The Next Step
The story of...
Branislav was born in Slovakia and that is where he trained as a dancer. During his training, he danced with various companies, such as Slovenské Národné Divadlo and Divadlo Nová Scéna. At the age of 18, when he graduated from the Konzervatórium Evy Jaczovej, he joined the Internationaal Danstheater in Amsterdam, where he really enjoyed dancing for 12 years, from 2000 to 2011. His last performance was not with the Internationaal Danstheater, however. The last time he stood on stage was in Carré with the company Quadro Flamenco.
As a 10-year-old boy with no ideas yet about my future, I chose to start dancing – just because I thought it was fun. I never imagined it would lead to signing a contract that meant you had to work really hard from early in the morning till late at night. Sweat, sweat and more sweat. But neither did I imagine that this decision would bring me so much pleasure.
What stage of the retraining process do you think you are at right now?
I’m now in the third year of the Architecture course at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. I have chosen to study Construction.
During my first year, I really had to get used to sitting still at a desk and not being physically active every day. I also felt like I was suddenly 17 again (although I was already 30). Not just because of the age of my classmates, but also in the way I was treated by my teachers.
After a period of gritting my teeth and getting on with it, I eventually found my way and my place within the course. I’m learning something new every day and have discovered that besides my passion for dancing I also have a passion for my future profession. So I can’t wait to actually start in practice during my traineeships this year.
What are you up to at the moment and how did you get to this point?
Right now I’m very busy with the ‘schematic representation’ project. We try to copy reality in the area of architectural constructions, with the aim of being able to determine the necessary dimensions.
In the past 3 years, I’ve learnt a lot at top speed in the fields of mathematics, mechanics and other technical subjects that I had no idea about as a dancer.
Thanks to the knowledge I’ve acquired, combined with my results, I’m now doing things I never dreamt I’d be able to do.
What are the similarities or links between what you do now and dancing?
Just like dancing, the Architecture course is really hard work. Once again, it’s sweat, sweat and more sweat. Maybe I secretly like the pressure. Studying also demands just as much discipline as a dancing career – or maybe even more.
What were the highlights of your dancing career?
The applause every night, the compliments from happy members of the audience, the tours to China, India, Vietnam, France and Germany, the parties in the bus back to Amsterdam after performances, and so many more things. But the nicest thing of my whole career was standing on stage with friends (and not just colleagues). It was a real treat!
Which other qualities you developed as a dancer are useful to you now?
Discipline, perseverance and doing everything on the basis of your passion.
How has the retraining process gone for you?
Actually, I underestimated the retraining process a little. I thought ‘I’ll just do a bit of that’. In practice, things turned out rather differently.
Studying demands a lot of time and discipline. I’ve had to give up the social life I had as a dancer in order to focus 100% on my studies. But of course I know I will soon get a lot in return for it.
You’d better ask me again after I’ve graduated ;).
What was your greatest challenge during this process?
My greatest challenges were finding a new passion, going back to sitting in a lecture hall and leaving my comfort zone to start again.
But now I can truly say that I’ve overcome all these challenges.
What have you learnt from your retraining, and what advice would you like to give dancers who are ready to retrain?
You mustn’t underestimate the process. It demands a lot of your time and puts your patience to the test. After all, you want to be just as good at something as you were at dancing.
But it’s also true that time flies. You learn so many new things. I feel privileged to have been a dancer and to now have the opportunity to retrain as a construction architect
Why do you think it’s important for dancers to receive support during the retraining process?
For dancers to re-enter the labour market, it’s really valuable to have new qualifications. If you’re only qualified as a dancer, there aren’t many jobs you can do.
Thanks to the support of the Omscholingsfonds, I’ve found my new passion and I have more opportunities for the future.