In a normal year, this is the time you'd be gearing up for a busy dance summer. But with many intensives and conventions postponed or canceled due to COVID-19, you might be feeling disappointed. How can you take your dancing to the next level this summer when in-person training is on hold?
Enter the CLI Studios 2020 Dance Experience, a new virtual summer program running June 26–August 23. For $99, it offers more than 300 live streaming classes in a variety of styles and skill levels, plus over 300 additional recorded classes that you can take anytime. It can either supplement the digital classes your home studio is offering, or act as a standalone intensive. And with more than 100 world-class instructors from all corners of the dance world—including Mia Michaels, Tiler Peck, Brian Friedman, and tWitch—it's sure to help you reach your technical and artistic goals.
Mark Meismer (left) teaching a CLI class (Geo Santillan, courtesy CLI Studios)
Odds are you already know CLI Studios: It's been hosting digital classes with seriously impressive faculty since 2014, and offering online classes for the global dance community since COVID-19 started. Now, co-founders Jon Arpino and Teddy Forance are bringing their expertise in online education to summer study.
"Intensives are such a cool part of the summer, something unique and extra special, and COVID has taken that away from a lot of students," Arpino says. "We realized we were in a good position to create something valuable for dancers around the world. A lot of continuing your training at a high level is working with new instructors, and that's the whole point of this experience—bringing the best training online so you can push yourself, just as you would at a really amazing summer camp."
The range of instruction on offer sets the 2020 Dance Experience apart. With classes led by top-tier teachers from the commercial scene, concert dance companies, and almost every major convention, students will be able to see the dance world from multiple perspectives.
JBlaze (center) teaching at CLI (Geo Santillan, courtesy CLI Studios)
"Our big goal with this project, and CLI generally, is to connect the concert and commercial worlds," Forance says. "I've been lucky to collaborate with dancers from all different backgrounds, and we always learn so much from each other—about ways of moving, about approaches to our careers. We want to give a diverse program from all these different professionals."
One of the best parts of traditional summer programs is the way they foster connections with teachers, choreographers, and other students. Arpino and Forance didn't want 2020 Dance Experience participants to miss out on any of that. "In COVID world, you have to think, OK, how can we leverage technology to make those things that usually happen in person still happen?" Arpino says.
To that end, the Experience will offer opportunities to receive video feedback from the faculty; a get-to-know-your-instructors podcast, hosted by CLI vet tWitch; streamed performances and cyphers; and "Create Room" broadcasts, allowing students to be flies on the wall as choreographers make new work.
Kathryn McCormick leads a CLI class (Geo Santillan, courtesy CLI Studios)
"The feedback sessions in particular are really beautiful," says Kathryn McCormick, who's taught for CLI since its inception and will lead contemporary classes at the 2020 Dance Experience. "Students need to feel seen, and this is a way to really witness their experience. The way it's set up, it's almost like a pen pal you're writing back and forth to: You give the dancer a little feedback, and they marinate on it, and they send you a video back, and you get to watch them grow."
Of course, no intensive can replace the well-tailored instruction you're getting from your studio teachers. "You absolutely need those classes with a teacher who's seen you five, six, seven days a week for years—in person, or these days, on Zoom," Arpino says. But one of the pandemic's silver linings is that it's opened the dance world to the possibilities of virtual learning.
"We think online offerings, like the 2020 Dance Experience, can always be part of your training picture," Arpino says. "Even down the road, when you're able to return to your studio, you'll be able to supplement those in-person classes with online learning to further your development as an artist."