Especially if you feel like you are still getting to know the in's and out's of the dance world, you may wonder why there is so much talk about these things called Summer Intensives. Is there really a need to spend 4-6 weeks away from home during the summer to dance? What about relaxing, hiking, going to the beach/pool an all those "normal" summer activities? In the following post, Ballet 5:8's Brette Benedict shares some of the positives from her experiences with summer intensives growing up - hopefully, this will shed some light on what you could get out of attending a summer intensive program, even if it's only for one summer, for just a couple of weeks, or at your home studio!
Why Attend a Summer Intensive?
There are so many good reasons to attending a summer intensive. I started attending summer intensives when I was 12 and kept going until I was 23. So I might just really like them but there are so many reasons to like them!
Since school is out over the summer you have time to have your family vacations and relax but also to dance more! When you are at a summer intensive your are able to give your full attention to what you are learning. You don't have to go home and do homework which allows you to simply focus on what you are learning at the studios.
During a summer intensive you gain muscle strength and endurance from being able to take many more classes each day than you would normally have time to fit in. You are pushed far beyond what you are asked to do during the regular school year. Since you are pushed further you start to realize that you are capable of doing more than you knew was possible. This also builds your confidence when heading into the new year.
In the different classes you take you have several different teachers. Even if you are attending your home school's intensive, you will have the opportunity to work with many different teachers. This allows you to gain new corrections or a new perspective on an old correction. There are so many times when I had a different teacher give me the same correction but they gave me a new way to think about it and I finally was able to fix my correction.
Friendships are built when you are at an intensive. You spend a lot of time with the same group of people. You are learning together and pushing through pain together. If you are away at an intensive you may even room with these girls. You build a friendship that can last a lifetime.
Like other jobs ballet requires a resume as well. Going to summer intensives builds your resume and shows the dedication and time you've spent studying ballet intensively. You also gain experience in learning repertoire. Here at Ballet 5:8 we not only teach classical variations but we also teach from Ballet 5:8 repertoire. This challenges students to push forward in their technical abilities as well as in artistry.
When learning new repertoire or variations you are also working on learning new choreography - brain practice! The quicker you are able to pick up steps the more valuable you can be as a dancer. With everything that you are learning your mental stamina is being pushed as well. At intensives they also expect that you retain the choreography and therefore you must spend extra time reviewing the steps, maybe making notes, which is a great skill to learn and make a habit.
This post's author, Brette Benedict, is a professional dancer and company artist with the Ballet 5:8 professional company. Brette joined Ballet 5:8 in 2014 and now serves as the Ballet 5:8 Répétiteur and Trainee Program Ballet Mistress in addition to performing with the company.