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June 6, 2024

"Soon I’ll have my pick of jobs"

Mark Kunst (21) began his bachelor's in Artisteducator in Dance in Arnhem with a clear end goal in mind: he wanted to become a breakdance instructor. Did he succeed? How does he look back on his education? And what are his future plans?

Mark discovered his love for teaching while still in school. "As a child, I was in gymnastics. At one point, I was allowed to assist with the lessons for younger children. That’s when I realized how much I enjoy contributing to others' development."

From the age of eight, Mark also took breaking lessons (commonly known as ‘breakdancing’). This dance form became a major passion for him. However, he initially didn't consider turning his passions – teaching and breaking – into a career. "There were no courses for 'breaking instructor'. So, I didn’t know which path I could take."


It wasn't until his final year of high school that Mark discovered the bachelor's course Artisteducator in Dance at ArtEZ. "The focus of the course is on classical, modern dance, and jazz. When I started, breaking wasn’t part of the curriculum. But with this course, I could still develop as a dance teacher. And I would learn more about choreographing dance, which I find super interesting."

Mark decided to audition. "I went in quite blindly; I had no idea if it would work out. If not, I was considering studying artificial intelligence."

Among like-minded people

To his surprise, Mark was accepted. From the start, he felt at home at ArtEZ Academy of Theatre & Dance in Arnhem. "You spend all day with people who are also interested in dance and teaching. It’s fantastic. You create and watch performances, discuss them with each other, and teach each other. This way, you continuously discover what you find beautiful, fascinating, and good."

Study trips and internships

Although breaking wasn’t part of the official curriculum, Mark had plenty of opportunities to develop in this area. He went on a study trip to New York, where he immersed himself in the breaking and hip-hop scenes and also took house dance classes. "It was all very inspiring," he says.

Mark also completed various internships. "This helped me grow as a breaking instructor." He gives an example: "In Wageningen, I teach Cool Skills at Dance School Bransz. These lessons are for children under seven. Breaking is still too difficult for them. Cool Skills break down breaking movements into smaller components that they can learn."

Mark Kunst, photo by Filibert Kraxner

Positive feedback

Mark's schedule is quite packed, as he teaches many breaking classes at various dance schools, such as De Vloer in Arnhem, ID Dance in Nijmegen and Studio Danzo in Deventer, as well as workshops in primary and secondary schools. "I mostly receive positive feedback. From students, but also from parents. They sometimes compliment me on my teaching style."

Mark also receives enthusiastic responses to his solo performances. "People say that my work really touched them. It’s nice to hear that."

Cultural backgrounds

In Mark's thesis, the central question is what role breaking could have in the bachelor's course. He discusses this with the head of the course, teachers, and subject experts. "Recently, students can take a course on breaking. I think it’s important to not only focus on the dance form but also on its cultural background", Mark explains. "You can get much more out of breaking if you also understand the context in which it originated."


Ultimately, Mark's mission is to introduce more people to breaking, both within and outside the course. "Breaking has so much to offer", he says. "Think of physical development: breaking combines acrobatics and tricks with the flow and musicality of dance. It’s also mentally challenging: you have to practice for a long time to master certain moves. That requires perseverance. Moreover, breaking fosters creativity because you are challenged to develop your own style from the start. And breaking stimulates social and personal development, as you dance both in groups and solo."

The next step

Looking back at his studies, Mark feels that he has been able to develop creatively and personally.

This bachelor's course contributes a lot to achieving my goal. Now I know much better how I want to structure my lessons."

What will Mark do once he graduates? "I’m still a bit unsure", he says. "There is an mbo course in Hip-hop & Breaking. Maybe I'll take that to further develop my own dance skills. Or I'll start working right away. There is a high demand for breaking lessons and not many higher-education trained instructors who want and can teach these classes. So, I’ll have my pick of jobs."

"Find your place"

Does Mark have any tips for future students? "Do something that makes you happy", he advises. "Only then can you study it with joy for years." 

He continues: "If you’re not accepted after an audition, remember that there’s probably a place that better fits your interests and learning needs. Keep looking until you feel you’ve found the right fit. It’s not only important that the course accepts you but also the other way around."

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