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Something Good

If you are a dancer, or you have a partner or friend or loved one who is, you already know: we dancers are incredibly critical of our work.

So to watch a video in which I’m dancing and think, before I’ve thought anything else, “That was good!” is a big deal.

Anyway, today I finished a week-long summer intensive session in which I (GASP!) actually talked to people I don’t know and, like, made some friends ❤ This was a really lovely group of dancers, and I would happily dance with any of them again any time.

We learned and performed (via livestream and for a small audience outside the big window of our studio) a brand-new piece choreographed by Ashley Thursby-Kern and Theresa Bautista, and when I watched it, I found myself thinking, “That was good!”

Not just their choreography, or the performance of my fellow dancers–but for once I was able to look at myself and think that.

It wasn’t perfect, of course, but ballet never is. And I think that we did rather a fine job learning and polishing it in the span of five days.

Anyway, for the moment, you can catch it here, with an introduction by Ashley, who is a thoroughly lovely human being:

I’m trying hard not to list the shortcomings I do see in my own performance here. It’s enough to know what I could have done better and will do better next time. It’s enough to look at myself dancing and say, for once, “That was good.”

Adult Dance Intensives, 2017

You guys! David King of A Ballet Education may be doing a summer program open to dancers ages 11-adult!

I’ve found his writings on technique to be helpful, and I think this could be a great opportunity. Click on over for more information.

Sadly, I probably won’t be going this year because I’ll be at Pilobolus’ summer program. …Unless, of course, one of you could lend me a Time-Turner and a private jet? 😉

Anyway, Monsieur King has me thinking about summer programs, so here are some options for adult dancers looking for intensives for this year. Because, at heart, ballet is my jam, I tend to focus on ballet programs and programs with strong ballet components, but the final version of this list will probably include some strictly modern options as well.

I’m not going to itemize all the individual Sun King options. There are a lot of them, they span the summer, and they have their own website for that! Besides, everyone knows about Sun King. That said, everyone always seems to have a blast at their intensives, so consider them duly linked 😉

For your planning pleasure, I’m organizing these by date. Here we go!

As always, if you know of a great summer program for adult dancers—anywhere in the world—and you’d like me to list it here, please drop the info in the comments!

Summer Intensives for Grown-Ass Adults, 2017


The Ballet Retreat, London

  • Dates: 29th – 30th April
  • Ages: 18+
  • Location: London, England, UK
  • Idiom: Ballet
  • Notes: This one has a LIVE PIANIST, you guys! Also, they feed you. The instruction sounds quite good, too. David Paul Kearce is from Australia, where apparently ballet is huge and adult ballet students are taken pretty seriously.
    • Honestly, the order of these attributes says a lot about how I’m feeling today: LIVE ACCOMPANIMENT OMG !!!!!111oneone, FOOOOOOD!!!, oh and they teach you ballet as well…


Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet

  • Dates: 1-4 June; 8-11 June
  • Ages: 18+, I think? 
  • Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Idiom: Ballet, Modern
  • Notes: LINES’ Intensive is very on my radar for next year. If I had the funds and didn’t have a performance immediately after, I’d drop everything and go. BW takes class at LINES he visits his family in CA, and he speaks very highly of their classes … And he’s BW, so that’s saying that. And, I mean, it’s freaking LINES, is much dance-for-dancers. Please, somebody —go! And blog about so I can live vicariously through your words. 

Mam-Luft & Co Summer Modern Dance Workshop/Intensive for Adults (note: registration isn’t open yet)

  • Dates: June 5 – 9
  • Ages: 18+
  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
  • Idiom: Modern & Ballet
  • Notes: The full-day program is incredibly intense and incredibly worth it. Last year, it also functioned as a company audition (by choice; they weren’t like AUDITION OR GO HOME). I’m not 100% sure, but I think that’s their usual approach to auditions.

University of Utah SaltDanceFest

  • Dates: June 5 – 16
  • Ages: 18+
  • Idiom: Modern & Ballet
  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Notes: This program has a ballet and yoga foundation and actually sounds pretty awesome. I will have to choose between this and Mam-Luft. Based on some of the class descriptions, here, that’s going to be a difficult decision.

Mark Morris Dance Group Summer Intensive (OMG, you guys, I might have to audition for this, you guys. If not, it’s on the radar for next year. Because MARK MORRIS OMG OMG OMG)

  • Dates: June 12-23 (dancers may attend first week only or both weeks)
  • Ages: 16+
  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • Idiom: Modern & Ballet
  • Notes: Admission to MMDG Summer Intensive is by audition.

DanceTeq Summer Intensives

  • Dates: June 19-23 (Beginner/Elementary); June 26-30 (Intermediate)
  • Ages: 18+? (specifically billed as an adult intensive)
  • Location: Toronto, ON!!! W00t!
  • Idiom: Ballet
  • Notes: Oh, Canada! DanceTeq specialies in teaching older teens and adults. Their regular program includes advanced class five days per week, developmental pointe classes, and a rep class for beginners. Their Intermediate intensive sounds very tempting… ^-^

Repertory Dance Theater SummerDance 2017

  • Dates: June26-30
  • Ages: 18+?
  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Idiom: Limon Technique
  • Notes: One of three … THREE!!! … workshops in SLC this summer, which are working together to bring the dance. Good on ya, SLC.


Lexington Ballet Adult Summer Intensive (note: at the time of this writing, the 2016 info is still up, but the Adult Intensive is on the calendar sidebar)

  • Dates: July, TBA
  • Ages: 18+; IIRC students 16 – 17 can participate with permission of parent or guardian
  • Location: Lexington, KY
  • Notes: I loved this intensive last year. It sounds like it’s aimed specifically at beginners, but don’t let that fool you. They’ll meet you where you are as a dancer.

Pilobolus Summer Workshop Series

  • Dates: July 17 – August 4
  • Ages: 18+
  • Location: Bethlehem, CT
  • Idiom: Pilobolus!
  • Notes: Pilobolus is about as far from ballet as it gets—but the two workshops I’ve taken with Pilobolus haven’t just made me a better dancer, they’ve made me a better ballet dancer. If you feel like you have room for growth in body-awareness and partnering (hint: you do; everyone does), Pilobolus’ technique can help you grow.

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company Professional Workshop

  • Dates: July 25 – August 4
  • Ages: 18+?
  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Idiom: Modern & Ballet
  • Notes: This isn’t specifically a ballet intensive, but it’s built around a daily 1.5-hour ballet class.


The Ballet Retreat, Leeds

  • 26 – 28 August
  • Ages: 18+
  • Location: London, England, UK
  • Idiom: Ballet
  • Notes: As with the Ballet Retreat, London, this one has a LIVE PIANIST and they feed you. Likewise, David Paul Kearce is in the house. If I wasn’t broke, I’d go.

At the moment, it looks like my summer intensive schedule will probably look like this:

  • June 5-9: Mam-Luft & Co
  • July ????: Lexington Ballet Adult Intensive
  • July 22: Pilobolus Pedagogy Workshop
  • July 24-28: Pilobolus Summer Workshop

I’m applying for a scholarship for Pilobolus. If I make the cut, I might be able to do more than one week.

Depending on the cost of attendance and a couple other factors, I’d love to hit DanceTeq’s Intermediate intensive.

I’d still love to do SunKing, because from what I’ve heard they usually have enough men to make men’s class and pas de deux really awesome, but it’s the most expensive of the summer program options out there for adult dancers, and probably still not really on the radar for this year.

Danseur Ignoble: Night School

I set my alarm wrong, so did night class today.

It went brilliantly, except for two parts — first, the part where I misunderstimated my travel during petit allegro and nearly ran the dude next to me into the piano twice … TWICE!!!; second, the part where I hosed up the final combo because I didn’t quite grasp what was supposed to come between the flying pas de basque (not to be confused with saut de basque) and the saute arabesque/cabriole.

I’mma have to practice that flying pas de basque thing. It’s fun, but my legs go a little Baby Giraffe Mode getting from that to other steps.

Brian taught tonight. His teaching style is playful and energetic, so his classes are fun.

Seriously; while this is probably not something that he would really do, there’s something in his personality that makes me think he’s going to come around and tickle us: that makes you stand up REALLY FREAKING TALL, by the way. Some atavistic part of my brain that is stuck in pre-school pre-ballet is like PULL UP TALL SO THE TICKLE MONSTER CAN’T SEE YOU!!!

Artist's conception of the Tickle Monster.

Pro Tip: If you pull up tall, the Tickle Monster can’t see you.

The best general bit of advice (not really a correction, because we hadn’t broken out the passés yet) tonight? In passé and retiré, imagine a meat hook grabbing and lifting the muscle at the top inside of your thigh. Yeah, kind of a gristly image, but it works brilliantly for me. It makes me stop thinking ROTATE ROTATE ROTATE and, predictably, going CLENCH CLENCH CLENCH.

Clenching makes balances, like, 1,000,000% harder, you guys.

Oh, and I did all three bazillion little jumps and only screwed up the petit allegro a little**. Yasssssss! Getting that back has been surprisingly difficult, so it’s good that it finally felt like dancing.

**This was the point at which I realized I was going to run the guy beside me into the piano and completely panicked o.O’ Sorry, Guy Beside Me.

Also, the little jumps looked good. So there’s that.

Now! Other business!

I heard back from Lexington Ballet, and their adult SI was a resounding success this year, so they areplanning on doing it again, and they would very much welcome out of town dancers. I’ll keep an ear to the wind for updates on that.

I’m going to see if I can get a group of LBS students together to go (Field Trip! … Er, Week-Long Field Trip!). If not, I’ll still go by myself; it doesn’t conflict with any of the Sun King weeks that sound interesting.)

Our Tutu Tuesday costumes are complete (mine is packed, even!) and look fabulous. I am not allowed to post pix until our camp-mates have seen them, though, so the whole internet is just going to have to sit on its hands until then (because I know nobody has anything more important to do that wait for pictures of our tutus).

I am totally miffed about this, really, because I now have the most adorable picture ever of Mr. Merkah playing in Denis’ tutu*** and I can’t post it until we get back.

***…Which is precisely what The Momma predicted the Merkah would do, by the way.

That’s it for now. I really need to think about finding something to eat and then going to bed. Between mowing the lawn, riding the bike, and dancing, I have Burned All The Calories today and am Way, Way Tired.

Danseur Ignoble: Summer Intensive — It’s Not Too Late! (Maybe.)

If you’re a dancer, an adult (or adult-esque … or, at any rate, at least 18 years old), and you’ve always wanted to do a Summer Intensive but have never had the chance, take heart!  A small but slowly growing cadre of programs offer SI experiences for you!   (And, I hope, for me!)

While this year is a non-starter for me (I’m scheduling a surgery over the summer, and by the time I’m recovered, we’ll be off to Burning Man, where I’m apparently running what we’ll call a “Summer Relaxive” — I’ll cover that in its own post), I’m planning to attend and review as many of these as I can in coming years.   For now, though, if you have some vacation time coming your way and haven’t already made plans, here are a couple of links to get you started.

These programs can fill up fast, but you might still have time to grab a spot.

I’ll continue to update this list as I find reputable programs.

Summer Intensives for Adult Dancers

Boston Ballet
When: August 3 – 14
Where: Boston, MA
Duration: 2 Weeks
Schedule: Evenings,  6:30 – 9 PM
Housing: Make your own arrangements
Tuition: Unknown; will try to find out
Performance Opportunities: Unknown; will try to find out

Boston Ballet’s program could be a great option for anyone who wants to combine a ballet camp experience with a New England vacation adventure.   Since classes take place in the evening, you’ll have the daytime hours free to explore historic Boston and the surrounding area.   This might make Boston Ballet’s program a good fit for dancers who need to combine ballet camp with a family trip.

Boston Ballet’s Program would also be a great choice for people who live in the Boston metro, of course.

Affiliated with an established company with a strong pre-pro school.
Hours of instruction allow dancers to combine vacation adventures with Intensive ballet training.
Two weeks’ practice, 2.5 hours per day, offers an excellent opportunity to create lasting improvements in technique

You must make your own housing arrangements.
Two weeks in Boston could theoretically be expensive!
Not everyone will be able to take two whole weeks off in a row.

Sun King Dance
When: Varies
Where: Richmond, VA; Saratoga, NY; Vancouver, WA; Waldorf, MD
Duration: 5 – 7 Days
Schedule: Days, approximately 9 AM –  6 PM; varies with individual program and track chosen
Housing: Sun King makes group-rate arrangements with nearby hotels and provides roommate-matching
Tuition: $730 –  $1025; varies by program and track; lunch included.   Housing not included.
Performance Opportunities: Yes, except Waldorf program

Sun King is the Grand Matriarch of adult summer intensives. 

Now in its fourteenth (fifteenth?) year, Sun King has built an excellent reputation and offers several different programs.  Dancers can choose short-day, all-ballet, or full-day tracks.   The short-day options offer a few more free hours in the afternoon for dancers who might like to get out and explore, while the full-day option adds restorative sessions and additional stretch classes.

Curriculum includes a number of elements that adult dancers often miss out on, like character dance, pas de deux (my tablet’s autocorrupt really wants this to be “pas de derp!”) , and men’s technique.

Perks include rate agreements with local hotels, roommate-matching (optional; you can room solo if you wish), lunch included with tuition, and the real highlight for me — a chance to perform (or, at the Waldorf program, a chance to see a world-class performance).

Well-established program with an excellent reputation
Roommate-matching makes housing more affordable
Lunch included (dancers gotta eat!)
Performance opportunity!

Not as family-trip friendly (you can bring your non-dancers, but they’ll have to fend for themselves!)
Only one week long (le sigh!)
Spaces are limited, so you need to register early!

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