Ballet Blog- Summer Intensives

Jarina Carvalho and ballet student working on headshot.

It’s Time to Prepare for Summer Intensives!

Recently, we hosted our annual photoshoot to help our students get a leg up for their national summer intensive auditions. Once their photo and video portfolios are ready, they will embark on the quest to find a programs they would like to attend.

What is a Dance Summer Intensive?

In the USA and around the world, there are a plethora of ballet/dance programs taking place during the summer months. During this time students attend dance classes during the day starting early in the morning and going into late afternoon. These programs vary from light-weight to the super intensive. We can find them right here in New Orleans at several local studios, or go across the country to some of the most prestigious schools America has to offer.

At home, Live Oak offers a multidimensional summer intensive focused on giving students a well-rounded experience. We go from specialized ballet classes (technique, pointe, variations, and partnering) to cross training (dance conditioning, floor barre, Pilates, nutrition, and yoga). Additionally, we push even further with classes covering improvisation techniques, modern, and contemporary dance phrase making. Our intensive looks to really expend our dancer’s knowledge.

How do students get in?

To get into a summer intensive, dancers must audition, in person, or by sending audition videos. Whether auditioning in person or remotely, audition pictures are required.

We set aside the time and energy to get our students prepared because we want to see them grow. As a matter of fact, while we encourage them to attend our own annual summer intensive, we are thrilled if they are accepted in bigger programs around the country.

Why are Summer Intensives so Important?

Not only does a summer intensive provide tremendous growth in ability, but having the right summer experience can change a dancer’s life. Many professional dance companies use camps as a gateway to usher students into the professional sphere. The New York City Ballet, for example, relies heavily on the School of American Ballet (SAB) for the bulk of their professionals, and one of the ways to get into SAB is to attend their July summer intensive.

Before you comit to an intensive you must know…

National camps vary a great deal! Some are solely devoted to the Art of Ballet while others have a mixture of genres. Still others have the emphasis on a more modern/contemporary approach. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of speaking to your dance mentors when choosing the right program.

Through the years, I learned about the differences in quality of programs through the experiences of our students. They have gone places!

Nut Meg, Kansas City Ballet, ABT ( watch video in this page featuring our alumni Sterling and William), and Boston Ballet are amongst our favorite schools.

However, we have a “no-go” list of camps that time and time again let our students down. As they reported back to us, we found that the experience did not live up to the expectations and costs. Live Oak students and I are in constant contact about their experiences, and where to go or not.  We certainly try to guide our students to places that will help them grow while have fun, inspire them, and connect with the national dance community.

Four Steps to Finding the right intensive:

  1. Consult with home teachers to see if the student is ready. Young student (age 11 to 13) with a beginner level of training may opt to postpone attending big intensives. Keep it conservative for a few years and save the money! Continue training at home for a while longer.
  2. Read all the information the program provides. The Boston Ballet School page here is an example of a great description page. Most intensives have dedicated pages on their schools sites and familys can get a good idea of what students will be doing all day.
  3. If the student is ready, pick several audition options. Attending multiple auditions will maximize attendance possibilities and making a good impression may create wonderful opportunities.
  4. Then we wait… If the student gets in they will be all set. If they get into multiple places, consult with mentors to gain some insight on the best match.

How to Overcome and Conquer…

Even well-trained students will feel chalenged steping into a new summer intensive.

It is paramount that students feel confident and comfortable in their level of training. Staying the course at home may be the best thing a student can do for themselves in the long run if they are not ready. In this game is not about quantity, instead, it is about quality.

Cost can also be an issue. However, I firmly believe talented dancers should not be kept from an an opportunity to grow and network. At our school, when a dancer is ready, and he or she has been accepted we will help their families to get there. I have written recommendation letters and personal messages to directors in hope to help a student secure partial or full scholarships. We have also, engaged in “Go Fund Me” campaigns through all our channels of communication. Anything we can do to aid in the growth of our students, we do it.

Final note:

I would like to remind families that our Summer Intensive, even though small, packs a real punch. You can still offer your dancer an opportunity for growth without having to endure the pressures and costs of national intensives. Our intensive is available on a first come first serve basis and we will be auditioning students in March (date TBA). The programs goes from June 1th to 27th. Stay tuned to our social media channels and check your emails to get more details as they emerge!

I love having our intensive in June because of all the new people we get to see and the progress our students make. If you have participated in our intensive and loved it, let us know! Leave us a message or review on google, Instagram, or facebook. We love hearing from you!