January 28, 2022

First Year Perspective: Cori Baldwin Paquette in SCA


Cori Baldwin Paquette is a first year Dance student in our School for the Contemporary Arts. Last Fall, she recieved The Gordon M. Shrum National Entrance Scholarship for the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology.

As Cori wraps up her second semester, we have taken the opportunity to check-in with how her first year went! We are excited to share her experience as we prepare to welcome another class of outstanding first year students this Fall.

How did you first hear about the Dance program?

I am originally from London, Ontario where I grew up dancing from the age of 3. I was having a difficult time deciding what I wanted to do after high school. The hardest part about applying was determining the program, not necessarily which university I wanted to attend. Since I have been dancing for 17 years now, I was not sure if I wanted to take the leap and make dance my life. I also really enjoyed other subjects in high school and wondered about exploring political science or international development. Around the time of application deadlines, a guest teacher from Simon Fraser University’s Dance program came to teach at my studio. She shared about SFU and the incredible program that we have at the School for Contemporary Arts. I looked into it further, came out to Vancouver to audition, and after a positive experience with the faculty and other students I was sold on SFU and the Dance program.

In your own words, how would you describe the study of Dance at SCA?

In comparison to a lot of the other dance programs across the country and in North America, SFU is very unique in the sense that we are primarily focused on contemporary dance. We focus on ballet along with contemporary modern, which I found attractive given my passion in pursuing contemporary dance both as a dancer and choreographer. We also have the best facilities for a university Dance program in Canada, hands down. We are so lucky to have the space that we do in the Downtown East Side. The interaction with other programs at SCA, including film, music, art, and drama, provides us with the opportunity to compliment our art form with other art forms. The respect from faculty members of where the students are treated as artists, along with a rigorous training program makes this program a good balance that is challenging and enjoyable.

Overall, what has your first year been like? What’s been the best part of the year?

My first year has been so much fun. I am currently living in residence on Burnaby Campus, so I have met a lot of amazing people through living on campus and also through the dance program. Best part of the year for me would be participating in one of the student run shows for the SCA students. The show Ascension is an interdisciplinary show where a composer is teamed up with a choreographer and they collaborate to create a one of a kind piece. I was lucky enough to be chosen to be a dancer in one of those pieces and it was a blast getting to know so many of the FCAT students and feeling involved with the school.

How have you adjusted to university life?

Since I am so far away from home, it has been an adjustment for me because I am really on my own. As most university students would say, I have become a lot more responsible and independent, but I believe my experience is at a heightened level that has made me mature more quickly and out of necessity.  

What extra-curricular activities do you like to participate in? How do you find balance between those activities and your academic studies?

Currently, I am a Dance Student Union Councilor, which means I represent all of the undergraduate dance students for the Simon Fraser Student Society. I attend monthly meetings where I voice the opinion of dancers University-wide. Along with being on Council, I was on the SFU dance team this year, where I performed at most of the women’s and men’s NCAA basketball games this season. It was an incredible experience to be a part of the energy and team atmosphere that is so much a part of SFU. For the dance team, I was also the choreographer in 2015 and I am really excited to continue this role for the 2015-2016 season! Along with these extra-curricular activities, I also work part-time at Aritizia.

I have always been the type to take on a lot, and this has clearly transferred into my post secondary life. I find it fun to have a lot of responsibilities and a full schedule. Call me crazy.

What advice would you offer to new students considering this program?

Dance is a highly intensive program both physically and mentally. We dance around twenty hours a week for classes and we often have additional rehearsals. You need to be excited when you wake up at 7am to go dance for 2-6 hours a day. You don’t sit in a lecture and pretend to listen; you have to do be physically and mentally present at all times to flourish in this program. If you are considering the program, you need to know it is not easy, but if you love dance and can stick with that passion and be open to discovering new elements of dance and yourself, you will have a great time.

What is one thing you wish you had known in high school?

You’re going to make friends!