Summer Program Life

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You made it into a Summer Program, now what? You work hard, you sweat hard, you what? Are you prepared, are you ready, are your parents ready?

Now what? It is a really big step for a ballet student to go to a summer program, especially if they are are young.  But, once your student is there now what?  This isn’t a five week summer camp where kids sit around a campfire singing. Over the next few weeks your child is going to be pushed to the max both physically and mentally. At most summer programs, students will be dancing in between 5-8 hours a day, six days a week. Summer programs are designed to strengthen a students technique, and see if they do well under pressure. Day 1 of a summer program is usually placement day. Even though you are already assigned a level, this is usually done back in January, the faculty look at all of the students’ ability and potential.  Day 1 is where most students will make a good first impression.

Now, while most summer programs are filled with students are pre professional schools attached to companies, there are many students who are there from smaller schools. These students, which might be your child, will be looked at closely. The reasoning? For your child to be asked to stay year round. Usually, they will ask the second to last week during the summer course. A spot in the year round school means that the director, and the faculty see great potential and want to work with you.  This is important, as a year round spot in the school usually can lead to the trainee program, or studio company/second company/ apprentice position.

So, how do you get noticed?

The most important thing to do while at a summer program is learn. Pay close attention to the details.  Even if you aren’t in the top level, showing that you can learn, and you are applying everything everyone is saying shows that you are a smart dancer. No one wants a dumb dancer. Take all of the corrections teachers give you and write them down, so you can remember them, reflect on them, and so on. Take other people’s corrections as well. Most likely it can be applied to you as well.

WORK HARD. WORK SMART! This is a big one as well. During your summer course, go in every group, or at least mark the combination in the back. Show your work ethic. In five weeks, it is hard for a faculty really get to know you. Unlike, your home studio, you have been with your teachers for years… Here, you have five weeks to make a good impression, show your potential and become the best dancer you can be. Working smart is really important as well. Going full out all the time is really important, but exhausting. If you are one of those dancers who goes hard all the time, make sure you are eating properly, and giving your body enough rest. Yes, we all know those intense bunheads who stretch in the dormitory halls during after hours, and that they are constantly fixing their shoes. That is their thing, it might not be your thing.

What to avoid…
Just because modern, jazz, and character aren’t your thing doesn’t mean you don’t try. You still have to push, 100% of the time.

Bad Habits… crossing your arms, giving up after falling out of a turn, letting the stress get to you… all of these things are counter productive to the process but also… It shows a bad attitude. You need to make sure you look attentive and invested without cracking under the stress.
EAT HEALTHY! During a summer program there is a lot of stressers out there, and there is a tendency to stress eat/binge eat sugar. The problem? Super counter productive to what your body really needs during these five intense weeks.

Be Prepared… When and if a school asks you to stay year round, be prepared for the financial costs. A year round program at a pre professional or professional school is costly. For most, these programs are out of state. When asked to stay, it is mid-summer and you have a few short weeks to come up with the financial obligation, relocate your life, transfer schools, and so on. It is a daunting task and you basically have a month to make a life changing, career making choice.  Most students, have to go year round at a pre pro school, and will change year round schools at least once.  Remember, ballet here in the US is not cheap…

Finally, make sure you have fun.

The woman who probably inspired a million girls to be Juliet, Corsaire, and other great VHS we grew up on…

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Company Profile: THe Joffrey Ballet

Company Profile: The Joffrey Ballet

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Joffrey Ballet (click here)

Location: Chicago, IL and to be exact, the Joffrey Tower
10 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601

Artistic Director: Ashley C. Wheater

Style: Classical with a contemporary twist 

Affiliated School: The Joffrey Academy of Dance

Annual Tuition for a trainee: When e-mailed I didn’t get a response but I am guessing it is somewhere between $8-10,000 a year for the pre-professional division. The link is the PDF of requirements for the pre professional division for the 2014-2015 school year. (http://www.joffrey.org/sites/default/files/filefield/field_file/program/119/pre-professionaldivision2014-15schedule81914.pdf

Summer Program: They offer over six different programs across the US. (Money making programs, in my opinion.)

Theatre Residence: Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL

Current Season: 5 programs, and additional performances. Tour dates are unannounced.

Dancers Hired: 37

Founded in New York by masters Gerald Arpino and Robert Joffrey in 1965, the Joffrey Ballet was born. The company relocated to their now permanent home in Chicago in 1995. As Joffrey makes more appearances, and is referenced to in pop culture quite frequently, the ballet company has struggled tremendously. Despite the struggles of any ballet company the Joffrey ballet has made major contributions to the ballet world. The biggest is probably the 1995 reconstruction of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Another unique quality is that the company really doesn’t have assigned ranks which allows the Artistic Director to be free about casting. Yes, senior company members have built names for themselves, but the dancers at Joffrey are truly unique. 

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First Joffrey has the stunning Fabrice Calmels, if you don’t know him, he is a giant standing at 6’6”. Trained are Paris Opera, and a unique resume on top of his training, he definitely stood out when I saw him in Apollo. GORGEOUS. His height and body proportions are beyond gorgeous, and his movement quality lives up to his height. With a unique contemporary take on ballet, he is definitely a jewel of the Joffrey Ballet.

Joffrey also employs Australian Aaron Smyth who made his appearances on the competition circuit in 2012-2013. This landed him a spot at JKO, then ABT II, and then joined the Royal Ballet. Since he is a younger dancer, we have a lot to look forward too.

Kara Zimmerman, formerly with PNB and Cincinnati, Joffrey really does use her well, and has helped develop her to her full potential.

Finally, basically one of their Prima’s Victoria Jaiani, she graced the cover of Dance Magazine back in 2010. With an arabesque for days, and artistry that moves the audience time and time again. She has definitely matured with the company and has truly made herself a name in Chicago, and in the dance world.

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Dancers I think that would do well at Joffrey? Auditioning for companies, or summer programs with the hopes to go year round and work your way up? I believe that dancers who would do well at the Joffrey must already have a strong background in technique. It isn’t like a school like Boston Ballet or San Francisco that gives you technique. Joffrey is more about strengthening your technique and emphasizing a certain approach to your dancing. Dancers that I think do well there are tall, athletic, and most of all flexible. With the diverse repertory Joffrey offers, potential future hires have to have versatile bodies. This allows more forgiveness in body type, meaning there isn’t a preconceived notion to the perfect ballet body type. Their company has a variety of heights, and a variety of body types. Because there really isn’t clear rankings it also allows for a more fair shot in casting. I’m not saying it is completely fair, it never is. 

And just because he is so attractive, and he is beyond talented… and is 6’6″ of muscle… 

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