It sometimes seems like modern dancers have it easy. There are dozens of great college dance programs that can lead to successful contemporary careers. But for aspiring bunheads, the options are narrower, and the competition is tough. Indiana University at Bloomington's ballet department only takes about 10-20 dancers each year.
Luckily, interested high school students can get an inside look at some of these ballet programs—and a chance to network with their faculty members—through summer intensives. Several dance departments, including Juilliard's, University of Utah's, University of South Carolina's and IU's, open their doors to talented high schoolers during June, July and August. Dancers get a real taste of campus life. They stay in the dorms, dance in the studios, take classes from regular faculty members and sometimes even train alongside current dance majors.
University summer programs are often just as hard-core as your typical intensive. At IU, each morning begins with classes in technique, pointe and men’s. Then afternoons are spent either in variations classes and rehearsals, or dedicated to additional technique classes in modern, Pilates, jazz and more ballet. Each week concludes with an informal presentation for the public and faculty members. (See music.indiana.edu/precollege/summer/ballet.)
Check the websites of the colleges you’re interested in to see if you're eligible to apply for their summer term. For more on top college ballet programs, visit danceu101.com.