Meet our students: Dorėja

Wie? Dorėja Atkočiūnas (20)
From? Los Angeles, USA
Studies? Dance Performer
Year? Second
What? Is one of 60 dance students at Codarts who are in the project BIG IDEA #01, to be presented on 17 & 18 October at Onderzeebootloods in Rotterdam

Los Angeles?
“Yes. My mother wanted to go to university there, so my parents moved from Lithuania to the US at the time. My two older sisters and me were born there. When I was eight, we moved to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Since August 2018 I’ve been living in Rotterdam.”

Have you been dancing long?
“Since I was three years old. I would go to dance classes once a week. At home, my father taught me to play the violin and piano. My parents introduced me and my sisters to all kinds of art.
There has been quite a long period when I didn’t dance. In Lithuania I attended a music school for a while, but I didn’t like it there. My mother then let me do an audition for the dance school – the only one in Lithuania with a professional dance training. I was 11 or 12. Initially, I did ballet – Vaganova. After two years I began to have doubts: was this what I really wanted? So I went to regular high school. But I missed dancing. The school where I had taken ballet classes also had a modern dance department. I decided to audition there and was accepted. It turned out to be a good choice! By now I was 15 and had come to realise that I wanted to be a dancer.
After four years, I auditioned at Codarts. I knew about the school through friends who studied here and were very enthusiastically about it. I did my audition in Barcelona, because it was cheaper to fly there, ha ha. I went there with my mother and I had the time of my life. Amazing! The audition went very well. My feeling was: I have to do this, this is where I belong. Of all the girls, just me and a girl from Taiwan were selected. But then, after all the auditions in the other cities were completed, I was given to understand that I was on the waiting list.
That was a disappointment because I wanted to study dance at Codarts so badly, no matter what. I asked my dance teachers in Lithuania to send Codarts a letter of recommendation. I also danced an improvisation in a museum, which was recorded by one of my sisters and we sent the video to Codarts. And I wrote letters myself: please accept me! In the meantime, I auditioned at Fontys in Tilburg and was accepted there.
Then one day in summer I got a message from Rotterdam: there is an opening! I screamed, ran about, I was so happy.”

And now you’re working for six weeks with Lucinda Childs, the ‘Queen of minimal dance’, on a new choreography for the composition ‘Drift Multiply’ by composer Tristan Perich…
“Yes, isn’t it great? I feel like I am writing history, that I’m part of something I will be telling my children about later. We are working with great concentration. You have to listen to the music very carefully, and count, to stay in the rhythm.
Codarts is fantastic, anyway. Good teachers, nice classes. In the first year we performed in Amsterdam and Cannes, in the second year we will be performing in Saint Petersburg. We work with guest choreographers. And now with Lucinda Childs. What an opportunity!”

What is your favourite spot in Rotterdam?
“I live in the Prinsenland neighbourhood. I share a house with two non-Codarts students, one from Croatia and one from Brazil. I’m super happy with my living space and the environment – woodland, a lake, a parc; I’m very fond of nature. At the end of a school day I really feel like going home. It feels like home there. Yes, that is my favourite spot in Rotterdam. It’s just a bit far from school; over half an hour of my bicycle.”

Codarts to me is…
“…a lot, really a lot. My family. My life now mainly takes place in this building. The people here at school are very important to me. Me and my fellow students are developing together, experiencing tremendous growth. Also, the teachers are extremely helpful. I can only be grateful that all these people are now part of my life. And you just feel, you know, that they are there for you. That is priceless. Fantastic.”