Age: 13 years old
Name of intensive you attended: 2014 USA International Ballet Competition Dance School, (IBC)
Location: Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi
Length of intensive: 2 weeks (June 14-June 29, 2014)
Why did you choose this summer intensive? I chose IBC because it seemed like a GREAT chance to meet and dance with people from all around the world! It was only 8 hours away from home by car. It was 2 weeks long and perfect for the first time being away from home. It was also highly recommended by Lauren Small. This competition and dance school is usually held in different countries and only held in America every 4 years. The next time will be in 2018 so that was a BIG reason why I attended this summer. I hope I can go back again in 2018!
What was your favorite class? My favorite class was Contemporary with Ashley Walton. Ashley Walton has danced professionally with the Georgia Ballet, won numerous awards from Regional Dance America and was named Northeast Performer of the Year. Contemporary was my favorite class because I had never taken a contemporary class before and it combined modern dance with ballet which I really enjoyed.
Who was your favorite teacher during the intensive? My favorite teacher was Rhodie Jorgenson. Ms. Jorgenson has worked with choreographer Balanchine, Robbins, Tudor, Ailey, deMille, and many others! She is the Washington, DC, Children’s Ballet Mistress for the Joffrey Ballet and sets all of the children’s roles for Nutcracker. She was my favorite teacher because she talked through how steps are done and she gave a lot of one-on-one corrections.
What one thing did you use EVERY day you were there? Every day I used my student ID, scan-card, and dorm key that was on a lanyard around my neck. It is very important to have these things with you at all times. There is very tight security at Belhaven. Your scan-card gets you into the lobby of the dorm rooms. It also gets you into your hall of dorm rooms and it gets you your meals. Your key gets you into your room. And your ID you use so the Security know that you are a student.
How many pairs of pointe shoes did you go through? I took two pairs of pointe shoes. I went through one pair and broke in the second pair really well.
What was the hardest part of attending this intensive? This was my first time away from home so that was hard for a little while but I met so many new friends. The counselor assigned to our group was great. She made staying in the Belhaven University dorm rooms SO MUCH FUN! We had group sleepovers, ordered pizza, played games, and painted our nails. We also had a movie night and saw First Position with Aran Bell who was also at IBC with us! We even got to Snapchat Michaela DePrince!
What moment would you consider the highlight of your experience? The highlight of my experience was being taught by Lauren Anderson, former Prima Ballerina at Houston Ballet. She is the first African American ballerina to become a principal for a major American ballet company.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of attending this intensive? Listen and apply as many corrections as possible, even if the teacher is not directing them at you. Also, we went out as a group EVERY night to watch the international ballet competition at Thalia Mara Hall in Downtown Jackson. It was a big, beautiful theatre to watch ballet. It’s important to stay with your group and know where your counselor is at all times.
Other thoughts/advice? There was an Opening Ceremony at the beginning of the competition. It was just like the opening ceremony at the Olympics! Dancers from China, Chile, Cuba, Brazil, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Japan, Mexico, Russia, France, America and SO many others marched in a Parade of Nations through the theatre. They even lit a torch! It was very inspirational for the dancers at the IBC Dance School. Also, Complexions performed at the Opening Ceremony. They remind me of Alvin Ailey dancers. The Complexions dancers are very talented. It was great!
Eat well before going to the intensive and while you are there. The cafeteria on campus had great hot and cold food to choose from every day. Eat a lot because you will be dancing 4 ½ hours every day then going out every night to see a performance.
Name of Summer Intensive you attended: Grand Rapids Ballet
Length of Intensive: 5 weeks
Why did you choose this summer Intensive? Between the guest instructors and company members, it had a fantastic faculty lineup. I also feel so blessed that they gave me a full tuition scholarship, because if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to attend the intensive.
What was your favorite class? I had two favorite classes: Variations and Partnering.
Who was your favorite teacher during the intensive? My favorite teacher was Nicole Ciapponi.
What one thing did you use EVERY day you were there? I took a water bottle every day. The classes tended to be long, and the teachers didn’t give you many breaks to go to the water fountain. A water bottle was a necessity!
How many pairs of pointe shoes did you go through? I only went through one pair, surprisingly. Thank God for Gaynor Minden!
What was the hardest part of attending this intensive? I think that the first two weeks were definitely the hardest part, just because I was so sore and had painful bruised toenails from wearing my pointe shoes constantly. But the next three weeks were so much easier because I wasn’t sore anymore, and one of my teachers showed me how to make my toenails feel better.
What moment would you consider the highlight of your experience? My favorite moment was when I finally understood this piece of choreography that I was learning. It was an excerpt from The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, choreographed by Billy Forsythe. There were so many really hard steps, and the music was superfast. But after a couple of classes, something inside of my head clicked and I finally got it. It felt so good to understand it and the variation became my favorite one to dance!
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of attending this intensive? Come ready to work harder than you ever have before, mentally and physically. The instructors there expect you to be giving 100% in every class, every day. Be prepared to wear your pointe shoes 4 hours a day. Also, bring a notebook to write down corrections in. This book isn’t just for your own corrections, but other people’s as well. When some of the teachers give you a correction, they say it once and expect you to remember it. It really helps if you have something to write them down in. But most importantly, come ready to have a blast! Because if you really love ballet, this intensive will make you love it a thousand times more!