My name is Rebecca Bowden. I am 17 and from the UK. I am currently training in the 2nd year at the Akademie Des Tanzes (Academy of Dance) under the leadership of Birgit Keil in Mannheim, Germany. The application process for this school may seem daunting as everything on the application is in German, however it is fairly straight forward really, the only complicated thing is having to have all your school certificates professionally translated into German . The school holds two auditions a year, the first in April and the second in September. There is also the option to send a DVD and attend a private audition which is what I did. I think it was good to attend a private audition as I could get a feel for the training in the class and if it would suit me. Classes are taught in the Vaganova style which have been adapted to modern stage practice. There are around 60 students in the school so the small classes lead to a lot of individual attention.
I normally wake up around 6:30 on weekdays. Our ballet class starts at 9am so I like to wake up early and get to the studio around 8 to warm up. Ballet class is always 2hrs. The classes are very tough and are very detailed so I really feel that I am learning a lot and improving everyday. The dance schedule is different each day however we normally have a break after ballet class followed by Pas de Deux. At the moment we are focusing a lot on the partnering technique which is very important for both the males and females. We have a very good teacher who explains a lot so we can learn to work with one another and fix issues in the movements or the way the boy is lifting us etc. After that, we’d usually have pointe work and then either a modern class where we focus on the Graham technique or character class. We have Pilates three times a week which I find really beneficial for strength and mobilising the spine. If I have energy I also go to the gym to keep my fitness levels up. On Saturdays we have improvisation class which involves being given a theme and we then improvise to the music in small groups and give each other feed back which I believe is an important part of the learning process.
At the Academy we are doing a Bachelor of arts programme so we also have lessons such as dance history, music theory and theatre history which are taught to everybody in English. Foreign students are required to attend German classes which are one and a half hours on Friday and another three hours on Saturday. It can be long and tedious however I think that it is good to have a decent knowledge of German. As well as having to pass the dance exams it is also necessary to pass the German exams at the end of the year which provides me with further motivation to learn the language.
There are 5 levels at the Academy: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. Levels 1-4 are doing the BA and the 5th year is optional to gain your Masters degree.In the 4th and 5th years we have the opportunity to dance with the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe which is a great way to get a feel for company life.
Unfortunately, there is no accommodation provided, however Mannheim has many student accommodation blocks where the majority of students live and the Academy provide a helpful list of options. Most of the students come from all over the world such as Brazil, Australia, Japan and Korea. We have to cook our own meals which I really enjoy doing as I am very interested in health and nutrition. I think it is very important for dancers to nourish their bodies with food that will give sufficient energy and also maintain a healthy weight. I like to eat foods such as grilled chicken, lots of vegetables, some fruit and I also like to bake cookies and cakes however using healthy alternatives such as ground almonds instead of flour, and coconut oil instead of butter and coconut sugar instead of normal refined sugar and they still taste very delicious, there are many food blogs online which specialise in these kind of healthier options.
I am very happy i have been given the opportunity to train at the Academy and it is everything I have hoped for. I hope I have provided some useful information about the school for anyone thinking of applying.
Here is a link the the website which is also in English:
There are many videos of performances on the website and also of students on youtube.