Summer is here, and you may have a summer dance intensive coming up that you’re super excited for. Intensives are a wonderful opportunity to grow technically and artistically as a dancer. You’re dancing all day long, you’re surrounded by other talented, aspiring dancers, and it’s a time of year when you can fully devote yourself to your dancing.
So how can you make the most of this valuable time? Here, we speak with So Dancers Noe Leilani and Juliana Wilder, who have a busy, dance-filled summer season coming up, about how they’re preparing, how they’ll pace themselves and what they’re hoping to take away from their intensive experience.
What are your dance plans for this summer?
Noe Leilani, age 15 (trains at Orlando Ballet in Orlando, FL)
“I am so excited for this summer! I’m starting off with the two-week intensive at Orlando Ballet, then I head off to San Francisco Ballet, and after that I’ll be at the Boys Ballet Summer Intensive Partnering Workshop.”
Juliana Wilder, age 15 (trains at The Art of Classical Ballet in Pompano Beach, FL)
“This summer I am attending the San Francisco Ballet School Summer Intensive for four weeks.”
What various summer intensives have you attended in the past?
“Covid really derailed a lot of my summer plans, so this is my first time actually going away to a summer intensive on my own! In the past, I’ve done Master Ballet Academy, Central Florida Ballet, Orlando Ballet and Art of Movement.”
“In the past, I have attended American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive, as well summer intensives at the Art of Classical Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet School.”
Attending a summer intensive can be so fun, so sweaty, so dance-packed, sometimes even more so than training during the school year. What do you love most about dancing and training in the summer?
“Training at a summer intensive allows for a change of dynamic. It’s important to change your routine every once and awhile, and training with different teachers and getting new perspectives or corrections is very beneficial.”
“I really love meeting new people and hearing corrections in a new way. I also love being exposed to new teachers and training.”
An intensive usually involves multiple classes a day, often more than dancers are used to during the school year. What’s your advice for building up that stamina and keeping healthy leading up to an intensive and not getting burned out during the intensive?
“It’s really important to stay in shape before a summer intensive, but you also need to let your body rest. In between intensives, I still take class, but not as many, and I incorporate long walks instead. It’s so good for both my body and mind!”
“Working smart is important; sometimes working with more quality and a better mindset is better than the quantity of hours you are dancing a day. It is important to listen to your body more than usual leading up to the intensive because it will be new training and most likely something you aren’t used to.”
How do you keep enough energy stored throughout a busy summer intensive day? Any nutrition, hydration or sleeping/rest advice?
“Sleep is super important to me, and I have to make sure to go to bed at a reasonable time. I also make sure to drink lots of water and to eat lots of smaller meals throughout the day. When I get home, I take care of my body by stretching and rolling out so nothing gets too tight.”
“Summer intensives are also an opportunity to make new friends, but it’s also crucial that you achieve some sort of balance. Sometimes, you need to stay in your dorm room at night and roll out or ice. I also always make sure to have a proper sleep schedule, as sometimes you could be in a different time zone and your body is thrown off at first.”
Can you talk us through a typical day in one of your summer intensives?
“The day usually begins with a technique class in the morning, the time depending on the day. This technique class is followed by a pointe class and lunch. The third and maybe fourth class is usually a conditioning, variations, repertoire or pantomime class. Once the day is over and I am settled down, I love to do at least 30 minutes of stretching and rolling to recover from the day.”
“At Orlando Ballet, we dance from 9am-4pm. We begin each day with a conditioning class — either Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT), Pilates or some other conditioning. That’s followed by an hour-and-a-half of ballet, pointe for an hour, then variations or a second ballet class, then either modern, contemporary, musical theatre, jazz and partnering.”
How do you usually like to begin your day during a summer intensive, and then how do you usually like to unwind at the end of the day?
“I like to begin my day by hitting snooze about 100 times, and then I always have a yummy breakfast that includes something like avocado toast or oatmeal with blueberries. At the end of the day, I like to stretch while I watch a show and pack my bag for the next day.”
“Before the first technique class begins, I like to do my own set of PBT or general exercises, as well as a little barre. Once the day is over and I am settled down, I love to do at least 30 minutes of stretching and rolling to recover from the day. Depending on the day, I will also ice or use a heating pad on parts of my body that are sore.”
What are some of your favorite Só Dança products that you like to pack for your summer dance intensive?
“Só Dança really is the perfect place to get necessities for a summer intensive. They have the most flattering and comfortable black leotards, which is usually the dress code, and their tights are so soft, allowing me to feel comfortable all day long. One thing I for sure couldn’t live without is my Só Dança backpack, which is not only perfect for travel but also great for the walk from the dorms to the studio.”
“I love my Só Dança Claudia pointe shoes, I swear by the Stephanie SL04 and Steffi SL05 leotards, and I love wearing brown tights and shoes to match my skin tone. I get a great match in my Bellamy SD122 ballet flats. My most recent Só Dança find that’s a must-have are the Yasmin skirts – super flattering and a perfect pull-on skirt!”
What are your words of advice for young dancers hoping to make the most of their summer intensive?
“My number-one piece of advice would be to really take in all the corrections. Intensives are great because you have such a variety of teachers, each one able to give new perspective on what to fix in your dancing.”
“Don’t get hung up on level placement. Lots of intensives place by age, especially if they don’t know you. If you’re placed lower than you hoped, don’t get discouraged. Instead, stay humble and don’t make comments, and use a potentially slower class to really refine your technique or break a bad habit. Sometimes, being placed low can be a blessing in disguise!”
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.