‘Dancing is about finding your own way and using your body’

The Local speaks to British writer and dancer Rebecca Rosier about how she and her partner one day decided to pack their bags and move to Sweden.

'Dancing is about finding your own way and using your body'
Life as a dancer in Stockholm. Photo: Private

“The reason I like contemporary dance is that it's about finding your own way and learning to use your body. When you learn how to use your body, the things you can do with it but also its restrictions, it makes your really appreciate it. In classic dancing there's a right way and a wrong way, but in contemporary dance you just find your own way,” Rebecca Rosier animatedly tells The Local.

The 29-year-old writer and dancer is no stranger to finding her own way. She and her partner, Tim, had only visited Sweden once when they decided to pack their bags back home in the UK and move to Stockholm.

“My boyfriend and I are both English. We had lived in London for eight years, but got tired of the city so we moved to the West Country,” she explains.

But leaving the bustling city for a quiet life in the largely rural area of south-western Britain turned out to be too much of a shock to the system, so the couple started thinking about moving again.

“We were looking for a place that wasn't as intense as London but not as relaxed as the West Country. We had visited Stockholm over the summer and thought it was amazing,” she says.

And while most people who talk about moving to a new country never actually take the leap, Rosier and her partner found themselves in Sweden only a few months after the idea was floated.

“We were kind of ready to move somewhere and when we managed to get an apartment in Stockholm we just went for it. I think we were really lucky,” she says.

Rosier has been working for an advertising agency in the Swedish capital on a freelance basis since the couple arrived in January. Her boyfriend, meanwhile, is a website designer and composes music, also as a freelancer. “So there's always jobs for us,” she concludes.

Rebecca Rosier and her boyfriend Tim. Photo: Private

And then there's dancing.

“I've been dancing since I was two years old and then I took a degree in contemporary dance. It's just my favourite thing to do. I love the sensation and I think it's really important to use your body, to express yourself. Especially as adults we don't always get to enjoy ourselves like that.”

Rosier is now trying to set up her own dance classes in the hope that others will discover the same joy, body positivity and free spirit – boosting their mental and physical well-being at the same time.

“I think most of the people who will come are people who used to dance as a child or a teenager and haven't done it in a while, or people who have always wanted to do it – people who are in touch with the idea of dancing but are not in the habit of dancing any more,” she explains.

“I hope it gives them that feeling of happiness and helps them feel confident. A lot of people going to their first class feel anxious and like they have to go in and perform, but it's not like that. You make mistakes and you learn, that's the point,” she says.

Although she probably would not have moved to Sweden without that confidence and belief that mistakes are simply part of life, Rosier says that the move itself has in turn made her feel more sure of herself.

“I like not being in my home town. It feels like there's more freedom to fail since moving to Sweden, it doesn't matter if it doesn't work out. I feel free to try things that I would otherwise have been more apprehensive to try,” she says.

Rebecca Rosier is a professional dancer. Photo: Private

One of her classes starting next week is a choreography class for adults who want to learn modern style dance technique and to choreograph dance for informal performances. The other is a BarreConcept class, starting this week, an increasingly popular exercise workout inspired by pilates and traditional ballet.

“You do most of the class at the barre. It's a lot of ballet-based movements but good functional strength that you need if you are, for example, a runner. It's not high-intensity workout, but it develops the muscles that you need. It has made my core and legs stronger,” she says.

But even if the classes take off, Rosier has no plans on giving up her freelance job in writing.

“I really like doing a lot of different things, I never liked sticking to one thing. I think you can learn a lot in a different field of work that can help you in your other field of work,” she explains.

And for those who may be reading this from countries outside of Sweden who hope to one day also pack their bags and experience life beyond their home country, she has one piece of advice.

“If you want to move, you should definitely try it, but you have to be prepared for how long it takes to settle in. When we moved here we thought 'yeah, we're going to make loads of friends', but it takes time and you can't rush it. But I found Swedes to be super friendly and welcoming.”

So will she stay in Stockholm? Well, that's for the future to decide.

“I like to keep my options open, but I've grown to love Sweden a lot and every time I go somewhere new I love it more. I'm really pleased. The first month I was like 'ah, what have I done', but now I think it is one of the best decisions I've made.”

For members


Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”