For many students of dance, summer offers the opportunity to take part in ballet intensive programs. These programs, which can span from three to five weeks, allow students the opportunity to hone their craft and learn from other professionals and teachers in the field.
Highly competitive, these summer dance intensives are designed for highly motivated dancers and require auditions in the months of January and February. Some students will choose to audition for multiple intensives. In the end, a very select group of students are chosen to study.
“Some programs are more intense than others,” said Carrie Cheng, Director of Ballet at FWCD. “Each have different focuses, as well as different styles of technique such as classical, contemporary, Balanchine or traditional Russian technique. It’s important that dancers choose the right intensive so they have a positive experience and don’t have to relearn technique when they return."
The locations of the summer intensives are also important. Cheng likes to start students close by. Many will have a summer intensive right on FWCD’s campus through the Gayle Corkery School of Ballet or Texas Ballet Theater at Texas Christian University.
Cheng says she encourages students to attend a summer intensive starting in grades 7 or 8. Expenses can range upward of $5,000 for five weeks of classes, housing and food for those intensives that require travel.
Ballet students weren’t the only ones busy this summer. Cheng attended the CORPS de Ballet International Conference at Brigham Young University in Utah. She and her husband, Li-Chou Cheng, Professor of Professional Practice at TCU, were on faculty at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive. There, she taught levels from juniors to level 6 and choreographed two pieces for their final performance.
This year, the Ballet Program had 45 FWCD students participate in summer intensives. Read more about their experiences below.
Alyssa Hughes ’20 attended Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. The five-week program provides unparalleled technical training by world-class faculty for beginning, intermediate and advanced students at the nation’s preeminent school of classical ballet.
Jane Shelton ’24 and Addie Miller ’24 attended the Ballet Austin Summer Intensive. During the three-week program, students gain a deeper understanding of ballet technique and how to use it more effectively. Resident faculty, augmented by guest teachers from the ranks of Ballet Austin’s professional company, offer guidance, encouragement and relentless attention to detail.
Abby Shaffer ’19 attended Stanford High School Summer College where she took two academic classes, Principles of Economics and Introduction to Decision Making, as well as Advanced Ballet. The program, for exceptional high school students ages 16-19, allows students to take Stanford undergraduate courses and earn college credit.
Lillian Buchanan ’23, Kaylee Chisholm ’22 and Gabby Pettit ’21 attended the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive. In this program, serious ballet students from across the country and abroad converge for an immersive five-week training program led by PBT faculty, artistic leaders and high-profile guest instructors. More than 200 student dancers log more than 180 studio hours, gaining experience in both rehearsal and performance settings.
Isabella Gutiérrez ’22 and Sydney Cyprian ’22 attended the Texas Ballet Theater Summer Intensive at Texas Christian University. The five-week program emphasizes the technique, artistic expression and musicality necessary to prepare well-rounded, classically trained dancers for a company career.
Will Tuomey ’20 attended Tremaine L.A. Summer Intensive Workshop in Los Angeles. This five-day program for 100 intermediate to advanced dancers allows students to take master classes in jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, as well as specialty classes from top choreographers, dancers and agents.
Thirty-five FWCD ballet students attended the Gayle Corkery Summer Intensive, a three-week program studying ballet pointe, jazz, character and Pilates.