February 20, 2014 by Nicole
Photo courtesy of Kieshalia Stephens, Pink Afterglow Photography
There are many reasons that dance students should consider a summer intensive program. Here are 4 of my favorites:
- It can be a time to slow down and focus on your technique outside of the school year, when you can arrive/start your day fresh and unencumbered by homework or other demands/commitments.
- It’s a great way to push yourself by trying different styles of dance, learning choreography that’s different from what you’re used to and performing in new environments. You’ll also get the benefit of seeing professional dancers first hand, in class or as instructors.
- Are you considering a professional career? A summer program can give you a sneak peek of the training and intensity required to do so. It can also be a place to make professional connections with the faculty as well as your peers.
- It can be a way to get your foot in the door – there are many professional schools that also use these programs to find prospective students for their school year, kind of like a very long audition. On the other side, it’s a way for the dancer to see if that school or company is a good fit & somewhere they want to be long-term.
While you will have fun and make a lot of memories, you should NOT be considering a summer intensive program if you’re looking for something more like sleep-away camp. Intensives are just that – intense! Especially for younger dancers, the schedule could be the most they’ve ever danced in a day. While all programs are a little different, you can expect to take 4-5 classes per day, 5-6 days per week. You’ll also likely have rehearsals (most programs end with a concert). Add into the mix multiple, rotating teachers, competition for parts and placement and being in unfamiliar settings and you begin to see the commitment and maturity – physical and emotional – that a summer intensive requires.
Afraid that sounds like a little much for you or your dance student? There are a few options to test the waters. First, in many cases, there’s probably a close-to-home program, either at your own school or in your town/city. Taking the travel out of the mix may alleviate some of the pressure for your first experience. Even if your school brings in new faculty members exclusively for the program, being able to experience it on home turf should help make you more comfortable.
Second, you may also be able to experience a spring camp or intensive. There are schools, like The Center for Contemporary Dance, that offer programs during their students’ spring break times. This is a great way to do a trial run before committing to an out-of-town or lengthier program.
Why did you want to participate in a summer intensive? When did you know you were ready?