BV Blog

Summer Dance Prep

Auditioning for Summer Intensives in 2021


Although summer may seem a long way off, many ballet schools have already begun their summer intensive auditions (even some as early as the middle of December). With companies unable to travel for many in-person audition tours, and just doing the auditioning virtually, most summer intensive auditions will have all been done by the beginning of February. Plus, with some schools accepting fewer students this summer in order to keep with COVID guidelines, you’ll want to register early as most of these virtual auditions are first-come first served. So, if you have any interest in attending one or think you might decide you want to in a few months, it’s time to start planning and getting prepared now

Another option is to train with Ballet Virginia over the summer. After a successful summer intensive last year, we are planning for Summer 2021 with another four-weeks of full-day training. Summer 2021’s Intensive will run from July 5th to July 30th. 

Keep in mind that Ballet Virginia’s Directors recommend that dancers be at least 13 and currently in an Upper School level before considering going away for summer training. 


Ballet Virginia Summer Intensvie
Ballet Virginia Summer Intensive

Why go to a summer intensive?

Summer intensive programs are a valuable part of a dancer’s training and are a necessary stepping stone on the path to becoming a professional for a variety of reasons:

When students don’t take class over the summer, their technique suffers. For our upper school levels, taking class over the summer is required either at another school or here at home. Progress made over the year cannot be not maintained without dancing over the summer. Students who don’t attend a summer program or at least take regular classes will spend the first few months back, regaining the flexibility, strength and muscles they once had instead of progressing forward.

Going away can be an eye-opening experience to the other amazing talent that’s out there and push students to work harder during the school year. It can also be a place to meet lifelong friends and work with choreographers, directors and teachers that might end up changing the course of your career in the future. The dance world is small, all connections and relationships can be valuable!

Going to a summer intensive offers exposure to different techniques and instructors that students wouldn’t normally have access to at home. Going to one of these programs can help students decide what they like as a dancer, what styles, types of movement, repertoire or what type of environment they could see themselves working in and for which companies. 

A summer intensive that is attached to a professional company could potentially give a dancer a leg up when they audition for a traineeship or spot with that particular company down the line. But most importantly, a dancer should use this time in their career to figure out who they are as an artist and what they might want to do in the future.


Company Dancer Leah Upchurch at the Kansas City Ballet Summer Intensive

How to choose which summer intensive to audition for:

Decide on your goals for the summer

Why do you want to go to a summer intensive in the first place? Do you want to learn a new style? Become more versatile in contemporary or modern? Get lots of personalized corrections? Focus on the training first. Extras like activities and city excursions might be more important to a younger student who is mostly prioritizing solid summer training than they would be for an older dancer looking for a year-round position. 

Do your research

How many hours will you be dancing each day? And for how many days per week? Some schools say 9-5 but have multiple hour or two hour breaks where you aren’t dancing. Other schools teach two ballet technique classes per day. If one or the other doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you’d want to know that before committing to 6-8 weeks. 

  • Is a performance opportunity important to you? What kind of repertoire would you be learning? Is it different than you would get here at home?
  • What is the city like? What classes besides ballet are offered? Who will be teaching? Where have those teachers danced or taught before? Do they offer scholarships? Are they merit-based, financial, or both?
  • How big are the classes? Some places won’t specify so you may have to do some snooping on their website or social media for pictures. Although many schools will be limiting class size this year due to COVID, the amount of students in class is important to gauge how much personal attention you might get. Teachers at larger programs that have more than 25 students per class might not be able to pay attention to everyone in one class. That isn’t to say that big programs are a bad thing, but if you are a dancer who usually sticks to the back of the room, you’ll have to be very self disciplined to take everyone else’s corrections as your own. 

Prioritize what’s important

You can improve anywhere with the right mindset. But some places will be better for you than others. While one school might be the perfect fit for your friend, a completely different company might be better fit for you. And this can also change from summer to summer. 

How old are you/ how serious are you about your training? If you are 12 or 13 years old, it might not make a huge difference where you go and staying at Ballet Virginia might be your best option. You should just focus on a place where you can get consistently good technique. Older dancers might want to start thinking about where they could get a year-round, second company, studio company, or trainee position if that is the goal.

You want to find the training that’s best for you. Ask yourself why you really want to go there. Is it because you just know someone else from your school who went there and has a connection to a company? Or is it because you truly are excited for their program, the classes they offer, and the environment you’ll be in? You also shouldn’t choose a program just because your friends are going there too. Odds are that you’ll end up in a different level than them anyways! Keep your focus on the program’s curriculum and faculty because you’ll be able to make good friends at any intensive. Is it a big company you just want to add to your resume? A large company isn’t the best fit for every dancer. Go back and refer to what your summer goals are!


Can you spot Company Dancers Colin Jacob and Jackson Kettell? They’ve both spent summers at Ballet West.

 How to audition:

Any other year, and this would be an easy question to answer because you would just pick the closest location on your desired school’s national audition tour. However, of course this year is  different and requires a little more planning. 

There is no easy answer because most ballet schools are approaching them differently. So you’ll have to go to each school’s website (or use our handy list below) to see exactly what their process is. They are usually very specific with their instructions and following them is key. 

  • Some schools are doing auditions by video, where you record yourself in the studio doing some exercises at the barre and some center work. If you want to do this at Ballet Virginia, you’ll need to check for studio time availability and reserve it beforehand.
  • Most others are doing live virtual Zoom auditions that take place at a certain time. Most of these classes take place on Saturdays or Sundays in January, although a few are taking place during the week. For these, you have to register ahead of time and most registrations are closing on the Wednesday or Thursday prior. 
  • Lastly, there are a few companies doing in person auditions. This can be a great option if they aren’t too far and if you and your family feel safe. Fourteen major ballet companies have even joined together to create a place for dancers to audition for multiple schools at once. These schools are holding in person auditions at their studios and representatives from all the schools will be observing via Zoom. Check out more information about the National Summer Intensive Audition Tour here.



Company Dancer Hayley-Ann Vasco in Houston at her first summer intensive.

Things to consider before your virtual auditions

Make sure that you are following all the instructions provided. They are there so that it is easy for the auditioners to see you well. Many schools are giving a dress code with the exception that if you’re dancing against a dark background, a light colored leotard may be allowed. It’s also a good idea to have the best light possible while dancing. That means that the light should be shining on you and not from behind you, so that you aren’t just a shadowy silhouette. And of course, make sure your entire body is in frame. 

You are not being judged on the space you are dancing in. Many students don’t have access to a real studio, but as long as you have a 6 foot by 6 foot square and a sturdy piece of furniture as a barre you will be good to go. Teachers also understand that the lag on Zoom may affect musicality, so don’t stress about that too much (although having a good internet connection is crucial). And with virtual auditions, keep in mind that the class may be recorded for playback so the directors and teachers have a chance to go back and focus on each student individually if needed. 

Headshots and audition photos may be even more crucial this year. Photos are a great tool for directors to look back on to remember those who stood out in class. Plus they might not remember if you fell out of one turn during class especially if they can quickly look at your first arabesque and see your beautiful lines, extension, and poise. Headshots are important because schools want to see your personality shine through in your dancing and they need to connect your name to your face and movement quality. So if the school asks for photos during registration, have them already prepared and ready to send. You’ve dedicated so much time and energy in honing your technique and working on your artistry. It’s important to match that effort by investing in the quality of your audition photos – you want to present your best self when making your first impression. 


See this post for more tips for a successful audition photoshoot


Plan your virtual auditions carefully. Don’t schedule more than two auditions back to back or on the same day- you’ll be exhausted. Auditions are usually more tiring than taking a regular technique class because your body is pushing harder and your brain is working overtime to pick up the combinations and retain corrections. Maybe even consider scheduling the auditions for your favorite programs first and then work around those when planning the rest.

Lastly, although schools are judging based on strong technique, they understand that this year is different. Some students have had to be practicing in their homes this whole year, so we at Ballet Virginia are very lucky in that regard. Just do your best in the space you have. The School of Pennsylvania Ballet’s director, James Payne summed it up best,

“When they take the audition, it’s important that they show who they are and not try to be who they think the person at the front of the room wants them to be. We really want to have an honest assessment of where they are. I don’t want them to have their best class that day, I don’t want them to have their worst class. I want to see their regular class.” – Pointe Magazine 


Summer Intensive 2020 at Ballet Virginia

Here is a list of some of the schools that our students have been accepted to and/or attended for you and your dancer to look at their audition information:

American Ballet Theatre

Atlanta Ballet

Ballet Austin 

Boston Ballet


Cincinnati Ballet

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet

Colorado Ballet

Houston Ballet

Joffrey Ballet Chicago

Kansas City Ballet

Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Miami City Ballet

Milwaukee Ballet

Nashville Ballet

Charlotte Ballet

Oklahoma City Ballet

Orlando Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

San Francisco Ballet

School of American Ballet

Texas Ballet Theatre

Tulsa Ballet

Washington Ballet

Ballet West


If you have any other questions, reach out to your teacher. They can give advice specifically for you. 


Ballet Virginia’s Summer Programs Information

Perfect for dancers who would rather stay home or for families who don’t feel comfortable sending their dancer away this year.

Summer Classes in the Afternoons & Evenings: June 21 to July 31  

This program offers training during weekday evenings and Saturdays, much like the academy year at both our Norfolk and Virginia Beach locations. Summer is also a great time for new students to experience what Ballet Virginia has to offer. Open to all levels. Attend the entire session or a minimum of three weeks.

Summer FLEX: June 21 to July 31

This program offers additional training to Levels 5 and up (or by invitation) for dancers interested in pre-professional training. Summer FLEX meets Monday through Friday from 1 PM to 4 PM. Classes in ballet, pointe, variations, modern and more will be offered. This program is to be taken in tandem with the student’s summer session classes. Attend the entire session or a minimum of three weeks.

Summer Intensive: August 16 to 20

Ballet Virginia summer intensive classes include Ballet Technique, Variations and Repertory, Modern, Character, Jazz, Broadway Repertory, Progressing Ballet Technique and Pilates. Last year’s guest teachers included Jacquelyn Long, currently a soloist with Houston Ballet and Aaron Robinson, currently a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet.

Final Performance

Ballet Virginia’s Summer Intensive will culminate with a performance of classical and contemporary repertoire in our Rehearsal Hall Theatre.

 Learn More about Ballet Virginia’s Summer Programs

-written by Hayley Ann Vasco

Dance is for Grown-ups Too


Why dance as an adult?


Making the choice to learn ballet or tap as an adult can seem like an odd decision at first glance. Yet, at Ballet Virginia we have a thriving and dedicated group of adult dancers. Some of these awesome people have danced throughout their lives while pursuing other goals such as practicing law, becoming a chef, graduating from college, being a big rig truck driver, serving in the military or being a NASA scientist. Others have always wanted to dance but didn’t have the opportunity as children. Truly, our dancers come from all walks of life and in all ages, shapes and sizes. Our adult dance teachers embrace them all, take them seriously and teach them a solid dance class.


What does dance have to offer an adult?


Learning ballet or tap as an adult is a chance to check in with your body and focus only and wholly on you. Structured dance classes are a mind and body experience. It can be an escape from work stress and a way to build confidence that you can still learn something new at any age. Give yourself an hour or two a week to just do you.



What does Ballet Virginia offer for adults?


Since 2011, Ballet Virginia has offered classes exclusively for adults in ballet, pointe, tap and Pilates mat. As of December 10, 2020 class offerings are:


Adult Beginning Ballet: 

At our Norfolk Studios: Wednesdays from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm and Thursdays from 6 pm to 7 pm

Coming in January at our Beach Studios: Tuesdays from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm (email if interested)


Adult Intermediate Ballet:

At our Norfolk Studios: Mondays from 7 pm to 8 pm and Fridays from 10 am to 11:30 am

At our Beach Studios: Wednesdays from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm



Adult Pointe:

(in addition to intermediate ballet class and with instructor permission)

At our Norfolk Studios: Mondays from 8 pm to 8:30 pm

At our Beach Studios: Wednesdays from 7:30 pm to 8 pm


Adult Tap:

At our Beach Studios: Mondays from 6:45 pm to 7:45 pm


Pilates Mat Class:

At our Norfolk Studios: Tuesdays from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm


At this time, due to the ongoing pandemic, we are limiting class size and proper mask wearing is mandatory throughout class. In addition, your temperature will be taken prior to class and barres and other high-touch areas are sanitized frequently.


-by Lisa McCarty with photos by Hayley-Ann Vasco


Putting a Spotlight on Ballet Virginia’s Beach Location

At the beginning of the 2019/2020 season, Ballet Virginia made two exciting changes. They formed a professional company made up of talented dancers from across the country AND they opened up a second academy location, this time in Virginia Beach.

While most people know about the company dancers because they teach classes for almost all levels of the school, still not everyone knows about Ballet Virginia’s second location. So for everyone who hasn’t had the chance to check out this gorgeous facility yet, this post is for you!


Where is it located?

The address is 4314 Virginia Beach Boulevard. It’s right down the street from Pembroke Mall and the Virginia Beach Town Center!


What is around there?

Besides Pembroke Mall and Town Center, there are a lot things to keep you busy while your dancer is in class. Get your grocery shopping done at the nearby Food Lion, Walmart Supercenter, Fresh Market, or Target. Or, if you’d prefer to sit down to grab a quick bite to eat, there are countless options to choose from whether you’re feeling like sushi, Chinese, BBQ, Thai, American, Italian, crepes, sandwiches, Mexican, or pizza- all are within a mile! And with so many other necessities nearby like banks, the UPS, gyms, and lots of other shops, there likely isn’t an errand you couldn’t run if you needed to.



How many studios are there?

There are two spacious, sprung studios complete with sprung Marley surfaced floors.


What classes are taught there?

All of our Children’s program’s classes, adult classes, and most of the lower school levels are offered at our second location.

A variety of electives are taught there as well, including contemporary and tap. And, musical theatre is offered exclusively offered at the Virginia Beach studio.


Who teaches the classes?

Many of the same teachers you already and know and love from the Norfolk location teach in Virginia Beach as well. We pride ourselves in being able to offer the same high caliber instructors to our students at both studios.


Ready to hear more? We asked some of our faculty that teach at our Beach studios what they like about the new location.

Ms. Lisa, Children’s Program director and teacher, says:

“I love the freshness of the new studios. The sprung floors have a nice give to them and the rooms are airy and spacious. But more than the building, I love the excitement of sharing my love of ballet with a whole new set of students. Through the years, Ballet Virginia has developed a wonderful Children’s Program as well as an Adult Program and I’ve been fortunate to have been a big part of both. Sharing what we’ve developed with the Virginia Beach community brings me so much personal joy and professional pride. Plus, it’s always exciting to be part of something new and positive in the community.”


Ms. Hannah teaches at both locations but knows the Virginia Beach studio has something special. She says:

“Teaching three days a week at Ballet Virginia’s beach location has been so fun. I enjoy seeing, getting to know, and teaching the students who train there – a whole new group of fresh faces!

One of my favorite things about opening up this second location is knowing how it has made ballet more accessible to young students in the city of Virginia Beach. Most of the beach classes I teach are younger students so I enjoy getting to be around their excited and eager energy. I love sharing my knowledge of ballet and getting little ones on the track of learning and loving movement.”


Ms. Leah, a teacher and company dancer writes:

“I love teaching at the beach studio not only because we have the luxury of working with the same staff as our Norfolk location, but also because the studios are new. Each studio is exceptionally spacious for our dancers to really utilize their traveling skills. We are also very fortunate to have our sprung floors. This special floor allows the dancers to practice their jumping skills without the hard impact of a typical floor.”


Ms. Rebecca, a Virginia Beach native and company dancer, writes:

“Ballet Virginia is one incredibly special place here in Hampton Roads. And how lucky are we that after years of being located in Norfolk, we have another beautiful location where Virginia Beach dwellers like myself have the opportunity to travel not as far for the same experience. With two spacious studios and exceptional training from our company dancers and other faculty, this is the perfect place for anyone to dip their toes into the world of dance”


There’s so much to love about our beautiful Virginia Beach studio, and we want you to be able to see and experience it for yourself!


Click HERE  to view our full list of the classes we offer.


Registration is ongoing—it’s never too late to sign up to try something new!

Blog post and photographs by Hayley-Ann Vasco