It’s hard to imagine summer time now, with snow on the ground and below-freezing temperatures, but in the depths of winter, the ballet world begins it’s audition season for summer programs.
It may be surprising that dancers who work so hard all year don’t take a big break over the summer. But summer programs are essential to dance training for two reasons. First, progressing ballet technique has the quality of looking effortless, and long breaks can lead to fading muscle memory, which turns effortless into rusty as flexibility and complicated ballet coordination diminishes.
Second, and more importantly, dancers can use a break from many of their other ongoing commitments to zero into ballet, and under the right instruction, can progress during the summer much more rapidly. This is because lessened academic and other demands free up time in the schedule and space in the brain to take classes every day, or, as in the case of summer intensives, multiple classes every day.
If your dancer has expressed interest in continuing his or her training during the summer, here are some points to consider.
CVCB offers a summer session which helps more advanced dancers stay in shape. For younger dancers, classes are also offered twice a week, which not only means dancers get more classes over a shorter period of time, but it gives them less than a week between classes, so related concepts are able to be taught more effectively, leading dancers to progress more quickly.
Participating in a summer program outside of Cache Valley exposes dancers to the broader ballet world, different teachers, and new peers. This helps advanced dancers continue to be challenged, and to explore new approaches to achieving advanced ballet technique. In new corrections there is always the opportunity to deepen the dancer’s understanding of how to work best with his or her body.
Your dancer’s teacher may be able to suggest good summer program options best suited for your dancer. Naturally, cost and convenience play into summer program choices. To maximize your dancer’s improvement, also consider having him or her involved in a program where he or she is NOT among the most advanced dancers. If your dancer is younger than 17 or 18 and in intermediate to beginning classes in the program of your choice, he or she will grow so much by seeing how much of beautiful ballet technique is left to strive for.
Many summer programs require an audition for admission. Where possible, auditions in person are preferable to auditioning by video tape. (By taking a class offered by teachers for the program itself, a dancer can get a better feel for if the training is a good fit for him or her.) A successful audition is similar to a successful performance: dancers should always look and do their best, maintain good posture throughout the entire class, smile and look happy to be there, and look at their audience (in this case the judges). The skill of auditioning is essential in the dance world, so even if it is unlikely your dancer would attend any certain program, building the skill of auditioning and performing well under pressure will help your dancer improve.
When it is all said and done, the best place for your dancer is where he or she keeps the love for dancing alive. For some dancers, that means dancing more, and for others, it may mean dancing less, or balancing dance with enough time to relax and just be. So take a little break from the snow and ice to talk with your dancer about the summer, and plan together how to fit in ALL the beautiful dreams for the warmer part of the year.