Posted: 18 September 2014
Prior to starting the University of Roehampton in September 2013, Ryan studied Spanish Education at New York University with the aim of becoming a Spanish teacher. Shortly after completing his undergraduate degree he left the USA for Seville and furthered his flamenco dance training through a Fulbright research grant. More recently, although he loves to dance, Ryan decided to return to university and undertake a Master's qualification, one that would fuse his interests in dance, gender identity and sexuality.
Ryan chose Roehampton because: "I had always thought of London as quite a stuffy place - my life is about passion and expressing emotion, but I was recommended Roehampton by a friend, so I decided to look at the Master's courses in the Department of Dance. From the moment I arrived in London, the city has done nothing but embrace me with open arms, and this is the same for Roehampton and the department of dance. Studying this course has completely transformed my vision of London".
Describing his course, Ryan said: "I have been amazed at how much the Dance Anthropology course fitted into place with what I wanted to study. I have been given a huge amount of freedom to follow what I am passionate about, which has been a hugely freeing experience".
"My passion is flamenco, so most of my essays have incorporated that in some way as I wanted to spend the year solidifying and honing my knowledge. All of the staff have been supportive and have incredible knowledge of their subjects. The support staff have been exceptional too; one of the most beneficial learning experiences was sitting down with the department's academic learning adviser to talk through an essay I was struggling with. This essay is now being published in an anthology - wherever it goes there will always be a huge thank you to Claire Griffin for all her help."
Ryan has taken full advantage of all the opportunities the department offers; in addition to his studies, and a part time job in H&M, he acted as the course rep, choreographed dance work for Footprints dance festival, presented a research paper at the Performance Philosophy: The Young conference, in Groningen, and is about to launch the first ever postgraduate research journal in dance, Mōtiō.
Noticing a gap of postgraduate writing, he aims to showcase the amount of great writing and ideas that currently exists at postgraduate level. Ryan's venture has won the full backing of the department, which has funded the first year of the journal. Ryan says: "People say to me, 'oh you are so involved', but I just walked through the doors that were opened for me, and the department has plenty of them. I would encourage all students to do the same."
Describing the Roehampton community Ryan added: "Technically dance is a department at Roehampton, but above all it is a community. From the professors to the first years, Roehampton embodies community and I think that is what has kept me here, through the adjustment period and the difficult times. I don't just think it's what keeps people here, it's what brings them back."
Ryan has recently completed his Master's thesis after spending the summer leading a group of teenagers around Spain learning pottery, crafts and of course, teaching them flamenco. He just began a Spanish teaching position in Brooklyn, where he is encouraged to incorporate his love of flamenco into his course curriculum.
Ryan's final thought: "I'm not ready to cut the ties with Roehampton, there's a sense my story isn't done here".
Ryan will remain in contact with the University and continue to be an ambassador for the University while in New York. He will continue to act as editor for Mōtiō and work with staff and current MA students reviewing dance research papers.
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