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By Michelle Velucci
How much you get out of your summer intensive depends on what you put into it. Here, four professionals share the trials and triumphs of their experiences, from regretting a missed opportunity to taking a risk that paid off.
Choreographer and freelance dancer, NYC
I went to SAB for three summers, and to Chautauqua one summer. At SAB you have two or three classes a day and a lot of free time. Looking back, I realize I had whole summers in New York—I could have taken more classes at Steps or just gone to see more performances.
At Chautauqua every student was required to choreograph, and I was a little intimidated. The limit was five minutes, and I ended up making a 15-minute ballet. It’s about overcoming fear and pushing beyond what you think you can do.
I took a risk when I spent my last summer with San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. I was used to pointe shoes and buns and pink tights, and everyone was there with their hair down. I worked with Summer Lee Rhatigan from LINES Ballet, and Glenn Edgerton taught us Kylián’s Whereabouts Unknown. It sparked an interest in me to explore contemporary dance.
The Pacific Northwest Ballet intensive was my introduction to modern. I didn’t choose PNB because they offered modern. I had no idea it would be part of my schedule. But after my first class with Lila York, I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing.
I’ve never really had the body of a classical ballerina—I was small, lean, and strong. I was not blessed with extreme turnout or amazing feet. What I loved about Lila’s class was that it didn’t matter what I looked like. I found a new way of expressing myself that wasn’t constantly putting me in a box. This freedom to move was who I was, and not what I thought I was supposed to be.
Dancer, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
I wish I had tried a program with a wider variety of dance styles sooner. I didn’t branch out until later, which was not such a great
The biggest risk I took was going to the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Camp in Colorado. I was still in high school. I grew up in Cleveland, and this place was on the side of a mountain in the middle of the woods. I was like, “I’m going to be out in the wilderness for six weeks?” I hated it at first. But after the third week I started thinking, “This place is kind of magical.” It was challenging, but I ended up loving it. That’s why I teach there now.
Dancer, Joffrey Ballet
I had been taking classes at the Joffrey’s Academy of Dance in Chicago. Last summer I attended their summer intensive and took part in the New York International Ballet Competition with company member John Mark Giragosian. After we both won Silver, I was offered a position at Miami City Ballet. I needed to think about it, since it would mean moving across the country, away from my family.
I went back to the Joffrey intensive, still thinking, and a week later Ashley Wheater offered me a position with the company. I was thrilled. Being in their summer intensive definitely helped to sway my decision.
Photo of Emery LeCrone by Kristin Lodoen Linder, courtesy LeCrone.