Ballet North Members Talk About Their Summer Intensive Experiences

July 28, 2012
Ballet North in Kansas City Missouri

Celebrating the marvelous achievement that seven youth members of Ballet North were accepted to summer ballet programs held by major ballet companies (which audition thousands of students but take 200 or less per year nationwide) Ballet North held a Facebook interview with some of these young dancers while they are attending these programs.  One of the things that can demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of the ballet technique being taught by any ballet program is whether or not other ballet companies accept students of that program into their summer intensive programs.  The fun part of it all is that these renown summer intensives bring many teachers in of all technical styles of classical ballet, modern ballet and movement study in general meaning that the dancers who attend them get a powerful dose of ballet cross-training for nearly 6 weeks in some cases.  Attending American Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet, Harid Conservatory and Tulsa Ballet programs, we thought it would be interesting to have these dancers talk a bit about what their experiences have been like while at these innovative, acclaimed programs.

We asked these promising young dancers the following questions:
1) What is the most enjoyable thing about attending a Summer Dance Program?
2) What is the most difficult thing about attending a Summer Dance Program?
3) What is the one thing above any others that you feel like you learned during your Summer Dance Program?

Their respective answers follow:

 Meredith Crouch, attending the Tulsa Ballet Summer Intensive:
1. My favorite part of Tulsa was having the opportunity to take classes from different teachers, it widened my perspective of ballet. It was interesting to get corrections that I haven't gotten before and to hear the same corrections I get at home said in a different way that helps me to understand them. Besides the dancing, i enjoyed being away from home for awhile. Even though it was only two weeks, it helped me to become more independent and to learn to take care of myself. It also helped me to appreciate my family more than I did before I left.

2.Though most of my experiences in Tulsa were positive, it was also challenging at times. Being one of the few people who came in after the first two weeks it was hard to make friends at first. I am not the most social person in the world and I wasn't exactly there to make friends but I eventually did. Another challenge was the fact that over half of the people in my class go to Tulsa year round and the teachers seemed to show a little favoritism towards their regular students at first. That made it hard to get them to notice you but I just danced my best everyday and tried to remember all the corrections I was given.

3. I learned that it is okay to compare myself to other dances sometimes because that helps me to push myself to do better, but it is more important to concentrate on yourself, the corrections and the music. I also learned to appear more confident when I dance. Whether you feel silly doing something contemporary or are frustrated with yourself on certain days, you have to look calm and relaxed at all times. When you have more confidence in yourself, your teachers will have more confidence in you.

Aliyah Majied, attending the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program:
1) The most enjoyable thing about attending a SDP is getting the perspective from dancers and former dancers; the principal dancer at Boston Ballet, Lia Cirio, taught some of our technique and point classes and gave some really good pointers. I always seemed to get so distracted by the way she moved though!  She really inspired me as a dancer myself. 

2) The most difficult thing would have to be the number of classes and getting used to the different ways of moving.  This was most difficult for me because I'm not used to some of the technical styles. 

3) The main thing that I've learned would have to be placement and control. I've also learned that the arms and head are as important as the movement and it's not about just the step your doing, it's how you get to that step! 

Aimee Cover, attending the Harid Conservatory summer program:
1. The training you get. Just hearing corrections in a different way. It helps you understand everything more clearly.

2. Seeing the other people that are better than you and striving to be like them. Also learning different styles of ballet aka Balanchine and Vaganova, trying to apply everything you learn very quickly so the teachers will pay more attention to you and you will improve faster.

3. I have learned that it doesn't always matter how good your body is or how talented you may be. What makes a dancer is the want and need to be the best.

UPDATE: Aimee has been accepted to the Harid Conservatory of Ballet for year round study.  This is an extremely prestigious program, well done - BRAVO!

Kristin Smith, attending the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program:
1. Being able to dance in the same studio as a professional company is very inspiring. Also being taught by new teachers that can either help me understand how to do something a little better and also offer new ways to improve my technique that I have never heard before. Meeting new friends and the over all experience of being in a new place is also super exciting.

2. A difficult thing about sdp is that there is about 200 dancers that come from all over the world that are all so amazing and have so much talent, so you have to make yourself stand out against every other dancer.

3. I have learned that the most important thing is concentrating on yourself and trying to improve as much as you can out of the 5 weeks, and letting all of the corrections stick that teachers have given you throughout this short period of time that you have with them.

Ann Ho, attending the Tulsa Ballet Summer Dance Program:
1. Seeing a new city, making new friends and meeting new teachers and getting away for a while. It's interesting to be in a new place for weeks and see new things.

2. When other people are better dancers than you and you have to work twice as hard to stand out. Also, fixing all the wrongs that you have in ballet and remembering all of the corrections and applying them. Also, it's kind of hard to not miss home.

3. I've learned its important to just pay attention to yourself and do the best you can. Don't look around the room and see how others are doing and start comparing yourself to better dancers. You just need to work on your own things. And to do dance, you have to have the love for it in order to do it well.

Long Ho, attending the Tulsa Ballet Summer Dance Program:
1. Meeting new friends, new teachers, having some time on my own, learning new things.

2. Working on things that you want improve on because you are around a lot of other dancers who are very good.

3. I think my experience at Tulsa Ballet has shown that Ballet North has taught me very well in ballet over all.

Hopefully we will be able to add additional comments by the other Ballet North members who are also attending American Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet and Tulsa Ballet programs - we will include them in this discussion as soon as we get their comments!