2015 Dance Summer Intensives!

Update 3/17/15: Added two programs from Charlottesville Ballet Academy – audition is very soon!

Update 2/7/15: Added Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Ballet Royale Minnesota changed dates.

Update 1/18/15: I have added Ballet Royale Minnesota.

Update 1/13/15: Correction to Ellison Ballet dates as well as a few new courses added (though some sites are still out of date like Anaheim and City Ballet School in San Diego). Check it out!

Update 1/6/15: I overlooked two intensives, now added: Oklahoma City and Indianapolis. Sorry guys, you’re on there now. Also, I was too lazy and didn’t verify the hyperlinks before, but now they should all be working!

Dancers, thank you for your patience and encouragement on this year’s list. I’ve received many messages asking for me to post it this year, and it meant so much to me that’s it’s become something you all look forward to. I considered not posting, only because there have been a few other websites that have begun providing the same data in more manageable formats. However since I remain the only free of charge solution, and because providing free access to this information is the reason I started BalletScoop, I re-committed myself to making it happen once more this year.

The reason for delay is due to some exciting personal news. I am very happy to be moving to New York City at the end of this month for family reasons as well as professional ones. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be moving to a city where dance and ballet of the highest quality are simply everywhere. It is a pleasure I never enjoyed as a young dancer in a small town. So I’ve been pretty busy packing and spending as much of my time as possible with local friends and family before I leave.

So that’s the news, now let’s get down to business. I have to admit I was very rushed making this happen despite it’s lateness so a few notes:

1. Everything is updated as of this blog post publication date and time, but schools can change dates and requirements at any moment, so please verify the details for any programs of interest by clicking the web url.

2. About half of the intensives have tweaked their age requirements since last year, so be prepared to forget everything you thought you knew about who takes what age ranges.

3. Lots of programs have either shut down or STILL haven’t updated for 2015, so I made the decision to cut those programs entirely this year, except for those who have such longevity that I can be 95% sure they are just running behind.

4. In addition to the usual Excel spreadsheet, I have made a Google Doc spreadsheet as well since that is easier to use for some of you. In the future I hope to eventually create a very user-friendly database, but I simply don’t have that technical capability right now.

I’ll add updates as they are available directly to the sheet with occasional notes here at the top of this post. As always, let me know if I have any mistakes that need correcting or if I miss any important updates so we can all help to have the most accurate information. Merde to all of you this audition season!! Click below and have a great summer!

2015 Summer Intensives (Microsoft Excel version)

2015 Summer Intensives (Google Doc version)

Dancewear en l’air: Rehearsal Wrap Skirts

il_570xN.631336454_h4xjI’m not even going to ask if you watched the amazing live coverage of the World Ballet Day, I know you did! And you know you were looking at those gorgeous pros wondering how you could one day look like them. It certainly doesn’t hurt to dress the part, and what did we see more of than ever on the ladies of WBD than the gorgeous flowing pastel rehearsal skirts and wrap skirts that can be so hard to find!

Short skirts are so popular for their leg lengthening, that it’s tough to find long ones below or at the knee, but don’t worry, I’ve done the legwork for you. There are a few ready to wear styles that will do the job, but for my money they often have too much fabric or some other issue. Obviously, your teacher may not allow you to wear them in class (most dancers only wear them in center by the way), but they are perfect for rehearsal, particularly when you will be wearing long tutu on stage. For rehearsal skirts to match the pros, handmade is usually the way to go. Here are your options:

Ready To Wear

M. Stevens 123G
This is a decent solution, but the excessive volume of fabric is only favorable for the most slim hipped dancer who is balancing out wider shoulders, or the older dancer looking for more modest coverage.

Capezio N276
This is an ok basic, but it only comes in black and the rolled hem is too tight, causing unattractive ripples at the hem in front and restricting movement of the fabric.

Sansha Misti 1
This is a favorite of mine, but it runs small. Also it is pull-on skirt, not a wrap style. It’s also very sheer and has a bit more fabric than necessary.

Repetto Rehearsal Skirt
Yep, this company is still around.

Cloud & Victory Rehearsal Skirts
These rehearsal skirts are pull on with layers of tulle, but managed to keep a slim look. Divine.

Handmade

Trienawear TR200L
This is a pretty gorgeous version. Still a little too much fabric, but that can be slimmed if you call them and ask for the “chiffon cut”. They offer a variety of other lengths as well.

Tulips by Tracey Skirts
These custom skirts are great. They offer a flowing knee length wrap skirt and a delicate pull on rehearsal skirt item – but be aware the latter has a wavy hemline. It looks good in the photos, but I’m not sure it looks good in person. Also, these skirts are cut to sit on the hips though you can pay extra to have it cut for your waist.

FlicFlac Dance Skirts
Etsy seller FlicFlac a long version of her skirts at about 22″ in a variety of colors. This UK seller ships worldwide.

Bakkendrup Custom Skirts
This Copenhagen company will make a skirt for you based on your measurements, or choose from their standard sizes.

Designs by Alice Skirts
This company is currently running low on skirts due to popular demand, but you can get on their mailing list to keep track of new styles.

Other Stuff

The Skirt
Ok so, this maker doesn’t have a long style, but I though it would be good to include them because they make SAB-style pull-on skirts, and I know you are all very fond of those. Also, they may be able to custom make a pull-on rehearsal length skirt if you ask.

So many options, so little time. If you know of any other resources, please let me know in the comments! Happy ballet shopping!

Princeton Ballet School: Champion for Diversity

Former Princeton Ballet School students Ellen Lou and Jacopo Janelli. Lou is now with Princeton Ballet School’s Trainee Program. Janelli, a former Trainee, is now a full company member. Credit: Caroline Pallat

Last month I was honored to speak with Mary Pat Robertson, the Director of the Princeton Ballet School, the school of American Repertory Ballet. A distinguished choreographer, Ms. Robertson has endeavored to create a learning environment that presents unique opportunities for dancers and which is helping to produce dancers who are better prepared to improve our landscape of ballet.

JD: What really sets you apart?

MR: For one thing, we are still interested in dancers who are college age. Many summer intensives don’t want to work with kids after high school. Many of those young people are about to become trainees, or are coming to the program in the hopes they might be invited to be a trainee. We strongly encourage our trainees to attend the summer program instead of going straight to the trainee program so they can become accustomed to the environment.

Also we’ve had a long-standing commitment to try to develop an early interest in choreography in the students. Many schools don’t do that until young dancers are much older. We all know how many young women dance, but so few become choreographers. The current model is that we have an optional choreography workshop. So the students who are interested meet with the teacher Janell Byrne, who talks about improv and choreography. And it’s entirely in addition to their other classes, so they don’t have to miss anything. 

Students in class at Princeton Ballet School's Summer Intensive program 2014. Credit: Leighton Chen

Students in class at Princeton Ballet School’s Summer Intensive program 2014. Credit: Leighton Chen

For many years, we did that as a way you could be in the performance at the end. In the last few years, fewer people were willing to take the risk of not being in a faculty led piece however, so now we do [choreography] on Saturday afternoons one evening a week. Then in addition to the sessions, we also have done interviews with the resident choreographers and on picking music. One of the most outstanding results of our choreography program is Amy Seiwert. We ran into each other at DanceUSA and she said, “If it hadn’t been for you all, I would never have started choreographing.” We’ve been introducing the dancers to choreography in this workshop for almost 25 years now.  The Summer Intensive itself is 32 years old – it’s one of the longest-running programs in the US.

In a lot of other organizations when you prep for a show, you are put in a dance with all other people in your level, but we don’t do that because we want [the students] to feel like each dance is a mini ballet. Each choreographer gets a group of dancers from each level so they can have a soloists, demi-soloists, corps, and so on. That gives everybody a different view. We vary them from high classical such as the vision scene from Don Quixote to pieces newly commissioned.

JD: What is the technique teaching philosophy?

MR: We have a very safety and anatomically based approach. We really want the dancers to think about how their bones align, and how their muscles are working. We ask them to use all the turn-out they have, but only the turn-out they have. We’re going to be making a lot of progress, but let’s keep it real. We have a lot of kids tell us, “You really made me feel like I had to pay attention to this and that helped me fix this or that.” I give a class once to each level weekly called body mechanics. How do we pointe the feet without crunching the toes? How do we turnout without pulling the pelvis out of alignment? I show them exercises that would help with that, and they can write it down. Each week we work on a different area. We also have a consulting physical therapist. 

American Repertory Ballet Resident Choreographer Mary Barton teaching class at Princeton Ballet School's Summer Intensive program 2014. Credit: Leighton Chen

American Repertory Ballet Resident Choreographer Mary Barton teaching class at Princeton Ballet School’s Summer Intensive program 2014. Credit: Leighton Chen

It’s really about making a personal relationship so that they want to do what you want them to do because they know that it matters. Even the least advanced students get a week with the Artistic Director and with the resident choreographer – each of the teachers moves around. So all the guests work with all the levels. We also have partnering in all the levels, and it’s real partnering technique. I know from the young men we have taught that in a lot of other programs they are learning a whole pas de deux, but not necessarily the skills. We focus on partnering itself and that’s how we teach the skills. For the young ones its kept simple: Is she on her leg or not and how can we help you do that? 

We don’t have a lot of guests, because we want to make sure the students understand what each teacher is doing for them. Our guests are master teachers such as Kirk Peterson and Trinette Singleton, who are close friends of the organization and whose choreography ARB presents, or seasoned alums of our school. This year we had Unity Phelan, who left three years ago to train with [School of American Ballet]. This was her first corp year [with New York City Ballet], and Dance Magazine recently named her as one of NYCB’s five Up-and-Coming Women.

JD:  Any other details about the program you’d like to mention?

MR: Students choose us for a wide variety of reasons. Our students live on campus at Princeton University, so some students come here because they have heard about Princeton’s dance programs and are interested in finding out more about the University. We do turn out a lot of [professional] performers, but there are many kids who have a more intellectual interest who can get a lot out of the environment here. 

American Repertory Ballet Artistic Director Douglas Martin teaching class at Princeton Ballet School's Summer Intensive program 2014. Credit: Leighton Chen

American Repertory Ballet Artistic Director Douglas Martin teaching class at Princeton Ballet School’s Summer Intensive program 2014. Credit: Leighton Chen

Diversity issues in dance are real and they are profound. Ballet has a long running culture of women being directed by men, and we must do more to prepare all underrepresented groups to achieve director and choreographer level roles if that will ever change. For years PBS has been offering opportunities for students to gain experience choreographing without sacrificing their own performance training, making it possible for students to receive all too rare preparation to achieve leadership opportunities and, in turn as they choose their casts and hire, to change the landscape of dance as we know it.

Princeton Ballet School classes being the Friday after Labor Day. Students interested in registering for advanced classes should arrange for a Placement Class, or an audition if they are interested in being a Trainee.  There are also Open Enrollment Advanced classes available. For more information, visit Princeton Ballet School. Thank you so much Mary Pat, for sharing your program with BalletScoop!

Ballet in Print: YAGP (with Author Interview!)

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Few people outside of our insulated ballet world are aware of the intense “make or break” moments of dancers’ careers, and fewer still have documented them. So it is with great pleasure that I present to you YAGP, the debut book from photographer and photojournalist Drew Kelley, in which he chronicles some of the most beautiful and evocative backstage moments from the 2013 Youth America Grand Prix.

02.yagp.behind.the.scenesYAGP is a competition that has launched the careers of many outstanding ballet students, inspired far more, and shown the door to still others. In 2013, YAGP saw nearly 1,000 dancers in the New York City rounds, with 30 countries represented. I had the pleasure of speaking with Drew about his involvement and his approach to capturing some of the most fleeting, poignant moments experienced by the young competitors.

JD: How did you get involved in this project, since you had never been exposed to the ballet world before?

18.yagp.behind.the.scenesDK: I work primarily with newspapers, that’s my “day job” so to speak, and the topics can be really anything. So I was sort of thrown into shooting ballet, covering some girls from a local Southern California studio, and I thought, this is actually pretty cool! I was kind of blown away. I ended up attending the First Position premiere in Santa Monica and eventually approached my editor with the suggestion that it would be worth going to New York and documenting the experience.

JD: So how long were you in New York and did you get to stay until the end?

DK: I was actually embedded with the original school that got me involved, so I flew over with them and was there from start to finish. I got to watch the gala and everything.

06.yagp.behind.the.scenesJD: It must have been incredibly visually stimulating. How did you narrow your focus and choose your subject matter with so much to see, and what made you decide to focus on backstage moments versus the more often flashy onstage performance shots?

DK: It’s a little nuts, and it is hard to stay focused because there’s so much going on at once. It was definitely overload. I took a lot of pictures including onstage, but right now you can Google “YAGP” and you can find 90% of the photos are onstage performing. I found it was just as exciting to witness the moments behind the scenes. Because I was embedded and was with a woman who knew basically everyone, I actually met Franco De Vita, Larissa [Saveliev] – who founded it with her husband – and many other powerful people. I was shaking a lot of hands. Things kind of fell into perspective.

JD: I’m sure that each photo is very special to you, but do you maybe have any particular favorites?

04.yagp.behind.the.scenesDK: Actually there is one where you see the back of the girl with her arms out, and you see there’s this background of people and that’s actually the judges. The judges photo is hard to explain to people. To get access backstage is not that big a deal, but that was the scholarship classes. In reality, the point is not at all who will win, the point is to be seen. And that’s what that was. Seeing them perform [in audition class], if the Artistic Director liked them, they were approached right then and there and it was like, “Can you move to Monte Carlo?” And I’d think, but she’s only fifteen! Lives were completely changed in a moment.

11.yagp.behind.the.scenesJD: Anything else you’d like to add about your experience?

DK: It was really impressive to see all the kids from around the world that, once they were here in the same room together, it was like they all speak the same language. When I was a kid, I was into skateboarding, and when you’d see another kid with a skateboard it was like, hey, we understand each other. It was just like that. Here’s this kid from Japan and this kid from Brazil, and they can instantly bond. That was pretty great to see.

Thank you so much, Drew, for undertaking this project and sharing these beautifully captured moments.

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For more information about Drew Kelley, please visit http://drewakelley.com/

Fore more information about the YAGP competition, please visit http://www.yagp.org.

Should I Audition for a Summer Program?

I’ve talked about so many aspects of summer training, including preparation for summer auditions, choosing between types of programs, finding the best men’s ballet training, choosing between different audition opportunities, auditioning by video, what audition judges are looking for, choosing between school‘s you’ve been accepted to and even interpreting scholarship offers.

One of the questions I haven’t answered is whether these summer programs make financial sense to consider in the first place. For me, it’s a foregone conclusion that you have decided they are if you are here reading about them, but ultimately that is up to the individual – it will be different for everyone depending on what’s already available locally, what you can afford, your goals, and so many other things. However, Dance Channel TV has made a great video that’s a wonderful starting point for considering the issues surrounding this topic. Enjoy!

2014 Summer Intensive Auditions

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Well. Such as it is, here is your 2014 Summer Intensives Auditions List (last updated 2/10/14) including 390 high quality programs complete with direct links, dates and age restrictions! It’s actually not as complete as I would like with some of the dates, but more schools than usual are behind in updating their site so I’ll be updating this list as I receive more information. Audition season is already well underway, so merde to all!

And as usual here’s my list of a few SIs, in no particular order, with strong reputations that you may want to put at the top of your list.

School of American Ballet

American Ballet Theatre

Ellison Ballet Academy

Bolshoi Ballet Academy

San Francisco Ballet School

Boston Ballet School

Pacific Northwest Ballet School

Chautauqua Institution

Kaatsbaan

Harid Conservatory

Miami City Ballet School

French Academie of Ballet

The Rock School 

Please send me a message if you encounter any broken links. As always, if you have any questions about particular SIs, please refer to Ballet Talk for Dancers, where you can create a free account and peruse first-hand reviews by dancers and parents.

P.S. I will be posting a separate list of Teacher Training programs in the next couple weeks, so teachers who have requested that: I hope to publish that before year end.

HAPPY WINTER!

2014 Summer Intensives List Coming Soon!

Carolina Ballet's annual Thanksgiving offering: MessiahSince last month I’ve been working on the annual SI list for you beautiful dancers out there! You’ve sent quite a few inquiries about when I will be publishing that, so I this is just a quick note to let you know that I plan to post it at the end of this Thanksgiving week.

There’s extra delay this year due to a number of intensives who have not published their 2014 information yet. For that reason, a number of schools will have TBA listed for dates with a link to their general site or 2013 info. I am limiting this as much as possible by making individual calls to these schools to supplement my data with unpublished, verbally confirmed updates when possible, but my many phone calls have also added to the delay.

Thanks for your patience and your excitement for this year’s list. There are many lovely opportunities this year and a number of schools have widened their age acceptances. Enjoy your Thanksgiving holidays and see you on the other side!

Behind Barres eBook Bundle for Sale!

An excellent package of three awesome dance books is available in eformat now until September 28 for the crazy nice price of 99 cents. The collection includes three full length novels for teens. The price increases on September 29 to 9.99 (still a steal), so catch this while you can! Check out the trailer and make your purchase at one of these links:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Behind-Barres-Complete-Ballet-ebook/dp/B00F6BUK7G/ 

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/behind-barres-miriam-wenger-landis/1116903196?ean=2940148717300 

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id699362434 

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Behind-Barres/book-MwLFpA4KW0-v_jhL3VYRcg/page1.html?s=23Oy2enHuUOOb5bKSqxORg&r=1

Smashwords:http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354408 

Auditions for Paid Studio Company Positions with Gelsey Kirkland!

Dale-Image-15The Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, studio company for the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, is holding auditions this weekend for paid positions. Attendees will also be considered for the year-round professional and pre-professional training school. This is a must-go audition!

Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Studio Company is under the artistic leadership of Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov, whose vision is to maintain an ensemble company capable of realizing diverse and compelling theatrical ideas through specialized, comprehensive training and direction. Contracts are typically 32 weeks.

Gelsey Kirkland Ballet

The Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet is proud to announce that we will be holding an audition for our PAID Male & Female Studio Company positions and our year round professional and pre-professional academy programs.

When:
Saturday, August 17th at 12:00pm

Where:
Gelsey Kirkland Academy
355 Broadway, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10013
(212) 600-0047

What To Bring:
Please bring proper audition attire, pointe shoes, and an 8×10 headshot along with an action shot in arabesque. $35.00 Audition Fee. DVD auditions are accepted.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet at (212) 600-0047 or by email: misha AT gelseykirklandballet DOT org

Ballet in Print: So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer?

KronenbergBookIt is all too rare for an experienced professional dancer to provide career guidance to students. The average professional dancer’s hectic schedule, necessity to focus on oneself, or lack of interest in reaching out to aspiring professionals in order to stave off competition all may play a part in that. Even from those who share their knowledge through teaching, there is typically a lack of basic insight on the professional ballet experience that is provided to their students.

Fortunately for us, Miami City Ballet principal dancer Jennifer Kronenberg is not your average professional dancer. Gifted not only in dancing but also writing, Ms. Kronenberg has openly shared her perspective on professional ballet, the story of her rise to ballet fame, and insights on how to prepare in her recent book, So, You Want to Be a Ballet  Dancer? – not to be confused with the revered Thalia Mara’s book from 1959 of the same title, sans punctuation.

A small, pocket-sized read, So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer? is divided into 20 easily digestible chapters that focus progressively on essential knowledge relevant immediately prior to and at the start of a ballet career. Early training is also covered briefly along with longer-term concerns such as retirement savings and dancers’ frequent periods of unemployment. QR codes and urls cap off many topics with videos of Ms. Kronenberg’s colleagues addressing the issues in more detail or from another perspective. Ms. Kronenberg has no illusions on the limitations of her personal perspective and consults colleagues and other professionals as contributors when necessary, for instance in the chapter on men in ballet.

This is one of the most useful books about professional ballet in publication at the moment, littered as the market is with books focused more on the basics of instruction and getting started with beginner training or beginner pointework. I held off on posting about this book while it was in e-reader form only, but it has recently been published in hard copy. Go buy it today! I found one at BN yesterday and it’s up on Amazon as well. (Now, for a book focused on men’s ballet! Maybe something that expands on this.) Enjoy!

Summer Intensive Handbook on Sale!

Julian Amir LaceyFrom My Son Can Dance, the Summer Intensive Handbook is one mom’s effort to help guide parents and students through the process of preparing for a choosing their SI. Nina Amir, mother of Julian Amir Lacey (pictured left) knows all to well how much information is out there for you to sift through. Take advantage of her experience through this publication, available through Kindle, as a PDF, or for any other ereader.

Offered for a limited time at a discount using the code at the bottom of the linked page, this very affordable handbook is a handy reference for summer intensive research and advice. Check it out!

Bolshoi Ballet Academy: An All-Encompassing Opportunity

Bolshoi SI studentsRina Kirshner is the Vice President of the Russian American Foundation and directs the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive. I was fortunate to speak with Ms. Kirshner recently about the program’s features and the many opportunities it provides, as well as what they are looking for in auditions.

JD: Was the BBASI your brainchild? What inspired you to pursue cultural development specifically through ballet?

RK: Actually, the program first came to the US many years ago through a partnership with the Ford Foundation. They would come to the US for 1-2 weeks in the summer as an elite full-scholarship program. Ten or fifteen years ago, the program ended, but someone who believed in the program later brought it to our attention because they believed the Russian American Foundation was an organization that could support the initiative successfully. This was almost seven years ago. We felt right away the value of the program not only as pre-professional training but from a more global perspective. To really understand Russian classical ballet you really also need to be aware of the culture, language and people. So we positioned the program early on to be an all-encompassing opportunity.

JD: The Bolshoi Academy is known for developing students with a highly intensive program from a fairly young age. How do you condense that syllabus down for US students who often experience a comparatively diluted regimen over their years of training?

RK: I believe that the program has served great value to all parties involved and not just the participants. Many stereotypes were adjusted and broken from both sides. When we first started, the thought was that only students with perfect form could be professional dancers. It was discovered that American students who may not be subject to a strict regimen or have that form are also very talented students that can benefit from the program. We now have 50 students, two that have joined the Bolshoi school, and one that joined the company. Our students are embraced by the teachers and other Bolshoi students as hard workers. It’s been transformational for both sides.

The Academy has grown to respect the dedication of American students. Maybe I would have answered this very differently seven years ago. But these American students are not at a disadvantage. There is a natural amount of talent that is required, but we’ve had students that are shorter or don’t have the typical body. Some work even harder because they are catching up in comparison with the students who have been available to the Bolshoi teachers from such a young age. The fact that the pace in the intensive is much faster and more rigorous than the academy is fact.  The fact that students not normally subject to the Russian regimen can maintain that pace with those who are speaks volumes.

JD: I notice that for your advanced NYC students, only males are scheduled to have variations class, while only females have rep class. Presuming that the former is solo-based and the latter a concert repertoire, what is the philosophy behind this curricular structure?

RK: This just evolved as a natural evolution of what the male dancer needs. There’s still about 5-6 variations taught throughout the program to everyone. Usually this is what the male dancers perform or what they will perform in competition. Some perform in small groups in the performance and some as solos. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students to have a top coach and we’ve heard feedback on how valuable that has been for them. To answer your question though, both classes are basically the same. They learn variations as a group and then may perform them as a solo or group.

JD: What is the immersion scholarship program in Russia?

Bolshoi SI studentsRK: Three years ago, because of how the cultural aspects had affected students and inspired them to learn Russian, we petitioned the state department to take a select group of dancers for six weeks to continue this education at the academy but also have the cultural and language immersion. The state department funded the program as part of NSLI (National Security Language for Youth). The last few years it’s been 15 students each year from the group. Those are selected primarily on academic achievement. So in addition to being great dancers, they have to be good students. In addition to maintaining an intensive dancing regime, they have to spend four hours a day learning Russian.

JD: How about the 2 week scholarship gala program?

RK: We select one leading female dancer and one leading male for that. They train for 2 weeks and that is purely based on recognition for their dancing ability, so there is no academic component like there is for the group program.

JD: This is a competitive summer intensive, no question. What is the atmosphere like for students? How do you ensure it remains healthy?

RK: We actually discuss that up front because we think it’s important for the dancers and parents to understand this up front. For us, once they are accepted, it’s very important that they know we like good people here. We have certain behavioral rules that must be adhered to. Once in the program, we do not tolerate any competitive negative behavior. In the New York location we are state certified on the level of a regular camp, so we have a complete staff that oversees that aspect. I personally pay a lot of attention because the students are expected to work so hard.

In Connecticut especially we try to make sure it’s just a fun summer for the students, and they have activities that promote a positive atmosphere. We want them to know that you will need to work very hard, but being unconstructively competitive is a different thing. One of the things families should know is that we’ve instituted a change this year. We’ve noticed that in the past the level structure 1, 2, 3, 4 was so emotionally unhealthy. So this year each group is assigned a lead teacher because any time spent on emotional competitiveness is wasted time. We don’t believe that unnecessary, “Why is he or she in this level?” is useful. So we make a speech up front where we present our view on this.

JD: The marketing for the BBASI emphasizes dancers who graduated from the Moscow year-round program. Do you have any statistics yet on the number of US summer intensive students who have achieved professional careers?

RK: Two to top Russian companies were accepted this year. Many students don’t follow up to let us know where they are. We have students accepted to Penn Ballet and ABT, but those are only the ones that report back to us.

JD: What can students expect to get out of the program that sets it apart from many quality programs now available in the US?

Bolshoi SI studentsRK: I believe two things set us specifically apart. We recognize that there are many top programs here and we believe we are a very good supplement to those programs during the year. First, we have a whole system here. Every one of the teachers is trained and works year round as a team. Most were students of the Bolshoi Academy, danced as the company, and trained to teach there. They have dedicated their whole lives to that technique, so every step and class is part of a holistic program of master teachers in one purified approach. That works amazingly to achieve individual progress, and I think that’s what we’re known for.

For the younger group, we have the same dedication to making it an enjoyable summer experience, and we have a professional, fun staff which we hire to run other activities. That makes it a great summer experience compared to other programs that don’t have the same structure, facilities or supplementing to remember the kids are having a summer. Obviously, our dedication to introducing students to the culture is paramount and that is the second point. It’s the holistic system of training as well as expanding their personal horizons in Russian culture and language.

JD: What qualities are most important to your adjudicators?

RK: Desire and ability for the student to work hard. That can be seen in the hour and a half that we are there auditioning. Students that think they can succeed anywhere are not necessarily going to succeed in our program. We want students that understand that our program is about working hard. We say one of the issues all teachers try to address is that the dancers need to show the audience how much they love to dance. As much as we say it to them there aren’t many who are able to achieve it. If they are not as strong technically but they are glowing and you can see their desire to dance… We just need to see their heart and dedication to hard work.

JD: Have behaviors ever been exhibited that have disqualified students?

RK: We don’t tell anyone to leave right away, but if someone is not paying attention, that’s a sign of someone that’s going to be like that, and we will get frustrated, so those are red flags that we watch for. Sometimes students can’t survive the whole audition and they leave. Those are rare cases, but they happen. Most of the dancers that come to audition now know what they are getting into.

Bolshoi SI studentsJD: Have exceptions ever been made for the age minimums or for the age maximums?

RK: No on the minimums. For the age maximums, sometimes for Connecticut, but it’s determined individually. If we believe they won’t be sufficiently challenged, that’s what we’ll say. We have some professional students in their 20s that come to New York.

JD: Would you consider New Orleans for future auditions? We have an underserved demographic of talent in the area.

RK: We’ve never been to New Orleans but would consider it in the future.

JD: Finally, what has been the high-point for you, being a part of this incredible initiative from the start?

RK: Luckily, there have been many high-points because the program has had so many challenges! Being responsible for other people’s children is huge. The thank you letters that we get have cited not only transforming people on the dancer level but also the new opportunities, the global awareness. That has really moved me, as a mother. I love that this program keeps me going. When we first started, the New York Times dedicated a reporter to covering it for five weeks. There were so many stereotypes in there that were painful. When they published the new Joy Womack article, it was very classy and sophisticated.

It has changed not only us but the Academy. How excited the teachers are to see returning and new students! Even the Russian Ambassador to the United States said we are one of the great success stories of the Russian American dialogue.

Thank you again to Ms. Kirshner and the Russian American Foundation for bringing this wonderful program to the states! For more information and audition tour dates, please visit http://www.bolshoiballetacademy.com/.

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.

2012 Annual Harlequin Dance Scholarship

UPDATE: Thanks to the savvy readers who pointed out my error – Unfortunately the scholarship deadline has passed! However this is an annual scholarship. The 2013 version will be open for applications soon. 

Each year, the good folks at Harlequin distribute thousands of dollars to randomly selected dance student applicants “in an effort to provide better opportunities for young people pursuing performing arts careers.” In 2012, Harlequin allocated $25,000 for 10 lucky dancers!

Details and online, printable and downloadable applications can be found at:

http://www.harlequinfloors.com/us/en/dance-area/dance-scholarship.html

2013 SI Auditions Photo Shoot at FAB!

The esteemed French Academie of Ballet has arranged for Joseph Henry Ritter to photograph students on Wednesday, December 19, 2012, in preparation for the upcoming audition season! This event is open to students who are not enrolled a FAB. Francois Perron and Nadege Hottier will be on hand to personally guide participants on placement and photo selection. (Participants are responsible for knowing exactly what poses and types of photos are required by all schools they will be auditioning for.) Sign-up for this event by emailing Leslie Schiller at ‘lschiller [at] frenchacademieofballet [dot] org’ by THIS FRIDAY, December 7, 2012!

Space is limited! Thanks to FAB for providing a much-needed service during their sold out European Masters Workshop.