Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Decisions, Decisions–Choosing A Summer Dance Program

Summer is a great time for dancing. And summer dance camps are a great way for dancers of all ages to make the most of their time during the summer. With so many options for summer programs being offered, does it really matter which program your child will ultimately choose? Yes, it most certainly does.

Ballet Intensive Programs (For Intermediate and Advanced Dancers) If a young person at an intermediate or advance level is a serious dance student, an intensive summer dance program with a reputable dance school can provide a real boost in their growth and development. Advanced programs are available that have intensive, full-time schedules for 2-6 weeks, which immerse students in many different aspects of dance training, giving the student valuable discipline and new, creative experiences. Look for a curriculum that is based in classical & contemporary ballet but also covers specific instruction (at appropriate levels) in different aspects of dance, such as, turns, jumps, Pointe, variations, Pas de deux, modern dance, improvisation, and performance skills. The program should limit the number of students in the class, so that the dancers can get personal attention from the instructors. They won’t get much individual help or recognition from dance programs that fill up with 30 or 40 students. Providing that the program is designed to give personal attention to the students, a quality faculty can find the source of any trouble areas in a dancer’s technique and performance. Students can then use their valuable summer months to learn how to overcome issues in their dance training while making the most of their assets. Sometimes smaller programs offer more bang for your buck. Find a program that features renowned guest instructors, as the student can then be exposed to new methods and dance styles from an experienced professional that they may not always get during their normal dance training. Check to see who the instructors are and research their background. Look for teachers with the experience to help the student gain technical improvement and performance artistry. While most dance or ballet company’s no longer use their summer programs to recruit dancers for positions within their ranks, good experience can be provided by guest choreographers who are setting repertory for the summer project. An Intensive program is good for a student who wants to focus on moving into the next level in their training, or for a dancer that wants to prepare for a career in dance or enhance their skills in an existing career. Most summer programs hold auditions which is also part of the learning experience. Don’t be intimidated by the audition process and don’t worry if you don’t get into a program. Use the audition process as a learning tool. Finding the right program that will challenge and provide a degree of personal attention is more important than attending one just because you were accepted. Summer Dance Camps (For Younger Students) For younger students who just enjoy dancing or are looking for a summer dance experience to help improve their skills, there are dance camps one can find in most major cities. Instructors who are specialists in working with younger dancers can provide students with new challenges but in a nurturing environment, making sure students understand the concepts and instructions. When children are really learning and grasping the material, the camp is more fun! Programs can be found that are perfect for the beginner and intermediate dancer of any age–that are enjoyable for both children and older beginners. Even most teenagers can enjoy the variety of dance styles offered within programs like this. By grouping students of similar ability, and creating teams or pairs of students, classes can be exciting and enjoyable for a wide range of ages. Beginner to intermediate dance camps should offer students daily classes of ballet and also be filled with creative methods for developing coordination, rhythm, dramatic skills, learning choreography, improvisation, performance abilities and more. Jazz dance, hip-hop, tap dancing, folk dancing and many other styles of dance can make these programs an ideal introduction to dancing or means for improving vital and fundamental skills. Erin Holt is a choreographer and dance education specialist working with children and young adults for over 20 years. She is owner of the successful dance academy, California DanceArts (http://www.CalDanceArts.com) and Founder/Director of the California Contemporary Ballet (http://www.CtyBallet.org), a non-profit professional ballet company located in La Canada, California. For information on the school or professional company, visit http://www.CaliforniaDanceArts.com

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