It is that time of year again… and no, I’m not talking about Nutcracker. The majority of us have opened up Nutcracker performance season and are busy twirling away in waltz, jumping ferociously in snow, and being charming as marzipan. While all of this is going on, if you are ages 11-18, you are probably preparing for summer program auditions, professional company auditions, and collegiate auditions. If that wasn’t stressful enough, if you are 18, you are being faced with the biggest decision of your professional dance life: WHAT IS NEXT?
You never know what is right for one dancer, and every dancer has a different story on how they went professional. Some dancers gain company contracts through the competitive ballet circuit while others go from a professional school and feed into the same company. Some dancers will attend college to buy a little more time, to become polished. Other dancers will go from their small studio in nowhere, USA and go to New York for the big cattle call auditions. No way is correct, and no way is wrong. That is the problem with ballet jobs, is there is no one way to make it happen. The only way to make it happen is to have a dream, work extremely hard, have a level balance of musicality and artistry, and be technically sound for your age. Yes, it’s that difficult.
Right now, you all should be preparing for your summer course auditions. You should be looking at the National Audition Tour Dates for each school you would like to attend and be planning accordingly. If you don’t know how to find these resources, you can just google, or pick up an edition of POINTE magazine. The problem, you might be too late by the time you get your issue. Most auditions require a headshot and arabesque shot. While you can get away with having your mom take it via the iPhone 6, you really are better suited to have a professional dance photographer come in and take your photos. You don’t want a bootleg, poor quality, unflattering angle. Seriously, you don’t. Most auditioners are rarely going to remember you, and maybe will write one note in chicken scratch about you. The reality is, they will be looking at your photos in retrospect of the audition.
I posted a while ago, the top five summer courses, and created a little bit of controversy of how I picked them. There is a reason behind my madness, so this year when I picked my top 10 summer programs, I felt like I had to explain why. So, here we go, the top 10 Summer Programs in the US you should be auditioning for:
1. School of American Ballet aka SAB
The school of American Ballet is the feeder school to NYCB. It is practically impossible to join NYCB without going to SAB. I think, currently the only person who didn’t train at SAB is Gonzalo Garcia. He joined from San Fran Ballet. Here is why SAB should be your number one choice: You are in New York City. Thus, you will have more exposure and the opportunity to take classes elsewhere on your days off. SAB year round offers a ton of programs, like the choreographic institute, and SAB faculty do work hard to help you find work as a dancer. NYCB and SAB boast some of the greatest scores, and music ever written. Additionally, they are becoming the center of emerging choreographers. You are learning the Balanchine aesthetic, so you are going
to learn how to move faster, bigger, longer and shorter within the context of music’s tempo. SAB is also offering a young program for dancers 11-14 in Southern California. SAB’s training program is rigorous but not exhausting as they are shaping your muscles to be long and thin. (click logo to learn more about their summer course)
2. American Ballet Theatre aka ABT
Yes, ABT’s summer programs are a huge money maker for their international touring company. There is no doubt about it. They offer different locations throughout the US, but each program is pretty decent. They also offer their Young Dancer’s program for extremely gifted, but extremely young talent (ages 9-12), and they have ABT’s Collegiate program (17-24). So, while ABT sometimes is accused of just having programs to make money, they do provide resources for a variety of different dancers. ABT is also expanding constantly with their ABT training curriculum thus associating themselves with more companies, kind of like when a school or company is given the association with being a Balanchine School/Company.
3. San Francisco Ballet School aka SFB
San Francisco Ballet no doubt is turning out ballet powerhouses like no one’s business. SFB also boasts a corps de ballet that rival most companies principal dancers. Their training program is rigorous and located in the heart of San Francisco. This program itself is known for champion winners of international ballet competitions. They are also very good at hiring from the school and trainee program unlike other companies who send their trainees elsewhere for work, SFB hires a lot of their trainees. (click here to learn more)
4. Pacific Northwest Ballet School aka PNB
Located in Seattle, under the AD’s vision Peter Boal- PNB has taken a dramatic turn for the better. Two years ago, PNB became the leader of ballet Social Media, turning their videos viral. Because of this, it opened even more exposure for PNB. PNB’s school has always been a force to be reckoned with, but now they are becoming more Balanchine, and more diverse. What was once thought of a taller company, the ranks are now diverse in height; maybe not in ethnicity, though they do employ quite a bit of Asians. PNB dancers are probably most known for their jumping abilities; they are beastly that way. (click here to learn more)
5. Boston Ballet School aka BB
Boston Ballet School under the direction of Margaret Tracey, who by far is one of the most technical Balanchine powerhouses ever has become another force in the ballet world. While BB offers a variety of workshops over the summer, their diversity is increasing regarding training. They also offer an adult program, which is kind of nice for dancers in the corps de ballet of other companies who might need summer training to grow stronger. Obviously located in Boston, Boston Ballet School is becoming known for BBII and the technical powerhouses that feed Boston Ballet. (Learn more)
6. Houston Ballet School… I don’t think there is an abbreviation.
Houston Ballet School is internationally recognized all around but is probably most noted for their men. Their men are becoming standard names among dance social media. Houston Ballet’s Summer Course offers rigorous training in beautiful studios. What else would you ask for? Plus, who doesn’t love shopping in Houston? Click the image to learn more.
7. Ellison Ballet School
In the US, most schools have adapted to a variety of techniques. I think Ellison is the closest to hardcore Russian Training. Like super hardcore. Their studios are filled with technical beasts both men and women. Ellison is definitely a school to be considering this summer for students ages 12-17, the problem is they don’t have a feeding company. The plus side is that they are in NYC the mecca of ballet. (click here)
8. Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet aka CPYB aka Barn Babies
For those who are young, and prefer the quieter side of life, CPYB might just be the place for you. Founded by Marcia Dale Weary, CPYB has combined their perfection of technique and artistic growth in creating some of today’s most celebrated American Principal Dancers. With an alumni list as long as the Mississippi, CPYB has changed from being a technical school, to finding the balance between technique and performance quality. The downside, it is in the middle of nowhere PA. The plus side? CPYB breeds young superstars for ballet at the barn. Which is why you get the name Barn Babies. (click here)
9. Miami City Ballet
If you are looking to spend your summer on the beach, go to Miami. Haha, just kidding. You will be dancing for hours on end in the humidity of Florida, but surrounded by a Latin influenced faculty. The curriculum is somewhere between Cuban classical technique and the Balanchine Aesthetic. Definitely a pro for someone who is on the Latin side of the racial spectrum. (click here to learn more)
10. Chautauqua Institution
Under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Chautauqua is the closest thing to being in a company. It gives a dancer the chance to experience what it is like to have the demanding life of a professional ballet dancer.
Filled with live music, amazing repertory, and the experience of professionally dancing. Most dancers who go there, I feel like have already had a few summer programs under their belt, and are at a professional school already. Either way, the program has a ton of amazing opportunities for dancers.(click here)
If you are in Southern California and need help in preparing for Summer Courses, I will be having Redland’s Dance Theatre’s Audition Intensive. To learn more, you can click here. Ignore the deadline date. During the week, we will also be taking your audition photos, with me as your technical coach and Alexandra Rose as the photographer.