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Dancing at the Academy

by Lihong Chan on November 5, 2018
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Dancing at the Academy

Lihong Chan

Lihong is currently in her third year at the University of California, Santa Barbara, working toward her BFA in Dance. She is spending one semester in Israel, participating in the DanceJerusalem program through RIS, which involves classes at both RIS and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.
Dancing at the Academy

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Dancing at the AcademyThis semester, in addition to taking academic classes at the Rothberg International School, I also dance at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (JAMD), similar to at my home university. I enjoy that balance of time in the classroom and in the studio. Every day of the week I have a twenty-minute commute to Givat Ram, the other Hebrew University campus for dance. The dance classes that I chose are quite varied. There are the standard ballet and modern technique classes, and I take contact improvisation, release technique, Gaga movement classes, Batsheva repertory, and repertory with an emerging Israeli choreographer. The latter of these classes not only interested me, but I don’t get the chance to take them back at home.

Dancing in a different country, especially one like Israel, is a unique and rewarding experience. I am exposed to different teachers and choreographers, which is challenging and engaging in a new way. Israeli modern dance is currently thriving and evolving; this program gives me the opportunity to study and live in a place where the arts are developing. I have the chance to see well-known modern dance companies perform, like Batsheva Dance Company, Vertigo, and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

One difficult aspect is that in classes with a small percentage of international students, the class and discussions are in Hebrew. Although the teacher mostly translates, there are moments that I miss due to the language barrier. However, I am continuing with my Hebrew studies at RIS, so I am learning more and more. In dance class, it is interesting to see what Hebrew I can pick up and if I can infer what the teacher is saying from my knowledge of dance, or from looking at their facial expressions and body language. The language barrier has made it not just physically challenging, but also mentally; however, since movement is such a universal language, I haven’t had too much difficulty figuring out what I am supposed to be doing in class. If I ever feel lost, most of the Israeli students are always inviting and quick to give a helping hand in translating Hebrew into English.

Dancing at the Academy

I am curious to see how these classes progress. I’m already feeling challenged by the classes, and the teachers are engaging. It is always exciting to be in a new environment dancing with the Israeli students and learning from different teachers. As the semester goes on, I think the classes will only get harder and more challenging.

It has been invigorating, and I am up for the challenge of what this semester has to offer!

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