Edith Cowan University, one of only two Australian universities that offer a dance program comparable to the University of Illinois’ program, serves as a rich hub of artistic talent and creative resources. Symone’s program was full of exhilarating opportunities to grow as a performing artist, the most memorable of which was getting to participate in the choreography process for a piece called “Liminal” with visiting artist Lauren Langlois from Melbourne.
In the College of FAA at Illinois, dance students must complete a senior thesis that consists of a written essay and either a symposium presentation or a concert dance. Symone began her choreographic process during her time abroad.
“I spent my semester abroad in Perth, which is on the southwest coast of Australia. I grew up in Los Angeles on the southwest coast of the United States and spent a lot of time as a child around water. Being in that environment was quite inspirational to me. I had vague ideas about wanting to create a piece revolving around bodies of water and theirr parallels to the human body, but my concrerte ideas formed and came to life during my time in Perth. I directed a video that serves as the first of three parts that make up my senior thesis in collaboration with composers and videographers who also attended the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts. We visited several national parks around Western Australia to film the video, so that was a great way to explore areas outside of Perth. I grew more confident in myself as an artist when creating this piece. It embodies a part of who I’ve always been, and a part of myself that I grew into throughout this experience.”
IAGE Provider: DIS Copenhagen
I chose Copenhagen because I have always been interested in Danish design and architecture, and the city and course were recommended to me by multiple people. I was also excited to spend the summer there because of the long sunny days that come from being that far north.
I was enrolled in the interior architecture course, and it was an amazing experience. Being in a city known for its interior structures and design and being able to experience things we were learning about firsthand was life changing. I got to walk through buildings and see designs that I have been studying and admiring for years. My instructors were also well known in the design world, so working under people who are well respected and incredibly knowledgeable brought a newfound motivation to my life.
Being in Copenhagen in the summer meant that we were constantly outside. We swam in the ocean everyday between studios and could ride around. While Copenhagen is large, it feels small when you can bike place to place so easily. There are always public and free concerts and events, and people are constantly eating in parks and spending time together around the city.
IAGE Exchange: University of Sheffield
One of my biggest goals and motivations prior to going abroad was to introduce diversity within landscape architecture. This was important to me because not only are the demographics for African Americans very low within my field in general, even more on this campus, but at the University of Sheffield as well. Being the only African American within my program didn’t intimidate me, thus I felt much more empowered because I knew I was making a difference somehow. I feel differently now in the sense that I left Sheffield knowing that I may have impacted or encouraged another student of color to join the program and not to be scared to put themselves out there. I would say the same goes for anyone who is fearful about going to another country. Don’t let certain things scare you. It may come as a surprise that you were scared for nothing. You will have fun and it will change your life.