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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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 https://www.abt.org/training/dancer-training/summer-programs/audition-info/#live-audition
Cincinnati Ballet https://cballet.org/academy/summer-program-auditions
Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet https://cpyb.org/5-week-summer-ballet-program/apply-today/
Colorado Ballet https://www.coloradoballet.org/academy/summer-intensive
Joffrey Ballet Chicago http://joffrey.org/auditiontour
Alonzo King LINES Ballet https://linesballet.org/education/summer-program/audition/
Miami City Ballet https://www.miamicityballet.org/school/summer-programs/summer-intensive
Milwaukee Ballet https://www.milwaukeeballet.org/summer-intensive/auditions/
Nashville Ballet https://www.nashvilleballet.com/audition-for-nbsi
Charlotte Ballet https://charlotteballet.org/national-auditions/
Oklahoma City Ballet https://www.okcballet.org/school/summer-intensive/
Pacific Northwest Ballet https://www.pnb.org/pnb-school/classes/summer-course/
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre https://www.pbt.org/pbt-school/admissions/national-auditions/
San Francisco Ballet https://www.sfballet.org/school-education/summer/summer-session/auditions/
School of American Ballet https://sab.org/summer-auditions-admission/
Texas Ballet Theatre https://texasballettheater.org/summer-intensive/
Tulsa Ballet https://tulsaballet.org/classes/summer-programs/
Washington Ballet https://www.washingtonballet.org/summer-programs/
Ballet West https://balletwestacademy.org/summer-intensive/
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.
Ballet Virginia’s Summer Intensive will culminate with a performance of classical and contemporary repertoire in our Rehearsal Hall Theatre.
-written by Hayley Ann Vasco