Students at CPYB's 5-week intensive. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy CPYB.

Summer Intensive Strategies: How to Choose the Program That Will Bring You Closer to Your Goals

This story originally appeared in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Pointe.

For preprofessional ballet dancers, the new year means one thing: summer intensive audition season. As you start thinking about which auditions to add to your calendar, consider your professional and technical goals. What do you want to achieve this upcoming year? Your dance resolutions should be at the top of your mind when deciding where to seek out summer training.

Resolution: Land A Contract
If you're going to be looking for a job soon, consider attending a summer intensive affiliated with a professional company—particularly one that you're interested in dancing for. Studying at a prospective company's studios can serve as an extended audition, since it gives the artistic staff a few weeks to observe your technique, demeanor and performance skills, and determine if you would be a good fit for the company. Skyler Lubin decided to take this approach when she was a student at Miami City Ballet School. She stayed at MCB for the summer to show her dedication to the institution—and to have an extra chance to prove her talent in the program's culminating performance. “I really wanted artistic director Edward Villella to see me onstage in the final show," Lubin says. She believes the opportunity aided in her acceptance into the company, where she is now a corps member.

This strategy can also help you learn about the company. By working with a faculty made up of current and former company members, you'll get an inside look at exactly what the dancers are like. Rehearsals and variations classes will let you discover how the company's repertoire feels on your body. You'll get a sense of the atmosphere, and be able to decide whether it's a place where you could thrive as a dancer.

Resolution: Find Better Year-Round Training


If you're still a few years away from company life but want to set yourself on a path to get there, you could use the summer to scout out a top-notch conservatory. When Joseph Steinauer discovered his love for ballet in college, he knew he needed to fast-track his ballet training if he was going to bring his technique up to par. So he spent the summer after his sophomore year at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. The 5-week intensive helped him decide to leave college to study year-round at CPYB.

“I was attracted to the classicism and intensity of the training," explains Steinauer, now a corps member at the National Ballet of Canada. Although the summer is less intense than CPYB's year-round program, it gave Steinauer a good taste of what the conservatory had to offer. He felt the male training was especially strong, citing Laszlo Berdo's men's classes.

If you have specific needs, whether it's teachers who can help you with your jumps or strong modern classes to improve your versatility, use the summer as a trial period to investigate whether a particular program might fit the bill.

Resolution: Expand Your Repertoire
Do you want to grow in a particular style that your home studio doesn't offer? If you dream of joining a contemporary company but train at a Vaganova-based school, for example, prepare yourself by seeking out a program where you'll learn more modern, cutting-edge ballets. During her summer at San Francisco Ballet School, Nicole Ciapponi had a chance to receive coaching from former SFB principal Tina LeBlanc on the renowned William Forsythe work The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. “I had always loved Tina's dancing and everything by William Forsythe," says Ciapponi. Most of Ciapponi's previous experience was in classical choreography, so working on a Forsythe ballet gave her a chance to challenge herself with more contemporary movement—a skill she knew she needed to cultivate before joining a company like SFB. In addition to developing a unique relationship with LeBlanc, the coaching helped prepare Ciapponi for company life: She performed Vertiginous this past year as a corps de ballet member with SFB (see “Best of The Best," page 60).

Aside from considering a program's company and school affiliations, style of training and repertoire, don't forget about the environment fostered by its faculty. As Lubin advises, “There has to be a balance of good people and good ballet." Speak to friends about their past training experiences, read dance blogs and reach out to potential programs of interest to find a summer intensive where you will be both encouraged and challenged.


Scholarship Savvy
For many dancers, the stress of summer intensive auditions is centered around getting in. But others are looking for more than that. “I wouldn't have been able to attend The Joffrey's summer intensive without a scholarship," Dara Holmes, now a member of The Joffrey Ballet, states frankly. She encourages young students to audition for programs where they believe they have a good shot at a scholarship. Think about which summer programs tend to accept dancers with your training background, style and body type—or, as in Holmes' case, programs that have already shown an interest in your dancing. Those are the ones that are most likely to entice you further by sending some money your way.

Even if you don't need the financial assistance, earning a scholarship indicates that the school is especially interested in working with you. You are bound to receive quality attention and exposure at a program that is willing to cover some or all of your summer training costs. For schools affiliated with a company, a scholarship could also mean, as it did for Holmes, that the company's artistic director views you as a potential company dancer.

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Eighteen-year-old Sarah Patterson (foreground), with her classmates at New Ballet School. She's decided to stay home this summer to take advantage of outdoor, in-person classes. Courtesy New Ballet School.

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After a year of shuttered studios, virtual-only classes, and waving to ballet buddies over Zoom, summer intensives are back. For adult students, packing up for a few days of intensive training might seem like a pipe dream, as many of us spent the last year trying to fit in ballet classes while juggling work and, for those of us with kids, remote learning. With the country opening up again, let's start planning (safely!) for workshops that allow us to jump into technique, conditioning and, of course, high-elbowing some new friends.

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CALIFORNIA

Alonzo King LINES Ballet Adult Dance Intensive (virtual only, via Zoom)

May 28–31, San Francisco

Immerse yourself in the celebrated home of Alonzo King, the artistic visionary who created LINES 39 years ago. Now in its second year as a virtual offering, this four-day workshop includes ballet, yoga, Pilates, choreography and contemporary. Students also have the option to drop in to class if they can't commit to all four days.

KENTUCKY

Lexington Ballet Adult Ballet Intensive

July 12–16, Lexington

Why should thoroughbreds have all the fun of training in the horse capital of the world? Reach new heights in your training at Lexington Ballet's Adult Ballet Intensive. Join school directors Luis and Nancy Dominguez and principal instructor Ayoko Lloyd for a five-day workshop that includes conditioning, Pilates, technique and repertoire. All classes are held in the evenings, and the program welcomes beginning through advanced students.

A group of eight smiling adult ballet students\u2014seven women and one man in the middle\u2014pose in a line and stand on their right leg in tendu crois\u00e9 devant.

A group of dancers pose at a past Lexington Ballet Adult Dance Intensive.

Ayoko Lloyd, Courtesy Lexington Ballet

Louisville Ballet Adult Summer Intensive

May 31–June 4, Louisville

Polish off a glass of sweet tea (or two), and then work up a sweet sweat at Louisville Ballet's Adult Summer Intensive. Geared towards beginning through advanced levels, students ages 18+ can take part in half- or full days of training. Classes offered include technique, pointe and jump strengthening, modern, Pilates and yoga. Students will also perform in a livestreamed performance on the final day.

MASSACHUSETTS

Brookline Ballet School Adult Summer Ballet Intensive

June 23–27, Brookline

The Red Sox and New England Patriots may get a bulk of the glory in Beantown, but the city is also a mecca for ballet. At Brookline Ballet School's Adult Summer Ballet Intensive, students (beginner or intermediate level) will spend three weeknights and two weekend mornings in technique and repertoire classes, wrapping up with an informal performance on Sunday afternoon.

NEW YORK

Kat Wildish Presents (virtual, via Zoom)

June 14–25 and July 12–23

Join master ballet teacher Kat Wildish in a virtual intensive that aims to take your training to the next level. Each day, in one-hour classes, Kat will lead students of all levels from basic to advanced in various ballet exercises. The group will be limited to 20 dancers, so each person will get personal attention.

A group of older adult ballet students in leotards, tights or leggings, stand in two lines with their left foot in B+ position and holding hands, as if rehearsing a ballet.

Kat Wildish (far left) working with adult students at Peridance Capezio Center

Matthew Venanzi, Courtesy Kat Wildish

OHIO

artÉmotion Adult Ballet Summer Workshop

June 14–19, Cleveland

Head to the Buckeye State for a week of training under the tutelage of Ballet West first soloist Allison DeBona and principal Rex Tilton. In this Adult Ballet Summer Workshop, beginner and intermediate/advanced students will fine-tune their skills in two classes every morning: a 90-minute technique class followed by a one-hour class in one of the following disciplines: pointe/pre-pointe, acting, men's and women's variations, conditioning.

PENNSYLVANIA

Amy Novinski

May 24–28 and June 28–July 2, Philadelphia

Those interested in the Vaganova technique may want to check out Amy Novinski's Adult Workshops. For the five-day May workshop, newbie dancers can look forward to classes devoted to ballet, jazz and yoga. For those more advanced, the June workshop offers more rigorous technique, contemporary ballet, pre-pointe/beginner pointe and jazz.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Ballet Academy of Charleston Adult Summer Intensive

July 26–30 and August 2–6, Charleston

Embrace the low-country charm in historic Charleston, where a weeklong Adult Summer Intensive at the Ballet Academy of Charleston invites beginning through advanced students to take classes in technique, stretching/Pilates/yoga, pre-pointe or pointe (for advanced students), variations, jazz, modern, contemporary and choreography. You may choose the half-day or full-day program.

TEXAS

Houston Ballet Adult Intensive

June 1–5, Houston

For intermediate/advanced students with at least three years of ballet training, Houston Ballet's Adult Intensive might be the perfect place to hone your skills. The school has two-, three- or five-day options, and includes ballet technique, variations, yoga and Zumba.

UTAH

May 31–June 5, Salt Lake City

Ballet West welcomes students of all levels to artÉmotion's one-week Adult Ballet Summer Intensive. Classes include ballet, contemporary, pointe, jazz, modern, acting, and men and women's variations. Available in full-day or half-day options, those dancing only in the morning will take two 90-minute technique classes. The full-day experience offers the opportunity to be choreographed on for an in-studio performance on Saturday, June 5. All students will also have a professional dance photo shoot with Logan Sorenson.

A group of four men in dance practicewear face the right corner of the room and raise their arm as if beckoning someone. Three of the men stand in parallel, which the man in the middle sits in a wheelchair.

A men's class at artÉmotion Adult Summer Ballet Intensive

Logan Sorenson, Courtesy artÉmotion

INTERNATIONAL

The August Ballet Retreat in Leeds

August 28–30, Leeds, UK

The three-day August Ballet Retreat in Leeds offers classes for students of all abilities. The mornings are devoted to technique, and in the afternoon, students will focus on repertoire. In the past, The Ballet Retreat has taught solos from Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet and Giselle. One detail is still tentative: If the retreat is unable to take place in person due to the pandemic, it will be offered virtually over Zoom.

Morlaix International Adult Ballet Camp

July 2–10, Morlaix, France

The Morlaix International Adult Ballet Camp is in the heart of France's Brittany region. In this full-day intensive, intermediate through advanced-level students will be led by an international faculty. Dancers can look forward to morning ballet classes and rehearsals in the afternoon. The week of training wraps up with a performance of Bournonville's Napoli at a nearby theater. Please contact the school for information about room and board.

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