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How to make the most of your Summer Intensive experience, from Emily Runkle

Summer Intensives are such a unique element of dance training- separating it from nearly every other activity, as dancers are willing to spend weeks of their summer training even harder than during the school year! They’re an exciting time of the season and include meeting new people, dancing different styles, getting out of your comfort zone, and improving quickly due to a more intense training schedule.

Here are a few tips from my own personal experience as a dancer who started going away to summer intensives at age 14:

  • Understand that the style of dance (in our case, ballet) might be different from your home studio, and that’s ok! We can learn so much from different teachers with different approaches, and it makes us better dancers when we learn to adapt. Dive into the new corrections, styles, and preferences for the time that you’re there!

  • Eat to fuel yourself. I remember feeling like a bottomless pit at summer intensives and wondering if there was something wrong with me…nope! My daily hours of ballet just tripled, that’s all. That, for me, required a lot more food than I normally ate!

  • Be kind, make friends. Summer intensives are a place where students from all over get to come together because of their love of ballet. You’ll have many new acquaintances who have the exact same passion and interest as you. Friendships made at summer intensives can be friendships for life, and at the very least, can end up being colleagues and references later in life.

  • Bring your “A Game”. Come prepared to learn, work hard, and incorporate new concepts. Don’t be afraid to ask questions (that’s what we teachers are here for!), but make sure you are paying attention in order to quickly pick up combinations and corrections.

  • Use the intensive to assess if that particular organization is somewhere you’d like to end up. Would you want to study there for the year-round program? Does the company dance repertoire that would suit you and make you happy? Use the classes, repertoire and overall “vibe” to help you make that decision.

  • Get enough sleep. 8 hours minimum. Don’t be afraid to be the first one in bed- your body will thank you later.

  • Have fun! Summer intensives are meant to provide classes, teachers, and experiences that are different than normal year-round programs, so approach them with an open mind and heart!

  • BONUS *For our Ballet Embody Summer Intensive, specifically*- use repertoire and variations to really work on what the instructors are asking you. For example, if they are asking for very specific heads and arms, don’t waste your energy trying to show off with high legs. Connecting with the intention behind the choreography, listening carefully, and doing your best to open yourself artistically to the movement can display your work ethic and potentially progress your ability in a way that develops what you dance in the future!

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