Selecting Your Summer Intensive Auditions

I’m so pleased to see how many dancers are making use of the BalletScoop list of  2013 Summer Intensives! Let’s talk about how to select auditions. I advise auditioning for as many programs as you can without exhausting yourself or negatively impacting your schoolwork, but it helps to have a basic idea of what you want early on.

So before you get overwhelmed by the 300+ program options, take a moment to consider what you envision for yourself for summer training. What are you trying to achieve in the next few years? Are you leaving home for the first time and simply focus on improving your technique? Do you need to look for work or get exposure to artistic directors? Will you be pursuing college? You maybe best served by a particular type of program, and each type offers various features.

Conservatories (generally):

  • are not attached to companies, but may have indirect connections
  • provide the smallest class sizes
  • offer heavy supervision
  • take a focused and nurturing approach
  • are well suited for younger dancers and first-time SI students
  • may serve as an audition for the year-round residential program

Company schools (usually):

  • are directly connected (or in some way affiliated) with a professional performing company
  • offer flexible supervision with expectations of somewhat mature level of personal responsibility
  • may have large class sizes
  • are particularly well-suited to older dancers and those preparing to try for professional work in the next two years
  • may serve as an audition to the trainee program, second company or apprenticeship program

University programs:

  • are run by college dance departments
  • may offer scholarships or tuition credit to the university for summer attendees
  • have a wide range of class size, instruction quality, supervision and intensity depending on the quality of the dance department
  • are ideal for younger and older dancers intending to attend college after high school

Regulatory institutions:

  • Have self-governing authority over a particular style of ballet technique
  • Offer certification to students and teachers after completion of a course and examination
  • Are well-suited to dancers pursuing professional performance or teaching careers

Stand-alone programs:

  • Are sometimes affiliated with a festival, competition or convention
  • Often bring together a hodge-podge of famous dance faculty
  • May offer opportunities to see professional performances as part of the program

Exceptions to these exist. For example Ballet West’s program is the official summer program of both the professional company and the University of Utah. And some company programs make a concerted effort to provide a highly nurturing, conservatory environment to better accommodate very young dancers.

Once you have this choice in mind, you can filter the list to show only the type of programs that suit your immediate goals. This will narrow the list considerably. After that, it’s time to the click links provided and research the websites to discover other details like:

  • courses and dance styles offered
  • tentative schedules/hours per week
  • housing and board options
  • tuition costs and scholarship availability
  • in-house faculty and guest teachers
  • session lengths and date flexibility options
  • eligibility requirements beyond age

Note that consecutive sessions are only listed separately when there is a material difference in their purpose. So for example, ABT summer sessions are listed separately because of their different locations and age requirements, while Indiana University’s program is listed as one contiguous event even though they technically have two identical programs back to back. Be sure to look for programs that are extra early or extra late — you may be able to attend 2-3 full programs if you plan wisely!

Now that you have your short list, get movin! If you can’t attend all of the live auditions you need, a DVD audition is your next best option and the time to start making it is now. Once you have audition and received your acceptance, wait-list, or rejection letters, visit Choosing Your SI to help make your final decisions.

10 thoughts on “Selecting Your Summer Intensive Auditions

  1. Kailey says:

    Can you explain the difference between the Joffrey Academy of Dance Intensive and the Dance Lab? My child wants to do the three-week because she’s not comfortable yet with five weeks. Is it not as challenging…etc?

    • ClassicalBalletTeacher says:

      The difference appears to be nebulous. Marketing suggests that the SI is geared to vocationally geared students, while the dancelab is for intermediate/advanced (recreational?) students. They have an identically planned schedule, so it may be a matter of attracting a similar group to both with one considered an SI because it’s 5 weeks, and one considered more of a workshop because its only three. A call to the school should clear this up. They should be happy to discuss the similarities and differences in program and clientele. Also, research student experiences on Ballet Talk for Dancers where you will find a forum dedicated to first-hand reviews of every summer program.

  2. LThier says:

    Can you recommend any programs on the west coast for 13 year old girl that is beginner to intermediate level that does not require an audition?
    Many thanks!

    • ClassicalBalletTeacher says:

      Hello. I specialize in programs for pre-professional dancers, most of which require an audition. Beginner/intermediate programs for young teens are a slightly different animal. That said, there are a lot of programs in California that are good quality for a teen beginner and are “open” programs requiring no audition. Send me a private message on the contact page letting me know more specifically your geographic area, and I’ll do some research to see what I can find.

  3. Sbsmyth says:

    My daughter was accepted into ABT NY and CA summer intensives. She will be 13 years old. We are considering going to NY for the 5 weeks. Is NY that much better than CA? What is the difference between the two programs besides NY being 5 weeks?

    • ClassicalBalletTeacher says:

      The time is definitely a big factor. The investment that can be made in a student is quite different at two weeks compared to five! I feel that programs lasting only one or two weeks should really be called workshops. They are very useful, but the shorter time is limiting. However it can be ideal for a young dancer who may have homesickness. The barrier of entry in NYC is going to be higher, so the bar for training and competition will be similarly adjusted. NYC is almost probably going to be better for networking purposes if you are starting to think about that. Franco De Vita, Raymond Lukens, and Kevin McKenzie are slated to teach at NYC. That’s an amazing opportunity right there from an instructional and networking standpoint. They don’t list that for CA, though you may want to ask to confirm one way or the other. CA is a younger group, which you may prefer. I’m not telling you anything you probably don’t already know. It’s not really about understanding how the programs are different, it’s about understanding what your daughter is looking for and hoping to achieve this time, which you’d know better than anyone.

  4. the1desire2dance says:

    Reblogged this on dance4dreams and commented:
    It’s difficult as a dancer to continue your training throughout each and every year.. ESPECIALLY if your Funds hold you back.. YOU have to FIGHT to stay training throughout each summer by AUDITIONING for summer programs, filling out the required documents, sending in your audition dvds… it’s all worth it to raise to the top of your skill!! The summers off eventually no longer cut it as you get to be a certain level and age group of a dancer… training throughout the year BEST IMPROVES YOUR CHANCES of MAKING IT!! 🙂
    First things first– researching & finding the summer programs you want to get into to!! make sure if you’re singing up for multiple that all dates DO NOT INTERFERE with other intensives!! If there are scheduling issues, speak with workshop presidents..there may be a way to allow yo to leave a few days early or late and sometimes will reimburse you for days unable to attend!! The researching the BEST OPTION AND WORKSHOP FOR YOU AND YOUR LEVEL is the biggest part!! from there the paperwork/auditions/ & deadlines begin!!
    If ANYONE who has FINANCIAL ISSUES in keeping your training going, let me know, i am the ULTIMATE FIGHTER and KNOW-HOW in auditioning for scholarships/grants/& in raising money for yourself!! AGAIN-NEVER GIVE UP & keep training!

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