Aleksandr Tolok: A Dancer Who Turned Into Tech

Published on 22 July 2020

Reading time 5 minutes

As a professional dancer, Aleksandr Tolok traveled all over the world, touring with singers and performing in international shows. Since leaving his home in Ukraine, he has lived in Israel and Germany, and five years ago he made the move to Belgium. A year later, Alex took the decision to retire from dance at the age of 36 and became a teacher at an international ballet school, before going on to work a number of different jobs in retail and hospitality while he tried to decide what was next in his career. 

Technology has always been something that has interested and intrigued Alex, and after a close friend introduced him to coding and developing, he decided to explore opportunities to study and this was when he discovered Wild Code School, the technology educator nurturing today’s technology talent.

Alex is now part of the five-month part-time course which began on April 20th and is being delivered fully remotely. Here he speaks about his desired career change from dance to digital, the similarities between the two, and learning in lockdown.

How did you find the transition from professional dancing to looking for a whole new career?

Dance was, and still is, a huge part of my life. I started when I was six years old and went on to have an amazing career as a professional, working all over the world in different shows and with different performers; I loved it. But I got to the age where it became more difficult and I knew it was time to retire. It’s taken me a long time, 6-7 years maybe, to understand what I wanted to do after dancing and being a dance teacher. I’ve had a lot of different jobs in that time, both in Israel and here in Belgium, including working in a laundrette and a restaurant, amongst many others – so it was a long process for me.

When did technology come into the equation?

I’ve always been curious about technology and been interested in the mechanics of how things work. I met with one of my friends who had just finished a coding course, he showed me some of the things he had learned and what was involved and said that I should look into it. So, I thought: "Why not?" 

I started to try some things myself and tried to learn some basic skills, and it was really interesting for me and something I really enjoyed doing. And that was it really. From there, I started looking online for opportunities, how I could get started and found some information about schools or some courses.

And is that how you discovered Wild Code School?

In Brussels, most of the courses I found were being taught in French or in Dutch. And although my French is okay, it’s not strong enough. But I knew I wanted to learn and study coding, so I looked again to find some courses in English. That’s when I found Wild Code School. I got in touch with the school, I went to the campus and met with the Campus Manager and I knew I wanted to get started here!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course is now being taught fully remotely. How has that been?

Like a lot of people right now, we are using a lot of different communication tools and software like Zoom and Google Meet. At first it was a bit strange, and some people had one or two problems with internet and connections, for example, but overall it’s okay. Through these different technologies and systems, we are making it work and learning a great deal. 

It’s helping us to learn new skills to work in a remote setting, something which will be of huge benefit in the future. Before we started, I wondered how it would be possible, as we have a class of 15 people, all in different places – Dublin, Lisbon, Bucharest... just to name a few – but it is working very well. Of course, the lockdown situation is not good and it’s a difficult time for everyone, but I think it’s great to use this time to learn something new, and invest this time on improving and gaining new skills.

How are finding the course so far? Are there any particular elements you're enjoying the most?

It’s really interesting and enjoyable. The school is taking a great deal of care and investing in each person on the course, we have one-to-one conversations with our trainer once a week, and every other week with the Campus Manager, where we can share our experiences. 

I like to see how things work, what goes on behind and the things people cannot see. It’s like the stage, for example, when you go to the theatre, you only see what happens on the stage, but you don’t know what happened behind the curtain and backstage before that. I think coding and technology is the same. If you go on Facebook, you only see Facebook. You don’t think about what goes on behind the page, what makes it work and how it is working. This is what is really interesting for me; to build things, to put things together and make them work. But like the theatre, it’s not for everybody!

And what's next? Where would you like the course to take you?

I am very open minded, and happy at the moment to start at the beginning and see where it takes me. I think it’s important to gain experience and develop my skills further, and I look forward to seeing what digital in-house and freelance career opportunities are available to me.

Are you interested in changing your career into tech? Do like Alex and take a look at our Remote Front-end Part-Time Course!