Summer Programs pt 6

Gallery: National Ballet School Audition Tour*


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.

Now that you have been accepted, you can focus on what to do once you are there.


*Candace Elliott, (

Summer Program Life


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…