School Buzz: Eight rockin' summer study programs
Ballet with a Twist
If you love ballet, but feel like the classics aren’t for you, don’t fret! COMPLEXIONS Contemporary Ballet’s summer program will give you the foundation and structure of classical ballet, but also train you to work off-center and tackle many different dance styles. At COMPLEXIONS, you work with artistic directors Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson every day, learning their original style and choreography. Attendees must be 13-18 years old with a strong background in ballet and modern. An audition is required. Dates: August, TBA at press time; complexionsdance.org/summer_intensive.php
Have you ever left a Broadway show feeling inspired and determined to be up on that stage, but unsure about where to start? The three-week intensive program offered by Broadway Theatre Project is a great jumping-off point! The teachers are masters of their craft, including living legends like Ben Vereen and Charlotte d’Amboise. All students must take classes in acting, dance, voice and writing. Students will also meet with representatives from colleges with musical theater programs and go through audition workshops with Broadway casting directors. The program is on the campus of the University of South Florida, and each session culminates in a student performance at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. You must be at least 16 years old, and college students can apply as well! Auditions are live or by videotape. There’s no better atmosphere
to learn how to succeed on Broadway than to be around those who have lived it. Dates: July 6-27; broadwaytheatreproject.com/home
Dance Conservatory Meets Hip Hop
Want to take your hip-hop skills to the next level and learn how to enter the professional world of commercial dance? Here’s an opportunity for you: The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory Summer Intensive in NYC offers technique classes, b-boy fundamentals, funkstyles, hip-hop dance theory, health and nutrition, field trips and choreography. At the end of the intensive you’ll participate in a performance choreographed by faculty including Nicola Linge, who was an assistant producer for the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. No audition required. Dates: June 30–August 30; hdcny.com/wst_page4.html
The Art of SLAM
Are you daring enough to fly through glass? Meet Elizabeth Streb, founder of Brooklyn’s STREB Company. Through her studies of the human body and its possibilities (using science and math!) she has created a dynamic style of dance that defies gravity with grace. At her SLAM summer program—SLAM stands for Streb Laboratory for Action Mechanics—you can train in trapeze, aerial work and more in a safe and educational way. Students can take one weeklong workshop, or register for the whole summer! Open to ages 5-14, no audition required. Dates: TBA at press time; strebusa.org/index.html
Swing Your Way to Cirque du Soleil
Sick and tired of hearing, “Don’t try this at home?” If you want to dangle from wires, contort your body, dive from great heights and perform tricks on moving walls and wheels like Cirque performers do, now you can! For safe, top-notch training, head to the National Circus School in Montreal, Canada. It offers one- or two-week intensive programs for ages 9-12 and 13-17. Classes include circus arts, dance, and martial arts or acrobatic sports with an artistic component, such as artistic or rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline, diving and figure skating. You must mail in an admission form to be considered. Dates: Ages 9-12: July 14-20; Ages 13-17: July 21–August 1; enc.qc.ca/en/programs/program3.asp
It’s not often that you get the chance to train with one of the country’s most esteemed modern companies. The Paul Taylor Dance Company is in its 53rd year of breaking dance boundaries. Each summer, students can train in Taylor’s distinctive style and learn the ins and outs of working with a professional company. The Taylor Intensives take place in NYC, and the faculty includes company alumni. Classes are given in Taylor style and repertory. No audition is necessary; however, an application must be completed, along with a teacher evaluation. Dates: June 30–July 25; ptdc.org/si_si.php
Round Em' Up
There’s no better way to kick your tap butt into gear than with Vancouver’s Tap Boot Camp, put on by the Vancouver Tap Dance Society. Tap masters Cheryl Johnson and Anthony Peters, who have shared the stage with legends like Jimmy Slyde and traveled with St. Louis Tap Festival, host this 30-hour, one-week intensive; also appearing as a guest artist is Shelley Stewart Hunt, who performed in the national tour of Cats. The goal: to build your technique, style and performance quality. Tap experience is necessary, ranging from advanced-beginner to advanced, and you must be between ages 9 and 16. On the first day of camp, you will be placed in levels based on your skill and experience. No audition required. Dates: July 21-25; vantapdance.bc.ca/summer-youth-boot-camp-ayodele.html
Ballet Goes Extreme
If you’re ready to take your ballet training to the next level, Kaatsbaan’s Extreme Ballet preprofessional summer intensive might be right for you. This program is for ballet dancers who are preparing to jump into the professional world. Located in Tivoli, NY, the secluded countryside provides a great atmosphere to stay focused on your training and glean advice from the roster of stellar teachers. Dancers at least 14 years old can audition at intermediate, advanced and preprofessional levels. Directed by former ABT star Martine van Hamel. Dates: June 16–July 5, July 6-26, July 27–August 16; kaatsbaan.org/extreme.html
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.