Yolanda Aguilar from Madrid in Spain, studied MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management at QMU part-time and graduated in 2017.

Yolanda initially trained as an actor in Madrid and then moved to London to study Contemporary Dance and Physical Theatre at Middlesex University, where she gained a BA (Hons) in Dance Performance.

Before moving to Scotland, Yolanda performed with Adam Benjamin, co-founder of Candoco Dance Company and Green Candle Dance. It was here that Yolanda decided that she wanted to pursue a career in creative learning and community dance. 

Since 2010, Yolanda has worked as a coordinator, project manager and creative learning manager in different arts organisations across Scotland. A highlight of this experience for Yolanda was the youth Mfest at Macrobert Arts Centre, where she produced an international collaboration with the world-famous company, La Fura dels Baus, from Barcelona and a group of young performers.

Why did you choose to study at QMU?

“In April 2015, I co-founded Shaper/Caper, a small dance company based in Dundee that operates mostly across Tayside, although we also tour internationally. It soon became apparent that we needed a sound knowledge of operational frameworks to help develop the business and direct it towards its essence. As we were a member of The Federation of Scottish Theatre, we became aware of the possibility of accessing a bursary to study at QMU due to the partnership."

 Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh/Scotland?

“At Middlesex University, I was part of a physical theatre production that showcased at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I immediately adored the vibrancy of the city and the popular celebration of art, promising myself that I would return at a later stage in life. After performing in London for three years, I was seeking nature and a slower pace of life, so I fulfilled my promise and moved to Scotland.”

What did you hope the course would give you in terms of career progression and continuing personal development?

“I was looking for the course to provide a robust foundation of operational knowledge, as well as an academic framework to base it around. I had a strong desire to develop my career from performance and basic administrative tasks to more complex strategic and governance responsibilities.”

How did you find the workload? Did you receive support from QMU?

“As I’d not been in education for a while, I found the workload in the first year rather challenging, as I continued working whilst studying, including international tours. However, I felt well supported as QMU offered several strands of support across departments. Discussing my concerns with colleagues also helped me to put matters into perspective.”

Did you work during the course?

“During the course, I continued to work full-time at Shaper/Caper, a small dance company with a wide portfolio of creative learning projects across Tayside. I worked in management and administration, delivering workshops and producing national and international tours throughout my studies.”

Did you benefit from any scholarships or bursaries to help fund your studies at QMU?

“As Shaper/Caper is a Federation of Scottish Theatre member, we were able to capitalise on the scholarship offered to its representatives, which helped fund my studies at QMU.”

How do you think your QMU degree has equipped you with the skills/knowledge to develop your career?

“The course has been critical in equipping me with all the necessary skills to operate the small company I work in. I created a business plan for the company, so I was able to apply all my learning directly to my work, benefitting the business and the staff.

“On a personal note, I re-discovered a passion for learning and soon became confident to raise my voice within the sector.”

What are your top tips for future students?

“Enjoy the ride! It’s going to be hard, but you are not alone, so share your concerns and have a laugh.

“I started running half-way through the course and noticed the effects of becoming fit and having a clearer mind. Get inspired by the people around you also working hard, including the lecturers.”

What have you been doing since graduating from QMU?

“So, it’s not even a year since I graduated and the effects on my business have been extraordinary, having discovered a passion and a skill as a fundraiser.

“We continue to apply the business plan regularly, revising it and adapting it as we expand as a company. It’s clear to me that there is a direct correlation between the course and the progress that the company has recently made.

“I continue to work at Shaper/Caper. We’re now expanding staff numbers and activity as there is always a great deal of work to do. Due to the imminent opening of the V&A in Dundee, the city is on the cusp of a great cultural, economic and social transformation. We are finding our place and creating new partnerships in the area.

“Inspired by QMU’s Head of Division for Media, Communication and Performing Arts, Dr. David Stevenson, and his exceptional prolific attitude and desire to effect change in the cultural sector, I recently became a trustee at Arts and Business Scotland, which is a fantastic opportunity to support the organisation as well as to develop my own career.”

Useful links:

MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management FILM

Postgraduate Funding

International students



Published 2017 - 2018