How to Find a Ballet Summer Intensive

One of the most unique aspects of ballet is the emphasis placed on the summer intensive. Ranging from one week to six, summer intensives take place all over the world. They exist for all dancers — beginner to elite — and help to reshape technique in a short period of time.

Summer intensives were few and far between a few decades ago, but they have since multiplied and now number in the hundreds. This guide contains some easy tips on narrowing down the best summer programs for you or your young dancer.

Plan Ahead

Most summer programs don’t start until June or July. However, they usually require applications and auditions to be completed as soon as January. Start planning early… way early. If the intensive of your choice requires a video audition, allow yourself plenty of time to prepare it.

It’s best to start planning about a year in advance. By August of the year before you intend to go to a summer intensive, you should have a list of the programs you’re interested in. Planning ahead will give you the chance at getting into your preferred program.

Use Directories

Check out the “Intensives” tab on iSport to narrow down what you’re looking for in a summer program. If you want to save on money and choose something close to home, search by location and narrow it down to an easily commutable distance. If you’re interested in a certain method taught, narrow it down by checking boxes that correspond with what you want to learn. The key is to figure out which traits are the most important to you, and find a program accordingly.

Mix it Up

You may only want to look at certain styles of ballet in your home area, but it wouldn’t hurt to include a couple wildcards in your summer intensive list. Choose a couple programs that you think you would like, regardless if you think you could get in or their location. Auditioning for summer programs of all kinds is a great experience. Even if you don’t get in, merely taking the audition class can help your technique.

Mental Edge: Audition Freely

Regardless of your skill level, audition for summer programs that are likely out of your skill range — programs both too advanced, and too basic. An audition class can give you a great feel for what the program is going to be like. You may be surprised how some teachers can bring out the best in you, even if you don’t think they’re perfect for your level.

Don’t Judge Based on Level

If you’ve never been to a summer program before, make no assumptions about what level you’ll be placed in. Try to figure out what classes and activities are essential for you. If a partnering class is a must for your technique, don’t choose an intensive that only offers it at a level beyond your skill.

Unless you’re told what level you’re in after your audition, you may arrive and be placed in one you’re not expecting. If this happens, you could lose the opportunity to take a class you had your heart set on. Instead, ask yourself if there are any classes that you could not go without. Avoid programs that limit these options based on your assigned skill level.

Know the Cost

Planning far in advance of your summer intensive will give you ample time to save money for tuition and travel expenses. If you have a dream program that seems out of your reach financially, inquire about payment plans or potential scholarships.

Many programs discount tuition for older students who double as resident advisors (RAs) for the dormitories. Some might offer talent or need-based scholarships. The longer you wait to ask about these, the more difficult it will be to save up for your program in time!

Talk to Your Teacher

Even if you have an idea of where you want to go for summer, ask your year-round teacher for advice. You may get some suggestions on summer programs that you’ve never heard of, as well as audition tips.

Equally important, your teacher can help you prepare a great audition tape (if you need one). Never doubt the wisdom a teacher can have about summer programs. Chances are, they’ve attended quite a few themselves; they may have even taught at some!

Search Smart

Finding the right summer intensive is significant and daunting task. It can be hard whether you’re a young dancer or a seasoned pro. If you plan ahead and scan the directories, you’re sure to find the best fit for your summer dancing!

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