Joffrey Ballet School

What to Expect at Your First Summer Dance Intensive

If you’re planning to join Joffrey Ballet School this summer for one of our summer dance intensives, you’re probably wondering what to expect from the experience. A summer dance intensive is a major, often life changing experience for many dancers. It’s an experience full of first times: first time studying dance on a full time basis, first time away from home for an extended period, first time performing in a professional venue.

It’s because of these life changing firsts that our Joffrey Success Stories often share a common thread, which is that the path to becoming a professional dancer truly began that first summer they spent with us working intensively on their craft.

Expect a Challenge

We call them intensives for one simple reason: summer dance intensives are INTENSE. Most young dancers are hard working by nature and are not afraid of a challenge. But most dancers who attend a summer dance intensive for the first time are used to balancing being full time students in school with being part time students at their regular dance studios. They are accustomed to dancing for an hour or two a day, a few times a week. 

At a summer dance intensive, this is turned on its head, You will be dancing full time, every day from Monday through Friday. So expect to work hard at your first summer dance intensive!

Expect to Be Independent 

Young dancers may have experienced a summer sleepaway camp in the past and had a taste of being independent. But at a summer dance intensive, you’ll be expected to be even more independent than ever before. Because unlike camps in which close supervision is provided 24 hours a day, with few choices as to how to spend one’s free time, most summer dance intensives are held in a more college-style environment. 

One example of this independence and responsibility is bedtime. At home, mom and dad may tell you what time to go to bed. At camp, your counselors might tell you when to turn off the lights and go to sleep. But at a summer dance intensive, you’ll have a resident advisor. They’re there in the dorms to provide help when you need it, but RA’s are not camp counselors. They’ll let you decide when it’s time to turn off the lamp and go to sleep. 

At a summer dance intensive, you’ll also be in charge of making good decisions about what to eat, when to sleep and how to spend your spare time. And you’ll also be expected to show up to class every morning ready to focus and work on your craft.

Expect to Learn Inside and Outside the Studio

At a Joffrey summer dance intensive, you’ll be working with world class instructors from 9am to 5pm each day. Your class load will be balanced between studio dance instruction, performance preparation and classroom instruction, with the vast majority of your time being spent receiving individual correction to perfect your dance technique.

But that’s not all you’ll be doing. At summer dance intensive, not only will you study dance on a full time basis each day, you’ll also have opportunities in your spare time to develop your craft, make connections and educate yourself in the cultural opportunities that your host city has to offer. At Joffrey, our students can watch professional dance and theater performances from some of the finest dance and theater organizations in the world. They can also take advantage of other educational and cultural opportunities such as museums, sporting events and more. 

These opportunities could be more limited this summer due to the Coronavirus but you’ll still be learning in your spare time. Our RA’s and instructors will be working hard to make sure that even in this unusual year, our dancers have opportunities to learn, grow as individuals and make friends during their free time.

Expect to Be Sore

Remember how we said that the experience would be intense? The change from part time dance study to full time can be a tough one for your body to handle, so you’ll need to prepare ahead of time. Before attending your first summer dance intensive, spending extra time daily on strength and conditioning, stretching and aerobic conditioning will help to ensure that your body is able to withstand the rigors of a full time dance training schedule without injury.

Expect to Bring Everything With You

Summer dance intensives require you to be independent and responsible. Part of meeting that requirement will be ensuring that you bring all the items you will need with you to the intensive. The packing list for a summer dance intensive doesn’t tend to vary a lot, but your individual, personal needs may. And unlike camps or studying at your home studio, forgotten items will be harder to replace. 

Some of the basic items you’ll need include your dance uniform. For our ballet intensives, we require ladies to wear black leotards, pink tights and pink shoes, while the gents are required to wear fitted dance shorts or tights. Other intensives require dance shorts, fitted tees or other dance attire. To confirm what’s required, check the dress code for your intensive.

A key item to consider are dance shoes. You’ll be dancing full time, which means you’ll be going through shoes much faster than usual. So you may want to pack extra dance shoes, especially if you’ll be doing pointe work. And don’t forget to take good care of those shoes while at the intensive! Summer humidity can cause shoes to break down more quickly, but you can extend the life of your pointe shoes by making sure to dry and shape them each night. 

As with any trip away from home, you’ll also need to bring your own personal items. Our packing lists include toiletry items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, washcloth and towel, shower shoes, etc. And don’t forget those hair ties: dancers with long hair will need to keep their hair secured in a bun or ponytail. 

Unlike a summer camp you usually won’t need to bring a sleeping bag to a summer dance intensive, as bedding is provided with our housing options. You will need to bring a water bottle and yoga mat, as well as any spending money you may need for incidentals while you’re with us.

Register to Dance With Us This Summer

Joffrey summer dance intensives are life changing experiences. The few weeks you spend studying dance full time with us will not only make you a stronger dancer and performer, they’ll also deliver lessons in responsibility, independence and friendships that could last a lifetime.  If you’re ready to have the time of your life dancing with us this summer, register today to audition for one of our summer dance intensives.

Avatar JBS Admin (69 Posts)

Founded in 1953 by Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, Joffrey Ballet School maintains the vision of its founders to transform passionate dance students into versatile, individualistic artists able to collaborate and evolve fluidly in a fast-changing society. With an accredited dance program that offers two core areas of study – ballet and jazz/contemporary – JBS is known for its diverse curriculum and has the largest summer intensive training program in the country.


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Author: JBS Admin

Founded in 1953 by Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, Joffrey Ballet School maintains the vision of its founders to transform passionate dance students into versatile, individualistic artists able to collaborate and evolve fluidly in a fast-changing society. With an accredited dance program that offers two core areas of study – ballet and jazz/contemporary – JBS is known for its diverse curriculum and has the largest summer intensive training program in the country.

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