Ballet Training
Students at Ellison Ballet's Classical Pas de Deux Intensive learning the pas from Don Quixote. Rachel Neville, Courtesy Ellison Ballet.

Summer intensives are wonderful opportunities to focus on your technique and artistry, study with new teachers and take classes you may not regularly get. But in addition to traditional multi-week, all-encompassing programs, many schools are now adding shorter "specialty" intensives that address specific areas or skills. These supplemental weeks (which usually follow the longer programs) offer short, deep dives into the choreographic process, variations, partnering or life as a professional dancer. While regular summer programs are fairly predictable, these hyper-focused intensives vary widely in their environments, intentions and requirements. And while it's a good opportunity to add weeks to your summer or train at more than one school, some may restrict admission to or prioritize those attending their full summer program. Before jumping in, look closely at what's involved and think about what you need.

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Ballet Training

Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop talks about what to do if one of your feet is stronger than the other. She's fitting Becca, who's struggling to get over her box on the left.

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Ballet Training
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I am a competitive ballet dancer. Currently I'm dancing the third Odalisque variation from Le Corsaire and want to know how to master quadruple turns. Any suggestions? —Anonymous

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Ballet Training
Marty Sohl, Courtesy ABT

When I was 14 years old, I placed in Youth America Grand Prix's final round and was offered a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School's summer intensive. As overjoyed as I was, I couldn't help but realize just how hard I'd had to fight to get to this point. Despite the years of tears, bullies and constant exclusion that I'd faced, I hadn't given up—and it was paying off.

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Ballet Training

Competition season is right around the corner... ThePointeShop's Josephine Lee fits a student headed to Youth America Grand Prix to help her find the performance shoes that will allow her to "put her best foot forward" and impress the judges.

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News
Ballet West Academy Professional Training Division student Olivia Book. Haskell Photography, Courtesy Book.

When you see Olivia Book dance, you first notice her long lines, incredible control and captivating stage presence. It's obvious why the Canadian dancer received high marks at Toronto's Youth American Grand Prix competition last year—the girl has talent! It isn't until a second or third glance that you realize that one of the 16-year-old's arms is a little different than most. Born with congenital upper extremity limb deficiency, Book's right arm ends just above her elbow and is significantly smaller than her left one. "My right arm, or 'little arm,' has forced me to rely on my left arm for all of my daily life activities," says Book.

Though she's had to work twice as hard at things that might be second nature for many dancers, Book's passion for ballet trumps any of the physical challenges she faces. "I love how beautiful ballet is," she says, "and there are so many professional ballerinas that I admire and look up to. Knowing that one day I could dance that beautifully and make ballet my career makes me so excited."

Book, who trains full time at Ballet West's Professional Training Division, appears to be well on her way to making her dreams of dancing professionally a reality. Pointe talked with Book to learn more about her path to Ballet West Academy and how she manages some of her unique challenges.

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Health & Body
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For a limited time only, enter here to win a copy of Eat Right Dance Right.

It's that time of year when cold weather and busy performance schedules have you craving delicious comfort foods. To help make winter cooking less daunting, we're sharing three professional dancers' favorite recipes. For added confidence that these meals are great for fueling your dancing, we asked Marie Elena Scioscia, a registered dietitian and author of Eat Right Dance Right, to weigh in on what makes them healthy, and the small things you can do to make them even healthier.

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Ballet Training
Patrick Armand leads class at San Francisco Ballet School's summer session. Chris hardy, Courtesy SFB.

Ariel McCarty's training was predominantly classical until, at 15, she auditioned for Boston Ballet's summer intensive. The audition class was in more of a Balanchine style, and the teacher corrected her right away. "She wanted me to accent the arm opening out quickly in my pliés, rather than through the whole phrase," says McCarty, now a Colorado Ballet apprentice. She could have panicked, but, instead, she met the correction with a smile. "I tried it, and it felt not quite right. But the instructor said, 'That's the idea.' " After that, McCarty was able to let go of trying to be perfect in an unfamiliar style. "It opened me to a new idea of musicality. It's exciting to try new things."

The stress of summer intensive auditions is real: You're in a strange place, taking a strange class, and pressure is high to show yourself at your best. But, as McCarty discovered, shaking off a bit of that pressure might be the best way to have a good audition. Two school directors agree, and explain why you should leave behind these common audition worries.

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Viral Videos

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop gives tips on how to find the best fit if your pointe shoes feel baggy.

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News
David Makhateli leads class at the Grand Audition. Andrei Uspenski, Courtesy Grand Audition

When David Makhateli was about to graduate from the Royal Ballet School, financial difficulties hindered his ability to travel to auditions. "I thought it would have been so much easier to audition for several companies at once," says Makhateli, who went on to become a Royal Ballet principal. "That would have saved me money on traveling."

That experience would later inspire him and his wife, Daria Makhateli, to co-found the Grand Audition, a multi-company audition held in Barcelona each year that enables dancers and directors from around the world to connect at one destination.

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News
Boston Ballet School students tour Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Igor Burlak, Courtesy Boston Ballet

Over the years, one thing kept Boston Ballet School director Margaret Tracey up at night. While she feels enormous pride in the training the school's pre-professional division provides, she often worries about how her students are doing outside of dance: namely, in academics and residential life. "My sleepless nights happen when I think about a young student who's living on their own and struggling with something, or whose online school program is overwhelming them," says Tracey. "Those sit outside our core competencies as a ballet school, and, yet, I can't ignore that it's a huge part of their daily experience."

Though Boston Ballet School has provided housing and academic options to its pre-professional students, they haven't proved sustainable. That will soon change. Next fall, BBS will join forces with the dance program at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, a boarding high school in nearby Natick, Massachusetts. The partnership, called Boston Ballet School's Pre-Professional Division at Walnut Hill, seems like a win-win for both organizations: It offers BBS dancers college-preparatory academics and an on-site residential facility, and gives Walnut Hill an affiliation with a major ballet company.

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Luca Sbrizzi. Courtesy Duane Rieder, Courtesy Luca Sbrizzi

If you ask Luca Sbrizzi what he remembers about performing Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, he can provide you with a laundry list of his mistakes. "Although I remember feeling an incredible connection to my partner and hearing comments afterwards on how moving and beautiful our performance was, those are not the first things that pop into my head when I think of Swan Lake," he says. "And I hate that."

The obsession with being perfect was a major contributor in his decision to retire from his career as a principal dancer at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. "When I would have what I considered a bad performance, I would get so upset I wouldn't want to talk to anyone and would shut the world out, thinking that in behaving this way I would be more likely to do better the next time," he says. "It was a way for me to punish myself for not succeeding."

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