Why attend a summer session?
Summer sessions provide a unique opportunity for dance students to work intensively in developing their bodies, their technique, and their artistry. In the summer session students come to class during the day when they are not as tired from their school work, and everyday activities and can focus entirely on their dance training. The intensity of attending dance classes everyday and taking a variety of classes each day allows the dancer’s body to gain flexibility and strength. The classes also allow student to be reminded more consistently on the correct body placement and technique allowing them to develop “muscle memory”.
Students often make significant progress during the summer session that allows them to improve faster during the academic year.
What would the schedule look like?
Advanced Beginners level students will take two classes per day. The first class will be a technique class; the second class will be either a stretch and flexibility class, a pre-pointe, jumps and turns, or variations class. There will be only one three-week session for this level. This level involves approximately 15 hours per week of dance instruction (3 hours of dancing per day). Because of their cognitive, emotional and physical development students at this age (8-11 years old) are better serviced by taking two classes a day rather than a more intense schedule. At the two daily classes students can be challenged to reach their maximum potential and ability, physically and cognitively. When asked to complete a heavier schedule this can be detrimental to their physical development, and they are not able to cognitively process all the details needed to develop the understanding of the art form.
A day of the intermediate level class student will include three classes, a technique class, a pointe or variations class, and a third class that might be modern dance, character, or jumps and turns. Students will also have Pilates class and a seminar class once a week. The weekly seminar will vary from week to week and might include, nutrition, injury prevention, ballet history, pointe shoe seminars and learning about the careers of our guest teachers. This level involves 20 hours per week of dance instruction (4 hours of dancing per day).
Advanced level students will take four classes a day including a daily technique class, variations and pointe classes, pas de deux, modern dance classes twice a week, repertoire or choreographic workshop. Students in this level will also attend a weekly seminar on a variety of topics including careers in dance, advice on auditioning, performance make-up, injury prevention, ballet history, and life stories of our guest teachers. This level involves 25 hours of dance instruction per week (5 hours of dancing per day).
How is the summer session designed?
Our summer course this year is designed into two different three-week sessions. The first three-week session is a technique intensive course. The main focus of these three weeks will be on improving students’ technique. These three weeks will include several excellent guest teachers.
The second three-week session is designed to be performance intensive. The main focus will be on learning choreography and repertoire that will culminate on a performance at the end of the session. Students will continue to work on developing their technique and bodies.
Students will be allowed to enroll for two weeks of either session if they prefer. If they enroll for only two weeks they will not be allowed to participate in the performance at the end of the session.
A few observations
In my experience as dance teacher, when students don’t take summer classes their training suffers. The developments and accomplishments achieved during the academic year are often not maintained and in some cases even reversed! When students are young it is critical to help them develop muscle memory and movement understanding in a consistent and regular manner. When students take the entire summer off, or only take a few classes per week, or only one class a day for a week or two, they don’t make the necessary progress and in some cases lose some of the technical proficiency they had achieved, and their bodies lose flexibility and strength. Attending summer sessions often gives students a boost in their training and body flexibility and strength, so they feel more confident and accomplish more in their training the following academic year. Students who do not attend summer session often spend the first three to four months of the following academic year re-building their technique, flexibility and strength thus limiting the rate of their progress.
Why guest teachers?
Michigan Ballet Academy is fortunate to offer outstanding professional ballet training through its permanent internationally and nationally acclaimed faculty. In addition to the excellent training we provide, we believe it is important to expose our students to other excellent dance faculty from around the world. It is helpful to students to be exposed to different teaching methods, and to dance teachers from different backgrounds and experiences. This exposure helps them develop versatility. Guest teachers also provide networking for our students as they develop their careers in dance. Having guest teachers allows MBA to demonstrate the quality of our training so our school can be recognized in other parts of the nation and world as an excellent place to train.
In addition to improving their technique and artistry dancers continue to engage their minds even if not in school. Dance allows them to keep working on memory skills (as they learn different step combinations and choreographies), visual-body coordination, and also develop mathematical skills as students must identify movement patterns, and musical patterns. All of these have been shown to help in the development of cognitive skills. Finally attending summer program allows the dancer to continue working on discipline, focus and time management skills.
Summer Pre-ballet Classes
We will also be holding two 1-week sessions for pre-ballet students on August 1-5 and August 8-12. These sessions are for children ages 4-7 and will be from 9:00-11:30 AM. The camp will include ballet, acting/improvisation, and crafts. Children are asked to bring a snack of their own.