Your Guide to Finding the Perfect Summer Intensive

December 5, 2017

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.