Right now a lot of the ballet world is scrambling as they commit to summer intensives. If you are late to the game, don’t worry! You haven’t missed out. These are amazing courses that still have auditions. These award-winning teachers are based around the US and will help you on your ballet journey.
MAINTENANCE COURSES MAINTENANCE 1 June 14-18, 2021 Stay in shape before leaving for a summer course. This course offers a 2 hour ballet class every day, plus 1 hour a day of either contemporary, modern, conditioning, stretching, pointe. Only 14 students will be accepted. 15 Hours of Training /
MAINTENANCE 2 June 21-25, 2021 Stay in shape before leaving for a summer course. This course offers a 2 hour ballet class every day, plus 1 hour a day of either contemporary, modern, conditioning, stretching, pointe. Only 14 students will be accepted. 15 Hours of Training /
PROGRAM 1 July 11-17, 2021. This seven-day course is geared for students who show exceptional potential in ballet who are interested in progressing their training through safe and effective methodologies. The Young Dancer Program is geared for students ages 7-11 who show exceptional potential in ballet. This is by audition only. To audition please follow the directions at the bottom of this page.
Only 14 students will be accepted. 35 Hours of Training /
PROGRAM 2 July 25-31, 2021 This seven-day course is geared for comp jazz students ages 7-13 who are looking to supplement their training with ballet technique. This program is geared for students who compete at high levels. Only 12 students will be accepted. 35 Hours of Training /
PROGRAM 3 August 15-21, 2021 This seven-day course is geared for comp jazz/ contemporary students ages 7-13 who are looking to supplement their training with ballet technique. This program is geared for students who compete at high levels. Only 12 students will be accepted. 35 Hours of Training
PROGRAM 4 August 23-27 & August 30 – September 3, 2021 This ten day course is designed to get dancers back in shape for the 2021-2022 season. This program is designed for Clinic Students who are returning from summer intensives, or are new to the program. Only 12 students will be accepted. 20 Hours of Training per Week /
Programs associated with companies are great, and in fact, necessary, especially if you are in that upper age bracket (17-19). But, are these programs the best for that lower age bracket, specifically 11-15? There are five programs across the United States who are proving that good schools come in small packages, and the training is being recognized by major schools across the world. All of these summer courses offer everything from technique class to modern, pas de deux to contemporary and a variety of cross training. These programs are great and they are definitely something to consider because these programs are worth the money. Also, keep track of your progress this summer with the A Ballet Education Technique Tracker! DON’T FORGET TO APPLY ASAP!! THE DEADLINES ARE COMING UP!
(Leslie Browne teaching students at Dallas Conservatory Summer Intensive // Photo courtesy of the Dallas Conservatory)
THE LIST: 5 Summer Programs You Can’t Miss Out On!
Master Ballet Academy (Scottsdale, Arizona) (http://masterballetacademy.com)
*A Ballet Education aka me… will be guest teaching here*
-Hotel Extended Stay
-Large Classes with available Private Lessons (You can request me)
-Modified Russian Technique
-YAGP Outstanding School, Produced winners of YAGP, VARNA
-Young Dancer Intensive
Ellison Ballet (Manhattan, New York)(http://ellisonballet.com)
-Hotel Extended Stay
-Modified Russian Technique
-YAGP Outstanding School, Produced winners of YAGP, MOSCOW IBC
-Variations and Pas De Deux Intensives
-Guest Faculty is world renowned and many are YAGP Judges
“The most important thing I’ve learned from Mr. Ellison in his Pas de Deux intensive is that our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. Be ready to be challenged beyond your limits, but at the end of each day you walk away knowing that you’ve become a stronger dancer, artist, and human being.” -Rachelle di Stasio, American Ballet Theatre
-Hotel Extended Stay
-Medium Class Size
-YAGP Outstanding School, produced winners of YAGP
-Musical Theater, Contemporary Intensives
-Guest Faculty is world renowned and many are YAGP Judges
Indiana Ballet Conservatory (Indianapolis, Indiana) (better designed for girls)
-Medium Class Size
-Modified Russian Technique
-YAGP Outstanding School, Produced winners for Moscow IBC, VARNA
-Young Dancer Intensive (ages 6-9)
-Guest Faculty is world renowned and many are YAGP Judges
Honorable Mentions -Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (Carlisle, Pennsylvania)
-The Rock School for Dance Education (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
-Kirov Academy DC (Washington DC)
-Southland Ballet Academy (Huntington Beach, California)
-Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet (Brooklyn, New York)
Summer Intensives seem far off into next year, but as we all know, the auditions are just around the corner. In fact, most registrations open tomorrow, December 1, 2018. Don’t freak out, if you haven’t given a thought to summer intensives because you are focused on surviving Nutcracker, and prepping for YAGP, you aren’t alone. It seems that the ballet season for students is becoming more intense and more demanding every year. If you are a parent who is overwhelmed, check out some of the Summer Intensive/Program posts.
Every year A Ballet Education receives hundreds of emails asking questions like, “What Summer Intensive should my student go to? Where is the best Summer Intensive? How can I afford a summer course?” And the list goes on… So this year, as we start our summer program series, we should talk about what is happening in ballet.
The demand for ballet training is high and the demand for ballet celebrity is even higher. We have created the social media ballerina, brand ambassadors, baby ballerinas and the quest for perfection has intensified. Exposure has become everything, but it always has been. Summer Intensives or Summer Programs used to be 5 weeks of intense training and a chance to be seen by ballet companies and prestigious schools in hopes to be asked to stay for the year. Now, companies and schools are recruiting off of Instagram and other Social Media Networks. Young dancers are becoming brand ambassadors at the age of nine, and most are becoming entrepreneurs by sixteen. More and more people are starting to think that Summer Intensives are a waste of money, and really just a chance for ballet schools/companies to make money. Especially, since most are using the YAGP and Social Media as a chance to audition for multiple schools in a weekend instead of driving around every weekend for an hour and a half audition… Unfortunately, this is half true. With the demand for ballet technique at an all time high, and the demand for ballet technique, turnout and body type also at an all time intensity… it makes us wonder if going to a summer program is even worth it. And the answer is simple… Go where you are wanted!
There seems to be three types of summer programs now:
The Company Route: these summer programs are designed the more traditional way. They are used to recruit students into their year-round school/trainee programs and eventually feed into the company. These programs are usually attached to major companies and the dancers that are going to these programs are already strong and technically efficient.
The Training Route: these summer programs are designed to get through grueling days of intense training. Programs like these enforce heavy technique, repertoire, pas de deux, and more.
The Fun/Recreational Route: these programs are designed for the serious ballet dancer, but not looking to go professional.
To answer a lot of questions… I don’t know what program is right for your child because I haven’t seen your child dance. I don’t know their learning habits or their strengths and weaknesses. But here is what I do know about going into the 2018 Summer/Competition Season. As a reminder, this summer the USA IBC takes places in Jackson from June 10-23 which could put a damper on your Summer Intensive plans. Most SI’s require you attend the full session and most start that last week. Additionally, it also means a lot of competitive ballet schools will be missing teachers that week because of the competition.
But, this year here are some of the best Summer Intensive Recommendations based on recommendations from colleague, how my own students have progressed, and who is getting asked to stay for the year and feed into companies. Additionally, received information from Companies on acceptance rates to the year-round school and scholarships:
(Here is last year’s list)
San Francisco Ballet School’s Summer Intensive (San Francisco, CA) program is broken up into two amazing sessions. The first being for the intermediate dancer (3 Weeks), and the second for the Advanced/Pre-Pro division (4 Weeks). San Francisco Ballet School’s Summer Intensive always produces strong results. SFB’s SI offers everything from strict Vaganova training to Balanchine Repertoire to Contemporary…
You must audition for these two programs and registration opens December 1, 2018…. Which is why I am publishing this today… Pre-register to save money. Don’t miss out and check the audition schedule here Why you should go to this Summer Intensive? Because it feeds San Francisco Ballet…Here’s a quote from San Francisco Ballet School Director Patrick Armand. “San Francisco Ballet School offers a full summer intensive program with a complete curriculum and distinguished faculty. We attract the highest caliber of talented male and female students from around the globe; more than 60% of the Company members in San Francisco Ballet trained in the School.”
Paris Opera Ballet School is a newer program, but arguably POBS offers some of the best training in the world, if not the best classical ballet training. If you aren’t familiar with what makes French Ballet so popular, it is the dancer’s body’s ability to digest turnout and technique while remaining effortless. (website)
Houston Ballet School‘s Summer Intensive (Houston, TX) is growing fast and strong. It has always been one of the most reputable SI’s out there, but with HBA’s social media campaigns, it is truly showcasing exceptional American classical training. This six week course offers students a chance to train at HBA and hopefully get a spot in the year-round school. Click here for the HBA audition schedule.
Master Ballet Academy (Scottsdale, AZ) is offering their Summer Intensive again. Their five week intensive offers intense technical training with the Wozniak’s and their large guest faculty. Auditions are submitted online and open January 1, 2018. Master Ballet Academy is known for their huge social media influence, updated Vaganova technique, and pristine precision in execution. (website)
Ellison’s Summer Intensive (NYC) dates have been announced along with their tuition rates. Also known for their intense technical training, Ellison breaks their summer program up into Classical Variations Intensive, Classical Pas De Deux Intensive and Summer Intensive. Their national audition dates have been announced. (website)
Even though they haven’t announced their audition dates, another coveted school to attend over the summer is National Ballet of Canada‘s. More info by clicking here.
Bolshoi Ballet Academy SI NY 2018 has been announced as well. Another chance at hardcore Russian Training and spending time in NYC, this Summer Intensive is becoming more and more popular and exclusive as the demand for Modified/Updated Russian Training is at an all time high. (website)
The School of American Ballet has announced their dates in NYC for July 1-August 4, 2018. But, School of American Ballet has also announced their new Junior Program for young dancers June 25-30 (ages 10-12). They also will be continuing their California Workshop but have changed the age to match the Junior Program, (10-12). These programs are designed to recruit to the School of American Ballet, which I only recommend if your student wants to be a Balanchine Dancer and dance for NYCB. (website) Pre-register to save money.
Pacific Northwest Ballet (Seattle, WA) has announced their dates and audition tour. PNB has their audition fee at $45, which is kind of insane… But, it is a great Balanchine program. (website)
And then take your pick between Boston Ballet and The Rock School. It was a tie.
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.
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)
SAN FRANCISCO BALLET SCHOOL: This program is a beast. Kids who go to SFB SI come back stronger than ever. (website)
ELLISON BALLET*: Amazing results, very Russian. Great for the dancer who is behind. (website)
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)
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)
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)
BOSTON BALLET SCHOOL: Students come back extremely strong. Technique and precision are key here. Boston SI Students come back so clean. (website)
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)
BALLET ACADEMY EAST*: Clean technique is key, and if you want to be in NYC this is the CPYB equivalent. (Website)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
I have never seen so many students so stressed out about summer program auditions. It seems that the pressure to make it into a big ten summer program is higher than ever. It seems that 2016 is the year of the Summer Program, and a lot of students aren’t just set on School of American Ballet. It seems that the pressure is high for SAB, SFB, PNB, BB, and HBA. With these summer program auditions jammed packed, we realize how big of a “money maker” just the auditions are. SAB in the younger category had over 130 girls in OC, and even more in the older group. Rounding the number at 300, and each girl paying an average of $34 between pre-registration and pay at the door, SAB made roughly $10,200 at just the OC audition. Multiply that by 19 audition cities you are looking at $193,800. Now you have to take out travel expenses, studio rentals, and pay checks for the faculty conducting the auditions, but that is till quite a lot. Then once you get in, it costs roughly $5,825 to go to SAB. Of that, roughly $3,000 goes to the School of American Ballet itself. So, $559,000 goes to SAB based off 200 students. Now give and take scholarships, SAB is still making quite a bit of money. Now, SAB during the summer course doesn’t have studio rental fees, and just has faculty fees, and misc expenses. It is no secret that a lot f ballet companies and schools are helped by the stat. Most of them receiving their “rent” or “home location” as a donation or a part of a grant to help further the arts and education within the arts. So, you can roughly assume that even if half of the money made goes to faculty and staff (which is being really generous), SAB is still making about $400k on Summer Course. This money, I would hope and assume go towards year-round scholarships but who knows? Now, with this being out in the open, this will help you decide where to go for the summer.
When you are ages 12-14, scholarships might be few and far between, with the exception of exceptional talent and potential. Once you are 15+, scholarships are more common, as these are the students who will feed the year round program and eventually the company and school.
Here is what I recommend to my students: GO WHERE THEY REALLY WANT YOU!
If a school really wants you, they give you the most help. You have to really understand the concept of a summer program to understand what the best option is for you. Many of you parents have emailed me asking, “What is the best for your child, or where should my child attend his summer?” For those of you have received your acceptance letters, if you got into SAB, 9/10 chances are you should go to SAB, especially for those of you who are 12-14. If you need to focus on either jumps or turns, and you are 14-16, go to the Rock. If you are 16+ go to a school with a company that is offering you a full ride. If you didn’t get a full ride to a school, know that you are going to have to work really hard at the summer course to prove that you deserve a spot year round, or can afford it.
Lastly, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. Besides going away to become the best dancer you can be, once you are fifteen, the primary goal of a summer a program is for you to 1. get a scholarship to go away and 2. to be asked to stay year round so that you might eventually get into the trainee program that feeds the apprentice program that feeds the company. Basically a job.
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.
A lot of you concerned parents and students have written in about summer programs… While some of you have already gotten your acceptance letters, and have made your choices; others have gotten numerous rejection letters and are now distraught. First, we need to talk about the big five, which are the five summer program courses that everyone auditions for… Usually… maybe… most likely… The big five in terms of summer programs here in the US are, and in no particular order: San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. (For some, the big five will swap out PNB for Houston, or swap out San Francisco for Joffrey.)
Now, as you probably have experienced, that at the big five auditions, there are hundreds of kids… But this is why I encouraged all of you to make sure you come up with a plan ahead of time. When we (my friend and I) were training we would do the big five auditions, followed by 3 summer programs that are smaller, and then programs we thought we would be scholarship to (safety net)… For me the big five were ideal, but I wasn’t stupid… I didn’t have the ideal body type or natural facility. So, even though I went to those auditions, I would make sure to get to: Miami City Ballet, Orlando Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Chautauqua, and Suzanne Farrell. In addition I would do all of the smaller companies like Ballet Met, Cincinnati, Carolina Ballet… And I would randomly throw in regional companies like Sacramento Ballet, and Colorado.Obviously I didn’t do this when I was 13, but come sixteen… It started to really count.
You see, when you are sixteen and a school offers you a scholarship, they see a lot of potential… And at sixteen you probably should be training at a school affiliated with a company.. or have kick a$$ reputation (CPYB, Ellision, Yuri Gregoriev, Cuban Classical of Miami etc). The ideal situation for someone who is sixteen and going away for the summer varies, but this is the reality:
You want to get asked to stay for the year, and if they offer you a scholarship to stay for the year even better.
Summer programs are no longer a chance to get stronger, but the platform in which school directors watch your work ethic.
At sixteen, your primary focus should be landing a job, so you have to be realistic. Not everyone is meant to be in New York City Ballet, so there is nothing wrong with going and looking elsewhere…
In ballet, you have to be smart, and there is nothing wrong with going to a school that adores you and wants to work with you, but most importantly see your potential as an artist.
So, while the big five of summer programs flourish, you can be smart about this summer. Go to a program that is going to make you better, stronger, and most importantly, give you the attention you need. I remember when I went to a summer program that shall remain nameless… I went on a full scholarship and was told I had a trainee spot… we were placed in level 8. After getting there… and entering the first class… There were probably 40 others who were all promised the same thing. The studios couldn’t accommodate so many dancers, and we even had to do barre in groups. 3 days in, I said F it, and packed my bags and left for CPYB. Don’t get me wrong, CPYB was packed, but from the very first class I was singled out, given corrections, kind of humiliated, but pushed to my limits.
Lastly, there are hundreds of programs out there… You have to find the right fit. I remember one summer a girl I knew went away to Kansas City, who wasn’t all that great, but when she came back from summer course she was ridiculously flexible and had leg up. In terms of newer summer programs like Gen Next, Ellision, and so on… I am not really sure, just because when I was training they didn’t exist… haha. Now, I always say, look at the alumni… If their alumni are all uberly talented, and all getting jobs… that’s great and all, but anyone with natural facility, or have a hint of prodigy… they will always find work. period. If their alumni come in all shapes and sizes, then it s a different story. I am currently working on saving/ raising money to go travel the US and watch all of these programs… Soon enough, I will be able to help give you guys more in depth profiles into each school and program.