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.

The Conversation
Viral Videos
Via YouTube

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop catches up with Moscow-based Russian State Ballet Theater dancer Matisse Love to hear all of her pointe shoe hacks, particularly her tips for pancaking. Before joining Russian State Ballet Theater, Love, a Los Angeles native, graduated from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and had a recurring role on the TV show Bunheads.

The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

Keep reading... Show less
Pacific Northwest Ballet principals Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta took their final curtain call on June 9, 2019. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB

We all know dance careers are temporary. But this season, it feels like we're saying goodbye to more stars than usual.

Many have turned to social media to share their last curtain calls, thoughts on what it feels like to say farewell to performing, and insights into the ways that dancing has made them who they are. After years of dedicating your life to the studio and stage, the decision to stop dancing is always an emotional one. Each dancer handles it in their own way—whether that means cheekily admitting to having an existential crisis, or simply leaving with no regrets about what you did for love.

We will miss these dancers' performances, but can't wait to see what awaits each in their next chapters.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Houston Ballet's Yuriko Kajiya and Linnar Looris in "The Merry Widow." Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy of Houston Ballet.

With Houston Ballet's Sunday performance of Marie, the company bade farewell not only to its spring season, but to two of its most beloved leading men: principal Jared Matthews and first soloist Linnar Looris each took their final bows on the Wortham Theater Center stage. Both men will travel soon to Estonia, where they will work together to lead the Estonian National Ballet, with Looris serving as the company's artistic director and Matthews as the assistant to the artistic director.

Keep reading... Show less