Summer Intensive Training Away

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Typically at Level 5, a student is at a sufficient point in their training to consider summer dance training away from BVI at what is called a Summer Intensive. While we proudly offer our own summer study programs, we also realize that sometimes it is good to take a break from your familiar scene and study under another’s instruction for part of the summer. If you are unsure as to whether you are ready for summer study away, please request a conference with the Directors. We know your training and skills to date, and your ability to take instruction. We may also have insight into specific summer intensive programs that can further your particular interest in dance and help you improve in the areas you seek improvement. You may also want to talk with other dancers and parents about the programs they have attended to gain better insight about a program and what it offers, their observations of how well the program is run and supervised, what type of housing is offered, etc.  Their perspectives can be invaluable, but it is important to remember that each student is unique and may experience things differently.

Summer Dance Intensives are offered by many professional dance companies and other dance schools throughout the United States and abroad. The duration of the summer intensive can vary from one-week to five or six weeks, sometimes with housing arrangements in a nearby college dorm or other setting. Invitation to study at these summer programs is through acceptance by that program, following an application and audition. National audition tours are announced each fall in various dance publications. Look for auditions in various cities in relative proximity to Norfolk, such as Washington, D.C., Winston-Salem, NC, Maryland, Philadelphia, PA, and New York City, NY. Some national auditions are also held at BVI; see notices posted in the lobby and on the website for these.

The audition experience is an opportunity for our BVI dancers to take a master class taught by the summer program faculty and see how their skills learned here at BVI meet the expectations of these other programs. Online pre-registration or on-site registrations are

typically accepted and specified photos are necessary (e.g., headshot, first arabesque, etc.). Auditions classes are typically by age-group and can be quite large. Following the audition, the dancer will be notified by that program of the result. Please note that the earlier an audition date, the earlier the offer notification since many are on a rolling basis until the program enrollment maximum is achieved. You may also be wait-listed. Furthermore, the earlier the audition and offer, the earlier the offer must be accepted and registration/deposit paid. This is important to remember as you are preparing your audition schedule and considering your financial arrangements. Some programs offer merit and/or needs-based scholarships for tuition in part or in full.

Many BVI dancers have been offered acceptance into summer intensive programs both in the U.S. and abroad and, in 2018 received over $25,000 in scholarships. Summer Intensive Programs into which BVI student have recently been accepted include:

    • A&A Ballet Chicago
    • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
    • American Ballet Theatre
    • Ballet Magnificat
    • Ballet Met
    • Ballet West
    • Boston Ballet
    • Carolina Ballet
    • Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet
    • English National Ballet
    • Houston Ballet
    • Kansas City Ballet
    • LA Ballet
    • Miami City Ballet
    • Orlando Ballet
    • Pacific Northwest Ballet
    • Pennsylvania Ballet
    • Pittsburgh Ballet
    • The Rock School
    • Royal Ballet Academy (London)
    • Summer Dance Company
    • Washington Ballet

Receiving an offer to attend a summer intensive doesn’t mean the dancer must attend. Audition experience is always helpful in and of itself, and it may provide the student with increased confidence knowing that their skills are indeed where they should be compared to other dances their age or at their same level of training. Likewise, if a student receives offers from more than one program, it may present the opportunity to attend multiple intensives if the program schedules warrant that. Not being accepted into a summer intensive program may indicate there are areas where the dancer still needs to improve his or her skills during the year and here at home over the summer.

As you consider whether your student should attend a summer intensive away from BVI, it is important to think about the student’s readiness to be away from home and living independently in a supervised situation for an extended period of time. While a student may be ready technically, he or she may not yet possess the individual maturity to live independently away from home and manage their daily needs. Nor might they desire to be away from the comforts of family and home for a long time. Therefore, this decision should not be entered lightly.

As your dancer studies elsewhere over the summer, unexpected issues are sure to arise. Every summer we receive calls from parents and dancers with problems that are usually born from frustration and confusion. We hope that the words of experience below might help to diffuse some of these problems.

Your dancer is new to the teachers just as the teachers are new to your dancer. It takes quite some time for both of them to figure out what is expected as well as what is possible. Remember that you are coming from a very nurturing studio and the teachers at BVI know you and you know the teachers. Ballet class is a non-verbal art form that involves body language. This can be misconstrued when a new teacher and student relationship is being formed.  Do not assume that a teacher “does not like me,” because they may be reading you wrong and may think you don’t like them! Remain positive and open, and work your hardest in every class. Sometimes what may seem as a negative comment only means that teacher is interested in you and finding out what you are capable of. Even if you do not have a good or comfortable relationship with a teacher, they still have something to teach you.

If you are not feeling well or have a bit of an injury, do not panic! This is advice for parents as well as dancers. Things happen when you are as physical as you will be in an intense summer program. This is also part of your education and necessary to learn how to cope and deal with injuries and illnesses. These professional programs have staff on call that will help you. The dancers just need to communicate. That does not mean for every discomfort, however, because you will red flag yourself as someone who is high maintenance. Dancers need to be smart, tough, and resourceful.

Parents…our most heartfelt suggestion after many years as dancers, parents and teachers in the dance world is not to become immediately involved in your dancers’ plight without getting the whole story first. Then allow them a chance to resolve the issue on their own. Your dancer will undoubtedly call home and be a bit dramatic. All they want and need is to have mom and dad be a soft place to fall while they are away. More times than not, they are over dramatizing an event. They are tired, a bit homesick, and out of their element. They just need a caring ear and a bit of a nudge to deal with the situation on their own. They truly are smart people and more than capable of doing so. If you call the administrative office with an issue or a complaint, this may also put up a red flag for your dancer. Even though it may seem like the right thing to do, when a seemingly (if only to the

administrator’s) insignificant problem is reported, the teachers and administrators

and staff will all be informed. This is not always a good thing. If there is a significant issue, rest assured the program officials will contact you immediately. That is the reason you filled out all that paperwork!

Dancers…you are ready to set out on your own. Trust that you have been prepared both by your parents and your teachers. It is exciting and scary, but will be a wonderful memory and a great learning experience of life and dance. Keep your head on straight and do not

get involved with the “Dancer Drama” of other dancers. It will distract you to the point of frustration. You will cohabitate for the summer only and then be on your way. Be patient and kind. Do not alarm your parents with things that have no bearing on why you are there. Your challenge is to dance and learn as much as you possibly can, work hard and have fun. We trust you will represent BVI with confidence and integrity. We are proud of you, love you, and will miss you!