Courtesy Nutmeg

Everything You Need to Do Before Your Summer Intensive

Congratulations! You've made it through audition season and have decided which summer intensive to attend. (Don't worry if you're not there yet—that day is just around the corner.) We asked faculty from The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory what to do in the months leading up to your intensive so you can get the most out of it:


Self-Evaluate and Set Goals

Courtesy Nutmeg

In the next few months, think about what you want to get out of your summer program. Consider your strengths and weaknesses: What are the areas where you're looking to grow? It could be a specific aspect of your technique, a new style or just expanding your artistry outside the walls of your home studio.

Think beyond technique: Are you a shy person who might want to focus on making new friends? Or push yourself to form relationships with teachers? Give intentional thought to your goals ahead of time.

Prepare Your Body

Nutmeg alum and current Wonderbound dancer Benjamin Youngstone

Don Perdue, Courtesy Nutmeg

We've all been there: Pushing through an injury because we think it's part of becoming a dancer, or because we're afraid it will affect casting. But heading into a summer intensive with an injury won't allow you to have an optimal experience—and may even be dangerous.

Now is the time to do whatever is needed for diagnosis, repair and strengthening. "Even if it's something that won't be fully healed by the time you start a summer program, seeing a doctor ahead of time gives you the tools to manage it and the vocabulary to tell your teachers what you're experiencing," says Nutmeg artistic director Victoria Mazzarelli. "Our faculty understands the emotional toll that dealing with an injury takes on a dancer, which is one reason why we have on-site physical therapists."

Try to assess what your summer schedule will be and make sure you are prepared. At Nutmeg, dancers should plan to be in the studio from 10 am until 8 pm, with small breaks in between. Since this may be more than you're used to dancing in your home studio, Nutmeg ballet master Timothy Melady suggests students try to increase their stamina prior to their summer intensive by getting their heart rate up for a sustained period of time every day.

Especially if partnering is new for you, work on strength training before your intensive. Melady suggests keeping a Theraband in your dance bag at all times, and training with push-ups and weight-lifting. (Just make sure you're working with proper technique—ask a teacher for help if you need it!) A strong core is crucial for both men and women when partnering, so supplement with sit-ups or Pilates hundreds.

If you'll be tackling a new style at your intensive—whether that's Vaganova, Balanchine, Cechetti or others—don't worry about trying to learn it ahead of time. This could lead to injuries, and a good summer program will understand that students are coming in with different backgrounds. (Of course, reading up on the history of the different styles is always smart!)

Prepare Your Mind

Courtesy Nutmeg

Whether you're feeling anxious that you won't perform to your best in new circumstances, or worried about meeting new friends or being away from home for the first time, summer intensives require some mental preparation, too. First, know that your concerns are shared by hundreds of other young dancers going off to their summer intensives.

Don't worry about what you don't know and keep an open mind. "When we're pushed out of our comfort zones, we tend to rely on what we already know, and sometimes that includes being resistant to change," says Donna Mattiello, director of Nutmeg's year-round academic program. "Sometimes a change isn't necessary, but being open to it as an option is what sets a student up for success."

Your summer program may push you to rethink things you've been doing differently at your home studio. For example, at Nutmeg, associate artistic director Joan Kunsch encourages her students to write their corrections in a notebook. Though you may not be used to reading your corrections outside of class, this practice could give you a new perspective on your dancing. Even before you arrive at your intensive, start opening your mind to new ways of thinking about your training.

To learn more about Nutmeg, visit their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Latest Posts


Vikki Sloviter

Sydney Dolan Takes Center Stage at Pennsylvania Ballet

This is Pointe's Summer 2020 cover story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

Just days before the world shuttered under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, and the curtain came down indefinitely on dance companies everywhere, Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Sydney Dolan debuted Gamzatti in La Bayadère with captivating ease. Her jumps soared, her technique was sound, and her cheeky smile paired with exquisite port de bras was beguiling. Though she didn't know the company would soon cancel the remainder of its season, her beautiful performance acted as a kind of send-off into the unknown.

Dolan's career could be described in one word: charmed. At just 19 years old, she's flown through the ranks at PAB, debuted a long list of roles, won a Princess Grace Award and been named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch." Yet it's her challenges that have shaped not only her training but her outlook, giving her a solid foundation for becoming one of Pennsylvania Ballet's rising stars.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
VAM/Siggul, Courtesy YAGP

YAGP Has Announced the Winners of the 2020 Pas De Deux Virtual Competition

Last weekend, Youth America Grand Prix took to the internet, hosting its first virtual pas de deux competition. Over the course of three days, YAGP streamed videos from its regional events' highest-ranked competitors for a panel of esteemed judges. And, drum roll please... YAGP has just announced the winners, spanning three categories: Senior Classical, Junior Classical and Contemporary.

You can watch the full virtual awards ceremony, hosted by YAGP director of external affairs Sergey Gordeev, below, or scroll down for the list of winners. And if you're missing the thrill of competition, don't fear: Gordeev announced that registration for the 2021 season will open on July 10, with both in-person and virtual options available.

Congratulations to all!

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

Defining and Refining Musicality: How to Tune In and Develop Your Artistic Voice

Ask a hundred people what musicality is, and you're likely to get a hundred different answers. "Musicality is where an artist's personality shines brightest," says Smuin Contemporary Ballet member Ben Needham-Wood. For American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt, "it's what distinguishes one dancer from another. It helps me express myself more vividly and emotionally."

Teachers encourage it, directors seek it out and dancers who possess it bring choreography to life in compelling ways. But what exactly is musicality, and how can dancers get more of it?

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks