This summer, Joffrey Ballet School will offer a summer intensive a bit unlike its traditional ballet, or even more recent contemporary, program. In two locations, New York City and Los Angeles, the world-renowned school presents its new Joffrey Musical Theater Summer Intensive, geared toward the triple-threat performer.
“Twenty-first century theater asks more from its performers,” explains Michael Blake, artistic director of the Jazz and Contemporary Program at the Joffrey Ballet School, and director of the school’s LA Musical Theater Program. “Performers need to be proficient in many areas of theater to ‘land the job’. They need to own the ability to sing, act and dance with proficiency and confidence. This intensive allows the dancer to explore their potentials in these areas in a safe, fun and well-guided atmosphere. In this intensive, they will achieve success with support from their professional instructors who have already been down that road with positive results. Versatile performers are the marketable working theater professionals of today.”
During this Musical Theater Summer Intensive, students will be taught by experienced artists, including current or Broadway stars and choreographers. They will take four to five technique classes a day in a combination of ballet, contemporary, voice, voice harmony, jazz/theater dance, yoga, tap, acting/improv, audition technique, acting through song, monologues and sides, and song and dance. All of these classes will aid in developing and strengthening the students’ talents in singing, dancing and acting, preparing them for the competitive Broadway musical theater world.
Blake says the program will even offer a course on “writing solo works” to “give the students an edge when it comes to creating their own theater, and finding their voice in this highly charged and competitive business of theatrical production.”
At the NYC program, students will have the opportunity to witness firsthand the Broadway scene.
“A unique part of our program is the performance studies classes,” explains Matthew Prescott, artistic director of Joffrey Ballet School Musical Theater Program NYC. “Students will have the opportunity to work with artists from a currently running Broadway show on a number inspired by the particular show. At one point in the week, they will go and see the show live. Some chosen students will even have the exciting opportunity to have backstage tours of the show. We understand that utilizing NYC as a tool to educate and inspire our students is a vital part of our program.”
Blake and Prescott believe it truly is valuable for the aspiring performer to try something new like this program. Summer tends to be a great time to grow and immerse oneself in his/her study, and, these days, a versatile performer has more chances of booking jobs.
“In this world of tight finances, shortened rehearsal periods, consolidated casts, it is in the best interest of the performer to have many skills to be seen, and to work consistently,” Blake adds. “My program is designed to introduce the student to their untapped talents, and to give the student the tools and confidence it takes to attain their dreams of musical theater stardom. Versatility and mutability are key to the longevity of today’s dancer.”
During the three-week LA program and the five-week NYC program, students will be working on material to perform in front of a live audience. Blake says it will mirror the process of workshopping a Broadway show out of town, preparing it for the Broadway stage. At the conclusion of each week, students will participate in an informal in-studio showing of material that was learned and rehearsed that week.
Prescott adds that students will also have the chance to participate in a weekly “hootenanny”, which he describes as “a long-held touring tradition where a cast and crew of a show get together and put on a variety show for each other to highlight their many hidden talents”.
He also notes that there is a great opportunity for a tight-knit, supportive community to build in this environment.
“With the inaugural class of the musical theater program last summer in NYC, we created a family of our very own,” Prescott says. “Each student, parent and faculty member of the program was a vital part of this new family. I look forward to being with those who will be returning to us this summer, and also to the new members who will be joining our clan.”
The Joffrey Ballet School Musical Theater Summer Intensive will be open to performers ages 10-25, with three to five levels of approximately 25-30 students each. In LA (July 4-22), classes will take place on the UCLA campus. In New York classes will take place at the Joffrey Ballet School Studios from June 6 to July 8.
“I look forward to seeing the glowing faces of accomplishment,” Blake comments. “Broadway performers make their jobs look easy and effortless, but the reality is that it is one of the toughest professions there is when it comes to sustainability and monetary success. This intensive will give the performer a first-hand view into the life of what it takes to ‘make it’ as a musical theater performer. They will understand the meaning of ‘The show must go on!’ in the process of this theatrical excursion.”
“Art is always a way to examine and comment on the world around us,” adds Prescott. “It helps to understand how we all fit together and how we relate to each other. By the end of the student’s time with us, I hope that they have a better understanding of themselves as human beings and how to relate to humanity. I hope that they realize that their passion for theater can give them discipline and focus in a chaotic world. It is my wish that each student feels through the love and compassion that we share with them that they can go into the world with confidence to follow their dreams.”
For more on the Joffrey Ballet School Musical Theater Summer Intensive, including audition information, tuition and housing options, visit www.joffreyballetschool.com.
To WIN a place at a Joffrey Ballet School Summer Intensive of your choice enter here.
Stay tuned next month to also learn about the Joffrey Ballet School’s exciting and new Hip Hop Summer Intensive!
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Matthew Prescott, artistic director of Joffrey Musical Theater Program NYC, with students. Photo by Heber Pelayo.