Although Alexandra Koch-Liu ’22 has been learning ballet for six years, attending Andover sparked her interest in pursuing other styles of dance. Now a member of the Andover Dance Group (ADG), Koch-Liu continues to pursue her interest in dance and other hobbies during her first year at Andover.
Having lived in four different countries, Koch-Liu’s exposure to the character of diverse cultures and ethnicities has enabled her to become fluent in English, French, German and Chinese. According to Koch-Liu, this multicultural background has helped her adjust to the diverse community at Andover.
Koch-Liu said, “I was originally born in the states. But when I was three, I stayed in China for seven months, because my dad was working in Japan and my mom had to find a house in Germany. Since it is hard to take care of a toddler, I stayed with my relatives in China. Then I moved to Germany and I’ve grown up there ever since… I was able to maintain my proficiency [in languages], since my German international school required me to learn German, English, and a third language. This helped me make friends more easily and adapt to the school community.”
According to Koch-Liu, her previous experience of attending summer camps in the United States has prevented her from becoming overly homesick. Koch-Liu also noted that the welcoming environment of the Andover student orientation program at the beginning of the year was helpful in integrating into the school community as a new Lower.
“I don’t get homesick very easily, but I think the main way of adjusting was through summer camps that I did in previous years. I like trying to go to a dance Summer Intensive in an academic one, and then also meet people here too at Andover with very diverse backgrounds… I like to get used to it,” said Koch-Liu.
Anne Gardner, House Counselor of Stevens House, remarked on Koch-Liu’s ability to quickly adapt to the dorm environment as a new student.
Gardner said, “Alexandra is one of a number of new Lowers who were assigned to Stevens this year. She brings to the dorm a sense of style and confidence, along with a burgeoning interest in dance. More than most, Alexandra has made a smooth transition from Berlin to Andover. That is not an easy feat.”
Koch-Liu, who started teaching herself ballet at the age of nine with videos, hopes to bring her ample years of experience to ADG. Expanding from her initial interests, Koch-Liu plans on learning other forms of movement.
“I started to learn dancing at nine, which is considered to be a very late age. But I was always passionate about it, and I taught myself from videos ever since I was young. As my interest grew more and more, I started taking formal dance classes, and it became an integral part of my life ever since I became 12. At Andover, I am a member of the Andover Dance Group. Instead of solely focusing on one style of dance, I try to branch out into numerous styles like modern jazz,” said Koch-Liu.
While Koch-Liu occasionally faces difficulty in balancing her schoolwork and dance activities, she finds that her busy routine back home enables her to cope with such difficulties. In fact, Koch-Liu hopes to find more opportunities on campus that support her interest in dance.
Koch-Liu said, “Life is already stressful as a dancer back home. I would have school until 4:00, go to dance lessons, and so it would be around 9:00 p.m. when I first start my homework. So I am already used to the stress. Personally, I find here the dance hours should be longer, as we only have dance one and a half hours a day, but I personally find that that’s not enough. So, my friend and I, we’ve asked whether we could have optional weekend classes and just more dancing time in general.”
Kareem Lewis, Instructor of Andover Dance Group, remarked on Koch-Liu’s advanced technique, competence, and expressivity as a skilled dancer.
Lewis wrote an email to The Phillipian, “Alexandra has gracefully adapted to class as a new lower. As a student, she is disciplined, good-natured, and determined, and as a dancer, Alexandra is elegant and technically and artistically competent.”
Building off her interest in dance, Koch-Liu plans on sharing her love for dance with the broader community through starting a new community engagement program.
Koch-Liu said, “I participate in multiple dance related clubs that focus on choreography. I am also working to coordinate dance community engagements that I hope to launch by Spring term. And then with our jazz and modern teacher, we visit nearby schools every Friday to teach young children how to dance.”