SHSU Support Helps Student Take On The World
Jan. 22, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney
All the world’s a stage for senior Dance major, Adam Rech. Thanks to the help of the Gilman scholarship and supportive staff at Sam Houston State University, Rech was given the opportunity to study abroad for five months in Israel with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Program.
The program offers dance students from across the globe the opportunity to engage in professional and academic dance training while studying with and living among some of the most elite teachers, choreographers, and dancers from one of the world’s leading dance companies. Rech is the first student from SHSU and the first male to represent a Texas university in the competitive program.
“When I first got to SHSU, I heard whispers of a new teaching style of contemporary dance originating out of Israel. I started doing my own research on Israeli dance companies, looked up videos of different repertoire on YouTube, and found Israeli dance classes in the United States,” Rech said. “This led me to learning about a company called Batsheva and the new dance style, Gaga, created by the company’s old artistic director Ohad Naharin. I started to learn everything I could about the style. The more I discovered about a small portion of the Israeli dance community, the more interested I became in other Israeli dance companies.”
For Rech, auditioning and being accepted to the program was the easiest part of the experience, finding funding and earning approval to travel overseas proved to be the most difficult hurdle.
“This would not have been possible without the help of Malin Hilmerson, from the Office of International Programs. She helped me with everything from filling out paperwork, finding scholarships, researching travel clearances, to sending invoices to the state department. There were a lot of different people I had to speak to and get signed approval from to make it all possible,” Rech said. “A great deal of preparing for the study abroad was stating my case and purpose, and waiting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for approval. It was scary knowing that at any point, someone could say no to one of my requests and shut the entire process down.”
Ultimately, Rech was able to study abroad for five months in northern Israel with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Program from August 2018 to January 2019.
“The curriculum can be compared to a nine-to-five job. Most weeks we were dancing Sunday through Thursday, with Fridays and Saturdays off because of Shabbat. A daily schedule primarily consisted of ballet, followed by a repertoire class, an hour break for lunch, and a second repertoire class,” Rech said.
In addition to the daily dance classes, there were nightly rehearsals that varied from week to week. The dancers that attended the program were divided into three groups. Each group had the opportunity to work with a member of the KCDC Company in creating an original work.
“Learning and performing choreography from over five different works by KCDC director Rami Be’er was such a rich experience. Each piece carried such detail, precision, and meaning behind it,” Rech said. “The other great thing about studying abroad in Israel was the ability to see some of my favorite companies perform live. I had the opportunity to see Batsheva perform twice in Tel Aviv. It was an incredible feeling getting to immerse myself in a show, knowing that I was getting the opportunity to learn sections of the piece that I just watched.”
Along with the many opportunities to hone his craft, studying abroad exposed Rech to new concepts and ideas.
“I feel that my time abroad has opened the door to many new possibilities. I don’t think I realized just how much I would be changed by a different culture and a different way of life. Before Israel, many of the places I traveled were Eurocentric,” Rech said. “Israel presented itself to me as something completely its own.”
Now that Rech has returned to the United States, he will finish out his final semester as an SHSU undergraduate. He plans to continue creating and exploring.
“In the future, I hope to be able to work with artists from other mediums such as music, film, photography, graphic arts and to create work that reflects on and challenges today’s society. Studying abroad has allowed me to experience what it is like to be a part of a global community of artists,” Rech said. “I want to be able to help start dialogues and collaborations.”
He credits SHSU for igniting his curiosity in cross-cultural experiences and perspectives.
“Sam gave me the opportunity to explore every avenue. The dance department challenged me in learning how to be a versatile artist and independent thinker. Not only did I learn how to move, I learned how to choreograph, film, and write about dance,” Rech said. “Every piece I performed at Sam Houston State had its own distinct style. It was great getting to explore so many different avenues, and I think that’s part of what helped stem my curiosity in exploring dance in other parts of the world.”
Applications for Summer 2019 and Fall 2019 study abroad are now open for the Gilman Scholarship Program. The deadline for both applications is Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
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