Les Roches International School of Hotel Management postgraduate student

Making the world smile: from professional dancer to postgraduate hospitality student in Switzerland

5 Nov 2015 | by Alaine Handa


Alaine is a student on the postgraduate diploma in international hospitality management. Her life before Les Roches was as a dancer – though as her article explains, it seems that she was always destined for hospitality.

Flashback to Winter 2013.

I take a sigh of relief as my bags are all packed and I embark on a journey to celebrate a birthday milestone of turning 30 by going on a solo trip to ski in Zermatt, visiting Christmas markets in Berlin, wandering around the magical world of The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, seeing the old city of Lund, and ringing in the new year in Amsterdam.

That was a memorable trip.

Tivoli gardens Copenhage Les Roches International School of Hotel Management postgraduate student
From Cophenhagen to Berlin, Alaine has always loved travel

Somewhere mid-week in Zermatt in my hotel room, I had an epiphany. I wanted travel to be a part of my professional life. I wanted to see, experience and live in a different culture. I wanted to feel like I could settle down to a full-time job and not juggle multiple part-time gigs. I love dance and I had spent my whole life dancing in shows, producing shows, touring the world, in rehearsals, and teaching students from all walks of life and different ages.

In 2012, I moved back to Singapore to be close to my family and it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I left an exciting artist life in New York City with all the friends I had made, all the teachers, my dancers, my teaching job, and performing every month in various festivals and theatres. I was depressed for a long time and things were falling apart in my life.

In Singapore, I was teaching at great places and loved my students but something felt missing all the time. I felt like dance had became a chore.

Les Roches International School of Hotel Management postgraduate student
Performing at the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington D.C.

For the first time in my life, I dreaded going to the studio. I had the best students who kept me going and they motivated me with their energy and spirit to really inspire myself to dance with my heart again. Despite all of this, I still longed for the stage. Wherever I am in the world, I feel the most at home when I am in a theater. I created a project called Habitat that toured to the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer of 2013. I returned from that trip invigorated yet that same with a nagging feeling like something was wrong and missing.

Then I turned 30 that fall.

I booked my trip and off I went. I needed some time out to reflect for myself. I discovered so much about myself on that solo trip.

I wanted to be back in an international environment.

I grew up as an expat kid attending International Schools in Jakarta and Singapore and then majoring in dance at UCLA’s department of World Arts & Cultures department, then throwing myself into the melting pot of New York City to be a professional dancer/choreographer. I loved connecting with people from different cultures. I loved eating and drinking food from around the world. I loved to cook. I loved traveling, I wanted to retire someday in a cute bed & breakfast in a beautiful countryside location (with access to a city) and entertain guests with my stories and cook good food and serve good drinks. And I wanted to dance my whole life.

This epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks.

I cried.

Dance was and is still who I am today, however, I was tired of the hustle for gigs. The constant battle of instability and avoiding injuries. I wanted to dance for me. I wanted to dance for others. I wanted others to dance because I inspired them to. My students tell me that my classes are fun because I make them feel good about dancing. This made me smile.

I like making other people smile. When others are happy, their energy is infectious and I become happy. 

Flash forward to 2015.

I am happy to be at Les Roches as a postgraduate student. I am a hospitality student and I think I fit the profile of a person who works in this industry. A guest-driven industry.

I still dance. I still teach others to dance at Les Roches. I hope I make these students smile every weekend when they come to dance with me. Dance has been in my life for 28 years and I hope to continue dancing for the rest of my life and pass my love for movement onto my future children.

But I am happy to combine my love for food & beverages, travel, dance, entertaining, cooking, and hosting events. I hope to find that happy medium where I find my dream job doing all of these things.

Follow me on Instagram at TravelwithAlaine

Alaine Handa


Comments are closed.