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When Do Dancers Stop Going to Ballet Summer Intensives and What Comes Next?

Robert Fulton - Oct. 29, 2023, 8:57 p.m.

Ballet summer intensives have long been a cornerstone of ballet training, offering dancers an immersive and enriching experience to refine their skills. As dancers advance in their careers, a significant question surfaces: At what age do they move on from these intensives, and what alternative ballet training or ballet jobs do they pursue over summers and layoff periods?


A recent discussion among the Ballet Scout discussion group brought forth a myriad of insights on this topic, reflecting a spectrum of experiences and decisions.


The Age Factor:

For many, age doesn't dictate participation in ballet summer intensives. One individual mentioned that their adult daughter, despite being well into her professional ballet career, still attends intensives. Why? The potential ballet job opportunities and the networking prospects they present. "Attending these intensives is like going for ballet auditions; you never know who might offer you a position," they hinted. Another dancer added that older teens and early adults often persist with this ballet training until they secure a professional role. Some even juggle their ballet jobs with intensives, based on their contracts.


An admin in the discussion remarked, "After 18, attending ballet summer intensives remains a viable option. I was involved in such ballet training until age 20, with many programs welcoming dancers up to around 25."


Alternative Opportunities:

Beyond ballet summer intensives, dancers in their late teens and twenties find other avenues to explore. The admin pointed to opportunities for paid summer gigs allowing dancers not only to perform and build their resumes but also to earn. There are many different summer companies, festivals, and choreographic projects that allow dancers to develop their skills and get paid.  Another intriguing option was the role of a Resident Advisor (RA) at intensives, allowing dancers to take class while getting paid.  Being an RA is a lot of work, though, and one must find the right program that actually allows them to take consistent classes.


Another respondent highlighted that many mid-twenties dancers still flock to ballet auditions, intensives, and workshops, targeting specific companies.  There are a few summer intensives that actually function as an audition with multiple directors coming to watch throughout the course.  They also brought attention to several companies offering part-time roles or stipends, granting dancers flexibility outside of a full-time company routine.


The Financial Angle:

Another contributor stated, "The feasibility of ballet summer intensives changes when you're the one paying." As dancers bear the financial responsibility, many transition to adult ballet classes or gym-based cross-training. This dancer also emphasized the financial nuances of ballet jobs, where many roles might offer restricted or performance-centric pay, pushing dancers towards additional income streams.  Finding gig-work for the summer can be a great way to supplement yearly income while improving and building your resume.


The Importance of Rest and Recovery:

Another member brought up another vital aspect – the importance of rest. If a dancer has limited time off during the summer, especially those in studio, second company, or trainee roles, the body might need rest more than another intensive training stint.


In Conclusion:

The journey of a dancer is as unique as the individual. While many maintain their commitment to ballet summer intensives deep into their careers, others delve into alternative routes, fostering growth and ensuring fiscal resilience. The unifying factor remains their profound passion and dedication to the ballet realm.