As summer approaches, many dancers are asking for input on summer training and how to continue to support their dance education. One key question is where to take class and sometimes that boils down to inside or outside their home studio. My answer is BOTH!
Take class at home.
If your home studio offers classes during the summer, take them. Teachers notice which dancers show up for summer training and which do not. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take a break - you should! Go to the lake, go on vacation, by all means have a barbecue and eat lots of pie. It’s summertime - enjoy it! But when there are opportunities to train during the off season at your studio, show up. And here’s why:
- Smaller class sizes. Class sizes are typically smaller during the summer, which means that you will have more individualized attention.
- Guest teachers. Many studios bring in guest teachers or alumni students during the summer, giving you the opportunity to experience a different teaching style in the comfort of your home studio and without the high pricetag of traveling.
- Get noticed. Your teacher is ultimately the one who makes decisions about team placements, casting for shows, etcetera – you want to be seen and make an impression when you can. I personally have seen dancers show up to a class and unexpectedly blow me away. Later, when I need a dancer for something, I remember that moment immediately, and that dancer is the first to pop in to my head. You never know when you are going to be noticed and by whom. But if you aren’t there, you can’t be noticed.
- Bond with friends. You miss your dance friends during the summer. Give them a call and make plans to go drop in to an extra technique class. It’s fun, it’s healthy, and you know you can’t be away from the studio that long anyway.
- Keep training consistent. Your teacher knows what he/she is looking for in your training. That is the training that you will receive during the summer, which puts you a step ahead when fall comes. Summer is also a time that instructors often set choreography that they are considering for the regular season. If you nail the choreography in summer class, then your choreographer knows you are capable of it when it is revisited that year. Keeping up your training in your home studio puts you on even stronger footing when the season begins.
Take class outside of your studio.
Summer is a great time to stretch your dance wings and try out some new opportunities. If you are considering dancing outside of your studio, first thing’s first. Call or email your instructor and ask their input. Let them know you are interested in outside opportunities and ask for their guidance. Your teacher is invested in you, give them the respect of including them in your decisions. This will promote goodwill within your studio and keep your instructor in your corner, which is right where you want them to be. No one has better insight in to the dance world than teachers working in the business, so use them as a resource to support your training.
Drop In Classes. On a basic level, you could try out a new class from a new choreographer. Is there a university in town that offers open summer classes? Check in to a neighboring town and see what other studios are offering during the summer. Take a beginning drop in class in a style you’ve never tried before, or push yourself to take a class slightly above your level in a style you are training in. Summer is a great time to take some risks and step out of your dance comfort zone.
Summer conventions. Conventions are another option, and are offered throughout the nation, allowing you to study with master teachers. Conventions are typically 2-3 days in length and held in hotels and convention centers. While dance conventions are certainly not a substitute for solid dance training, the opportunity to work with new teachers can inspire you and be a break from your typical class regiment. Taking class with dancers who are not your studio besties can also push you to dance at the next level. Convention work focuses mainly on exposing dancers to new styles and choreography.
Summer Intensives. If you are ready for even more, there are summer intensives that are offered for weeks at a time. Many of these provide for dancers to live on a college campus and dance full time. This requires travel and can be expensive, but for a dancer who is considering a career in dance, this experience can not only bolster your technique, but give you an inside look to what a professional dancer’s day may look like.
No matter where you decide to train, one thing’s for sure – the more you dance, the better you get! So if you are serious about dancing, be sure to work in time to train in your summer months.