In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I'm going to my first summer intensive this year, and I can't wait! But I'm also really, really nervous. I've never lived away from home, and I'm not sure how I'll measure up against the other dancers. What advice do you have about how to succeed at a summer program?
Summer courses are such great opportunities to improve your training. But it's normal to be nervous—you certainly aren't alone!
First, don't let the scale of your summer program overwhelm you. Take things one day at a time. Rather than worrying about your jam-packed class schedule or getting intimidated by all the other dancers at the intensive, focus on your own progress in each individual class. Make an effort to live in the moment.
Be proactive about making friends, too. Many dancers are naturally shy, but if you keep to yourself, it'll be a long, lonely summer. And you have so much in common with the other students! They have the same goals and dreams that you do, and you're all in this crazy summer experience together. Be each other's sounding boards. It's nice to have people to talk to about your classes and the things you find challenging each day.
Finally, be memorable in a good way. Make an effort to absorb everything. Every class, every teacher, every correction (even the ones given to others)—take it all in. There will be days when you're frustrated, but work to maintain a positive attitude, and always show respect for your instructors. Teachers correct you because they want to help you. Let them! Be the dancer they remember as ready, willing and eager. You never know what doors they might open for you down the road.