Web Exclusive - Ask Amy

My parents don’t want to pay for a summer intensive. Should I try to convince them that the training is worth the extra money, or should I just work really hard at my home studio all summer? —Emily

 

Summer intensives certainly aren’t cheap, but they can be incredibly valuable. It’s worth making a case to your parents before you give up entirely. In fact, you may want to have your teacher help you, to give them an expert opinion of how you’ll benefit. First, ask your parents if you can at least audition—regardless of whether they let you go away for the summer, auditioning is a learning process in itself. You’ll be better able to assess where you stand among your peers and be seen by new teachers and school directors. If you get accepted, then it’s time to have a more in-depth discussion about what your options are. While most schools offer merit scholarships, some offer financial assistance and work study—they’re worth looking into. You can also look into independent scholarships, or start a fundraising campaign.

You have other negotiating tools, as well. See if there are any intensives close to home or near relatives you could stay with to save on room and board (see our summer study guide for a full list of programs near you). If not, be prepared to hustle: Offer to help pay for part of the tuition yourself through a part-time job. (For even more great ideas, check out “Fund Your Summer Intensive,” featured in our December 2013/January 2014 issue.)

If your efforts to convince your parents don’t succeed, try not to worry. Take full advantage of what your studio has to offer by taking extra classes, or branching out into additional styles like jazz and modern, which can help bring new depth to your ballet technique. See if you can take a few day trips to a nearby city to take open classes with different teachers. With a little creativity and a lot of hard work, you can create your own fulfilling, dance-packed summer.

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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