First State Dance Academy student and instructor Angela Zielen recently returned from a study abroad opportunity in Italy where she was taught under the direction of professional dancer Angela Demello.
Learning from instructors and other dancers from around the world, Zielen had an experience that helped shape her future endeavors in the world of dance.
Originally from Viola, Zielen began studying dance at the age of 9. She studied at First State Academy of Dance in Milford and has danced lead roles in performances held by the Delaware Dance Alliance and the Diamond Dance Company.
In 2011, she was cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker Ballet, a local production put on at the Milford Senior High School each year. In 2012, she received the Artistry Award at the Delaware Dance Festival, and in 2013, she was invited to perform in the Youth American Grand Prix.
Going into her junior year at the University of Delaware as a cognitive science student, Zielen recently signed a contract to become an apprentice at First State Ballet Theatre in Wilmington. Having a desire to study abroad in college, she took the opportunity to apply for courses in Italy where she focused on dance and the Italian language.
While staying in Urbania, Italy, Zielen studied dance from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., with an additional two hours devoted to learning Italian. She danced with students from around the world, including Sweden, Russia and Canada.
Zielen said she saw several different styles from individual dancers, and the focus on technique was important to each student. “It was eye-opening for me. You do not realize where you are as a dancer until you step outside of your comfort zone,” said Zielen. “I learned how important technique is, but also how important it is to stay true to your individual artistry.”
Zielen had the opportunity to see Vatican City, the Spanish Steps and the Coliseum. Learning to live among a different culture, she found the town of Urbania to be somewhat surreal. “The town was absolutely beautiful, as if it was from a movie; almost everything was in walking distance, people sitting in cafes all night and festivals in the town center,” said Zielen. “It was a lovely town where everyone seemed to know everyone except us foreigners. Although there were fewer options to eat, unlike America, each place was different and delicious.”
Back home in Delaware, she is excited to use the study abroad experience as she begins as an apprentice at First State Ballet Theatre in Wilmington, and Aug. 15, Zielen will have the opportunity with this company to fulfill her lifetime goal of becoming a professional dancer.
“I have watched the First State Ballet dancers many times over the years and admired their talent,’ said Zielen. “It is a dream come true to dance alongside them.”