15 Summer Programs that Pay Off

15 SUMMER INTENSIVES THAT PAY OFF (as featured in a Ballet Education’s Magazine)


Summer intensives are ridiculously expensive; in fact they are beyond expensive. Like, you might have a sell a kidney to keep your child dancing. It is quite overwhelming. Nowadays, summer intensives or summer programs are a breeding ground for companies to pull up and coming dancers, and cultivate a wealth of talent. With that being said, summer programs also help finance a school year round. After a lot of exchanging of emails, people always ask what summer programs should my child audition to? The answer is never clear because different summer programs cater to different things.

Reputation and prestige are always something ballet dancers are going to go after, but the reality is that different summer programs focus on different things at different age groups. So, it is hard to be certain if a summer program will pay off for your child or not. You also have to decide how mature your child is, and if he or she will be able to digest the knowledge at a very fast rate. Most summer intensives are five weeks of the most intense training with multiple teachers. Now, here are my top 15 summer intensives every child should consider auditioning for.

Even though summer intensives are money makers, they play key parts in getting a job. For example, School of American Ballet feeds into New York City Ballet, which means you need to be seen at the summer course if you don’t live in NYC. So… You feed through… Like any company.

  1. SCHOOL OF AMERICAN BALLET: It isn’t number one because I am a fan of the school, it is rated number one because the results of the students. Students learn the Balanchine Aesthetic that enhances musicality, speed and spatial awareness. (website)
  2. SAN FRANCISCO BALLET SCHOOL: This program is a beast. Kids who go to SFB SI come back stronger than ever. (website)
  3. ELLISON BALLET*: Amazing results, very Russian. Great for the dancer who is behind. (website)
  4. MASTER BALLET ACADEMY*: Amazing results as well, but more known for their year-round program of elite dancers. Not recommended for young dancers, but matured dancers in their training who are looking to turn and jump more. (website)
  5. PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET SCHOOL: If you want to learn how to jump, and you get in… I feel like every student I have seen come back from PNB SI comes back as an antelope. (website)
  6. CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH BALLET*: Great program for the student who started late and needs to catch up, or needs cleaning up. It is a great back to basics program as well. No audition needed. (website)
  7. BOSTON BALLET SCHOOL: Students come back extremely strong. Technique and precision are key here. Boston SI Students come back so clean. (website)
  8. THE ROCK SCHOOL*: If you want to learn how to turn and jump, the Rock School is the place to go. If you want to train towards the YAGP, this is a great place to be, not only for the education but the resources the Rock offers. (website)
  9. BALLET ACADEMY EAST*: Clean technique is key, and if you want to be in NYC this is the CPYB equivalent. (Website)
  10. HOUSTON BALLET SCHOOL: Can you turn? Houston Ballet is the place to go if you can already turn… They are known for taking amazing turners and technicians into their summer programs. (Website)
  11. MIAMI CITY BALLET SCHOOL: Want to dance at the beach? Miami City Ballet is the place to go. It is also a great option for those who didn’t get into SAB, meaning… You have the chance to still dance Balanchine… (website)
  12. NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA: Bangin program, have yet to see someone come back a mess. Students learn a lot of constraint here, which is nice these days. (website)
  13. ALONZO KING’S LINES BALLET SCHOOL: an amazing program for dancers who are looking for finishing their technique with artistic nuances. Not recommended for younger students. Goes to age 24. (website)
  14. PARIS OPERA BALLET SCHOOL : a newer program, but arguably POBS offers some of the best training in the world, if not the best classical ballet training. (website)
  15. BALLET CHICAGO*: For young students who don’t have a Balanchine teacher at home, but are looking/hoping to go to SAB… It is a great place to start. (website)

*Does NOT have a professional company attached, but known for world class training.

Questions I get asked…

Why ABT isn’t on the list? It is no secret that ABT is a money making powerhouse when it comes to summer programs… Just like Joffrey… They offer tons of summer programs to accommodate the most kids possible. With that being said, it isn’t that the programs are bad… But if the goal is to become a professional dancer, you need to be seen where it counts… Which means if you don’t get into ABT NY or Joffrey Midwest… you are wasting your time…

Can I train with you this summer? This summer, yes. For more information please email me by clicking here.

What does it mean if you don’t get into any of these programs? It doesn’t mean you won’t go professional, there are tons of programs from regional programs like State Street and smaller programs like Kansas City and Milwaukee that are great programs… Unfortunately, they aren’t the powerhouses that are listed above. I am sure they are great programs, I just haven’t experienced them myself. Maybe soon, I will be able to travel and check them all out.

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46 responses to “15 Summer Programs that Pay Off”

  1. Glad to see Boston Ballet on this list! That was my one and only summer intensive and I did indeed come back stronger and cleaner 🙂 My teachers and fellow dancers at my home studio said they could see noticeable improvement immediately upon my return from the program.

  2. Our daughter has been accepted to Boston Ballet and ABT NY summer intensives. Do you have any advice ?

    Thanks much,

      • No scholarship yet. She is 13, turning 14 by summer. She is 5’5″.

        Thanks for any advice.

      • I would say boston ballet because I think the summer program is a lot stronger, but if her goal is ABT, then she needs to start developing that relationship.

  3. I need help! My daughters didn’t make SAB or PNB. They got in to Washington Ballet, Ballet Austin, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Ballet West. Which summer program would you recommend for my girls, 14 and 16, who prefer classical ballet and need to improve turning and technique? They both attended Ballet West last year and loved it and have perfessional ballet dreams.

    • Ballet west or Washington Ballet…. ballet Austin is more on the contemp side, OBT is geared towards more musicality… and I believe OBT’s company in mixed Balanchine and Russian.

  4. My daughter was accepted at Boston, Houston, and Ballet West. I was wondering which one she should attend? She’s 14, will be 15 in March. She needs more training and confidence in turning and technique. She is very confident at the barre, but tends to shy away during floor. Her school does not teach Balanchine.

  5. I am 13 years old and this summer will be my first summer intensive outside of my home studio. Our studio is pretty classical and a friend went to ABT and loved it, though most people say ABT just wants your money. Do you have any ideas of where I could audition?

  6. My daughter is twelve years old and she trains at a school that mostly focuses on classical ballet and Russian style. She wants to get better at jumps and turns. I also want her to get more confident in her dancing, she has been on pointe for a year and a half and is hoping for a place with a good dancing environment where she is challenged. Any ideas? Thanks!

  7. I auditioned for Ballet Chicago today and was excepted immediately. This is my fourth year of dance and I’m 18 years old. In your opinion, is this a good intensive for older dancers looking to clean/refine their technique?

    • No, Ballet Chicago is for style and artistry … it’s a Balanchine school. To refine technique if older try programs like Kansas City, Nashville Ballet, Butler, Burklyn and smaller intensives that will Give you more attention

  8. My son (13, will be 14 in June) has been accepted to summer intensives in San Francisco (with scholarship), Boston (scholarship) and Houston (no scholarship). This will be his 3rd summer intensive, but 1st real pre-professional experience. Home studio emphasizes classical technique and other dance forms. He’s hard working, quick study and likes a challenge, but is also still growing, 5’4″ building muscle and developing strength. Any advice?

  9. Any recommendations for taller dancers? My daughter is several inches taller than most of her peers at age 13.

  10. DD, 13, accepted at Miami, Walnut Hill, Austin, CPYB, waitlisted at ABT NY. Dances at PNB during the school year. Which to choose and why?

    • I would consider between Miami and abt nyc. Miami to continue your Balanchine training and build a relationship because that would be a future job. Abt ny because it offers some of the best training with some of the best kids in the world to push harder and work more.

  11. I was accepted American Academy of Ballet (partial scholarship) and Hubbard Street. Study year round at The Ailey School. 14, this is my first summer intensive. Want to do modern/contemp ballet. Which and why? Thank you so much!

  12. I’m 14 and got into Kaatsbaan, Nashville, and thinking about CPYB, but I’m not sure where to go. Nashville and CPYB are the two I’m leaning towards beause they’re 5 weeks, while Kaatsbaan is 3. CPYB is said to really refine technique, but I really liked how the teachers corrected us a lot at the Nashville auditon, plus there’s Pas and variation classes there. Which would you go to and why? Thanks!

  13. Hi! I’m 14 and I have been accepted into ABT NY and Kansas City Ballet, and I really have no idea where I wanna go this summer. I obviously wanna refine my technique but I really want to work on artistry. Any opinions?

  14. My daughter was accepted to ABT Austin and Interlochen. What would you recommend? I don’t see Interlochen mentioned so I’m curious about how good their dance program is.

  15. What can you tell me about Masters of Ballet in London? My 14-year-old was accepted via video audition and we’re contemplating doing a week there (currently live in Philadelphia) while traveling. Thanks!

  16. Do you have any thoughts on Boston Ballet since changing their Boston/Newton split from age based (<15 = Newton) to level based (now both do ages 12-18 and the Boston one allows you to audition for year round)? Daughter (about to turn 14) was just accepted to Newton (first competitive acceptance, coming after we switched her to a better dance studio). Trying to navigate options. Thanks!

      • She absolutely loved it and got much stronger. The facility is amazing (it’s new, which is why they revamped their program and changed the way they split attendees) and the teachers for both Newton and Boston SIs are the same. They tell students that the two programs are very much the same and the only difference is location and if you get to audition for the year round program or not.

  17. My 13 year old was accepted to Boston Ballet Newton. Can you help us understand the difference between the 2 sites? We have heard that the Newton campus is not preferred.

  18. Hello, My daughter got into Houston and Miami. Her studio is a classical but she like Balanchine. Last year she went to Carolina Ballet as her first SI. She will be 14. What do you suggest?

  19. My 12 year old daughter was accepted to Colorado Ballet SI (with scholarship) and Washington SI (no scholarship). I haven’t heard much of anything about CO. Thoughts? 🙂

  20. My 14 year old has so far been accepted into Kansas City Ballet, Burklyn, and ABT Austin. We are only 3 hours way from Austin and it’s less expensive. Having said that, which SI would be the best pick for her? She did Texas Ballet Theater last year and would like something a bit more intense. Thank you.

      • Thank you for your help! We found out after I posted the above that she was also accepted into Pittsburgh’s SI. We decided on PBT. She’s going with a friend and they’re very excited about it.

  21. My 12 yo daughter is accepted to Texas Ballet Theater (TX), Miami City Ballet (FL), Bolshoi (at CT)… all 5 weeks programs. What school would you prioritize in order of best choices? Include reasons if you would.

  22. Im 14 and got accepted into ABT NY and Boston SDP. I wanna work on my technique of course, but I really want to work on my artistry this summer. This is going to be my first intensive away from my home studio. Which one do you recommend?