Tips & Advice

Making the Most of Your Summer Intensive

By Deborah Searle.

With the school year now over, it’s almost time for summer dance programs. Are you ready for your summer intensive? Dance Informa spoke with leading workshop instructors to help you get the most out of this year’s event. Get ready for an enjoyable, memorable and rewarding dance experience!

Being Prepared

Richard Hinds, Broadway Dance Center’s Summer Workshop Series
“Come in focused and ready to go. You need to make sure you are taking advantage of the entire year of classes before to work on technique, style, stamina, focus, etc. These workshops can be quite intense and require you to be at the top of your game. I expect 100% the entire time you are in the room. I understand that it can be hard sometimes as some of the dancers are used to only dancing a few hours a day. If you were in a Broadway show you would be rehearsing from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an hour break for lunch and could never give anything less than 100%. That is the reality. Be ready!”

Desmond Richardson, Complexions Contemporary Ballet Summer Intensive
“Come like an open book – that means having your heart open and your mind open to accept the information along the journey. There’s a lot of information that the teachers have to offer. Sometimes it’s challenging and you may not get it in the first couple of days, but if you work on it, it can become more and more a part of you. Make sure that you don’t come in with any pre-conceived notions. You’re coming to get the information that you don’t have.”

Denise Donovan, RAD USA Summer Programs
“Dancers need to make sure they condition their bodies fully to prevent injury. They also need to hydrate themselves for the many dance classes and also, to support their energy levels. Dancers should pack plenty of dance clothes and balm for sore muscles. Dancers can expect very sore muscles because they will not be moving in the way they are familiar, and because of muscle confusion. Also, they might have a bit of home sickness, but embrace that and channel it by meeting new friends.”

Chloe Arnold, New York City Dance Alliance Summer Dance Intensive
“Take care of your body because you’ll never have danced so much in your life. Prior to coming, do strengthening, stretching and lengthening so that you avoid injury. The hardest part is that your desire is going to be at 100% and you want your body to match that desire.”

Getting Everything Out of the Experience

Desmond Richardson
“Every day you have to work on it. If you learn a particular phrase, don’t just let it sit. You have to see how you can breathe life into it because the teachers want to see that. That’s how we prepare you for different choreographers. Summer intensives are really preparation for you to be created on. If you’re not familiar with being created on, this is the opportunity to figure out and find out what you want to say with your dancing. The steps have been done before, but you are uniquely you. What you have to offer the dance world and how you’re going to say it is totally unique to you.”

Shelia Baker, Broadway Dance Center’s Summer Workshop Series
“Just come and be the best you can be. Don’t stress when the challenges are in your face. Trust the process and let your instructor guide you to growth. When you commit and go full out you’ll be surprised at the amount of growth you can get in a couple of days.”

Tracy Vonder Haar, RAD USA Summer Programs
“Dancers need to head off to a summer intensive with an open mind and heart. They need to be willing to try new things without fear of failing, to take different philosophies as an exciting challenge, to accept new and different corrections, and to take all their new knowledge and inspiration back to their home studios – use it and grow!”

Richard Hinds
“Be a sponge and absorb everything! Take advantage of every moment you can. These workshops are a great way for you to be surrounded by working professionals who very well may be the person you audition for one day. Make sure we know how much you want to be there by your classroom etiquette and work.”

Remembering What You’ve Learned

Shelia Baker
“You have to take the time to go over what you learned that day. Try filming yourself doing the choreography to help you remember your full day of combos. Be creative and get together with some of your new workshop friends and video what you did in class.”

Tracy Vonder Haar
“At my studio, Vonder Haar Center for the Performing Arts, we always give our students a journal and a pen when they go off to an intensive. We tell them to write down their corrections, praises, combinations they liked, frustrations and memorable moments. This helps them remember specific important details, helps put things in perspective as they look back at the experience, and is a great souvenir of a special time away from home.”

Chloe Arnold
“Keep a diary and write down what you are experiencing, for two reasons. 1) To remember what happened. 2) I kept the contact information of all of the people I met when I did a workshop when I was 10. That contact sheet ended up being my bridge to coming back to New York and having connections. It really connected me to my future. I strongly recommend that you collect all of the information of your peers, as well as your teachers. Not everybody will share their information, but a lot of people will. Ask, because all they can say is ‘no’, or they could give a Facebook, email or something so that you leave with a stronger network. Your network is a huge part of getting work.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top