I approach dance summer intensives much like I approach a performance. Backstage I take a few
moments to focus on myself and mentally prepare for the role I step into. At a summer intensive,
I can travel to a new setting to keep up with my training and work on my technique as an
individual in preparation for the next season.
Each dancer is unique and looks for different qualities when deciding where to audition for a
summer intensive. For example, Katie, a 5’1” ballet dancer from Indiana, searches for a company
that “accepts different body types.” While one of the deciding factors for Gabby to return to
Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet for another five weeks was the teachers’ encouragement in
each dancer. The opportunity to “expand [her] technique” is what pushes India, to go away to a
summer intensive and “come back to [her] home studio stronger for the new season.” Dance requires both hard work and passion to improve. The best classes I have taken, whether at my studio or a summer intensive, were taught by teachers that integrated both of these things in the dance studio.
It is often my preference, once being accepted, to train at an intensive where I do not know any
of the other dancers. Being the only one from my studio relieves me of any pressure to compete
and be better than my peers. At an intensive I can allow myself to try new things, make mistakes,
and grow on my own. Scott, a dancer from Georgia, looks forward to “learning from different
teachers with different backgrounds [within] the dance world” each year at his intensives. Often
times we can get tightly wound up in our own studio that we forget about the international dance
community we have the privilege to be a part of.
India P, a 17-year-old dancer in Tennessee, believes that a benefit provided by an intensive is the
ability “to meet people that you may become lifelong friends with.” While many teenagers find
these lifelong friends at an outdoor sleep away camp, dancers find lifelong friends inside sweaty
studios across the country. Gabby T., a ballet dancer from Georgia, keeps in touch with a dancer
that lives in New York, whom she met at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. The two have
visited each other in New York City the past two years over Winter Break.
Besides long hours in the studio, many dance programs offer weekend outings to explore the city
in which the dancers are housed. Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s program offers a chance to
visit and attend a performance at the Whitaker Center as well as a trip to Hershey Park.
According to Gabby, these trips “[provide] more opportunities outside the dance class to get to
know people better.” My family and I combined my intensive at The Rock School for Dance
Education, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a family vacation touring the city. One of my
fondest memories of that intensive was when I took the opportunity to spend a day in New York
and see a Broadway production with all of my new friends. With these outings, my dance
summer intensives foster both my love for travel and dance.
Dance summer intensives offer more than just a place to train. They provide a protected environment that allows dancers to grow not only in their craft, but in all areas of life.