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Surviving Your First Summer Intensive

Ballerinas during performingSummertime for dancers is full of options. Some people take a break, some take class at their studio, some cross train in different areas such as yoga or pilates, and many attend a summer intensive.

If you’re not familiar, a summer intensive is basically a program hosted by a dance company or school structured for teenage and young adult students. Summer intensives are called summer intensives for a reason. The schedule is intense to say the least. Students commonly attend daily required technique classes in their emphasized area of training, and then attend elective classes of different styles, choreography workshops, dance and technology seminars, makeup and costume workshops, performances, and more depending on the program. They often have experience with “big name” instructors and choreographers as well. It’s a fantastic opportunity to gain exposure in the dance world, make friends, get inspired and learn A LOT!

If you or your student are heading off to your first intensive this summer, here are some tips to make the best out of your experience.

Do Your Homework

Make sure you read all of the material that the program sends you, and plan accordingly. Perhaps you are traveling to a different region with a different climate. You will want to pack clothes that are weather appropriate. Also review what the program will provide and what you need to bring – towels and bedding, for example. Obviously take note of the class dress code, and bring some nice outfits for attending performances.

Branch Out

This may be your only opportunity to try a new style or take a well-known teacher’s class. Do it! Even if you, as a ballerina, are terrified of hip-hop for example, give it a go. You might surprise yourself. The last thing you want to do when you’re leaving is regret not taking chances. Who knows – maybe you’ll unlock a hidden talent!


Simply put – just be nice. Try and find a small group of dancers right away who can be your buddies during the experience. Nothing has to be BFF status, but if you go on field trips or big performances it’s smart to have people looking out for you.

Don’t Worry About Placement Level

Remember that a truly advanced dancer can benefit and learn from a beginner level class. If you happen to be placed at a level you aren’t used to, make the best of it. The people running the intensives know what they are doing and put you there for a reason. Accept it, take advantage of it, and learn. You will leave being extremely proud of yourself.

What stories or advice do you have about summer intensives? Share them here!

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About amy

Amy Omernik is a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and active member of the dance community for the past 25 years – 10 of which were spent teaching. Amy received her BA in dance from Columbia College Chicago, and most recently was on faculty for a dance company based out of Southern California. She not only loves the All About Dance brand, but the wonderful community that comes with it.

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