Training – Dance Advantage Solutions For All Stages Of Your Dance Life Fri, 12 Jan 2018 12:02:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Blossom This Summer at Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s Summer Intensive Sat, 06 Jan 2018 05:35:39 +0000 If you are a young dance artist, consider a summer intensive in Israel, a region rich in groundbreaking contemporary dance, and study at the International Dance Village, a place of inspiration, creation, community and peace of mind.]]>

If you are a young dancer serious about spending a summer immersed in movement with like-minded peers and stellar faculty, consider looking abroad toward Israel, a country rich in groundbreaking contemporary dance, and one of its leading companies, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

Smiling Kibbutz intensive students


While most top dance companies are based in major urban areas, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s heart and home is located in a kibbutz (a communal village) located in Ga’aton on the rolling hills of the historic Galilee region of northern Israel, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  The International Dance Village is truly a unique location unlike any other in the world.  It is the life project of world-renowned choreographer Rami Be’er, the Artistic Director of Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, widely-recognized as one of the top international contemporary dance companies. Through his vision, leadership and dedication over the years, the International Dance Village has developed into a first-class dance center, offering 10 dance studios, a performing arts center and theater, a café and restaurant, a swimming pool, a social hall and much more.  It has truly become a haven for dancers and dance students from all walks of life, from around the world. Read on and learn more about the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s  Summer Intensive program, and visit their website for more details.


DA: What makes Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s Summer Intensive special?

The Summer Intensive program hosted by Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company is one of a kind for several reasons.  But first and foremost it’s because it’s the only one taking place at an International Dance Village. This special dance place has a strong tradition of innovation in contemporary dance, as the founder, Yehudit Arnon, a Holocaust survivor, envisioned bettering the world through the creation of a strong dance community.  She founded the dance company and the International Dance Village in Kibbutz Ga’aton in Western Galilee of Israel in the early 70’s and shortly thereafter, collaborated with renowned choreographers such as Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Jiří Kylián, Christopher Bruce, Kei Takei, Susanne Linke, Hada Oren, and Oshra Elkayam with the purposed of keeping the contemporary dance community in Israel fresh and innovative.  Her work has been proudly sustained and continued by Rami Be’er, the Artistic Director of Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

In this context, 10 years ago, the Summer Intensive was born to offer young and aspiring dancers, high school and university aged dance students from all over the world, the opportunity to discover a unique and innovative dance environment, where they could express themselves and evolve as professional dancers.

We can proudly attest to the fact that alumni and past participants at our Summer Intensive have repeatedly said that they’ve gained a new family here, aside from learning a lot of impressive and advanced dance techniques from renowned teachers.  They’ve also developed a deep connection with one another, which was one of the best take away from the Kibbutz Summer Intensive. Young students get to live in the beautiful and inspiring International Dance Village along with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s dancers, teachers and choreographers. They have the opportunity to learn so much from them while also seeing them perform live.  It’s like no other place you’ve seen before.


Smiling dancers at Kibbutz Dance Company's Summer Intensive

For dancers coming to study and live here; whether they’re company dancers or studying at our Summer Intensive, it’s really a dream come true and a place of inspiration, creation, community and peace of mind.


Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company - Horses in the SkyDA: Can you tell us about the audition process and what students can expect?

Coinciding with our belief and desire to offer young and aspiring dancers from around the world with a first-class dance education during their summer break, we’ve made it a point to not require dancers and dance students to audition for the Summer Intensive.  Instead, we’ve created a Summer Intensive, offering an opportunity for dancers of all levels to attend and study with us.  From beginner and intermediate level dance students to more pre-professional dance students and dancers, we offer five different group levels so that the Summer Intensive can accommodate for all students of all levels and all backgrounds from across the world.

DA: How can students best prepare themselves for an intensive summer program abroad?

There is nothing specific that students necessarily have to do in order to prepare for the Summer Intensive aside from getting themselves psyched and excited to have the time of their lives; dancing and learning from one of the world’s leading contemporary dance companies in an International Dance Village like no other in the world, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea while making lifelong friends and new connections like-minded dancers and inspirational teachers from across the world.

International Dance VillageDA: What kinds of cultural or social activities can students participate in during this Summer Intensive?

Having the opportunity to live on a kibbutz (a communal village) where the International Dance Village is situated alongside our main and second companies, is quite a special experience.  This is your chance to live in the serene, beautiful, and historic Galilee region of Israel where you’ll be able to explore the region, its historic landmarks such as the ancient city of Akko, Jerusalem, float on the water of the Dead Sea (the lowest place on earth!), and hang out with friends on the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.  Following classes each day, we offer free time to swim and relax by our pool with friends and around the kibbutz and after dinner, we have fun and engaging social activities of all kinds.

DA: What specific advice do you have for students, so they can get the most out of their experience with world renowned faculty?

Our best suggestion is to arrive to the International Dance Village and the Summer Intensive as a ‘sponge,’ willing to listen and absorb all the new information, dance techniques, and repertoire that you’ll be learning together with fellow participants from our teachers and company dancers.  This is a truly special opportunity to be able to study firsthand with professional dancers, choreographers and international teachers with vast experience and offers a tremendous chance to improve yourself exponentially from a technical standpoint but at the same time, develop yourself as an artist while developing on a personal level from such an international dance experience.

DA: What are two or three tips you can share for dance students traveling to Israel for the first time?

Israel is truly a wonderful and unique region of the world with a plethora of history, diversity, culture, great cuisine and is also widely known as global leader in innovation and technology.  With that said, the dance scene in Israel is also world-renowned and therefore there is much to offer for dancers and dance students coming from abroad for these special summer dance workshops.  Naturally, summertime in Israel offers perfect summer weather, so prepare yourself for that as well as being immersed in an extremely welcoming community that is the International Dance Village; where dancers from all backgrounds are welcomed and are given support and guidance by our staff and faculty as they continue to develop in their careers as blossoming dancers.

Go deeper inside Kibbutz Dance Company’s 2018 Summer Intensive, learning more about the faculty, classes and how to register at


Visit the website for the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s 2018 Summer Intensive.


Rami Be'er at Kibbutz Summer Intensive
Artistic Director Rami Be’er, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company



Disclosure: Dance Advantage received compensation for publishing this sponsored post.
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Things You Miss After Summer Intensives Are Over… Sat, 20 Aug 2016 14:45:21 +0000 Got summer intensive withdrawal? Of course you do! How could you not miss these things...]]>

Got summer intensive withdrawal? Of course you do! How could you not miss these things…

Doing What You Love All Day Long

Living the dream…

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Checking out a New City

Just preparing for touring life…

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Polishing Your Ballet Skills

Bunhead heaven…

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Working on Different Dance Styles

(Even if you’re terrible at them…)


Pas de Deux Class

Yes, accidental kicks and scares aside, it’s really pretty magical, isn’t it?

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Extra Pointe Classes

Your toes may say “no,” but your heart says “yes!”

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Or Jumping/Turning Class…

Flight lessons!

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Learning Classical Repertoire

So exciting!

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The End-of-Program Performance

(Cue post-show blues.)

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Your New Dance Friends

Thank goodness for social media!


Get Ready For Next Summer…

Auditioning, Planning, and Preparing for Summer Dance Intensives


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Picking The Perfect Summer Dance Program Thu, 04 Feb 2016 15:30:26 +0000 Students from Houston Ballet Academy and the school's director, Shelly Power share tips and advice on picking a summer dance intensive that's the perfect fit.]]>

When you don’t have much experience outside your home studio, figuring out which of many summer dance programs best suits you is difficult. As a young dancer, your worst fear may be to arrive at a dance intensive only to discover that you don’t enjoy the atmosphere of the program and are going to be stuck there for several weeks of your summer.

Dancers in purple at barre
Students of Houston Ballet Academy’s 2015 Summer Intensive Program

Photo: Jamie Lagdameo | Image provided courtesy of Houston Ballet

Sixteen-year-old, Divya Rea from Wheaton, Illinois and Noah Miller, 17 years old, from Lake Forest, California faced the same fears and decisions in their hunt for the right summer dance program. They found the Houston Ballet Academy summer intensive and now attend the school’s year-round program in Texas’s largest city.

Noah began looking out of state for a summer dance program when he was fifteen after receiving a very direct signal that it was time.

“I was approached at YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix) and given the offer and knew that people were beginning to look at me and I needed to be seen by more people,” he says.

It was important to Noah that a program’s teachers look at each individual student and care for them. He also took into account his future, considering the types of dancers the companies usually hired.

Noah attended two, much shorter summer intensives before eventually settling on Houston Ballet’s program.

Shelly Power, Houston Ballet Academy Director (who will begin her new role as Artistic Director and CEO of Prix de Lausanne this summer), thinks students should experience a variety of summer programs.

“However,” she adds, “when they are getting close to realizing where they wish to concentrate their future training or time, they should be consistent with one program. This is usually for the older student.”

Divya has been auditioning for summer dance programs since she was 12 but didn’t feel ready to leave home for the summer until she was 13 years old.

“Not only did I feel ready to take care of myself,” she remembers, “the director of my home studio told me he thought I was ready to go.”

Divya reminds younger students that it’s okay to be nervous.

“Going anywhere new can be scary, especially far away from home. It is normal to worry about where you fit in and what might happen, but don’t let those worries override your excitement. Going to a summer dance intensive is an unforgettable experience. You will meet so many people from different places who all have the same passion for dance that you do. I remember before my first summer program, I would stay awake at night thinking about all the uncertainty in the coming weeks. But, by the end of the six weeks I had made so many new friends and I was reluctant to leave them and go back home.”


The Selection Process

Divya chose Houston Ballet’s program as the right one for her from the very beginning. To make that decision she broke the search process into steps, starting with figuring out what she was really looking for in a summer program.

Defining your goals and desires is indeed the first, perhaps most difficult step of the search process and, according to Power, much depends on the level of dedication the student has, the number of years in training, prior attendance, long-term training goals, desire to perform, one’s budget, and more.

As you narrow your choices, these goals must become more specific in order to find the best fit.

So what are the important questions students should ask?

How ready (physically and mentally) am I to commit to the length of the program?

“A lot of younger students have never been away from home for 5 or 6 weeks. Many students are not used to dancing 6 days a week all day long,” says Power. “Coping mechanisms are important when deciding on a summer intensive. Students must be prepared to deal with competition, homesickness, time management, good healthy sleep habits, and injury prevention with maturity and an ability to communicate when one or all of these arrives.”

Houston Ballet offers a three week course in the summer for level 5’s to ease the adjustment for younger students. They also have several resources available to support students, including a nutritionist, athletic/artistic trainers, psychologist, and trained chaperones.

How well have I researched the school and/or company where I plan to spend my summer?

To help summer program students immediately get to know Houston Ballet, they begin with a performance from the company, followed by a performance by the second company, Houston Ballet II. But long before you arrive you should thoroughly research all of or your choices via the web and other resources.

“Students should know something about the company (if the school is attached to a company), the rep of the company, and the teachers of the school,” explains Power, “and ask themselves ‘why are they choosing this school?’”

What is my end goal?

This is the time to have conversations with your home school director in order to “see” yourself more clearly and more clearly define your goals.

Power says to ask yourself these key questions:

  • Am I interested in a year round program in the future with this school I am choosing? Is that important to me?
  • Am I interested in performing and does the program offer a performance opportunity?
  • Do I want a lengthy program where I will see the most change in my technique?
  • Is the training in line with what I am looking for?
  • Will I get a variety of training such as pas de deux, variations, pointe class, strengthening, modern, contemporary?


Claudio Munoz teaches Houston Ballet Summer Intensive students
Houston Ballet II Ballet Master, Claudio Munoz instructing Houston Ballet Academy students during the 2015 Houston Ballet Summer Intensive Program. (Noah is on the far left.)

Photo: Jamie Lagdameo | Image provided courtesy of Houston Ballet

Don’t Make The Decision Alone

Noah Miller and Divya Rea
Headshots of Noah Miller (Photographer: unknown) and Divya Rea (Photographer: Jamie Lagdameo) | Images provided courtesy of Houston Ballet

After Divya and Noah decided what they wanted from a program they researched programs online, talked to their teachers, and talked to students who attended those programs.

“The director of my home studio was the first person to tell me it was time to audition for summer programs,” Divya explains. “He gave me suggestions of which auditions to take and which programs would help me the most. I knew many people from my home studio who had gone to Houston Ballet’s summer program, and they always returned stronger and more artistic.”

Noah, too, turned to his teachers and found their knowledge helpful.

“They gave me really good tips on multiple intensives. Throughout the years they have had many of their students go to many programs, so they know a lot about some intensives.”

Your family’s thoughts must be taken into consideration as well.

“The biggest concern for my family is the cost,” says Noah, “and while I was younger, how far away it was from home, and how long the intensive was.”

Budgeting, according to Shelly Power, is always a concern for students and their families. She advises that students consider, but not base their decisions solely, on scholarships.

“The student should consider where they want to train first and then decide, if possible, on the offers any schools might make,” she explains.

Tip: If you are offered a scholarship, respectfully respond on or before the deadlines to improve a school’s ability to manage enrollment, housing, and wait-lists.


Safety was a concern for Divya’s parents.

“They wanted a program that was well chaperoned. I wanted a program that had world-class training, the potential to attend the year-round program, and an intense dance schedule.”

Most company schools, in addition to providing excellent technical and artistic training and giving students first hand experiences with repertoire that reflects what the company performs, also offer city living. This may be a new experience for many students, therefore, it is natural for students and their parents to want it to be a positive one.

Power suggests learning about the city which is home to the intensive you are considering and to ask yourself how you will handle living there.

“Experiencing how the summer is handled and prepared will give the student an idea of what the year round program will be like,” she reminds.

Your family knows you well and can help you compare programs to find the right one.

“I spent a lot of time looking at sample schedules and thinking about the class offerings,” she says. “I had countless papers with the pros and cons of each of my options. Once I saw it all in writing, my choice was easy.”

Tip: Divya’s father made a spreadsheet to make her search easier. You can try this to keep track of relevant information and deadlines about the summer intensive programs you are interested in, too. (This spreadsheet of 2015 intensives from BalletScoop is a great example.)


Houston Ballet II Ballet Mistress, Sabrina Lenzi instructing Divya during the 2015 Houston Ballet Summer Intensive Program. Photo: Jamie Lagdameo | Image provided courtesy of Houston Ballet
Houston Ballet II Ballet Mistress, Sabrina Lenzi instructing Divya during the 2015 Houston Ballet Summer Intensive Program.

Photo: Jamie Lagdameo |
Image provided courtesy of Houston Ballet

Narrowing It Down

If you are struggling to decide between programs, Noah suggests focusing on your goals.

“Choose the one you know you would get the most out of, whether that be the training, or potential job offers,” he says.

On this point, even program staff can be of help to you during your hunt for the right program. Power says she would love to hear more potential attendees ask program staff or administration, “What do I need to do personally to get the most out of the program?”

Divya adds that you should also trust your instincts in the decision process.

“Think back to the style of the audition class and ask yourself which program will make you most excited for the summer and give you a reason to wake up every morning and go to class.”

She remembers loving the Houston Ballet intensive audition class she attended in Chicago. Houston Ballet sends teachers that will be teaching in the summer on audition tour and administrative staff are available for questions on the audition site. In this way, the audition process can provide many clues about what to expect from the program.

The kind or amount of attention you may receive at the audition does not necessarily provide clues about the program’s interest in you, however. Power warns,“The audition is always a fast paced process and students are better served if they don’t make assumptions.”

Tip: During the audition process, keep the lines of communication open. Schools are often willing to communicate and find solutions if there are concerns about overlapping deadlines or program dates.


The Choice Is Made

Once you’ve reached a decision, there’s still work and preparation to do! If you’ve accepted an offer, stand by your commitment and be sure to read carefully and follow the school’s policies before and during attendance.

In addition to coping skills, Power says that successful intensive students are also physically prepared before coming to the summer program as well as interested in improving their technique. They also keep that perspective throughout, always asking themselves what they need to do to get the most out of the program.

Upon making her decision, Divya felt glad to know that a fellow dance classmate would also be attending and was excited about the myriad of classes on the Houston Ballet Academy’s schedule as well as the intensity of the workload.

“I felt that my dancing could grow the most in Houston’s program,” she recalls. “It’s four years later and Houston Ballet Academy is still the program for me.”


Male dancers at Houston Ballet's Summer Intensive
Students of Houston Ballet Academy’s 2015 Summer Intensive Program

Photo: Jamie Lagdameo | Image provided courtesy of Houston Ballet


Noah appreciates that the Houston Ballet summer intensive’s class offerings are well-rounded.

“We get a curriculum of ballet, modern, jazz, character, body conditioning, and even pantomime,” he says. “Stuff I haven’t seen people do in any other intensive.”

Houston Ballet Academy’s six-week program also provides performance opportunities, events that allows students to get to know the city of Houston, and a great dormitory setting. Lunches are available on site and there is an athletic trainer available for taping, maintenance, and support.

Divya is excited to go to class every day at Houston Ballet Academy but she realizes that one program can’t be right for everyone.

“It is a question of what you want to accomplish and who will help you get there,” she wisely states. “For a dancer, summer is a special time with minimal unwanted commitments. It’s a chance to pursue what you want to pursue without distractions. Whichever program you attend, if you make sure it is exciting and challenging, it will be a summer you never forget.”



Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet Academy has provided the highest quality ballet training to aspiring dancers since 1955. During its summer intensive program students are completely immersed in dance for three or six weeks and obtain training both enriches and complements their previous dance education. Students dance for six to eight hours a day, six days per week, learning from world-class instructors and Houston Ballet company members.

Audition Tour dates and locations can be found on Houston Ballet Academy’s Audition Tour Page.


For more upcoming summer program auditions, search the audition listings at


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15 Ways To Prepare For Your First Year As A College Dance Major Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:30:05 +0000 If your plans for a career in dance include training in a college dance program, our list, "The Freshman Fifteen" offers valuable advice on what you can do to prepare right now.]]>

College Freshman.

If dance is going to be your major field of study, I’m thrilled for you. It is a wonderful time of dance immersion that is unlike anything that comes before and unlike anything to happen after.

As you plan your next steps toward your future in college dance, get ready for the incredible changes to come. These 15 suggestions will broaden your skills and your mind for a smoother transition to your first year in a university dance program.

The Freshman Fifteen


The Dance Majors Freshman Fifteen

1. See live dance.

If you do nothing else before you become a dance major, see live dance as much as you can. In fact, do it before you even start planning your steps toward a career in dance. This is easier in some locations than others but make the effort. While The Nutcracker is great, seeing the same one year after year still counts as just ONE. See companies of different types and sizes. Go to things that challenge your understanding of dance and dare not to compare them to everything else you’ve seen or danced. Just take them in.

2. Watch videos.

The next best thing to live dancing are performances preserved by camera. Maybe you’ve lost hours at a time hopping between competition videos on YouTube. Now try the skip and jump to videos by professional artists or featuring historical works. Have you seen the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive library? A-MA-ZING. Also stay on the lookout for local cinema screenings and check dance title listings on Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, Amazon, and good old PBS!

3. Explore dance history.

There are some fantastic books available for those wanting to read a little bit about the history of dance. While looking into any era of dance is beneficial, try working backward by starting with influential choreographers of the 20th century.

Dance Advantage has articles on dance history and historical figures you may find informative. These books (available at Amazon) provide an overview of Western dance history:

4. Review proper technique and terminology.

Reading up on the how-to and what-is of dance is just as beneficial as tripping through its history. We’ve got articles on dance technique and terminology of dance for you. Plus, here are some useful book recommendations:

5. Read dance reviews

This is an excellent way to learn about current artists and to see how others analyze, write, and talk about dance–all things you’ll be doing in a college dance program.

6. Seek understanding of the dance world.

The five to-dos above will all tell you something about the dance world but you should also ask thoughtful questions of mentors, the professionals you know or to whom you have access via teachers or even social media, and investigate the variety of careers available to and pursued by degreed dancers.

7. Maintain healthy habits.

Learn how to take responsibility for your body–how you fuel it, how you treat it, and how you take care of it. Start doing it ASAP.

8. Go outside the studio.

Occasionally teachers and studio owners get nervous about students taking class from someone else but, at some point, you must take the reigns when it comes to your dance education. There’s no time like the present. If you have established good training and habits at a home studio,start looking for classes entirely outside of the studio environment, not because studios aren’t a good environment but because expanding your sphere of knowledge and connections is valuable to your dancing and for your future career. Look for open classes when you travel and check local universities or academies for open master classes, intensives, workshops.

9. Dance in the moment.

As you look for opportunities to dance and learn in new environments, you may run across the chance to try an improvisational dance jam or contact improv class. Just do it. (Here are some improv tips) Fellow improvisers are usually pretty welcoming, making these a safe place to hone your skill.

10. Perform.

You may feel you perform enough, especially if you’re in a studio company or on a competitive team but seek out alternative performance opps in dance or other disciplines like theatre, music, color guard, poetry readings.  You can learn a lot about the art of performing in any creative outlet your interests and talents may lead you.

11. Take on teaching.

Observe or assist your dance teachers whenever possible and take on leadership positions in other activities. Even if you aren’t planning to open a studio one day or are not convinced you’ll make a good teacher, you WILL use these skills someday.

12. Got music?

Speaking of gaining skills you will use as a professional dancer or pro-in-training, develop your understanding of music and musical theory. Do you know the basics like note values and rhythm, meter or time signature? Have you been exposed to music from a variety of genres and cultures? Make time to listen to music of all kinds.

13. Speak in public.

Take advantage of public speaking opportunities. Acting classes, scripture readings at church, club/class officer speeches, running a study group, even thanking your teachers or presenting a gift at your dance recital are all possibilities.

14. Write often and well.

Develop your writing skills in and outside of school. Practice writing every day–blogging, journaling, or creative writing are great ways to do that. Keep a dance journal.

15. Investigate non-dance interests.

If you’re still in high school, take it seriously. If you’re no longer in school, explore topics and interests that have nothing to do with dance. Everything you study will help you become a better dancer!



What Freshman Dance Majors Need To KnowEntering a college dance program soon?

If you found the insight and advice above valuable, let me provide even more help as you actually make your transition to college with the e-book, What Freshman Dance Majors Need To Know.

The time following your high school graduation is perfect to really start thinking about how you’ll manage the significant changes you’ll experience during the semesters ahead and get answers to the questions you may not even know you have about what dance is like at the college level.

This resource covers everything from what to expect, to how to stay healthy–and more. Give as a graduation gift or get it for yourself–you’ll be glad you did!


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On Paths and Pyramids: Reshaping The Future of Dance Thu, 02 Apr 2015 14:45:25 +0000 Competition dance ends at 18 years old. At that point dancers make a choice to buy-in or let go to a different view of dance. How do we help them with the transition?]]>

Recently, I spent two days proctoring a standardized test to high school juniors. Due to the rules involved in what I could and could not do while proctoring, I had a lot of time to think. Thankfully, Sarah Anne Austin’s article for Dance/USA, “Is American Modern Dance a Pyramid Scheme” gave me a lot to think about.

Read it. It is important.

Of the many valuable points made, I poured over one especially while circulating the test room – the standardization of dance.

Since coming to this school, I have had several conversations with dance friends- choreographers, performers, dance-makers- about my current experiences working with competition kids. Having worked primarily in concert and academic dance, working with competition kids has been a shift for me; an important one.

Where the sidewalk ends

Where the Sidewalk Begins… or Ends

Within these conversations, my colleague usually alludes to the fact that there are aspects of competition dance that go against what we, concert/academic dancers, feel is important about dance but also that it doesn’t lead to anything.

Competition dance ends at age 18. At that point, these dancers choose to buy-in to college dance or choose to let go of dance with few options in between.

As dance academics, this is often when we first interact with these dancers. We can be smug. Sometimes even smug enough to shake our heads when this adjustment is hard for these students and they wear their booty shorts to modern class.

…The very class which may or may not be retitled to contemporary because it has become a true contemporary class or because we think that title will draw better enrollment.

Or we shake our heads because these students have an aesthetic cultivated over many years that hasn’t included any dance-for-art exposure. How low-brow.

We, concert/academic dancers, have been reluctant to admit that the challenge of choosing a path happens to us but it isn’t when we are 18. It is when we are 25, 35, or older. It is at an age at which we are able to rationalize the meaning of dance in our lives and reflect how it has shaped our paths to successes we never imagined to have at 18, when we planned for exclusive careers as performers and choreographers.  

It is also a critical point in time when we address the standardization of our education as artists on a personal level. When we don’t have a clear system to comply with or circumvent. When we don’t have a political playback for our role in a program/department/field. When we address personally how we measured up or didn’t and now we must decide the role of dance in our lives as well as what to do with it. 

At this point, many of us are just as heavy-hearted and confused about what to do and how to do it as our 18 year old students grappling with the same question. The thing we have cared for so deeply seems not to exist in the way we perceived it and choices must be made.  

The Charge of Young Dancers

I shared Austin’s article with my students- many of whom are about to enter college dance programs. I told them I would help them unpack the fear and I have never seen the entire pack so attentive for an entire discussion.

I explained to them that they are the Hybrids.

They are the dancers who will be shaping dance in a way that will connect and combine their dance experiences – competition, concert, commercial – all of it.

They are the dancers who will have the courage to put down the labels of high art, low art, contemporary, jazz, ballet, flamenco, street… just as Ohad Naharin and other power-houses listed in Austin’s article have introduced.

They are the dancers who will enjoy returns upon their investments in service-learning and community-building based in sharing, not just dance performance, but practices in creativity through dance.

They will have to. These are the careers that used to take place after a performance career. Right now, these are the careers happening simultaneously to the performance/choreography careers. These will be the intentional experiences that college programs will be promoting not as a second thoughts but as a main paths for careers in dance.

Why? Because college is standardized too. Careers and jobs are what matter, not education, which is the second thought.
Reshaping the future of dance

Preparing Hybrids for Their Futures

So how do I plan to prepare the Hybrids for a future different from my own path?

  • By collaborating with them.
  • By discovering with them the connections of our worlds and our aesthetics and the people that are making important work regardless of labels.
  • By giving them time and space to create, to make mistakes, to build references through technique and history, to introduce a myriad of processes for problem-solving and art-making.
  • By offering them an opportunity and responsibility to take control of their education, really, and allow them room to make good-dance that speaks to our audiences as well as our dancers. Even if it reaches beyond my taste. Especially if it reaches beyond my taste.
  • By expecting them to do something with their experiences- their mastery of the dance and the worlds they know.
  • By reminding them that art is cultural.
  • By giving them movement experiences that add to their repertory of movement sensations and methodologies.

Next year, we aren’t competing my work or guest artists’ work. We will be competing their work.

They are the masters of their domain. Better let them start owning it.



pyramid cloud” by Tiffany Day is licensed CC BY 2.0 [cropped and text added]

Where the sidewalk ends” by Ryan Dickey is licensed CC BY 2.0 [cropped]


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Summer Intensives for the Non-Ballerina Mon, 02 Mar 2015 15:00:01 +0000 In a summer intensive world largely dominated by pointe work and pas de deux, it can be difficult for a dancer to find a program focused on a style other than ballet. So what are all of us jazz, tap, modern, hip hop and other dance lovers supposed to do? Find the answer here. ]]>

Although recent wintery weather reports may indicate otherwise (shout out to the northeastern United States), summer will be here before we know it – which means summer intensives.

Whether you’re an intensive veteran or a first-timer, it can be difficult to know where to start when looking for the right program, especially if you’re searching for one that isn’t ballet focused. So what is a dancer to do?

1. Know what you want.

If you know you want an intensive that isn’t ballet based, figure out what you are looking for in your summer study experience. Numerous factors can contribute to this step:

  • What style are you looking for? Jazz? Modern and/or contemporary? Tap? Musical theater? Hip hop? Some programs offer class in a wide variety of styles; others concentrate on a few related genres. For example, Steps on Broadway holds an intensive that offers classes in everything from hip hop and jazz to Pilates and theater dance, in addition to a dose of ballet. The Rockette Summer Intensive, in contrast, focuses on the Rockette repertoire – jazz, tap and Rockette precision technique.

    Lehrer Dance Company performing in Vladivostok 2013
    LehrerDance will teach their fusion of modern and jazz at their intensive in June. “LehrerDance in Vlad 2013″ by U.S. Consulate Vladivostok is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
  • What do you want to learn? Think about your ultimate dance dream job. Is it in the spotlights of Broadway? Touring with a pop legend as a backup dancer? Look for the intensive that can bring you closer to that goal.
  • What kind of environment do you want? Dance companies host intensives, but so do universities, studios and dance schools. Some schools may offer a side of dance that could be completely new to you, giving you a chance to broaden your dance background. Northeastern Illinois University, for example, teaches Spanish dance through their Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater intensive. University of California Los Angeles’ intensive offers classes in Polynesian dance, postmodern techniques and more.
  • What kind of experience level would you like? Intensives that require auditions are likely to be more rigorous and have higher expectations than those that do not.  That being said, programs that do not have auditions still hold a wealth of knowledge to benefit you. Think about how much experience you have and how that would correspond with the intensity of the program.

Other elements to consider…

  • Do you want to travel or stay local? Keep in mind that not all intensives provide housing and meals, so know what your needs will be if you have your sights set on out-of-town programs.
  • How much time do you have or want to focus on dance? Intensives can range anywhere from a week to the duration of the summer.
  • Do you want to perform, or just study?

2. Research intensives.

hip hop class at Alabama Ballet Summer Intensive
Some ballet companies, such as Alabama Ballet, have intensives that teach jazz, hip hop, modern and other dance forms in addition to ballet. “Alabama Summer Intensive 2013″ by Melissa Dooley is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Now that you’ve considered what you want most in an intensive, it’s time to seek out programs that meet those criteria.  So where do you find out about summer study, exactly?

  • Do a web search. Visit your favorite dance companies’ websites or the websites of colleges you’re considering and see if they offer summer study programs. Google makes search by location easy (check here for search tips). Remember to be specific and to try a variety of terms like summer dance program or workshop when searching.
  • Check the January issue of Dance Spirit or Dance Magazine, or use this summer intensive directory on, to search intensives by state. Along with basics such as contact info and location, each of these resources note the program’s classes, whether an audition is required, if video auditions are accepted, if scholarships are available, if there will be a performance opportunity and if housing is provided.
  • Ask around. Fellow dancers in your classes may have attended a program that would be just right for you – and can give you first hand insight on what it was like. Your dance teachers may be able to suggest some programs that would be a good fit for you. Teachers often have connections around the local dance scene, too, and may know about some programs close by that you may not know about otherwise.

3. Apply/audition/register!

Some intensives require that you pre-register for auditions. An audition fee may be charged in some situations as well. Carefully evaluate which auditions are right for you. Visit each program’s website to make sure you’ve made all the necessary preparations for the big day.

4. Decision time…

You may find yourself trying to decide between more than one intensive, even after you’ve narrowed your focus and auditioned for just a few options. Don’t despair – it’s an honor whether you’re accepted to one or 100 intensives, so don’t look at it as a burden.

The big question is, what are your goals for this summer?

The right program for you is the one that most closely matches what you want to take away from this summer.

  • Find out what kind of extracurricular activities are available to make your moments outside the dance studio just as memorable.
  • Think about the location and facilities you like best.
  • Consider the backgrounds of the faculty members at each intensive and where each program’s alumni are now. If filling the shoes of a particular alum or instructor one day sounds like absolute perfection, it’s probably the program for you.

Ultimately, no matter which program you choose, you’ll learn, make friends and spend the summer doing what you love: dancing!

What intensives have you attended that weren’t ballet-focused?

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Dance and the Art of Letting Go Fri, 01 Aug 2014 18:47:37 +0000 Dance was a big part of Casey's life in high school, but then came college. She's had to let go of dance a little and shares her thoughts to help others making the same transition.]]>

About this time last year, I was doing what nearly all of my high school senior peers were doing: freaking out about college.

I’d lay awake for hours every night, letting an endless stream of questions into my head. Would I be able to handle the workload? Would I make friends? Would I be homesick? Would I be able to dance?

Eagle Release at VA State ParkDancing is one of my deepest passions, but I’ve always known that I didn’t want to study dance in college or have a career in dance. None of that calmed my fears about whether I’d be able to dance in college. As I took my final bows at my senior dance recital, I worried that I’d never again feel that same “dancer’s high” or bask in the glow of bright stage lights. Despite my fears, I took my bow, packed my bags, and left for college.

It turns out I have continued to dance in college, both independently and with the dance ensemble on campus. My journey as an artist has been filled with much more joy than I ever imagined, but I’ve also experienced a fair bit of nostalgia.

Here are four things I’ve learned about dance this year:

If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be. – Unknown

If you love it…

…let dance go for a little while.

You don’t have to jump into every dance opportunity right away. If you’re passionate about dance, you’ll know. You’ll subconsciously start doing barre exercises when you’re stressed about your biology test and choreographing tap routines under your desk in your Shakespeare class.

The point is, dance will find its way back to you if it’s truly your passion. Welcome it back and let your passion drive your artistry.

Learning isn’t purely academic

When you are ready, expand and sharpen your physical and emotional skills as a dancer whenever and wherever you can.

If there’s a master class offered at the studio in town, take it. Attend a variety of art, music, drama, and dance performances on campus. Learn new forms of dance, like Lindy Hop and the Charleston. Find inspiration every day and take time to hone your creativity.

It’s okay to reminisce

Looking back is a natural part of moving on, so let it happen.

Remember the little moments: the costume that broke onstage, the time you nailed that triple pirouette during a show, the tears during your senior solo. Think back on those moments and be grateful that you have such awesome memories.

Develop gratitude

It’s a hard truth to swallow, but you really never know which performance will be your last. So be grateful for the opportunity to perform every time you step on stage. Put your heart and soul into your training for every show and give every second of your performance 100% of your physical energy and emotional artistry.

Have you faced the choice of “letting go” of dance?

Share your experiences in our comments.

Casey AnthonyCasey Anthony is a sophomore at Juniata College who is highly involved in dance and the arts on campus. She has choreographed several group pieces and solos for Juniata shows during the academic year and teaches weekly classes for the Dance Ensemble. Though she’ll always be a ballerina at heart, her newest passion is swing dance (especially Lindy Hop) and she is the rising Vice President for the Social Dance club.

More on the transitions of non-career dancers:

4 Tips for Transitioning from Competitive to Recreational Dance in College

What To Do When It’s Clear A Career Isn’t In Your Future

Reel Deal: Ace Your Video Audition Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:21:14 +0000 Video auditions are used to qualify dancers for summer dance intensives, college and conservatories, and employment with dance companies. Professional dance videographer, Nel Shelby gives tips on making the best audition video possible.]]>

Nel Shelby Productions is a New York City videography company with extensive experience in dance-specific video production. In an earlier interview, Nel Shelby gave Dance Advantage readers tips on How To Make a Video to Market A Dance Studio.

In their search to find more ways to help dancers and choreographers, Nel Shelby Productions has discovered there is high demand for filming and editing excellent quality audition videos for dancers looking to attend summer dance intensives, enroll in college dance departments and conservatories, and even send video samples of their dancing to professional performing companies.

So of course, we want to know how to make the best audition video possible and asked Nel Shelby Productions for their best advice.

Making Your Dance Audition Video
Image courtesy M4D Group

Don’t get too fancy with your dance audition video

Most dance schools, programs and companies would prefer to see a one-camera video shoot rather than two-cameras.

Two-camera edits involve putting together multiple angles, and the choices made about showing your dancing from certain angles may seem suspicious… “Why did they cut to a close-up of her torso there?” “Was she off-balance on releve?”

You don’t want to look like you’re hiding something.

Let them see you in the best light

Film the audition material in a relatively clean space with great light.

Nel Shelby Productions brings their own lighting equipment to every studio they film auditions. You never know if you’ll have enough natural light, and it’s very important the dance program or audition judges can see you.

Bring a coach

Shelby always reminds clients who are creating audition reels to bring a teacher or coach. After all, they can make sure you look great on camera, but your videographers don’t know the choreography or variations. Bringing an additional set of eyes, already familiar with the movement material, helps you get the most out of your session.

Practice makes perfect video

Dancers should come fully prepared with all variations, exercises and choreography set and well-rehearsed for their audition video shoot. Warming up and setting hair and make-up before the session is also important.

Talk to your videographer

Many dancers need a quick turnaround in video delivery for auditions and other applications. Nel Shelby Productions says they need to know the application requirements and deadlines before you film your dancing so they can work with clients and plan accordingly to deliver their dance video as fast as possible.

Talk over the dance audition guidelines with your video team, too. Things like: how variations should be ordered on the DVD, or if a menu is necessary to navigate through to specific chapters of your audition.

A Dance Audition Video Example:

Watch an excerpt of Brittany Shinay’s dance audition video made by Nel Shelby Productions.

Nel Shelby Productions

Learn more about Nel Shelby Productions and get occasional video tips by signing up for her newsletter.

Choosing a Dance Audition Piece Tue, 04 Feb 2014 14:50:19 +0000 When preparing a dance audition piece, there are the 3 essential steps to a successful selection. Don't miss getting hired or chosen for an opportunity because you've skipped these.]]>

A Dancer's Next Steps: Auditioning and Interviews

When selecting the pieces you will perform at an audition, three things are essential to ensure that you are well prepared.

1. Check dance audition guidelines

Closely check any specific guidelines provided by the production, company or school

2. Seek the advice of your dance teacher

Whether or not you have completed your formal education, you should always have a teacher! Training is a life-long process, and a professional teacher or coach can always help give you personal guidance for content, preparation and presentation at every stage of your career.

3. Prepare extra choreography

The piece(s) you select should be well rehearsed and very familiar so you can perform them technically well, but with a relaxed and expressive quality that shows you off to best advantage.

Have a range of pieces or roles prepared and bring along any sheet music, recorded music, attire, dance shoes or simple costume/prop pieces you may need for your pieces as well as for an additional piece if requested.

Always have more material prepared than you intend to present so you can be prepared for the unexpected request!

A ballet dancer performs and poses in the studio
Photo by Melissa Dooley

And, remember…

Even in college programs or apprentice positions that may not require a formal audition, faculty and directors will continually observe how you handle yourself in rehearsals.

Consider every day an audition and you will be well on your way to developing an even artistic temperament that will help you weather the ups and downs of your chosen career.

Now that you know where you’ll audition and which audition piece you’ll perform, in the next installment of this series we’ll talk about what to do and expect before, during, and after a dance audition or interview.

Janaea Lyn Rose McAleeJanaea Rose Lyn (McAlee) is the currently full-time faculty and Dance Coordinator at Estrella Mountain Community College in Arizona. Previously she was Assistant Professor of Dance and Performing Arts Program Coordinator at Cecil College in Maryland. She is the author of Dance This Notebook with Artist Laura Higgins Palmer and is a contributing writer for Choreoclinic. Janaea was Founding Artistic Director of both Convergence Dancers & Musicians and Dance Matrix, and she remains active as a Third Generation Isadora Duncan Dancer. Information at

(Interview photo by David Davies)
Is This The Right Dance Audition For Me? Tue, 28 Jan 2014 16:07:13 +0000 It's audition season for dance companies, college programs, and summer study. Dancers face many decisions. The first is figuring out which opportunities are the right ones to pursue. Start by asking the right questions as you prepare to audition and interview.]]>

Asking the Right Questions

A Dancer's Next Steps: Auditioning and InterviewsThe search for the right opportunities to interview or audition for a college dance program or dance company must relate to your personal career aspirations. The clearer you are with yourself, the better able you will be to research and make choices about where you may want to work or study.

It is important to always know why you are at a particular dance audition even if it is just for the experience, because that will keep you focused and less anxious.

Here are some questions to help you decide which auditions are right for you:

  • What is the mission of the company, school or organization?
  • What is the size and structure of classes and/or rehearsals?
  • What is the performance repertoire?
  • Who is their audience?
  • What do others have to say about their educational/professional experiences there?
  • Will I get the training I need?
  • What is the pay and regularity of work?
  • Are there other benefits (e.g. compositional opportunities, touring, work with respected and established artists)?
  • Is any travel involved?
  • Does it matter to me if it is a stage or film/video job?
  • Am I being realistic about my technical level, my time and my financial needs?

Expectations of Auditioning Dancers

Different opportunities come with different criteria and expectations.

In a professional situation, people are expecting a level of preparedness and will assess whether you can step right in and handle the work.

In a college or pre-professional position, they are evaluating your potential and are looking to see if you can adapt to their particular approach for further training and development in particular style or repertoire.

Don’t forget that those interviewing you are looking for a whole person and are not just selecting/hiring your abilities. If you are inviting and approachable people will to want to talk to you learn more about your experience and what you have to offer.

If you approach every interview as a conversation, it becomes an opportunity to introduce yourself and to learn about someone or something else which goes a long way to lessening the stress of feeling judged and vulnerable.

“We’re Not Hiring.” What Now?

If you are technically strong enough and decide to try out for a professional company right out of high school there are many ways to become involved even if there are no actual job openings at the time.

Becoming an apprentice is an invaluable way to continue training and get a deeper understanding of the workings of a professional company. Your presence also allows directors to see how you handle their material and observe your demeanor as a professional.

Many companies do not hold auditions but select their apprentices or new members by word of mouth from colleagues.

Remember that you are auditioning all the time, often observed and considered for a role or opportunity without your knowledge.

Interning in the office or backstage is another way to also get valuable experience that can lead to ways of making a living in the arts as well as to help you understand how organizations function while allowing you to become a part of a team.

After selecting the right auditions or opportunities, dancers have a few more decisions to make, including what to perform for an audition.

Janaea Lyn Rose McAleeJanaea Rose Lyn (McAlee) is the currently full-time faculty and Dance Coordinator at Estrella Mountain Community College in Arizona. Previously she was Assistant Professor of Dance and Performing Arts Program Coordinator at Cecil College in Maryland. She is the author of Dance This Notebook with Artist Laura Higgins Palmer and is a contributing writer for Choreoclinic. Janaea was Founding Artistic Director of  both Convergence Dancers & Musicians and Dance Matrix, and she remains active as a Third Generation Isadora Duncan Dancer. Information at

(Interview photo by David Davies)
What I Missed in College Tue, 30 Jul 2013 13:50:10 +0000 For dancers, the "real world" is now. So why, asks Leila Anglin, a college dance program graduate, do most students learn so little about their own creative process and investigate their art before the safety-net of school disappears?]]>

Nichelle met Leila Anglin at the Dance/USA Conference last year in San Francisco. A bright, young dancer with much to say, Leila was invited to share her thoughts on graduating with a degree in dance and preparing for the career that follows.

After graduating from college with a BFA in dance,

I attended a cutting edge teacher education program and was determined to revolutionize education by teaching secondary social studies strictly through art.

Contributor, Leila Anglin dancing with a young performer
Leila dancing with a young performer | Photo by
Bill Herbert

In this program, we were learning how to facilitate fruitful learning experiences, where a classroom of diverse learners would have the space and freedom to critically and collectively construct knowledge for themselves.

Coming from a dance degree program, of course I understood a student’s “learning style” to be synonymous with an artist’s “creative process” which sparked a whole line of questioning for me.

Similar to the way that study skills and learning styles are not brought up with students until a life skills course during the last moments of high school, “creative process” did not make its way into my vocabulary until after my undergraduate years as a dance student.

Why is that?

Knowledge of self as a learner could go a long way for: the high school senior making the final decision on what to do after graduation, the first year college student considering both a part-time job and enrolling in on-line classes, or even the aspiring performing artist considering a full-time desk job.

Artists do not have the luxury of not being an expert on the process by which their work is conceived.

Without understanding how and why your art comes to be, how can you grow as an artist? How will you communicate your work to audiences, funders, or colleagues-let alone write about it?

I learned more about the nature of my creative process during my year learning to teach secondary social studies than in my four years as an undergraduate dance major. Without practice in discussing the origins of my artistic practice what kind of “artist” was I expected to be upon receiving my BFA?

I have spent a year in a teacher education program, three years working as an arts administrator and four years learning to navigate the San Francisco Bay Area dance community.

Along with invaluable lessons in life, love and art I have had to question whether my degree program really prepared me for the reality of living as an artist.

Did I miss class the day we covered the clear-cut instructions on how to use my dance degree?

My senior capstone course sought to teach practical skills, i.e. how to write an artist statement and map a personal web of connectivity. At the time, I saw value in learning how to prepare a project budget and was excited to do so.

But when you’re seriously debating whether to dip into October’s grocery money to pay for a dance class, it’s a bit more immediate that you know why you’re entertaining this “absurdity.”

I believe that we should all know why we make the decisions we make regardless of the absurdity. I have low iron and therefore crave/consume red meat often. I choose not to wear bras because they force me to choose between comfortably breathing and “support”. In the same way, I choose dance over an extra workday because, as part of my prayer life, it grounds my spirit in peace.

Being an experiential learner has me learning and continuously amending the lesson, that dance is a non-negotiable part of my life. Nine months of an uncompleted teacher education program, was just the beginning of this lesson three years ago.

I recognize no professor or course is going to read my heart back to me, but too many young dancers complete college feeling duped by undergraduate dance degree programs. Writing budgets aren’t worth the time and headache to a dancer too busy working to support their dancing, yet aren’t dancing enough to remember why they should care enough to be bothered with a budget.

Contributor, Leila Anglin in performance
Leila in performance | Photo by Bill Herbert

Dr. Sally Sommer of Florida State University’s Department of Dance recognized that the environment of a university dance department provides “little chance to collide with different ideas about…what art is, and why they [students] are doing it.” She asserts, “These are core issues that must be confronted by any serious young artist.”

This led to Dr. Sommer and Tricia Young initiating the FSU in NYC, which challenges graduate students to explore, navigate and immerse themselves in the depths of NYC as a consumer and contributor with the belief that, “…students need to understand…feel…the difference between the accommodating womb of the university and the touch dynamic life-style of young NYC dancers.”

The National College Choreography Initiative published a resource guide titled Dance from the Campus to the Real World (And Back Again), with insightful essays from artists at various stages in their careers sharing and reflecting on their journeys through the ”real world.”

I am frustrated by this term in particular.

Dancers are one of the few populations in a university’s student body that has been studying their discipline for a hefty chunk of their conscious lives, in what would appear to me to be the “real world”. To talk about life after college as the “real world”, among other things, perpetuates the myth that there are clear benchmarks to measure whether or not a dancer has “made it” in the “real world.”

In the global economy of 2013 what does it mean to “make it”?

We live in a society using its struggling economy to justify not funding the arts, but instead applauding the seemingly innate ability of artists to spin straw into gold — that is create something from nothing.

Faced with this reality as an artist, it does a college student no good to luxuriate in the myth that the “real world” is this grand and raw experience they won’t have to deal with until after graduation.

The shows and performance opportunities of the “real world” frequently penetrated the awareness of students in my department, where a majority of the faculty were working dancers/choreographers. Unfortunately, the infiltration was rarely capitalized upon as “teaching moments” or even a space of dialogue on how or why we: do => study => live dance.

At the college level, dance students should be questioned and expected to investigate their role in art and the role art plays in their lives.

The first year of law school is said to be the hardest of the 3 years for law students. Why shouldn’t dance students be as strenuously wrung and forced to question if the art of dance is what they want their lives to reflect?

College is the time for discovery before young adults are rudely slapped into reality, which makes it the most ideal time to find out that dance is (not) something they’re willing to grapple with.

The time spent as a dance major is a series of critical moments in a young artists’ world and is wrought with possibility for growth and exploration in what it means to be a dancer => dance maker => artist.

I now understand that what was missing from my four years of undergraduate training was the space and time to engage in substantial reflection on my role as an artist in society.

I wish I had been compelled to critically engage with my art.

I wish I had had the nudge that required me to consider what I expected to do with my art in the “real world.” And then a little push to experiment with those possibilities before the safety net-included in my tuition-dissolved on graduation day.

What would dance be 10 years from now, if curriculum in undergraduate dance programs focused on inciting the artist in young dancers?

Leila AnglinLeila Anglin is thankful for the four years of education the San Francisco Bay Area afforded her following the receipt of her BFA in dance, from an overall awesome university in her hometown of Philadelphia, PA. While dance is the longest relationship Leila has ever been in (after her mother), she still considers herself a novice learning her ever-changing body and it’s responses to rhythm and movement. Leila’s passions for: the quality presentation and preservation of art in the African Diaspora, quality equitable care for women throughout their reproductive cycle, and living God’s will for her life are all coming together this summer as she excitedly begins the journey towards her MFA.

What To Do When Your Teachers Don’t Agree Thu, 02 May 2013 13:45:59 +0000 When two teachers' methods conflict, what's a ballet student to do? Angeline gives some advice on how to deal and explains why this sometimes happens. She also makes 5 key statements that are universal for anyone learning a skill.]]>
It can be a complicated scenario when one teacher tells you to do something one way and another teacher disagrees and wants you to do it completely differently.
Which one is right?  Who do you listen to?

This article will give you some pointers on what do to in this situation, and explain why this happens in the first place.

© Mark Olich
© Mark Olich

There Are Many Kinds of ‘Right’ in Ballet

It is easy to think that ballet is an absolute, with ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ being the only two options.  Yet, this is not quite the case…

1/ The Major Ballet Schools:

There are 5 major ‘Schools’ of ballet; the French School, the Italian School (Cecchetti), the Russian School (Vaganova), the Danish School (Bournonville), and the English School.  Each of these Schools can be considered different ‘methods of ballet’, each with their own (equally correct) rules about technique and style.

Many rules are the same across all the major Schools, but there are also some big differences. Because of this, depending on the training your teachers have received, they may use very different vocabulary from each other, or like movements performed in very different ways.

In addition to the 5 major schools, also worth listing for this discussion is the American ‘Balanchine’ style of ballet, as introduced by the great choreographer George Balanchine. Whilst not strictly a different method or ‘School’, the Balanchine style is a particularly distinctive, and is prevalent in America.

2/ Ballet is an Art:

Ballet is not exclusively a physical exertion, it is an art form.  Because of this, different individual teachers (and indeed dancers, choreographers, critics and other experts) often hold their own (sometimes opposing) opinions on the aesthetic/stylistic components of dance; from how a step is executed, to the style of port de bras, to how you hold your hands.

For example, English ballerinas are often criticised by their American or Russian counterparts for their dancing being too reserved, yet many who champion the English style feel American and Russian ballet is often too flamboyant and ‘showy’ – it is all a matter of cultural influence and personal taste.

Crucially, as with all artistic debates, there is no right or wrong, there are only different opinions.

3/ Individual Interpretation:

Every teacher is shaped by their own training and experience, and their own personal abilities and personality.  Their teaching style will be influenced by the experiences they had as dance students, and their observations of other teachers.  Their understanding of correct technique and their opinions on teaching practices and methodology will have been formed from a conglomeration and amalgamation of everything they have learned throughout their career.  Because of this, in a way, there are as many different types of ballet as teachers teaching it.

© Gene Schiavone
© Gene Schiavone

What To Do: Vocational Dance School

Part of training to be a professional dancer is to learn to be versatile and flexible – to be able to comfortably and safely jump from one style of ballet to another.  Not only is this crucial to any freelance dancer, but also ballet company members who may, in a day, have to rehearse anything from ‘Swan Lake’, to ‘Elite Syncopations’ or even ‘Chroma’.

For the most part then I would suggest to any pre-professional dance student to accept, even embrace the differences, and learn everything you can from each of your teachers. Perhaps ask them which School’s methodology they follow, as this can be useful information for later in your career, and can help you separate out the different variations in your mind.

Overall, simply try to remember the preferences and expectations of your different teachers, and adapt accordingly for each class; keeping an open mind, and learning everything you can.

© Mark Olich
© Mark Olich

What To Do: Private Dance School

Like the vocational dance student, you also have the option to simply accept different teachers’ expectations and adapt accordingly to each class.  However, depending on your situation, you might choose another course of action.

What if your teachers are from different Schools?

If your teachers use different terminology for the basics, such as arm positions, directional numbering, or arabesques, then it is a good bet that your teachers are from different Schools.  If this is the case it might be worth asking your teachers which School they are from, and if that is why they prefer a step done ‘like this’ when your other teacher prefers it ‘like that’; this way you can confirm whether the variations are related to their School, or personal preferences.

To most students I would recommend trying to master multiple methods if you have the opportunity, as this can be both an enjoyable challenge and a great learning experience.

However, if you are finding learning more than one method at the same time is somehow detrimental to your overall progress, I recommend you talk to your teachers about it.

What if you don’t know why they have different expectations?

There are potentially hundreds of reasons why you might be asked to do something differently in different classes, some examples including:

  • You are studying for two different Grades, and the differences are written into the Syllabus,
  • The classes are supposed to be in different styles (Classical, Romantic, Neoclassical, Contemporary etc.),
  • The movement itself can be performed in different ways depending on the music/choreography/mood of the piece,
  • Your teachers have both been taught differently how to correctly execute a movement.

If you are unsure why your teachers have different opinions, the easiest option may be to simply ask them.

Also, remember that teachers working at the same school may be unaware they are teaching different things, and sometimes it can be good for differences to be pointed out and discussed so that your teachers can decide together what to do.

Remember: Even professional experts sometimes disagree with each other, in all fields of life.

© Mark Olich
© Mark Olich
What if you prefer one teacher’s way of doing things vs the other?

If you are told to do something in one class, and you think it has improved your work, it makes sense to keep hold of it and do it like that every time, in all your classes.  You may find that your other teacher completely agrees and just hadn’t gotten around to teaching you ‘that bit’ yet.

If, on the other hand, you are in the second teacher’s class and they do not approve of the changes you have made, it can be tricky to know what to do.

If the debate is over an aesthetic issue (the style of a movement, or how you use your eyeline etc.), it might be easiest to just swap between styles from class to class, presuming you are happy to do so, again learning what you can from each.

However, if the debate is over an issue with technique, it may be helpful to ask both teachers to further explain their method, and why it is the ‘better’ option.

Armed with this information you can best choose your next course of action:

  • To continue to swap how you dance between classes.
  • To discontinue study with one of your teachers.
  • To request further information / do some research before making a decision.

There really is no correct answer to this.

Your choice should take into consideration whether or not your teachers are in disagreement about a fundamental element of classical technique e.g. use of turn-out, or posture, and whether it is causing conflict in your physical development.

© Gene Schiavone | Dancer: Yekaterina Kondaurova
© Gene Schiavone | Dancer: Yekaterina Kondaurova

You should consider how you felt about your teachers different explanations and opinions – don’t be afraid of using your own judgement, and forming your own opinions.  Did you feel satisfied by your teachers’ explanations?  Did they make sense?

Your decision should also be reflective of how strongly you feel about the situation.  After all, while it can be useful to question and think about your teachers methods and opinions, there is no need for drastic action (such as confronting a teacher, or leaving a class), if you are happy to continue as you are.

It may be wise to talk to your parents before deciding what to do.

Long-range Learning

No matter what stage you are in your career, or how old you are, here are 5 key pieces of advice for all dancers:

1.  When looking at videos, photos and performances by other dancers, remember how broad-ranging ‘ballet’ is, with all its variations, before offering judgment.

2.  Remember that your teachers are human beings, with their own idiosyncrasies.  Remember that they too can make mistakes, but that you can learn from those just as much as everything else they bestow on you.

3.  Always be respectful, but at the same time don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to challenge something you do not agree with.

4.  Absorb the best from all your teachers, but don’t be afraid to discard anything that doesn’t work in favor of something you have learned from another teacher.  Take only the best forwards with you through your career.

5.  Always keep an open mind; be prepared to change your mind in light of new evidence, and stay always open to new information.

Have you run into discrepancies in your training?
How have you dealt with it?
How have your teachers handled it?

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Let’s Talk Arts Integration: Defining What You Do Thu, 11 Apr 2013 13:45:02 +0000 Have you ever danced about the water cycle? Did you learn anything about dance? If not, then your science education was enhanced by dance not integrated with it. Heather gives examples of how dance might be integrated with other subjects and some tips on collaborating with another teacher.]]>
Photo courtesy of hellobo

Arts-integration treats each discipline equally.

The goal of each arts integration is to treat each discipline thoughtfully.

The theme of my academic year has been arts integration.

Although it has always been an area of focus in my teaching, particularly in K-12 but also at the college level, this year has led to some further distinctions for me.

In general, there are some big misunderstandings and roadblocks to authentic, integrated learning:

  • Most people think that arts integration is applying the arts to the process of learning material that seems best suited in a core classroom.
  • Most people think that if they make a dance “about” something explored in a core classroom, it is arts integration.
  • Most people don’t know where or how to begin the conversation with a colleague so that co-teaching is a possibility.

Arts integration needs to meet the needs of both (or all) disciplines being integrated in weight, meaning, and of course grade-level teaching standards.

Perhaps the best way to describe arts integration is to highlight how it tends to exist.

The Kennedy Center offers a perspective similar to this:

Discipline Specific Learning

Generally, when you are making a dance- including one with a “theme” or “meaning”, you are engaging in the creative process and instructing about dance-making, editing, and technical/performance coaching. You may have “borrowed” the theme from a story being read in Language Arts class but that does not make it an integrated experience.

A dance-integrated approach: Create a dance with ideas borrowed from a book being read in the Language Arts class. Explore the structure of the book and craft the dance through a similar structure or process of structuring. Consider the language, the form, the arch of the book. Draw comparisons to how this could be done in dance and guide the students through the process. Research how the author engaged in the writing process and the reflection process by finding articles, interviews, other writings based on the author’s opinion or feeling about the work. If possible, use what the author would have done differently to edit the dance inspired by their work. Interview the students about their work with the dance and allow them to edit reflectively.

Art... integrated. Design by the Ink Society
Art… integrated. Design by the Ink Society

Arts-Enhanced Learning

Have you ever sung a song about the 50 states? Did you learn anything about music?


Did you learn about the states?


The lack of gained musical understanding is why this learning is enhanced with the arts and not integrated.

An example of this might be learning the cultural dances of a specific group of people without analyzing how and why the dance came into existence.

A dance integrated approach: Why is the emphasis of weight pulled up, or grounded with deep stance? How does the movement vocabulary reflect the work of these people or their spirituality? What are the gender roles within the dance and how do they relate to social norms of the time this dance was created? Is this dance still in common use and if so, when and where? What does this say about the shift in culture and social rituals?

Don’t stop at language arts!

Yes, Language Arts and Social Studies tend to be great entry-points for arts integration but think about the processes, ready to be explored and demonstrated through movement, involved in science (Newton’s Laws about forces and motion, cycles of plants/life/water, energy and electricity), and math (angles, accumulation/de-accumulation, sequencing, patterns).

How does one start to talk about co-teaching?

Decide if you will be co-teaching or parallel teaching as you integrate subject areas and connect thinking.

  • Co-teaching means that you will both be present and contributing to the teaching/learning process.
  • Parallel teaching means that you and your partner will tackle these subject areas in separate spaces at separate times.

Both require planning and a clear map of how you will present the material.

For me, co-teaching is always more satisfying and offers students more immediate connections between disciplines and beyond.

Remember to be patient, however. As with any collaborator, communication must be clear and your potential as a team will develop over time and with practice. This relationship, too, is a process to be enjoyed and explored.

Here are some additional resources for your quest to authentically integrate:

ArtsEdge: Arts Integration information by The Kennedy Center

Keyarts: Inclusive arts education

Dance Advantage, September 2012 Dancer Speak: Rethinking How We Talk About Dance

Dance Advantage, July 2012 Simon Sinek Tells Dancers to “Start with Why

Dance Advantage, June 2012 Historical Documentaries on DVD Help to Fill a Void in Academic Dance

How are you integrating?

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Is It Impossible to Balance Dance Training and a Desire to Run? Tue, 19 Feb 2013 14:40:55 +0000 College student, Alissa Anderson has motivation to try running even though traditionally dancers have shied away from this activity. So she turns to a few expert references and draws her own conclusions. Are you a dancer and a runner or hoping to balance them both? Join the conversation!]]>
Photo by Thomas Sørenes
Photo by Thomas Sørenes

My boyfriend is the captain of the cross country team.

He goes running every morning at 7:15, attends practice for two to three hours in the afternoon, and goes on “long-runs” every Sunday, logging between 15 and 18 miles that day alone.

I am a dancer. I start to hyperventilate the second I even begin to consider running more than a mile.

I don’t need to run too, do I? Hanging around my boyfriend, I’ve started to realize there must be some appeal, some benefit to running. After all, the thought of being stuck in dance classes all day is just as hive-inducing for him as it is for me to think about running. So I’m asking, can dancing and running live in harmony?

There are some fundamental differences between ballet training and training for a marathon…

The most obvious difference is that the training for one requires you to run long distances over and over to build stamina while the other requires you to perform isolated movements over and over again to build stamina.

Wait though; I did just say “build stamina” in both of those examples. In her article Dancing Vs. Running: The Difference In Muscle Tone, Burr Leonard explains that in running,

“Each step by one leg gives a brief rest to the other…Running is thereby highly efficient at conserving energy, affording leg muscles built-in instants of regenerative rest so that they are never completely exhausted. Put a runner’s quads or hamstrings in a situation that calls for sustained muscle tension – or strength work — and they experience quick fatigue. Dancers, on the other hand, train to hold sustained positions such as plies, extensions, and balances.”

Runners win when it comes to conserving energy and using it in short bursts whereas dancers take the cake when it comes to holding a muscle in a position for a prolonged time period of time.

Are there actual differences between the muscles of a professional ballerina and a marathon runner?

Well, yes. The hips of the marathon runner will be tighter than the hips of the ballerina. Running also favors the use of some muscles over others, as I mentioned above. Still, some dance forms require more cardiovascular endurance than others. But are these differences as present in someone who dances 4 hours a week and runs 4 hours a week? Maybe not so much.

Sally Fitt emphasizes in her book, Dance Kinesiology

“Cardiorespiratory fitness is just as important to dancers as it is to athletes, but dance training seldom has paid as much attention to it. While some choreographers are noted for the vigorous demands they place on dancers, it is rare to find sufficient preconditioning for those demands in dance classes. High levels of cardiorespiratory fitness delay the onset of fatigue and accelerate the recovery rate from vigorous exercise.”

Runner in a pink tutu
Photo by Frank Kovalchek

There are many instances where running can be an effective cross training activity. As Lauren Warnecke explained for DanceAdvantage in her article on the benefits of cross-training, “Your body can only benefit from introducing alternative forms of exercise, given you aren’t fatigued or over-training.”

My conclusions

The key is using moderation when exploring the two together.

Eric Franklin seems to agree in his book, Conditioning for Dance.

“As a dancer, you usually do not need the maximum strength of a weightlifter, just as you don’t need the muscular endurance specific to a marathon runner. However, including an aerobic workout three times a week can be beneficial, especially if you pay attention to alignment and use imagery to move with sound biomechanics .”

There are obvious benefits that cardiovascular fitness has for the dancer, but maybe tagging along for my boyfriend’s 18 mile Sunday runs won’t help my plié.

Assuming I am staying safe, adding running into my routine will not hurt my dance life. In fact, it might even help!

Going into a new week of dance classes, I’m thinking a lot about how I view these two activities.

For further reading, here is a link to Jen Stahl’s article “Running for Dancers” that expands on some of the ideas I’ve explored and offers tips on how to run when you are a dancer (like me!).

What can I pull from one to help me with the other?

What experiences have you had balancing dancing and running?

What ways have you found to effectively combine the two?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Alissa Anderson is a lifelong resident of Jamestown, New York. Currently in her senior year at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, she is majoring Dance and Comparative Literature. Her choreography has been featured in the Beloit College December Dance Workshops during Fall 2011 and 2012. Additionally, she studies both Spanish and Portuguese and spent a semester abroad studying environmental sciences in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career writing for the arts and to continue her study of the Portuguese language.

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Six For Summer Study Success Mon, 28 Jan 2013 14:36:44 +0000 6 TIPS for summer dance program success:
1. Have fun but stay focused.

There’s a lot going on at a summer intensive and not all of it is dance-related. Making friends, hanging out with new people, enjoying a change of scenery — this is all part of the experience but, in the end, you’re there to dance. Don’t lose sight of this.

Silhouette of a dancer in a forest setting.2. Take care of your body.

Intensives are intense. Eat right. Stay hydrated. Get some sleep. Make time for warm up. Careless showing off can have consequences. Know your limits. Rest. Ice. Pay attention to pain.

3. Embrace what’s new or challenging.

Be open to unfamiliar ways of doing something and to different teaching styles. This exposure is one of the advantages of attending a summer program. Your positive attitude and willingness to adapt is crucial to success while you’re there and great practice for professional life as a dancer. Plus, the connections you make now can affect or play a role in your future.

4. Absorb and apply.

This is a primary principle of dance but is amplified during summer study when there is so much to take in. Relish this time. Be a sponge and take it home with you.

5. Record your findings.

Intensives go by fast. Writing down corrections, concepts, quotes, feelings, combinations, moments of clarity or confusion will help you hold on to and process all that you are absorbing.

6. Don’t lose your spirit.

You came for a challenge but when the going gets tough, it’s easy for your mind to be ensnared by punishing comparisons and negative competitiveness. Be gracious with yourself, knowing that you cannot be perfect and still be learning something. Great growth comes from mistakes and failure. Encourage others to do their best so that you always have motivation to do your best.

A number six6 POSTS to set you up for summer success:

Auditioning, Planning, and Preparing for Summer Dance Intensives

Links and resources for each stage of the pre-summer process.

10 Practical Tips for Summer Program Auditions

Audition season takes planning and mental preparation. These are tips from a classical ballet teacher who has been through it.

10 Tips For Parents on Preparing for a Summer Intensive Program

From city accommodations to vitamins, this one looks at a rigorous summer from the parents’ POV.

10 Creative Ways To Pay For Summer Study

If you can’t or don’t want to rely on your parents for funding, this student offers tested ideas for raising money.

Taking The Stress Out Of Your Summer

A summer intensive student has some tips for being prepared and getting through your first summer away from home.

Class Placement and Coping With Problems

Peer advice on some of the greatest challenges you’ll face while away for your summer intensive.

Where are you in your summer planning process?

Tell us in the comments and feel free to post your questions!

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