Making the most of your summer dance intensive              

  • July 8, 2016
  • by Monique George

As the summer months continue and you’re settling into a more relaxed routine during the day, there is still that urge to continue dancing. What’s the best way to continue training hard for a short period of time and still get to enjoy summer along with it? Dance intensives!

What you can expect

For dancers who plan on attending a dance intensive for the first time or those who have attended summer programs before, there is always something new, yet exciting, to expect from the experience – plus a lot of hard work!

“When you participate in a dance intensive, you’re going to be dancing 10 times more than you usually would,” explain Jeff Boss and Jamie Wardrop, directors of Dance Arts Centre in Suwanee, Georgia. “Imagine packing one month to one-and-a-half months’ worth of dance training into one sitting.”

In addition to this physically demanding schedule, new faces and new choreographers are usually added to the mix, which shakes up the routine that you may have grown accustomed to during the regular season.

Jaspin Newell, a professional dancer and choreographer in Atlanta, says “one of the biggest things you can get excited about and expect from summer intensives is that you will most likely step outside of your comfort zone! You’re going to be dancing with new choreographers and teachers who have different ideas and approaches to technique and movement.”

Along with new techniques and methods of teaching, Newell also points out the wonderful mixture of students who frequent summer programs.

“Every dancer is a complex blend of many influences, so be open to it, embrace the new ideas, learn from your peers, and let them inspire you,” says Newell.

What your instructors are looking for

In addition to pushing your body further in a short span of time, intensives offer a chance to focus on specific areas of training that may need extra attention or may have strayed throughout the year.

Lonnie E. Davis, Jr., professional teacher and choreographer, explains what he personally focuses on with his students when teaching an intensive. “I focus on strength, flexibility, and endurance,” he says. “More so, I want to see if they’re connecting emotionally to what they are doing.”

Boss and Wardrop say, “We’re looking for the strength behind the technique with emphasis in stretching, turns and leaps,” Boss says.

The ongoing theme with intensives is to further your training and to expand the knowledge you have. By doing this, you’re not just taking a bunch of classes but also really digging deep to gauge where you are technically and where you want to be in the future.

Besides the physical, Davis, Jr. also emphasizes other facets of dance that sometimes lose importance. “I like to focus on music appreciation and history for both dance and music,” he shares.

“I always like to have a sense of fun and a little silliness in my dance education with a strong tie back to academics,” Newell adds. “One summer, I made dancers stand face-to-face for an entire class and just stare at each other while making small connective movements.”

By using this method, Newell explains how it challenged his students to have a conversation and understand their partner without using words. The outcome went from giggles in response, to being pulled out of their comfort zone, to tears once a genuine connection had been made.

Newell recalls, “It gave the dancers something much more to think about than just the physicality and athleticism of dance, and it let them consider things on a deeper level.”

What can you take away from a summer intensive

Davis, Jr. says, “I always encourage students not to settle. A dance intensive affords them that opportunity, especially when working with a group of different dancers or teachers.”

“We hope that the students will develop a better work ethic, drive and overall passion for what they’re doing,” says Wardrop. “That means they want to dance and get better.”

According to Newell, “The possibilities are countless. Dance intensives encourage physical growth, the feeling of empowerment and maturity, and they inspire confidence inside as well as outside of the art form.”

Article produced by Dance Informa.

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