Students at Sun King Dance's Adult Ballet Camp

Students at Sun King Dance's Adult Ballet Camp. Jenny McQueen of Capture Photography, Courtesy Sun King Dance.

Calling All Adult Ballet Students! Here's a List of Summer Programs Especially for You

For adult recreational dancers, summer isn't just a time for swapping out warm-up sweaters for breezy tees—it's also about taking your training to the next level, and perhaps packing your bags for a ballet workshop. Why should teens and pre-professionals have all of the fun? Fortunately, there are scores of adult summer programs all over the United States, and even abroad for those of you looking to sprinkle in a little sightseeing after your final reverénce. (Can't wait for summer? Check out these spring workshops at National Ballet of Canada and Sarasota Ballet.)

What can adults expect from a weekend or a week of dance training? Everything from technique to repertoire to yoga. Most of all, it's a chance to just dig in and dance, without a pesky to-do list waiting for you after class. Here are some summer programs designed for adult recreational dancers to keep on your radar.


Alonzo King LINES Ballet Adult Dance Intensive

May 28–31, San Francisco, CA

Jumpstart your summer in the house that Alonzo King built 38 years ago. Alonzo King LINES Adult Dance Intensive offers two tracks: one for recreational dancers and one for retired professionals and dance educators. Offerings include technique classes in ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop and world dance, as well as pedagogy, choreography, professional development for teachers and an exploration of the creative process with Alonzo King. Students can wrap up the day with an exploration of San Francisco's vibrant nightlife.

San Francisco Ballet Adult Ballet Summer Workshop

June 8–13, San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Ballet offers a five-and-a-half day Adult Ballet Summer Workshop in technique and repertory for intermediate though advanced students. Led by SFB principal dancer Tiit Helimets, corps member Kimberly Marie Olivier and faculty member Cecelia Beam, this intensive also includes classes in music and dance history, and culminates in an informal performance for family and friends. Early bird pricing available until February 29.


Lexington Ballet Adult Ballet Intensive

July 13–17, Lexington, KY

Train like a Thoroughbred in the city known as the horse capital of the world. At Lexington Ballet's Adult Ballet Intensive, classes are held in the evening, beginning with a Pilates/conditioning warm up, followed by a 90-minute ballet class, and wrapping up with variations/choreography. The program welcomes beginning through advanced students.

Louisville Ballet Adult Summer Intensive

A man, wearing a black biketard, jumps staight up in soubresaut while his female teacher watches from a crouched position on his left.

A faculty member helps an adult student perfect his soubresaut at Louisville Ballet's adult summer program.

Andrea Hutchinson, Courtesy Louisville Ballet

June 1–5, Louisville, KY

At Louisville Ballet's Adult Summer Intensive, beginning through advanced students can take part in half- or full-days of training, as well as an informal performance (for full-day participants) when the program wraps up. Dancers will have the chance to immerse themselves in ballet technique, pointe, men's class, modern and choreography, along with yoga and Pilates.


Brookline Ballet 2020 Adult Summer Ballet Intensive

June 24–June 28, Brookline, MA

Nestled in the greater Boston area, Brookline Ballet's Adult Summer Ballet Intensive offers three weeknights and two weekend mornings of classes in technique and repertoire, culminating in an informal performance on Sunday afternoon. Students can opt for the beginner or intermediate workshop.


Open Door Studios Adult Summer Workshop

June 4–6, Charlotte, NC

Spend a long weekend in the Queen City at Open Door Studios' Adult Summer Workshop. This 3-day intensive (Thursday through Saturday) focuses on ballet, pre-pointe and pointe, variations, conditioning, modern and improvisation. The program wraps up with a performance. Classes will be taught at an intermediate level, but beginners are welcome. Post-class on Friday, students can wind down with cocktails and appetizers in the bustling Plaza Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte.


Technique in Taos

July 26–August 9, Taos, NM

One- and two-week options available

Now in its 22nd year, Technique in Taos is a two-week program led by Jillana, a former principal with the New York City Ballet while under the direction of George Balanchine. The intensive, held in New Mexico's scenic Taos Ski Valley, is geared towards dance teachers and intermediate through advanced adult students (no beginners). The days begin with a stretch and fitness class, followed by a two-hour technique class. In the afternoon, students will move on to pointe, variations and repertory, including excerpts and variations from Balanchine ballets. Classes in modern, jazz and Pilates, as well as lectures on Balanchine and the New York City Ballet, will round out the day. Former NYCB principal Jock Soto will be a guest teacher.


Finis Jhung's 2020 Adult Ballet Student Workshop

Finis Jhung, wearing black pants, a black shirt and glasses, speaks to a large group of adult students as they execute a tendu combination in center.

Finis Jhung leads a group of adult ballet students through his student workshop.

Ai Toyoshima, Courtesy Jhung

June 13–14, New York, NY

One- and two-day options available

New York City is the backdrop for legendary teacher Finis Jhung's Adult Ballet Student Workshop, which is geared toward non-beginners and is limited to 30 students per day. Each day begins with barre, followed by center work, where Jhung breaks down the different components of ballet technique (turns, port de bras, arabesque, etc.) into their own in-depth sessions.

New York City Ballet's Ballet Essentials Workshop Weekend

June 4–7 or June 11–14, New York, NY

Designed for beginner to advanced-beginner students, New York City Ballet's four-day Ballet Essentials Workshop Weekend starts with a ballet technique class, followed by a tour of NYCB's theater at Lincoln Center. In the afternoon, choreography takes center stage with repertory workshops focused on the works of Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Participants will also observe an in-studio lecture demonstration featuring NYCB company members, and finish their day with a Pilates class. Each weekend offers the chance to perform for family and friends.

Ithaca Ballet Adult Summer Ballet Intensive

A group of 8 women lunge in tendu back with their arms in third position, holding a long scarf. Two other women kneel on the ground in a similar position with thier back leg and amrs. They all wear dark leotards, tights and some wear short skirts and warm-up pants.

Dancers strike a pose at Ithaca Ballet's adult intensive.

Rachel Meyers, Courtesy Ithaca Ballet

August 21–24, Ithaca, NY

Savor the college-town vibe with a long weekend at Ithaca Ballet's Adult Summer Ballet Intensive. The details are still being determined, but the adult intensive typically features an intermediate ballet class, classical variations, modern, contemporary, ballet workshops and core conditioning/stretch.

Classes will be geared towards adult dancers with a skill level at or above intermediate, though some classes may be appropriate for advanced or beginning-level dancers.


artÉmotion Adult Ballet Workshop

June 15–20, Cleveland, OH

Led by Ballet West soloist Allison DeBona and principal Rex Tilton, artÉmotion's Adult Ballet Workshop is for beginning through advanced levels (no prior dance experience is required). Held in the morning, it consists of two technique classes: ballet, plus another in either pre-pointe/pointe, mens and women's variations, contemporary, modern and jazz. Dancers will also enjoy a group professional photo shoot with Joshua Whitehead.

Cincinnati Ballet Adult Weekend Intensive

May 29–31, Cincinnati, OH

Dancers wanting to kick off their summer with an exploration of multiple dance styles can do so at Cincinnati Ballet's Adult Weekend Intensive. The long weekend consists of classes in ballet, modern, musical theater and conditioning, as well as an introduction to repertoire. Dancers can also take part in an optional, informal performance on the final day the intensive.


Ballet Academy of Charleston Adult Summer Intensive

August 3–7 (Beginner/Lower Intermediate), August 10–14 (Advanced/Upper Intermediate), Charleston, SC

Bask in the beauty of the Lowcountry with a week-long intensive at the Ballet Academy of Charleston, located just 15 minutes from the city's vibrant, historic downtown. Students will immerse themselves in classes focused on technique, stretching/Pilates/yoga, pre-pointe or pointe (for advanced students), jazz, modern, contemporary and choreography. Contact the school for information about discounted rates at local hotels.


Houston Ballet Adult Intensive

August 10–15, Houston, TX

At Houston Ballet's Adult Intensive, dancers choose between three- or six-day options, and the program geared toward intermediate through advanced students who've had at least three years of ballet training. Students will become immersed in technique, repertoire, contemporary, social dance, body conditioning and Yamuna. The week wraps up with an informal showing for those enrolled in the full week of classes.


artÉmotion Adult Ballet Intensive

A middle aged woman in a long-sleeved black leotard, black tutu, pink tights and ballet slipper, poses dramatically in sus-sous, her arms in a V shape.

A dancer from artÉmotion's Adult Summer ballet Intensive poses for a professional photography session.

Logan Sorenson, Courtesy artÉmotion

June 1–6, Salt Lake City, UT

Led by Ballet West soloist Allison DeBona and principal Rex Tilton, artÉmotion's Adult Ballet Intensive is geared toward beginning through advanced levels (no prior dance experience is required).

Students in the Adult Ballet Summer Intensive may opt for full or half-days, which begin with a 90-minute technique class. Other offerings include pre-pointe and pointe, men's class, variations, contemporary, modern and jazz. Students will also get a professional dance photo shoot with Logan Sorenson, as well as a complimentary visit to US Cryotherapy. Full-day participants get choreographed on for a world premiere performance on the last day of the intensive.


Sun King Dance Adult Ballet Camps

A woman in a red leotard and black ballet skirt smiles brightly in tendu croise while her teacher, wearing a floral pink leotard, stands to her left encouraging her.

Director Heidi Winton-Stahle (far right) works with a student at Sun King Dance's Adult Ballet Camp.

Courtesy Sun King Dance

June 14–20 and August 9–15, Richmond, VA

Celebrating its 20th season this year, Sun King Dance offers two Adult Ballet Camps, in short-day and full-day options. Students kick off the week with a placement meeting (there are four levels offered, from beginner to advanced). The teachers are all former professional dancers, and students will be immersed in a variety of styles, from Royal Academy of Dance to Balanchine to Vaganova. Each day begins with an hour of Elemental Body Alignment System (EBAS) as a daily warm-up, followed by ballet, pointe, men's class, mime, character and variations. The intensive wraps up with a performance. Students participating in the short day program can choose to add an additional class focused on pas de deux, stretch and/or performance for an additional fee.


Morlaix International Adult Ballet Camp

July 3–11, Morlaix, France

Head to France's Brittany region for the Morlaix International Adult Ballet Camp. Classes are open to intermediate through advanced students ages 16 and up. The full-day intensive will be led by an international faculty, with teachers from Finland, Netherlands, Italy and France, and consists of morning ballet classes, rehearsals and stretching. Dancers will end the week with a performance of August Bournonville's ballet Napoli at a local theater, complete with costumes and alongside two professional dancers.

The Ballet Retreat

June 7, Leeds, UK

August 29–31, Leeds, UK

July 18–19, London, UK

We can't think of a better way to spend a few days in the UK than by working up a sweat and developing your skills with The Ballet Retreat's summer workshops. Choose between one, two or three-day retreats, which begin with a guided warm-up session before moving on to technique, repertoire and learning a solo piece from a classic ballet. An express class kicks off the afternoon, followed by more repertoire and a guided cool down. Hotel and travel arrangements must be made by the student, but the school can offer information about booking.

Chelsea Ballet Summer School 

August 3–8, London, UK

Another option for training in London is with Chelsea Ballet's Summer School, a non-profit run by amateur dancers of all skill levels. The director started the summer program in 2005 after struggling to find an intensive that wasn't for kids or professionals. Now, the 18+ crowd can delve into a variety of classes led by teachers who danced with The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet. The program, serving intermediate through advanced students, starts with Pilates, followed by two ballet classes, pointe and repertoire.

Pas de Chat International Adult Ballet Intensive

During a pas de deux class, a woman in a burgundy leotard, black skirt and pointe shoes stands in fifth position while her partner, in a beige T-shirt and black pants, stands behind her in a loose first position.

Dancers in partnering class at Pas de Chat International's ballet intensive.

Morana Popovčić, Courtesy Pas de Chat International

July 15–21, Zaghreb, Croatia

Pas De Chat International's Adult Ballet Intensive, held in Croatia's historic city of Zaghreb, is segmented into classical technique class, variations, pointe, introduction to pas de deux, stretching and modern technique. For those interested in a modern emphasis, a different track includes classical technique, floor work, modern partnering, choreography and improvisation.

When dancers aren't working on their ballet or modern skills, they can explore Croatia's capital and largest city, an art mecca known for its museums and affordable eateries. Email for more information or to register.

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Chisako Oga photographed for Pointe by Jayme Thornton

Chisako Oga Is Soaring to New Heights at Boston Ballet

Chisako Oga is a dancer on the move—in more ways than one. From childhood training in Texas, California and Japan to a San Francisco Ballet apprenticeship to her first professional post with Cincinnati Ballet, where she quickly rose to principal dancer, she has rarely stood still for long.

But now the 24-year-old ballerina is right where she wants to be, as one of the most promising soloists at Boston Ballet. In 2019, Oga left her principal contract to join the company as a second soloist, rising to soloist the following year. "I knew I would have to take a step down to join a company of a different caliber, and Boston Ballet is one of the best companies in the country," she says. "The repertoire—Kylián, Forysthe, all the full-length ballets—is so appealing to me."

And the company has offered her major opportunities from the start. She danced the title role in Giselle in her very first performances with Boston Ballet, transforming a playful innocent into a woman haunted by betrayal with dramatic conviction and technical aplomb. But she also is making her mark in contemporary work. The last ballet she performed onstage before the pandemic hit was William Forsythe's demanding In the middle, somewhat elevated, which she says was a dream to perform. "The style really clicked, felt really comfortable. Bill drew something new out of me every rehearsal. As hard as it was, it was so much fun."

"Chisako is a very natural mover, pliable and strong," says artistic director Mikko Nissinen. "Dancing seems to come very easy for her. Not many have that quality. She's like a diamond—I'm curious to see how much we can polish that talent."

Chisako Oga, an Asian-American ballerina, does a pench\u00e9 on pointe towards the camera with her arms held out to the side and her long hair flying. Smiling confidently, she wears a blue leotard and a black and white ombr\u00e9 tutu.

Jayme Thornton for Pointe

A Life-Changing Opportunity

Oga began dancing at the age of 3. Born in Dallas, she and her family moved around to follow her father's job in IT. Before settling in Carlsbad, California, they landed in Japan for several years, where Oga began to take ballet very seriously. "I like the simplicity of ballet, the structure and the clear vocabulary," she says. "Dances that portray a story or have a message really drew me in. One of my favorite parts of a story ballet is diving into the role and becoming the character, putting it in my perspective."

In California, Oga studied with Victor and Tatiana Kasatsky and Maxim Tchernychev. Her teachers encouraged her to enter competitions, which she says broadened her outlook and fed her love of performing in front of an audience. Though highly motivated, she says she came to realize that winning medals wasn't everything. "Honestly, I feel like the times I got close and didn't place gave me perspective, made me realize being a dancer doesn't define you and helped me become the person and the dancer I am today."

At 15, Oga was a semifinalist at the Prix de Lausanne, resulting in a "life-changing" scholarship to the San Francisco Ballet School. There she trained with two of her most influential teachers, Tina LeBlanc and Patrick Armand. "She came in straightaway with strong basics," Armand recalls, "and working with her for two years, I realized how clever she is. She's super-smart, thoughtful, driven, always working."

She became a company apprentice in 2016. Then came the disappointing news—she was let go a few months later. Pushing 5' 2", she was simply too short for the company's needs, she was told. "It was really, really hard," says Oga. "I felt like I was on a good track, so to be let go was very shocking, especially since my height was not something I could improve or change."

Jayme Thornton for Pointe

Moving On and Up

Ironically, Oga's height proved an advantage in auditioning for Cincinnati Ballet, which was looking for a talented partner for some of their shorter men. She joined the company in 2016, was quickly promoted to soloist, and became a principal dancer for the 2017–18 season, garnering major roles like Swanilda and Juliet during her three years with the company. "There were times I felt insignificant and insecure, like I don't deserve this," Oga says about these early opportunities. "But I was mostly thrilled to be put in those shoes."

She was also thriving in contemporary work, like choreographer-in-residence Jennifer Archibald's MYOHO. Archibald cites her warmth, playfulness and sensitivity, adding, "There's also a powerful presence about her, and I was amazed at how fast she was at picking up choreography, able to find the transitions quickly. She's definitely a special talent. Boston Ballet will give her more exposure on a national level."

Chisako Oga, an Asian-American ballerina, poses in attitude derriere crois\u00e9 on her right leg, with her right arm out to the side and her left hand grazing her left shoulder. She smiles happily towards the camera, her black hair blowing in the breeze, and wears a blue leotard, black-and-white ombre tutu, and skin-colored pointe shoes.

Jayme Thornton for Pointe

That was Oga's plan. She knew going in that Cincinnati was more stepping-stone than final destination. She had her sights on a bigger company with a broader repertoire, and Boston Ballet seemed ideal.

As she continues to spread her wings at the company, Oga has developed a seemingly effortless artistic partnership with one of Boston Ballet's most dynamic male principals, Derek Dunn, who Oga calls "a kind-hearted, open person, so supportive when I've been hard on myself. He's taught me to believe in myself and trust that I'm capable of doing whatever the choreography needs." The two have developed an easy bond in the studio she likens to "a good conversation, back and forth."

Dunn agrees. "I knew the first time we danced together we had a special connection," he says. "She really takes on the artistic side of a role, which makes the connection really strong when we're dancing onstage. It's like being in a different world."

He adds, "She came into the company and a lot was thrown at her, which could have been daunting. She handled it with such grace and confidence."

Derek Dunn, shirtless and in blue tights, lunges slightly on his right leg and holds Chisako Oga's hand as she balances on her left leg on pointe with her right leg flicking behind her. She wears a yellow halter-top leotard and they dance onstage in front of a bright orange backdrop.

Oga with Derek Dunn in Helen Pickett's Petal

Liza Voll, Courtesy Boston Ballet

Perspective in a Pandemic

The pair were heading into Boston Ballet's busy spring season when the pandemic hit. "It was really a bummer," Oga says. "I was really looking forward to Swan Lake, Bella Figura, some new world premieres. When we found out the whole season was canceled, it was hard news to take in."

But she quickly determined to make the most of her time out of the studio and physically rest her body. "All the performances take a toll. Of course, I did stretches and exercised, but we never give ourselves enough time to rest as dancers."

She also resumed college courses toward a second career. Oga is one of many Boston Ballet dancers taking advantage of a special partnership with Northeastern University to help them earn bachelor's degrees. Focusing on finance and accounting, Oga upped her classes in economics, algebra, business and marketing. She also joined Boston Ballet's Color Our Future Mentoring Program to raise awareness and support diversity, equity and inclusion. "I am trying to have my voice inspire the next generation," she says.

Jayme Thornton for Pointe

One pandemic silver lining has been spending more time with her husband, Grand Rapids Ballet dancer James Cunningham. The two met at Cincinnati Ballet, dancing together in Adam Hougland's Cut to the Chase just after Oga's arrival, and got married shortly before her move to Boston. Cunningham took a position in Grand Rapids, so they've been navigating a long-distance marriage ever since. They spend a lot of time texting and on FaceTime, connecting in person during layoffs. "It's really hard," Oga admits, but adds, "We are both very passionate about the art form, so it's easy to support each other's goals."

Oga's best advice for young dancers? "Don't take any moment for granted," she says without hesitation. "It doesn't matter what rank you are, just do everything to the fullest—people will see the hard work you put in. Don't settle for anything less. Knowing [yourself] is also very important, not holding yourself to another's standards. No two paths are going to be the same."

And for the foreseeable future, Oga's path is to live life to the fullest, inside and outside ballet. "The pandemic put things in perspective. Dancing is my passion. I want to do it as long as I can, but it's only one portion of my life. I truly believe a healthy balance between social and work life is good for your mental health and helps me be a better dancer."

Students of International City School of Ballet in Marietta, Georgia. Karl Hoffman Photography, Courtesy International City Ballet

A Ballet Student’s Guide to Researching Pre-Professional Training Programs

Many dancers have goals of taking their training to the next level by attending full-time pre-professional programs next fall. But it's hard to get to know the organizations without physically experiencing them first. Even when the world isn't practicing social distancing, visiting a school or attending its summer program isn't always possible. So, what can students and their families do to research programs and know what might work best for them? Who do you reach out to, and what are the questions you and your parents should be asking?

Here, pre-professional-program leaders share some practical advice for taking the next step in your dance training.

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American Ballet Theatre corps member Rachel Richardson. NYC Dance Project, Courtesy Rachel Richardson

ABT’s Rachel Richardson on Performing With Her Hometown Company, Eugene Ballet

When I signed my first professional contract with Eugene Ballet, one of the last things I anticipated was the opportunity to dance beside a member of American Ballet Theatre. Flash forward to the start of our spring season this year, and suddenly I'm chatting in the hallway and rehearsing the Cinderella fairy variations next to luminous ABT corps member Rachel Richardson. When ABT announced it was canceling live performances for the 2020–21 season, Richardson traveled back home to Eugene, Oregon, to be with her family—and this spring joined the company as a guest artist.

Growing up, Richardson trained locally in Eugene before moving to The Rock School for Dance Education's year-round program in Philadelphia. After securing a spot in the ABT Studio Company in 2013, she was promoted to corps de ballet in 2015. This unconventional year marks her sixth season with the main company.

After having the privilege of dancing with her this spring, I sat down with Richardson to discuss her recent guesting experience, how the pandemic has helped her grow and her advice for young dancers.

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