Monday, June 28, 2010

I have a feeling we're not in Summer Dance camp anymore...

So what happens when a dancer turns 13 and just a little too old for the fun days of BalletMet's summer dance camp? It's time for the big leagues. As a former dance student myself, I have come to realize just how dedicated dance students are. We're not like a one-season sport that only peaks for a few months; we work year round with few breaks, and even then are usually concerned with losing technique so we pick up a class here and there. When it comes to summer dance students use the break from school to focus fully on their craft.

Around the time a serious dancer turns 12 or 13 they'll begin attending Summer programs, usually called intensives, programs, or studies. And they're not just using the name to sell spots: It is intense. Students will begin their day around 9 a.m., taking various classes with small breaks, not ending the day until 5 p.m. The programs are designed to push a dancer's limits, build endurance, and give students an idea of what a real professional dancing career is like.

These programs are available at dance schools across the country, and BalletMet is fortunate to host a Summer Intensive and a Pre-Professional Intensive. The Summer Intensive is four weeks long, but can be reduced to three weeks for younger students who may be participating for the first time. The Pre-Professional Intensive is tailored towards students on the cusp of a professional career. The great thing about this five-week program, is that students have the chance to be invited to become a part of BalletMet's year-long Pre-Professional program or even receive a trainee position with the company. Every level, from age 12-20, takes classes from a renowned faculty with years of professional dance and teaching experience.

As an intensive student for three years myself, I can honestly say that BalletMet has a fantastic program and truly pushes dancers to their physical and emotional limits. The technique classes are difficult, and I can vividly remember plopping down on the couch when I would get home at the end of the day and feeling like every muscle in my body was sore. But it's about more than just physical improvement. BalletMet focuses on developing you as a dancer in a very holistic manner, mandating classes in yoga, acting, dance history, and even personal safety. Enough about my experience -- hear from Molly Ahler, a student who attended BalletMet's intensive for several summers and has been accepted to the University of Arizona's school of dance.

"I have attended BalletMet’s Pre-Professional Summer Intensive for three summers in a row. BalletMet is such a warm and kind environment. The staff, faculty, and students are all so happy and you feel welcome as soon as you walk through the door. They really have your best interest at heart. The best part about the intensive would be the feedback you get from teachers. They want you to learn and grow as a dancer and individual, which is not something you find everywhere. Every night after I got back to the dorms, I would write down corrections to help me become a better dancer. I had a new notebook every summer to take notes. Everything you learn follows you after you leave the program.
BalletMet helped me grow as a dancer because they know how far they can push your limits. I really liked the fact that the teachers wouldn’t just give you the answer to a problem or correction. You as a student, needed to figure it out on your own. They would help guide you, but they wouldn’t spoon feed you the answer.
The intensive as a whole was incredible. The teachers were hard in class, but positive and had a good sense of humor. You get to take so many different classes and are made to think outside of the box at times.They offer a diverse selection of classes during the intensive as well as night classes. I have recommended it to many friends and some have attended or will be attending the program. I had a blast the summers I attended their intensive and it was a positive learning atmosphere. "

As Molly's testimony proves, BalletMet's Summer Intensive shows results as well. Dancers who have participated in our program are now dancing in schools and companies such as Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Conservatory, Richmond Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Austin, Ballet West, Butler Ballet, our own Professional company, and more.

To find out more about our programs see the Summer Intensive web site and Facebook page.

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