Boston Conservatory at Berklee Has a Transformational New Summer Intensive in Commercial Dance

April 16, 2020

If you’re interested in a traditional contract at a ballet or contemporary company, it’s easy to find an intensive that meets your needs. But up until now, summer opportunities for aspiring commercial dancers have been fairly limited.

Enter the brand-new, three-week Boston Conservatory at Berklee Commercial Dance Intensive, aimed at dancers ages 15-22 and emphasizing industry-specific skills—from urban dance to singing to hip hop to acting for the camera. The program aims to provide dancers with the confidence and expertise they need to thrive in an ever-competitive dance field where versatility is key.

Leaders from across the commercial world—including Sarah Grooms (Radio City Rockettes), Herman Payne (The Broadway Theatre Project) and Jamal Story (Schehimezade Productions)—will bring real-time industry knowledge to attendees, teaching alongside renowned Boston Conservatory faculty. Ruka Hatua-Saar White, a Boston Conservatory assistant professor of dance who has performed with artists from Maya Angelou to Missy Elliott, will direct the new intensive.

The scarcity of traditional concert dance contracts in today’s dance world inspired Hatua-Saar White and dean of dance Tommy Neblett to create a program specifically geared toward commercial dancers that emphasized versatility, marketability and industry-specific skills. “We’ll cover ballet and conditioning, but also various hip-hop styles, heels, improvisation, acrobatic skills and vocal training,” Hatau-Saar White says. “We want to create well-rounded performers who can work in multiple arenas and be successful.”

In addition to the variety of styles students will be exposed to, weekly mock auditions with feedback sessions from guest artists and seminars on personal branding and social media are included in the curriculum. “We’re helping dancers realize what makes them unique and how they can make themselves the most marketable dancers in the field,” says Hatua-Saar White.

Three dancers pose in a studio wearing rehearsalwear. One extends her leg to side 180 degrees, the other two pose on the floor.
Robert Torres, Courtesy Boston Conservatory at Berklee

The Commercial Dance Intensive
will prepare dancers for any number of opportunities, including jobs in film, television, on cruise ships, as backup dancers for musical artists and getting signed with talent agencies. Though the intensive is tailored to the aspiring commercial dancer, Hatua-Saar White emphasizes that it will benefit a range of dancers, even those who seek a concert dance track. “Other dance intensives get students to fit a mold. This one gets students to create their own mold,” he says. “It helps bring out each dancer’s individual brand.”

Since the 2016 merger with Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory has been able to offer students an even more expansive array of resources. Boston Conservatory at Berklee Commercial Dance Intensive students will have the chance to network and collaborate with leading musicians from Berklee during their stay.

The intensive will be held in Boston from June 22 through July 11. Applications to the Boston Conservatory at Berklee Commercial Dance Intensive are being accepted now. No in-person auditions are necessary—dancers just need to submit an online application, headshot and audition video featuring a 60-90 second solo.