Alicia Graf Mack teaching at the Juilliard Summer Dance Intensive (Rachel Papo, courtesy Juilliard Summer Dance Intensive)

Dancers, Here's Why You Should Consider Collegiate Summer Intensives

If you're a high school dancer looking at your summer as the chance to do some serious college prep (and no, we're not talking about another SAT study course), a collegiate summer intensive could be a great option. Dance Spirit spoke to some expert educators about why a summer program offered by a college or conservatory might be the right choice for you.

Get a Taste of College Life

If you're planning on attending a dance program in college, attending a collegiate summer intensive can give you a good idea of what that might look and feel like.

"It can be extremely beneficial for students who are considering applying to conservatory-style programs, because our schedule during the summer mimics our schedule during the year," says Alicia Graf Mack, director of the dance division at the Juilliard School. "The program gives a great sense of what the life of a college dancer would be day-to-day."

Especially if you're used to only dancing after school and on the weekends, a collegiate summer program can give you a sense of the intensity of a college dance schedule—and what it's like to go home to a dorm afterwards.

"This would be the best way to 'audition' us," says Graf Mack.

Juilliard School faculty member Jeff Edwards teaching ballet at the Summer Dance Intensive (Rachel Papo, courtesy Juilliard Summer Dance Intensive)

Is This School Right for You?

With the stress of college dance auditions looming, it's easy to focus on whether or not you'll be accepted to your dream program. But it's also important to also think about whether or not the program is the right fit for you. Attending a collegiate summer intensive can help you figure that out.

"You get a taste of what it would be like to go to that school," says Ellen Rosa-Taylor, who serves as the chair of the dance department at Idyllwild Arts Academy, a performing arts high school in California. She recommends paying attention to the specifics of the program: what styles of dance you would be studying, what the dorms are like, whether or not you like the faculty, what the studios and other facilities are like.

Collegiate summer intensives can serve as an in-depth college visit. Instead of only visiting for a day and receiving a precooked tour, you'll get to see what life is really like on campus. Plus, you won't have to use up on of your precious "college visit" excused absences.

Get Familiar With Faculty

While attending a summer program at a college doesn't guarantee your acceptance to the school's dance program, it might help you feel more comfortable going into the audition.

"A student who has had experience with our faculty and our classes would be able to approach an audition with more confidence than someone who's never been a part of the Juilliard community," says Graf Mack. "I think that sense of familiarity does help to free the dancer, especially in an audition setting."

Plus, the faculty will be more familiar with you—your work ethic, your focus, and your unfailing tendency to get to class half an hour early to warm up.

"If you're just a number in an audition, it's harder for colleges to make a decision," says Rosa-Taylor. "They see so many students. If you have that extra personal connection with them, they're going to remember you."

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.


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