Peridance Capezio Center is an integral part of New York City’s dance community. Igal Perry established the school with just two students over 30 years ago, and has been at the helm ever since. His passion and drive has transformed that small school into an internationally recognised studio with world-class teachers and a wealth of opportunity for students. One of the most exciting aspects of the school is the F-1 Visa Program Peridance offers, giving students from all over the world the chance to live and breathe dance in New York.
The International Dance School/Peridance Center is authorized under federal law and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to enrol non-immigrant students with the F-1 Visa. It is rare for foreign students to have the opportunity to train in an American city like New York for an extended period of time, but the Peridance F-1 Visa Program covers a range of courses up to two years. International students have their pick of the Independent Study Program, PLUNGE Seminar, Intensive Semester and Limón Intensive Program, which are all between three to nine months. Those who want to train for longer can choose from the 12-month Dance Studies Program or the two-year Certificate Program.
“The Certificate Program is almost like University,” explains Perry. “The students study intensively so that when they come out, they are really prepared to go out into the professional world. The program has two tracks; one is commercial and the other one is ballet and contemporary. Students leave the program and are able to dance in any good contemporary company or even ballet companies, and the commercial students are prepared to go out and do commercial work.”
Perhaps most exciting for an international student is the chance to truly experience what New York has to offer. “In New York, the students are exposed to interaction with dancers of all kinds and all ages,” says Perry. “All of a sudden there will be someone from New York City Ballet (NYCB) or American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in class, interacting with the students. I think it teaches dancers things that educators don’t necessarily bring into the class as a method. They are taught by the mere fact that those professional dancers are in class. And also just being in New York and being exposed to Broadway and the culture and everything else that’s happening. You can just decide this morning that you’re going to see ABT or NYCB, and it’s right there.”
The diversity of the programs on offer is also appealing. Peridance alumni Bridie Clark started in 2015, in the Open International Program and went on to join the first ever PLUNGE Seminar Program in 2017, which is a flexible, interdisciplinary program for domestic and international students.
“A typical day in the PLUNGE program normally starts at 8am with one of four mandatory two-hour PLUNGE classes we have to take weekly, then at 10am an advanced ballet class, then lunch, at 12pm stretch for an hour and either a contemporary or coaching class at 1pm, depending how my body feels during the day,” Clark explains. “I loved having the freedom to choose what classes out of the open schedule to take, as well as creating friendships and connections with other dancers from around the world.”
Those friendships and connections arguably form the most important part of studying abroad. “The exchange of international students is really, really important in culture today,” Perry says. “The students who go around the world from country to country make cultural connections more than diplomats do. We also encourage the domestic students who study here to go and take workshops abroad and make these connections. I think it’s so important.”
Certificate Program alumni Adriana Recchia found the friendships she made at Peridance one of her favourite parts of the course. “I loved the the learning process as a dancer and the growth that came with it as a human being, but also the feeling of belonging to something,” she shares. “We created this amazing dance family that was hard to leave after the program. To this day, some of my most valuable friends are the dancers that I was in the program with.”
It is this atmosphere of inclusion that makes Perry and his studio such an institution in the dance industry. The diverse melting pot of students and teachers at Peridance has enabled Perry to create what he describes as a truly “eclectic” program of performance styles. “Rather than going for just ballet training or a particular style in modern, we do a lot of everything,” he says. “But we do it in a balanced way, so it’s very supportive. Students get very good training in ballet, modern, contemporary and commercial styles. Our teachers have a lot of experience, having danced in major companies and taught for many years. They are of a very high calibre and high level. I am really proud of the school.”
Peridance alumni work all over the world, in established companies like Complexions Contemporary Ballet, on Broadway and in the commercial industry. Peridance students may also feed into the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, which runs separately to the school but operates within the same space. “It’s a small company of 10 to 12 dancers,” Perry describes, “but we do a lot of work, and we regularly tour. We have two choreographers every year who do new works, plus a work that I do myself, and almost every year students from the certificate program join the company. There is an immediate connection right there.”
Commercial Certificate Program graduate Joséphine Remy grew up in Switzerland, and joined Peridance in 2014, to expand her horizons. “I loved the diversity,” she says. “I learned so much in so many different styles of dance. I used to only dance hip hop, so to be ‘forced’ to get out of my comfort zone was amazing.” Remy is now a hugely successful commercial dancer in LA, working with current artists and on television and stage.
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Peridance is so popular with international students. The chance to challenge yourself in a city as immersed in the arts as New York is not one to pass up. Graduates are often eligible for further visa grants.
César Brodermann, a choreographer and dancer who hails from Mexico City, believes that Peridance can open doors. “The Certificate Program gets you ready for a professional career as a dancer. As an international student, it is then easier to work, because once you do a two-year program, you get your OPT (Optional Practical Training) to be able to work for one full year, and it becomes easier to get your artist visa after that.”
Those who wish to be a part of Peridance’s vibrant dance community can audition one of two ways: in person or via video link. There are extensive audition tours across the United States for domestic students, but with the continued success of the F-1 Visa Program, Perry and his team regularly travel to Europe and other areas of the world to hold auditions. And if you can’t make it to an audition city, video submissions are the perfect alternative.
If you’re interested in auditioning for the Peridance F-1 International Student Visa Program, you can find out more information here.
By Emily Newton-Smith of Dance Informa.