A week in the life of a GSA performance student
First year BA (Hons) Dance student Archie Bennett tells us a bit about what it’s like to study at Surrey – from his typical timetable, to charity shopping around Guildford.
A typical week
"I start the week at 9:00am taking a movement analysis class for 1 hour 45 minutes – this consists of experiential anatomy, injury prevention, nutrition and complementary therapies such as yoga and Pilates. After this, I have 15 minutes to get to the next studio ready for 1 hour 45 minutes of Cunningham Technique class at 11:00am. The aim of this class is to grow increasingly articulate with greater sensitivity to the dynamic and rhythmic phrasing of the movement, as well as putting an emphasis on musicality and moving expansively. Normally, after this I like to go to the library with a few other members of my course to plan the upcoming group projects for that week such as rehearsals and any research that we need to do. I go back to GSA in the evening to take some of the additional classes that the School runs – this includes more mainstream styles such as jazz, tap and street. From 7:20pm until 8:20pm I take jazz and then I have tap until 9:40pm.
On Tuesdays, I like to spend my morning in the studio working on individual corrections and take time to improve these at my own pace. From 11:00am until 12:45pm, I have Bharatanatyam class, which is a classical dance style of South India that combines artistic expression with a sense of spirituality, and is taught by Stella Subbiah – a classical Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher. On Tuesday afternoons, I typically walk into Guildford for a spot of charity shopping or a wander around Guildford castle with some of my friends. Tuesday is ‘flat night’ so I head back to my accommodation and we all make dinner together, which is a lovely way to check in with my flatmates and see how they’re finding everything! At 7:00pm, I have a rehearsal for Surrey’s hip-hop competition team, which I auditioned to be in at the beginning of the first semester.
From 9:00am to 10:45am on Wednesdays, I have another Cunningham Technique class. We then have ballet with the musical theatre students from 11:00am to 12:45pm. Following this class, I usually complete jobs such as laundry, food shopping and cleaning my room. At 4:00pm, I head to a three-hour rehearsal for Actual Size Dance Company, which is the University’s student-led dance company. It acts as a professional development tool, enabling me to use and practise the skills learnt on my course.
At 9:00am, I have choreography class with Shantel Ehrenberg, the course convener, which aims to help us explore the body as a resource and as a site for expressing concepts and ideas. After this, there is an hour break so we normally all go to Simply Fresh, the on-campus shop, to buy lunch and socialise as a course group. At 12:00pm, we have tutorial with our year tutor where we can bring up any feedback or issues we may be having. As the course representative for my year group, I also take notes on any feedback to report back to the Joint Staff Liaison Committee meeting that I attend. From 1:00pm until 2:45pm, I have Bharatanatyam class and in the evening I have a two-hour rehearsal for the jazz competition team.
Friday starts at 11:00am with a 1 hour 45 minute seminar for our ‘Body in dance’ module, which focuses on the idea that the dancing body can be interpreted and explored through different methods of analysis deployed through several conceptual lenses. At 2:00pm, we have our final lecture before the weekend which is a Cunningham Technique class. In the evening, I tend to start the readings that have been set by my lecturer so that they are completed before the new week starts.
My weekends typically consist of dance competitions, trips into London and sleeping!"
“The main reason I chose the University of Surrey as my firm choice was because the BA (Hons) Dance course is run by Guildford School of Acting (GSA), while still having a strong relationship with the University. GSA’s studios and theatres are of a professional industry standard as well as the lecturers and tutors having had impressive careers within the industry. The variety of styles that the course offers will also increase my employability after graduation as I can be an all-round dancer trained in both mainstream and international styles.
Growing up in the Cotswolds, I have always been surrounded by the countryside, so when I visited the Surrey campus I valued the amount of green space, especially the beautiful scenery around the lake. The University's location also provides an easy connection into London for professional opportunities as well as travel, while still benefiting from the peaceful and homely feel of Guildford.”