs and passwords. I would spend all day Saturday online from 10 till 3, doing four of five different classes, but it showed the people who really wanted to do it and that was key. If you wanted something out of your course, you could still attain that. I’ve still got videos of me dancing around in my dining room, hitting tables and plates flying everywhere! [laughs]. Even with the theory at college, they embedded it so well into us and said that even though we can’t assess your practicality at the moment your theory is still so important and we can use this time to really work on that.
We did a mini graduation online for some of our Dance training. I was training at Trinity Laban [Conservatoire of Music and Dance] for four years, which was every Saturday on the Cat [Centre for Advanced Training] scheme.and we graduated on Zoom and that was a very different experience. It was so lovely as we had so many guest stars come on and chat to us - really famous choreographers and dance artists. That made the experience really different.
I’m so thankful that, for me, lockdown has been a blessing in disguise and I’ve kept my positivity through that. I was in a really difficult position just before lockdown happened. I was really struggling to keep up with things at college and there were so many things going on, so many family problems, and because I was going to university in Barcelona I fixated on that, and I was having to constantly work so much, I was working myself down to the bone.
My parents split up in lockdown and that took a real toll on me, but I was able to turn that energy into something brand new and positive. University has actually given me a grant toward my studies, so that’s been really helpful. Because of Covid, I’ve been able to work full time and save the money for my first full year. I feel really proud of myself for that and I feel like I’ve achieved something, even though everything stopped. I’ve kept on going and that’s been really important for me.
Results day was really funny. I remember going to sleep the night before results day and my heart was in my throat. I kept thinking, I don’t know how tomorrow’s going to pan out, I don’t know how the day is going to be.We had no plans to meet friends and share results and celebrate, but it happened the best way it could. It was a busy morning. My phone was buzzing off the hook, with different group chats, talking about results and what was going on. We were all waiting eagerly at our computers for the results email to show up.
It’s been such a difficult past six months but despite that we can still all come together on one day and be proud of ourselves for what we’ve worked for.
I know it’s difficult as we haven’t actually sat the exams and it’s difficult to put a place of blame if we’re unhappy. If you take the exam you can come out and say to yourself, I’m really unhappy, I didn’t like that, that was the wrong question for me, I wrote the wrong essay; and you can be mad at yourself. But right now [on 13th August, prior to the U-turn on grading], you’re putting the blame on this imaginary person, some computer that’s got some algorithm to generate results. But we’ve got to be thankful that we’re safe and healthy so far. We’ve got the results. People can go off to uni, and in some cases people weren’t happy with their uni choice even before Covid, and have said, do you know what, I’m going to take that gap year. I need that time to regenerate.I’m really, really happy with my results. I think the majority of people feel that, even though it’s been really difficult, we can go about things in a positive way. I think that’s the most important part.
You have to try and turn this really awkward energy of this virus into something brand new and positive and I think that is the goal for everyone.
It’s been really different this year but it’s made it more memorable! I think we’re going to be thankful for that. We’re going to be the year that no-one forgets. It will be nice to look back on in ten years time and we can say, do you know what, at the end of the day, we made it through college.