Dance Advice

How to choose a summer dance school

Teagan Lowe. Photo courtesy of Lowe.

Summer is my favourite time of year, but it is often when most dance studios and institutions close for weeks. Once the final concert, performance or exam is done, it becomes all about the food during special celebrations (like Christmas!), the relaxing at the beach and enjoying the great weather.

I do believe that holidays are important and necessary in resting your mind and body, but after a short break dancers are often itching to get back into the studio. Summer dance schools are a great solution to this and provide a fantastic way to extend your training, create new networks and spend an intensive amount of time at a (perhaps new) place you may be interested in attending.

With a vast array of summer dance options available, here are our tips on choosing the right one for you.

For some of the top Summer Dance Schools these holidays visit Dance Informa’s Summer Dance Guide here.

#1. Cost.

Summer dance schools and programs can be expensive. There is the fee of the program itself and potentially additional costs such as flights, boarding and food. Bear in mind that during this time it is often peak travel period, so accommodation and flight options are often at their most expensive.

November/December is prime time for picking up shifts at work or getting a new job. Attending a summer program means taking time off of work and limiting your availability at a new job.

If you choose to attend a summer school, factor in the fees, flights, accommodation, food, equipment (such as uniform, extra pointe shoes, notebooks) and spending money.

Sometimes, you may also need a guardian to travel with you. Although this doubles the flights of airfares, it means there is someone to help with accommodation and food expenses.

TIPS:
-Many summer schools offer a scholarship. Do your research early and apply!
-Some also offer an “early bird” discount.
-Local councils also offer grants, which you may be eligible to apply for to help with the costs.

#2. Location.

Going hand in hand with cost comes location. The further you have to travel, the more you will probably have to spend.

Location also covers the local transport information. Is your accommodation far from the studio? How much will this commute cost in both time and money each day? Are you near a supermarket and public transport?

If you are ready to be considered for a company or tertiary institution, you may also like to use this time to investigate if the city/area is a place you would like to live for a long period of time – perhaps years. If you get the time, certainly explore well. Visit the campus, work area, see how good transport is, see how far away a physio or doctor is, ask locals about the weather, cost of living and good areas to live.

You may also just want to use this opportunity to add in a mini holiday to somewhere you have never been!

TIPS:
-Other dancers who have done the program you are interested in are often the best source for information.
-Many dancers return home for the summer, so their rooms/apartments are often vacant, and they are open to have someone stay there to help cover with rent. This will be better value than most commercial accommodation options. Ask around!

#3. Length.

Again, tied into cost comes length. The longer you are away from home means the more you will be spending. Also consider how much of your break time you want to spend in a studio. Time off is important.

It is also a question about how long you are willing to commit to being away from home, and if this is your first time travelling by yourself it may be a little daunting but a good test for a longer time period.

Summer dance schools and workshops can run anywhere between a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

#4. And last, but certainly not least, content.

What the summer school is offering during the time you are there should be one of the main reasons you choose that particular program. Consider: Are you after a strong focus on technique? What dance classes are they offering? And are they offering all the ones you are after? Do you want to focus on working on choreography? Will you be attending the school eventually and wanting to get to know teachers, audition tips and the curriculum? Will there be a large number of participants? Is there a choreographer or artist involved you are wanting to connect with? Are they offering a performance or showcase opportunity at the end? And, if so, who will be attending this? Will there be sessions for dance-related topics?

Attending a summer dance school or program ultimately connects you with like-minded dancers who quickly become friends. Although there are several things to consider, just remember you get out what you put in. There are always opportunities to learn no matter where you are, as long as you are open to them.

Enjoy dancing during the summer!

As a side note, I attended a summer dance program in between my second and final year of full time training. I chose to go to maintain my fitness levels over the break. I went far away from home, which cost a lot of money in flights but I saved some by staying at a nearby backpackers, which was around the corner from the studio and cooked my lunches and dinners every day.

I was attracted to this particular workshop, as there was a small group participating, there was a showcase and networking opportunity at the end of the week, and it was associated with a company I was wanting to connect with. It went for a week and it led into the beginning of my dance year perfectly.

For some of the top Summer Dance Schools these holidays visit Dance Informa’s Summer Dance Guide here.

By Elle Evangelista of Dance Informa. 

Photo (top): Teagan Lowe. Photo courtesy of Lowe.

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