It’s almost the end of February. Here in the Northeast, we have just finished shoveling from the 4 inches of snow that fell overnight (Sorry Boston, I know you guys are at 100ft), we are recovering from record number low temperatures that fell below 0 degrees (-15 to be exact). What better time to start thinking summer thoughts, and to be even more specific, Summer Dance Intensives? Auditions & Registrations have begun for the many summer intensive opportunities, and while dancers are itching to keep dancing while their studios close for summer break, it’s important to think about how ready your dance is for a summer intensive.
Dance intensives are titled as such because, well they are INTENSE..5-10 hours of dance every day for a week or more. Not only does the dancer have to be physically prepared for those longs days, they have to be mentally prepared as well:
- Away or local/Big or Small?: The major dance intensives (American Ballet Theater, San Francisco Ballet, The Rock…etc , offer a larger scale experience that requires housing in their home cities. Is your dancer ready for an experience away from home? Is your dancer equipped to adhere to a strict daily regimen without your prompting? Many of the larger programs, do not encourage parents to watch classes, or even call the students throughout the week. Parents are encouraged to email only. If this sounds too daunting to a first timer, look to your local dance schools for programs that allow the students to come home daily.
- Whether your intensive is away or local, dancers have to be prepared for new teachers. New teachers with different styles of teaching and perhaps more stringent rules. If it is a comprehensive program, there may be a new teacher teaching a different dance style each day of the program.
- Students may have doubts about their skills. “Will everyone be better than me?’, “Am I good enough?” This is normal. Just about every dancer is going to have some doubt going in. If your intensive required an audition and you got in then obviously the judges felt you ARE indeed good enough. Encourage your Dancer to their strengths and be open to learn and improve those areas that are weaker. An intensive is yet another opportunity to learn and improve. Dancers should be thinking about what they can learn & how to bring this back to their home studio.
- Be prepared to meet new people. Here is an opportunity for dancers from different places to meet, share experiences and form new friendships! Talk to your dancer about not comparing themselves to the people they are meeting. Everyone is coming in with their own dance experiences, and just like in the home studio, each brings their own strengths
- Prepare your dancer for long days. Most intensives happen mid to late summer so there has been some time away from the dance studio. Dancers should stay in shape during their hiatus so that they aren’t prone to injury coming back to a week-long of intense dancing. Activities such as swimming & running are great ways to stay in shape while not in the studio. This article offers some excellent advice on how to prepare physically for an intensive: click here to read article.
Above all the intensive is meant to be a positive learning experience, a great opportunity to learn new skills, improve existing skills and broaden the dance education.