By Anagha Madhan as seen in En Avant Magazine March – April 2023
As temperatures rise and cotton clothes come out to play, summer intensives are what immediately come to mind to any dancer. Ballet summer intensives are demanding training courses that give aspiring dancers a rare chance to fully submerge themselves in the ballet world.
These courses, which are typically offered in the summer, give students the opportunity to learn from top instructors and choreographers while also giving them the chance to perform in front of audiences. Young dancers’ technique, stamina, and passion for ballet can all be honed by the intense training and concentration needed during summer intensives. Dancers have the opportunity to experience different cultures, make new friends, and learn from the best in the business thanks to the numerous renowned schools and companies that offer summer intensives all over the world.
It’s critical to understand your objectives, degree of commitment, and desired investment before considering a summer ballet or dance intensive. There are many options for dance intensives that include different combinations of dance forms; character dancing, musical theatre and even body conditioning. Typically, there will be a jazz or a contemporary lesson in a ballet-focused intensive, but the majority of classes will concentrate on improving ballet technique and knowledge.
Professional dance companies, colleges, universities, and some neighbourhood dance studios may give dance intensives, which are accessible in or close to major cities. The majority of college dance programmes’ intensives also include housing for the dancers for the length of the programme. For younger dancers between the ages of 8-11, some ballet programs offer junior intensives. While these programs have the same goals as regular summer intensives, they are typically half-day sessions rather than full-day classes. Junior intensives provide young dancers with the opportunity to receive high-quality instruction from experienced teachers, develop their skills, and build a foundation for future success in the world of ballet.
While looking for summer intensives to take part in, there are a variety of programmes available to aid with skill development, learning new methods, and expanding knowledge of the art form. However, in order to select the programme that best suits your needs, it is crucial to comprehend the distinctions between the different types of programmes. Here is a basic rundown on what the different types of summer programmes available are:
A dance intensive is an all-encompassing summer program designed to provide dancers with a highly immersive experience. These programs may culminate in a performance to showcase the skills and techniques learned during the program, or a platform for dancers to present their student-choreographed pieces to their home studio. Typically, there are various classes and instructors available, and the program may require an audition due to their selectivity.
On the other hand, dance camps are typically offered as day camps or overnight camps, providing a mix of traditional summer camp activities and dance classes. These programs usually end with a performance to showcase the skills learned, and are typically designed for younger dancers under the age of 15. Dance camps are open to all dancers and can offer an excellent opportunity for students to not only enhance their dance skills but also make long-lasting friendships and develop valuable life skills.
Summer intensives can vary in duration from two to three days up to seven weeks, although the average length is typically one to two weeks. Programs that extend beyond two weeks often provide housing options for dancers during their stay. For dancers, multi-week programs that include housing provide an opportunity to experience the responsibility and discipline required for a potential future in dance on a more full-time basis. Additionally, these programs may offer evening performances for dancers to watch, featuring the professionals who teach them during the day.
When it comes to summer intensives, the application process can vary depending on the program. More prestigious intensives, such as the Joffrey Ballet Intensive, require an audition as part of their application process, whereas others like the Australian Ballet Summer School may only require an application. If you plan to attend a dance intensive at a local dance studio, there may not be an audition required.
The audition process usually involves submitting letter(s) of recommendation from dance teachers and an audition video or attending an in-person audition that showcases the dancer’s technique, improvisation skills, and ability to learn a short combination. Alternatively, the program may require the dancer to submit a video of themselves performing a choreographed piece. Regardless of the specific requirements, the audition process plays a critical role in determining whether a dancer is accepted into the summer intensive program.
Dancers of all abilities can gain many advantages from taking a ballet summer intensive. Here are a few benefits of enrolling in a summer intensive:
- Intensive training: Summer intensives provide focused instruction over a period of time, enabling dancers to make rapid development. Technique, physical fitness, and general performance capacity can all be improved through this immersive experience.
- Introduction to new styles: Dancers frequently have the chance to work with new teachers and encounter new dance forms during summer intensives. Their experience may increase their understanding of dance and increase their adaptability as performers.
- Networking: Summer intensives bring together dancers from all locations and backgrounds, giving them the chance to interact with peers and business leaders. Future partnerships and job possibilities may result from these contacts.
- Opportunities for performances: A lot of summer intensives provide possibilities for performances, which may give dancers significant exposure and experience. Industry professionals may attend these performances, providing prospective job opportunities.
- Preparation for the next dance season: Building endurance, strength, and technique during summer intensives may help dancers get ready for the new dance season. Students who want to audition for dance schools or companies in the year may find this to be of special use.
Overall, participating in a ballet summer intensive can offer dancers who want to advance their abilities, broaden their knowledge, and interact with others in the dance community a distinctive and beneficial experience.
Choosing a summer intensive ballet programme that is reasonably priced may need some preparation and research, but it is feasible. Here are some pointers to assist:
- Start early: Begin early in order to benefit from early bird discounts and scholarships, do your research and make your plans well in advance.
- Check for regional offerings: To save money on travel and lodging, think about enrolling in a summer ballet intensive programme close to home.
- Look into financial aid and scholarships: Search for scholarships that could be offered for the programme you are interested in while researching financial aid. For students who show financial need or talent, several schools provide financial aid. Most of the programmes mentioned above offer good financial aid plans.
- Consider shorter programmes: If a lengthier programme is too expensive, take into account attending a shorter programme to save costs.
- Request payment options: To assist in making the expense more affordable, certain programmes may offer payment plans.
- Research: Compare programmes to identify the one that offers the greatest value for your money by doing some research on the costs and advantages of various summer intensive ballet programmes.
- Network: Speak to other dancers and dance instructors to find out about reasonably priced ballet intensive summer programmes.
Ultimately, ballet summer intensives provide dancers a priceless chance to refine their art and enhance their abilities in a focused and concentrated atmosphere. These courses provide in-depth instruction from top-notch teachers, exposure to fresh movements and methods, and the opportunity to collaborate with other gifted dancers from across the globe. Although summer intensives can be intellectually and physically demanding, they provide an unmatched experience that can help dancers advance their skills. A ballet summer intensive can be an enormously gratifying experience for dancers of all levels and can put you on the road to realising your ambition of becoming a professional dancer.
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