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Exchanges: Applying to study Dance in Portugal

By CHIinternational 06 Nov 2017

By Natasha Margerison, studying BA (Hons) Dance

Applying to Escola Superior de Danca is relatively straight forward at first but will eventually require patience and organisation.

Once the institution responds to your first application, they will send you more documents and request a “show reel” from you. This Show reel is an opportunity for the institution to see you perform physically before they make a decision as to whether or not you’d suit the training.

After sending the further application and your video, all that is left to do is await the final answer!

Your Show Reel should show the very best of your technical ability as well as showcase your flare and personality.

You are required to show 2-3mins of classical ballet technique- adage, pirouettes etc… contemporary technique- work with the core and especially the back, choreography and improvisational work and some contact work if you fancy.

You should be creative when filming and editing your work- (you will have just completed your film module so use it!)

When filming your show reel be creative! Choose appropriate music that will enhance your performance or even an interesting location that adds flare to your work but remember not to get too lost in the aesthetic. The quality of your dance work is what the video is really about.

Film as many exercises and works as you can so when it comes to piecing the film together you’re left spoilt for choice. Avoid settling for “ok” performances otherwise, when it comes to editing you’ll end up struggling to find videos you’re completely happy with and may not be content with the final product.

Add as much content as you can! Don’t make the show reel too short- the shorter the video, the more times the institution will watch it and the more technical faults they’ll be able to pick up on! Instead, create an engaging video full of exciting and impressive work.



Sending your Show Reel will definitely come with some challenges. When I received the video request from Lisbon, it was my final week before the course ended for summer! I was already set to return home to London that week and would have no studio space, camera or editing equipment available to me once I returned. With that in mind I had to book a camera and studio space that evening in hope to create a sufficient Show Reel the next day. The whole process felt rushed, unorganised and overall disappointing. I knew I could perform so much better than the video had showcased but I had no other options than to send the video as was.


The video was around 7mins in total. I sent my file with dropbox and even created a private google drive doc to ensure the institution could view the file as many times as necessary. I received a confirmation of receival and awaited a response. Many weeks passed without hearing back from Lisbon and I grew extremely anxious as the time to find accommodation in Chichester for the next year was quickly slipping away. When I finally received a response, it wasn’t the one I wanted! I was travelling through Europe at the time and luckily, had some access to WIFI, when I was sent an email informing me my show reel was not accessible and I needed to send examples of my work by that Friday- which was in two days…..


Panicked and confused, with no access to a laptop or the original show reel, I had to find any videos of me performing that I could in an attempt to salvage the situation and hopefully gain a place at the institution. Thankfully, this was enough but still created problems for me upon arrival in Lisboa.

My advice to you would be to start working on your show reel as soon as you’ve sent your first application. You know they’re going to ask for one eventually so why not get a head start? I’d also recommend not trying to send an attachment at all. Upload your show reel privately to YouTube instead. This way the only people who can view it include yourself and anyone you give the link to. You’ll be able to upload a video of whatever length you like, and the institution will have no trouble viewing it at all.

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