Dong Xu, Musical Theater in French and Acting in English Student in Paris
- Can you tell us about your background before starting your studies in the Acting in English Department at Cours Florent in Paris?
I’m from South-East China. I am passionate about the artistic world, especially about singing and drawing since I was little. I got my bachelor’s in Information technology at the Beijing International Studies University, where I discovered musical theater by playing the lead role in “Mamma Mia”. Then I had the opportunity of being the artistic director of the musical “Rent” which was presented several times in China. Following this experience, I decided to choose France to live out my passion. I started learning French and looking for drama schools in Paris. One year later, I enrolled for a musical theater workshop at Cours Florent, which gave me the final motivation to enroll in this school and join the acting program.
- How did you hear about Cours Florent?
The first time I heard about Cours Florent through a French friend. I understood that it was a very famous school and people were surprised that I didn’t know it. Out of curiosity, I immediately looked up “Cours Florent” on the internet. I remember very well that after having opened the website and reading all the information, I signed up for a summer workshop - with no regrets!
- What do you remember about your training at Cours Florent ?
Every year at Cours Florent, I learned to act with a very different approach. During the first year, I was in Frédéric Haddou’s class and the exam “Alexandrins” was very important for me. I spent weeks on end learning verses, which wasn’t easy for a non-French student like me, but it was an intensive work with the text and I discovered the marvelous beauty of the language as well as the French culture.
During my second year of acting in French, I was in Serge Brincat’s class. This was an enormous gift for me to have the chance of working with him for one year. I learned a lot from him thanks to his view on theatre and his way of working with students on stage. And thanks to this work with him, I discovered my capacities as an actor and I began to find my uniqueness and started gaining confidence.
Having three modules and various professors with different styles in my last year, has been very interesting for me. I was a student in Olivier Tchang Tchong’s class in my first module which was life-changing. In spite of the large workload, he managed to bring us into his universe and push us to work under his direction. I couldn’t have imaged where this would bring us for our final exam. It was magical! Now I am in Benoît Guibert’s class. I am eager to get started with a new creation with my class.
Concerning Musical Theater, I have about 20 hours of dancing and singing lessons per week in addition to my theater classes. These classes with very different styles are helping me immensely in understanding my body, my voice, my breathing, etc.
The most rewarding part for me in Musical Theater at Cours Florent is to produce public shows, to have various roles to play. For example, in our second year, we started with the exam “Biopics” and then we mixed styles in “Fragments” (La Mélodie du Bonheur/Sweeney Tod/Sweet Charity). It’s a great opportunity for me to work with our teachers of Musical Theater, as they are active choreographers, comedians, stage directors and singers in this very unique world. This year, between L’éveil du Printemps, Smash and a collective creation, we are refining our training. To be honest, my friends in Musical Theater at Cours Florent are to me like my family in France and I love to share my passion with them!
- What advice would you give a future student at Cours Florent?
It’s a great privilege to discover a country by going to a foreign school. I am sure that acting is an excellent way of learning a foreign language. When I arrived at Cours Florent, I so much wanted to act, that I didn’t realize how much work that would cost me to improve my accent! Today it seems logical to me that a non-French student will have an accent and therefore will have to work hard!
I would advise a foreign student to be aware of the difficulty and importance of this work: “Diction! Diction!! Diction!!!” is constantly repeated here. But don’t ever forget that having an accent can also be an asset in the profession of an actor, coming from another culture and being unique, is a gold nugget in the theatre world!
- Do you have any ongoing projects or upcoming ones?
At the moment I am working on two final student’s projects: a musical that we are creating with friends and an adaptation of a play by Georges Feydeau. I will also play the main role in the musical “Rent” organized by the theatre group 27 Saville and we will play several times this year in the Théâtre de Ménilmontant. I hope that other opportunities will arise when I finish school.