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Training: an unconventional summer


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I'm really not sure where this might belong, please feel free to move if it would be better suited elsewhere.


I'm trying to figure out my summer plans at the moment and running into a considerable amount of trouble. I'm a 19 year old college freshman with a (very) limited budget--technically my family's income is below the poverty line and I'm largely responsible for my college tuition and fees. As a dance/bio double major with a pre-med concentration, there are only so many hours that one can work. That's not my primary concern though--when you have no money, everything is expensive.


My biggest problem is getting into a summer program and trying to figure out what type of program would be best for me and if an intensive program is even in my best interest at this point. I had surgery on my hip two years ago; for about a year things were good--I attended an intensive the following summer with no problems and was dancing a very demanding schedule during the year. This spring, things started to heading downhill quickly with it, by May I was severely limited in what I could do and haven't really jumped or used an extension over 45 degrees since then. I had surgery for the second time in October, this time to address an underlying abnormality that was causing the prolonged injury. My surgeon (very familiar with dancers) feels that I should be ready to begin returning to class in two weeks--as I've been so limited/out for so long, I'm expecting it to take a decent amount of time for me get back to my pre-injury level and I'm ready to take it slow. It puts me in a bit of a bind for summer programs though because I don't see myself being ready for any auditions until March at the soonest--at that point, they're all over.


I've thought about a program such as CPYB where acceptance is dependent upon pictures only (I feel like I could more easily pull off a few decent pictures than I could an audition) but worry that the intensity of the CPYB program would be too much. Ideally, I'd love to find a program in the Boston area as that would allow me to live at home (I really don't mind missing out on the "whole dorm experience"--I went to boarding school for 4 years, I'm a college student...I kind of like being home!) and not be paying room and board in addition to tuition--it would also allow for the possibility of working either at night or on weekends (down time is a phrase not found in my vocabulary!) to offset the cost of the program etc. I've found Boston Conservatory's program which looks promising, though for the cost is not awfully intense (but at this point, maybe that's for the best). I've also considered piecing together a schedule of company classes with my old company and open classes in the area--I could easily get a 5-7 day/week schedule doing this.


Any suggestions or ideas? Any programs I might want to consider?

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My DD's hip surgery was in August (2006), when she was 14. She was back taking easy classes in late fall -- mostly lower level, doing modified barre in her own level, etc. She was able to audition for SIs, but was nowhere near full strength -- in fact, she made sure to tell the auditioner she was recovering from surgery and asked if it would be okay to modify exercises as needed. (Most auditioners were very understanding, and made sure to emphasize that she should not exceed her comfort level.)


By the time her SI started, she was still not at full strength (by her PT's assessment). I was somewhat astounded to see the difference in strength between the two legs, because by then she was back to daily classes. It turned out that although she had been attending classes, she hadn't been able to dance all the way through most of them. She did attend the SI, did very well, and it worked out to be a good opportunity for her to regain full strength.


At your stage of recovery, your plan to attend local classes sounds like a good one. If you are not yet taking classes at all, I think it unlikely that you will be strong enough by June to dance a full daily SI schedule at your previous level. A good plan might be to shoot for one, MAYBE two daily classes. Do consider taking classes at a lower level and building back up.


There are, by the way, lots of smaller SIs out there that will quite probably admit you based on your resume and maybe some photos, AND would permit you to dance in a less advanced level if need be. My hunch is that this is not the year to join the throngs of dancers auditioning for slots in the most advanced classes in the most competitive, sought-after, pre-pro programs grooming dancers for careers. Keep your eye on what you need at this stage of recovery, not what 'most' dancers your age are doing, or 'what you need to do to be competitive'.

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La Bailarina: Boston Ballet runs their adult open classes through the summer (at least they always have) and, in addition, they have an adult intensive that runs the first two weeks of August in their Newtown Studio. It includes technique, rep, pilates and acu-yoga. The classes are in the evenings, so you would be able to work during the day. If you could take some classes at your old studio, some open at Boston, and the adult intensive, maybe that would be enough?


You also may want to contact CPYB. They are always looking for RA's for their dorm. I believe the RA's get room, board, and one or two classes a day. But, act quickly, as those positions fill up. Ask for Bryan Matluk.


Good luck.

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Treefrog, thank you for putting it in terms of your DD's recovery. Even though this was my second surgery, I feel like I can't compare it to how the first one went because there was so much about that surgeon that made me feel like he didn't really know what he was talking about--for starters, he cleared me to dance a full schedule at 6 weeks post-op. I somehow managed to dance in a full length ballet a month later--as thrilled as I was at the time, I'm now living with the consequences. It also still took me a good part of a year to get back to where I was previously (I'm in the process of assembling a video portfolio of my choreography--there's a piece I danced at 3 months out that I then danced again at 7 months out and then again at a year out; the difference between each one is unbelievable!). And right now there is definitely a huge difference in strength between my legs--my left looks totally strong and the right is this little scrawny thing. Thanks for helping me put it perspective, it really does help (and is something I do sometimes need a bit of a reminder...we 19 year olds tend to sometimes think we can do anything and everything even if it really isn't the world's greatest idea. Like how I told my mother I was planning on going into NYC for an audition on the 20th...I'm tentatively able to dance again on the 17th. Yea, that plan was quickly shot down.)


its the mom, thanks for mentioning the adult program at Boston. I'm definitely going to keep that in mind as a possibility. I also had thought about being an RA at CPYB--you get room, board, 6 classes a week, and a stipend. The only downside is that some of the responsibilities of the RAs include transporting students--I don't have a license; I went to boarding school where I couldn't have a car (and had a train stop a 2 minute walk from campus), live in an area with pretty good public transportation, and now go to college in a city with decent public transportation, and insurance is expensive!


Any more ideas, keep 'em coming! And really, thanks so much again. This is really helping me.

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La_Bailarina, the advantage of piecong together a summer program of open classes is that you can try a few now and see what you think of the teachers and opportunities to improve in their classes.


My daughter has taken class with Marcus Schulkind at Green Street Studios (Central Square, Cambridge) the last two weekends and has really enjoyed it. The class is two hours in length and draws a wide range of dancers -- from high school to professionals (we recognized one Boston Ballet dancer).


This past summer my daughter also took a class at the Dance Complex (also Central Square), and there were a number of college students there who took a modern class followed by a ballet class.


Personally, I think putting together a program of open classes would be MUCH more cost effective than Boston Conservatory -- I have looked into that program for my daughter and feel that it is quite expensive as summer programs go.


If you want the web site addresses of these. let me know.

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In addition to Marcus teaching a good class, I believe he is very careful about injuries, so this would be of help to you. If my memory serves me, he is a licensed acupuncturist. I may be confusing him with someone else.


Also, you could still call CPYB and see if there is any way around the license issue. Perhaps you could be excused from those duties and do something else instead? They are usually flexible. The only driving I could see being necessary would be to doctor's appointments or outings. The kids can walk to pretty much everything else. Outings are usually reserved for weekends. You could ask.

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I wonder if you could look at being an RA at an SI? The first one that comes to mind is Burklyn Ballet. As I understand it, the classes are not intense - at least not for dancers who, like you, are used to intensity at the advanced level. I know that in the past, they put on a weekly performance -don't know if that's still true - it's been a few years since my daughter's friend has RA'd there. You'd have to find out if that's something you'd be required to participate in or not. I know that some dance professionals -daughter's friend among them - have RA'd for Burklyn because it afforded them a free? cheap? program to stay in shape over the summer in exchange for plenty of performance opportunities.


Balletbooster may have more current info than I about the RAs' summers there.


If not Burklyn, then perhaps another program? Some of them allow RA's to take as many or as few classes as they wish.


La Bailerina, if I were running an SI, I'd hire you as an RA in a heartbeat. :)

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I just emailed Burklyn for more info about being an RA there--their website alluded to RAs being at least 20, but I figured it couldn't hurt to get more information. We'll see! Thanks for the idea!

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I was an RA for Virginia School of the Arts one summer; they allowed RA's to take class but not to perform in the show at the end of the program. RA's also drove kids around in large vans; I'm not sure if you could be excused from that. RA's received a stipend, free classes/food/lodging. One of the RA's was 18, the rest were older. During the school year I think VSA RA's get a stipend & get free rent; might be an ideal situation for a college student if a ballet residency program is near your college.


I also talked to Orlando Ballet; their RA's receive free class/lodging but no stipend. Information about both of these programs is a couple of years old so you would need to contact both to see what they offer this year. I think Ballet Austin's RA's are not allowed to take class. Oh the USA IBC won't be back in town until 2010 but they offer free class/lodging/tickets to night IBC performances for RA's and I have been an RA there. Feel free to PM me for more info.


I imagine that any of the SI's you see listed offering dorms for students need RA's; the smaller SI's which have host families of course would not need RA's. You probably should apply this month & next month for any RA positions that interest you, as these positions probably are filled quickly. If the SI in which you want to be an RA has an audition near you, you might go to the audition and introduce yourself & bring your dance & work/school resume(s) even if you aren't able to dance again yet.

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