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Seven tips for a successful summer intensive experience

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It’s that time of year again! Dance students everywhere are preparing to attend summer programs across the country. Whether it’s your first summer intensive or your fifth, whether you’re studying at your local studio or out of state, and whether you’re thirteen years old or a college student, it is very important to learn and absorb as much information as you possibly can. Summer intensives can be an incredible opportunity to learn and grow as a dancer. In order to take advantage of everything a program can offer, here are some tips to help you achieve your summer goals!

1. It’s important to have an open mind and a willingness to learn. Whether you have Vaganova or Balanchine training in ballet or whether you’ve had extensive modern training or none, it is imperative that you absorb as much new information as you can—even if it seems like a foreign language to you. Not only will it help you become a more well rounded and versatile dancer, you never know when you may need to draw upon that knowledge in the future.

2. Have a positive attitude! Always be pleasant, kind, and courteous to your peers, faculty members, and administrative staff. It is also essential to follow the rules. The dance world is incredibly small, and you never know when you might cross paths with someone in the future. Be sure that you leave a positive lasting impression.

3. Don’t panic when you’re not in the highest level. Level placement can be a stressful experience, especially if you place lower or higher than you expect. Take a few days to see if you feel comfortable with your placement. You might be surprised to find you’re exactly where you belong! If you’re still unhappy after a few days, ask if you can meet with a faculty member; their feedback and insight will help you understand why you were placed where you were.

4. Keep a journal. Carry a small notebook with you during the day. Keep track of important corrections, things you need to work on, and anything else you want to remember for future reference. Write down any praise or compliments, too! It will be nice to go back and read positive thoughts on a day when you might feel frustrated.

5. Eat healthy, and stay hydrated! If you’re not used to dancing for 6-8 hours a day, it is imperative that you drink water. Keep a water bottle with you at all times. If you’re away from home, it’s very easy to be tempted by the variety of options that you might have for meals. Don’t live on pizza and hamburgers! Eat lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, and protein.

6. If you get injured, make smart choices. If you injure yourself, it’s very important that you inform a faculty or staff member immediately. They will be able to help. Don’t put on a brave face and try to make it through the day—this increases the likelihood that you may increase the severity of the injury. Injuries are a part of a dancer’s life, and faculty members will be more than understanding if you’re unable to dance to your full potential.

7. Make new friends, and have fun. Most likely, there will be many new students from different parts of the country (or the even the world!) attending the summer intensive with you. Use this opportunity to make new friends with different interests, and learn about the schools and companies they have trained with. You never know, someday you might even be dancing professionally together in the same company!

Summer intensives are an excellent opportunity to improve as a dancer, to make new friends, and to create new connections with teachers and choreographers. Use your time wisely, and you’ll have a wonderful summer to remember!

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