Your Guide to Finding the Perfect Summer Intensive
Summer intensive audition season is almost here. But how do college students decide which program they're aiming for? With the number of intensives available, it can be overwhelming to choose the one that will serve you best. We talked to outgoing Juilliard dance division artistic director Lawrence Rhodes about how he advises his students:
If you're a first-year or sophomore: "Do a program that is going to benefit you physically and technically, and keep you on track to get your body in the best possible shape. If you sense that you need more exposure to modern or ballet, choose a program that features it."
American Ballet Theatre artistic director Kevin McKenzie instructs students at Kaatsbaan's Extreme Ballet. Photo by Gregory Cary, Courtesy Kaatsbaan.
If you're a junior or senior: "Go some place you want to be seen. You want people to notice you're there and find out that you're coming to the end of your training. Generally, programs like dancers who are loyal. If you really have a great desire for a particular company, you should go to the summer intensive a couple of times to have a foot in the door when you audition."
If you want to choreograph: Find an intensive that is focused on your artistic voice, like BODYTRAFFIC's exploration-focused program.
A BODYTRAFFIC summer intensive. Photo by Guzman Rosado, courtesy BODYTRAFFIC.
If you need exposure: Use your intensive to "broaden your palate," says Rhodes. If you haven't seen much dance or are still deciding what kind of work to pursue, Rhodes recommends American Dance Festival and Jacob's Pillow as places where dancers can experience a variety of styles and ways of working.
If you can attend two: Do it! Be strategic about contrasting them based on your needs and where you are in your training.
A Springboard Danse Montréal intensive Photo by Michael Slobodian, courtesy Springboard Danse.
If you can't attend any: Intensives can be cost-prohibitive. Look into programs that offer scholarships, but if it still doesn't work out, all is not lost. "Return home and study with your old teachers," Rhodes suggests.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"
At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.
Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.
William Forsythe is bringing his multi-faceted genius to New York City in stripped down form. His "Quiet Evening of Dance," a mix of new and recycled work now at The Shed until October 25, is co-commissioned with Sadler's Wells in London (and a slew of European presenters).
As always, Forsythe's choreography is a layered experience, both kinetic and intellectual. This North American premiere prompted many thoughts, which I whittled down to seven.