Choosing a college dance program can be overwhelming. You wonder: Will the classes prepare me to dance professionally? Is committing four years going to be worth it? One way to test the waters is to attend a dance department’s summer intensive. Many top programs, from Juilliard to University of Utah, open their doors to high school students during June, July and August.
Current University of South Carolina dance performance and choreography major Caitlin McCormack attended the school’s Summer Dance Conservatory when she was 17. “I’d heard that USC’s program had an incredible faculty of former New York City Ballet and Boston Ballet dancers, so I wanted to see if it’d be a good fit,” says McCormack. For three weeks, she stayed in the USC dorms, danced in the USC studios, took classes from USC faculty and got to know a few USC dance majors who participated in the intensive as counselors. “It was just like the regular school year, but without the academics. I got an inside look at what university life as a dance major would be like.”
Check out the websites of the colleges you’re interested in to see if their summer sessions are still open to applicants. For more on USC and other programs, visit danceu101.com.
Study At La Scala
Want to brush up on your Italian style? The Accademia Teatro alla Scala is still accepting applications for their 2011 Summer Stage—Classical Academic & Contemporary Dance in Milan, Italy.
Application Deadline: June 15
Schedule: Each session lasts five days. There are up to three 90-minute
classes per day: classical, pointe repertoire and contemporary.
Session 1: June 27 to July 1
Session 2: July 4 to 8
Levels: Basic (11–14), intermediate (15–18) and advanced (18–26)
Enrollment: Space is limited to 23 dancers per level.
Teachers: Professional instructors from the Accademia Teatro alla Scala Ballet School
Location: Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy
Cost: $879 per session, plus a sign-up fee of $74
Being part of a choreographer’s creative process is an experience usually reserved for professional dancers. But Regional Dance America’s two-week National Choreography Intensive brings together 15 promising choreographers to create new work on students. Dancemakers such as Diane Coburn Bruning and Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Kiyon Gaines have honed their skills at the program.
While the focus is on choreography, the program is ideal for students looking to gain rehearsal and performance experience. Each day starts with two classes (in ballet, modern, jazz, pointe or men’s). Afternoons are spent in rehearsal: Two hours with an emerging choreographer who creates a new piece every day, and two hours with a more experienced choreographer who develops a longer work during the two weeks. Each night, everyone heads to the theater to perform the works-in-process.
“It’s incredibly challenging: Every day you have to adapt to a new choreographer’s movement style in just two hours and perform their work that evening,” says Kassandra Taylor, who’s attended the intensive three times. “You can’t help but walk out a more professional, well-rounded dancer.”
The program runs July 18–28 in Winston-Salem, NC. Any intermediate to advanced dancer age 13 and up can apply. Choreographers must be at least 16. (Ten choreographers come from within RDA member companies; five spots are open to anyone.) See regionaldanceamerica.org/choreographyintensive.ph.
See The Music, Hear The Dance
Now in its second year, the Buck Hill-Skytop Music Festival in Pennsylvania has added a new dance component. And it’s led by one seriously big ballet name: Ashley Bouder. The New York City Ballet principal, who spent her childhood nearby, jumped at the opportunity to give back.
“Growing up, I got a lot of ridicule from people who thought I was crazy to be so dedicated to dance,” Bouder says. “I want to open up the students’ minds.” Nearly 50 percent of children in the area live below the poverty line and can’t afford exposure to the arts—many have never seen a live performance.
Bouder will lead an outreach program in the East Stroudsburg school system, talking to students about what it means to be a dancer and teaching them a ballet-based movement class. She’s even enlisted dancers from Philadelphia’s The Rock School to come dance so the local students can be exposed not only to a star, but also their peers.
In addition, Bouder will be performing in a free presentation of the opera Carmen (partnered by former Royal Ballet dancer Matthew Stockwell Dibble) on July 23, and has put together a free concert titled “See The Music…” for July 24. “I chose pieces that show movement working with (and against) the music to demonstrate how dance can be a visual manifestation of music,” says Bouder. The show includes some Balanchine work like Stars and Stripes, and Bouder hopes to perform Act II of Swan Lake with students from Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet as the corps. For more, go to buckhillskytopfest.org.