GRB Summer Intensive

Hi everyone!  Today is a very special blog post aimed towards my fellow classmates at GRB.  Here I’m going to be offering my tips and a thorough guide to the Grand Rapids Ballet’s summer intensive.  I’ve gone to this intensive for over 5 years, and this will be my first year traveling, so I won’t be there to help my new friends along with the experience.  So, without further ado, my full-on guide to the GRB summer intensive.

(BTW…yes…the featured image is GRB’s theater.)

The information

Before we can get into my tips and tricks for specific things, let’s go through the general scheduling and basic specifications of the intensive.

First of all, it runs from 10:00 – 5:00 Monday through Friday.  But, as you probably know by now from reading my blog, I love my warm up.  So, I prefer to get to the studios around 9:00 am to begin stretching.  That’s about the earliest that they open, so don’t shoot for any earlier.

At pick up time, you usually have a good 10 minutes to exit without being a disruption.  So, stretching after class is typically kept to a minimum.  The Rapid central station is right across the street and available for easy transportation, if your parents can’t pick you up.  The bus is just fine for summer-intensive-aged ballet students at 5:00.  It’s mostly business men and women.

The leveling for the summer intensive has two main divisions – juniors and seniors.  If you attend the ballet for the year, level 4 and above are seniors, and level 3 and below are juniors.  Within the junior intensive, there is a group A and group B – A being the oldest and B being the youngest.  For the senior intensive, there are two main levels A and B (again, As are the oldest).  For pointe and variations classes, there is an added level – senior AB.  Each member of the AB group is either assigned to group A or B for contemporary, technique, repertory, and other classes, and they are only placed in the special AB level for pointe and variations classes.

Every day, you have a 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minute lunch break after technique class or after a technique and pointe class.  It’s a long day, so it’s important that you carry around some kind of snack to munch on between classes.

The other important thing to remember with the lunch is that you need to be warm directly after.  A lot of times we will have technique class in the morning, followed by an 1 hour lunch break and then have variations class en pointe following lunch.  For that, it’s important that you re-warm up yourself before dancing en pointe.  So, taking staying warm very seriously.

The first class you have in the day is technique. It is an hour and 45 minutes. This is the most common class to have one of the guest teachers.  The senior level is separated into groups A and B for this class.

After technique, you will either have lunch followed by pointe/variations, or you will have pointe/variations followed by lunch.  Again, the schedule changes and varies day to day, but that is typically how it goes.

Variations class is separated to groups A, AB, and B.  Each group learns at least 3 variations that are taught by various teachers.  Towards the beginning of the 5th week of the intensive, a variation audition is held to see which variations students will be performing.  2 or 3 students perform each variation – so not everybody will have the opportunity to perform one.  The audition is typically supervised by Miss Barker as well as the faculty that taught the variations.

Pointe classes are separated into A, AB, and B levels as variations are.  There’s nothing particularly special about pointe classes – they are just as they are during the year.

Contemporary class is almost always taught by guest faculty and is almost always on stage.  Pieces for the end of summer showcase are taught by each teacher of the class in class to be performed.  This class is separated into levels senior A and B.

Repertory classes also take place at the intensive.  This class is separated into senior levels A and B.  Some dances may be en pointe and some on flat for level B.  Typically, two to four repertory class dances will be performed in the end of summer showcase.

Conditioning classes such as stretching, strengthening, cardio, and yoga are typically combined with seniors A and B in addition to seminars.  These classes are held at a more casual level and are almost always at the end of the day.

The end of summer showcase consists of variations, repertory pieces, and contemporary choreography learned throughout the five-week summer intensive.  There is one performance, and it is typically on the last Friday of the intensive.

The dressing rooms for the entire intensive are the company’s dressing rooms during the year.  It’s their off-season, so you don’t get to see any company rehearsals throughout your time at the intensive.  The juniors use the student dressing rooms located outside of Studios B, C, and D.  The seniors use the dressing rooms across from Studio A and next to the backstage and stage areas.

Within the dressing rooms, students staying for all 5 weeks will receive a locker to use throughout the intensive and students leaving early or arriving late will receive an area to store their dance bags.  Mirrors and vanity areas are readily available within the dressing rooms as well.

Survival guide

Now, for my tips and tricks for survival at the summer intensive!  Each paragraph represents a different piece of advice that I have for intensive attendees.

Pack snacks and eat healthy.  This is for sure number one!  Staying nourished and maintaining your health will do some much for your technique and attitude throughout your stay.  Also, packing snacks to munch on throughout the day will keep your energy high and balanced for each class.

Attend all of the seminars!  Each one provides good and useful information that, when applied to your dancing and daily routine, will ultimately help improve your summer intensive experience.  So, take notes and keep any handouts or information provided at the seminars.

Make a summer intensive folder or have a special section in your dance binder for it.  This is where you can store any seminar notes, schedules, or information you need to have readily available as a resource for reference.  This is one of the largest pieces of advice I have for you – be prepared to need to reference information you have formerly received.

Keep the memories!  Write journal entries or make a little summer intensive mini scrapbook that includes pictures you’ve taken along with captions and notes from your friends that you’ve collected throughout the intensive.  Never get too caught up in documenting everything that you forget to live it, but maybe at the end of the day do a bit of record-keeping for good measure.

Be nice and inviting.  Although it may seem that the competition is high and you are a bit anxious because of all of the new people, new faces, and new dancing around you, take the time to get to know your new friends personally so that the memories can last and you can make connections.  If you try to isolate yourself from everybody else, you will only feel lonely and stressed out even more.  So, take the time to interact and talk to everybody.

Thanks for reading today’s blog post, and good luck at summer intensive!  Expect informational blog posts here at every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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