Capezio Athletes reflect on summer intensive experiences

  • May 2, 2017
  • by Chelsea Thomas

Summer intensives are just around the corner, and many young dancers now have to make their final decision on whether or not to participate and how to begin preparing for what their chosen intensive will require. Depending on the school or program, summer intensives can be just one week or up to two months. Some are overnight, immersive, live-in programs, while others are more casual, localized, at-home experiences. Students may concentrate on one style of dance or they might delve into various movement languages each day. Either way, every summer workshop is a unique opportunity for a dancer to grow and develop professionally.

In light of this season, a few Capezio Athletes reflect with Spotlight on why summer intensives are beneficial and share some advice with the readers.

Jordan Pollard of The Tap Pack, which just finished performing in Edinburgh and China, says that intensives are great opportunities to network and bond with fellow dancers.

“I think of a few experiences now, and I am so grateful I was able to participate in these events because it not only gave me the opportunity to learn from someone new who had a fresh vision for dancing that I hadn’t experienced, but it also gave me a chance to mix with people who I would later work with in the industry,” he shares.

April Giangeruso, a member of American Ballet Theatre (ABT)’s corps de ballet, participated in ABT Summer Intensives as a student in 2003, 2004 and 2008. She says these experiences were memorable because of how they challenged her and introduced her to many ABT instructors.

“I always enjoyed the variety of teachers and classes,” Giangeruso recalls. “It was also very important even at such a young age to start to be seen in an organization. ABT began to know who I was, and I believe that made it easier to get into the company eventually.”

So You Think You Can Dance Season 13 Second Runner-up Tate McRae, age 13, is still participating in summer intensives. In the past, two summer intensives that she “really loved” were Generation VI near Boston, in August of 2014, and Camp Protege in Alberta, Canada, in June of 2016.

McRae says, “I learned so much at both and loved them! I also always love going to DancerPalooza. You can pick whatever intensive you want to do – ballet, contemporary, Broadway. There is something for everyone.”

Adrienne Canterna, founder of SweetBird Productions (home of Bad Boys of Ballet, Rasta Thomas’ Rock the Ballet and Rasta Thomas’ Romeo and Juliet), will be teaching at the 2017 artÉmotion Summer Intensive, founded by Ballet West’s Allison DeBona. She says summer intensives can be “extremely powerful”.

“I’ve seen so many young dancers find their voice during a summer intensive that clicks with them,” Canterna explains. “I think the idea of independence and artistic growth is extremely inspiring for some dancers. I believe this, paired with a new and exciting faculty and location, are all reasons such productive learning can occur.”

Many of these dancers recall “a-ha” moments they had when taking summer intensives – realizations or epiphanies that helped their individual artistic progress.

Giangeruso shares, “I remember realizing that I loved contemporary work. Before that summer intensive, I hadn’t had much contemporary training at all.”

McRae describes, “At Camp Protege last year, I definitely had a couple of ‘a-ha’ moments. One moment would have to be during the last class of the last day. We were all dancing together in Stacey Tookey’s class, and I just felt so grateful to be doing what I love every single day and took a moment to really appreciate where I was and who I was surrounded by. That week was filled with such great vibes from all the choreographers and dancers that there was just love and respect for what we were there for… dance!”

Pollard, who says he can’t dance without his favorite Capezio K360 Tap Shoes, recalls his top visceral moments: “I always made the point of going up to the teacher after class and thanking [him/her] for their time and energy! Those tiny interactions with the teachers create a wonderful relationship, and I always loved that. Even though I was 12, I could shake the hand of a 30-year-old and have a moment of shared respect and passion.”

One way students and teachers can make sure they’re adequately prepared for this year’s intensives is by accessing their dance wardrobes. Is it time for new ballet shoes, tights, dance shorts, tap shoes or leotards? Canterna notes that her go-to for an intensive would be the Capezio Quilted Warm-up Booties.

“They keep my feet and legs ready and warm for anything!” she exclaims. “There’s a lot of downtime during long days of classes and rehearsals. You’ve got to stay warm!”

In addition to loving Capezio leotards and tights, Giangeruso says she thinks Capezio’s zip-up jackets are “great for teaching”. As a student, McRae can’t go without her Capezio shoes and is often reaching for her Capezio bodysuits and anything from the Bradon Collection.

When asked for tips and advice for students preparing to participate in a summer intensive, here are each of these athletes’ final thoughts:

Pollard says, “My advice? Just go for it! Apply for the summer intensive, and enjoy, learn and grow. What I know now is that it’s always more nervous in your head then actually doing it – so go for it! I guarantee you will create awesome memories, meet new and interesting people, and come away with an excellent experience.”

Canterna shares, “My advice is to soak it all up like a sponge! Cherish those days, as they can turn out to be some of the best of your life. Maybe even keep a journal or video diary documenting your summer. Make friends, work hard, have fun, and learn as much as you can. And don’t forget to stay in touch with the ones you love.”

Giangeruso reemphasizes, “Try to learn as much as you can. Absorb all information that is given to you! Ask questions, and make yourself be seen. Classes are big – try not to get lost in the shadows!”

Finally, McRae advises, “Be open to meet new people and learn new things. Do not just stick with people you know. Invite new people to get to know everyone! Plus, enjoy every minute of it – it will be over before you know it!”

Article produced by Dance Informa.

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