Written By: Sarah Beacham
Many aspiring dancers consider attending summer intensive programs to further their artistry during the months when their studios or schools are not in session. These programs range in location, length, cost, and difficulty. While some programs require an audition to attend, others are more lenient and have open enrollment. Additionally, many of the elite programs provide housing and meals for those attending their sleep-away intensive.
Though summer intensives can be costly, there are many benefits to attending an intensive.
Summer intensives are a great way to expose yourself to unknown techniques or spend time learning how to blend different techniques to improve your dancing. If you primarily study one style during the year, it may be a good idea to branch out and try something new. Intensive classes usually include ballet, pointe, partnering, jazz, character, variations and contemporary. You may discover a new talent or passion for one of these styles but learning multiple techniques can help you become a more informed dancer.
It’s always fun meeting new people and when you are immersed in these dance classes, you will find yourself in an entirely new community. They have come from all different neighborhoods, cities, countries and dance backgrounds. This means new dynamics! This environment gives you a great opportunity to meet new people and to network with other dancers. You will also meet a strong, experienced teaching staff leading the classes. These teachers offer new, creative approaches to techniques and perhaps give you some new corrections or movements to work on.
With 4-5 classes each day, you are bound to make tremendous improvement on your technique. Continuous effort toward perfecting your dancing will push you to a new level very quickly. You are conditioning your body each day, preparing for dance success. You will start to notice that certain dance concepts and movement are easier to execute as your body becomes more conditioned toward the movement. This is an exciting revelation to experience as a dancer.
Traveling to a summer intensive takes you out of your comfort zone. You'll experience new cities, new people, new schedules, new classes and new expectations. These opportunities will help you to grow as a dancer. Summer programs generally offer a lot of fun activities on the weekends to expose their dancers to the greatness of their cities. Whether it is a summer dance, a ballet performance, or a day in the park, most programs try to promote fun activities and active communities.
Many professional schools use their summer intensives to find prospective students for the school year. They see it as a stepping stone or an unformal audition to potentially dancing there on a more serious note. If you are considering attending their professional school, it may be a good idea to spend a summer there first to make sure it is a good fit for you.
1. Breathe. Breathing techniques can help calm your nervous system which will help your dancing.
2. Prepare. Pack your dance bag the night before your audition so you are not scrambling the morning of to find all of your things. Make sure you have the proper shoes, leotard, tights, hair pins, etc.
3. Get to the audition early so you have plenty of time to warm up, stretch, and fill out any paperwork they may need for your audition.
4. Be comfortable. If you have a favorite leotard, wear it. This is a time for you to put your best foot forward and if you are uncomfortable, you will not be performing your best.
5. Be professional. Go into the audition with your hair properly pulled back and secured with hairspray and enough bobby pins. Double check that you do not have holes in your tights. Always say thank you and curtsy to the teacher and the accompanist at the end of class, it goes a long way.
6. No matter what, always remember that confidence is the best accessory!
Sarah Beacham, originally from Raleigh, NC, has been dancing for most of her life. Sarah trained at City Ballet in Raleigh, NC until attending Elon University where she earned a BFA in Dance Performance & Choreography and a BA in Psychology. She has had the opportunity to perform professionally with Terranova Dance Theatre, The Kearns Dance Project, and Gaspard & Dancers. Sarah is currently dancing in Norfolk, VA with Todd Rosenlieb Dance and Virginia Ballet Theatre as an apprentice member.