Eline Karstens

Dance in Education - class 2011

Since graduating from the Dance Teacher study programme at de Theaterschool (now the Academy of Theatre and Dance), Eline Karstens (1989) has gained a lot work experience. In 2014, we interviewed her about how she found so much work. How are things going now?

Follow-up 2021

In 2014, you were working as a dance teacher for seven clients. What are you working on now?
“A lot has happened since the last interview. I was a self-employed professional for many years. Last year, I went on a trip to Australia with my friend. We had just got back when the coronavirus broke out. I was pregnant and my assignments were cancelled due to the outbreak. I wasn’t very worried, because I believed that things would come my way again. Then a vacancy became available at the school where I had already worked in 2014. I applied when I was heavily pregnant and got the job. I now give dancing lessons to all groups at that primary school, De Werkplaats Kindergemeenschap (The Childrens' Community Workshop) in Bilthoven two days a week. In addition, I also teach hormone yoga and meditation as a self-employed professional. And I still work on a freelance basis in the education team of the dance company De Dansers.”

“Everything has changed completely: I’ve gone from having a wide range of jobs as a self-employed professional to being a mother in salaried employment. I was nervous about the idea of a regular job at first, because I was used to freedom. However, due to the birth of my son Ben, I also like the security of having a job.”

How has your work changed since 2014?
“I have learned to say ‘yes’ to things which make me happy and that also means that I say ‘no’ to things that no longer really suit me. For the rest, I’ve delved deeper. I taught girls in an asylum seekers' centre in Katwijk aan Zee for some time. Those children could dance fantastically. They were traumatised and because of that had an even greater need for security and a teacher that was there every week. It was a challenge to get those girls involved in their own process, so that they could forget the world around them for a while. Unfortunately, it’s too far to travel now, but I thought that was beautiful and profound work. That really makes my heart beat faster.”

“I also notice that at the primary school. A few years ago, teaching children for years on end would have seemed boring to me, but I now realise that in doing so I build a bond of bond trust with them. I enjoy seeing their growth. It is a different way of working, because in the past I did many projects that lasted 8 to 10 weeks, which is a nice feeling: all hands on deck, then on to the next job. However, this is also very fulfilling and it suits my current situation.”

On LinkedIn, you call yourself a ‘dance teacher / theatre maker / dancer / arts educator / supervisor for creative processes / yoga & meditation teacher’. Have you deliberately opted for a broad profile?
“Yes, I don’t only feel like a dance teacher. Dance is such a big part of my life; I live and breathe it. But it’s about the processes with the groups with which I work. And about how I can drag you out of your comfort zone and can challenge you in a safe way. That also involves theatre, writing or visual arts sometimes. I have learned a lot from collaborations with colleagues and artists, so I can also use those tools in my lessons. I use everything I come across. To me, it’s about enabling people to feel comfortable in their own skin and to become aware of their body.”

Do you see social changes that are having an impact on your field?
“I am occupied a lot with the theme of cultural diversity. Now that I am a mother, I look more closely at how we connect with people from a different background. For example, I have now made an Arabic dance piece for the primary school. I think it’s important that we talk about it: what does that dance piece mean? I like to raise awareness of different perspectives among the children. Dance can be very meaningful in that regard. It is universal. If you can’t talk with each other through language, you can create a deep connection through dance. It would be a welcome thing for the world we live in if we could experience that more: feeling connection on a different level.”

What are you most proud of?
“Of my courage and guts to say ‘yes’ to things that make me happy, even if I find it nerve-racking, such as my work at the asylum seekers' centre. Clients or people in my lessons sometimes say to me ‘You really do that well’ or ‘You’re such a natural’. I realise then that I’m doing what I’m good at and what suits me, as a result of which I can also nurture something in other people.”

You know very well what type of work suits you: how did you find out about that?
“I discovered early on that I’m a teacher. I tried many different things and in doing so felt: what effect does this have on me? That could also be: this is not for me or this doesn’t work. I let my heart and my body speak more than my mind. I believe that our body contains a great deal of wisdom.”

“All that experience has taken me to many places. For example, I have taught in broom cupboards. As a result of that, I now know what quality teaching is. That ability to improvise and adapt has been a major strength on my journey in recent years. I have, however, become more vocal. In the past, I did everything the client said. But now I am good at giving feedback if something is not working. In the last interview, I said: ‘take plenty of time, allow yourself to make mistakes and persevere.’ That is still one of my wisest statements. Daring to fail is so important. It makes us more human.”

Do you have a vision of your career in the future?
“I notice now that hormone yoga makes me happy. Doing more with that is one of my dreams for the future. It focuses on female energy and empowering women. Dance is part of that.”

“I dance with women a lot, currently via Zoom. My frustration with the coronavirus was that everything I stand for – touching, moving, coming together – was no longer allowed. I cursed and yelled because my love language was forbidden. It also has positive sides. What I like about Zoom lessons is that you dare to be more vulnerable in your own house. However, feeling the energy from each other; that is why I started doing this work. I long for that sense of union once again. I’m lucky that I work with children, so I have been allowed to dance with my kids. However, I can’t wait until we can dance together again; no Zoom connection can satisfy that.”

Video interview 2014

16 December 2014