Utah Ballet Summer Intensive offers dancers a glimpse into life as a ballet major at the U

June 12 2017

The School of Dance will host the Utah Ballet Summer Intensive (UBSI), 4 weeks of training aimed at sharpening dancer’s skills while immersing participants in a six day a week program featuring classes offered by nationally and internationally renowned instructors. From June 19 to July 14, Dancers will have a chance to learn from master teachers and gain insight into what life is like as a ballet major at the University of Utah. The dancers have been recruited on a national level, and range in age between 15 and 23. Participants include some first-year University of Utah Ballet majors, who typically participate in the intensive either the summer before or after their freshman year.

The intensive’s guest teachers range in background from professors at other universities to directors of companies. Maggie Wright Tesch, a School of Dance Faculty member and organizer of UBSI, gives insight into the guest artists coming this year: 
“We want to expose students who take the program not only to potential work opportunities and the real-world level of training they will be required to have in this business, but also to some of the best teachers out there. Susan Jaffe is returning this year. Currently she is the Dean at UNCSA, a peer institution, which helps emphasize the concept that university training is something to be seriously considered. She is an internationally renowned ballerina from ABT and excellent instructor. We also are bringing in Clara Cravey from the University of Oklahoma, formerly of Houston Ballet Academy. Former Principal of the JKO school in NYC, Franco de Vita, is coming as well. So, really high-level teachers who know technique at the most intrinsic level will be training students here. And no, they are not of one training style and that is on purpose...dancers have to be able to adapt in order to work, so we strive to challenge dancers to move between teacher's styles with ease...eventually!”

UBSI’s guest artist list will also include Victoria Morgan, Melanie Person, Jerry Opdenaker, and Peter Boal as well as School of Dance faculty members Maggie Wright Tesch, James Ady, Sharee Lane, Molly Heller, Rob Wood, Justine Sheedy-Kramer, Melissa Bobick, and Jan Fugit. In addition to these teachers, students will also receive training opportunities from artistic directors who will teach Master Classes for all levels. The four week intensive is designed to give students a taste of the curriculum offered by a University level Ballet Program, and to show what makes the U’s program unique.

“The biggest difference between our program and others is the amount of time spent in the area of creative research, which in our field is considered choreography” explains Tesch. “We bring in instructors who are experienced teachers of choreography and they spend time teaching the craft. The students aren't just choreographed on, as in most summer intensives, which has its value, and we do that as well, but we teach them the craft. That element of our profession is grossly overlooked in student's training below the university level.”

The summer intensive is meant to be rigorous, and to push dancers to learn and grow. Tesch explains that participants should come ready to dance, be prepared to be faced with a lot of new information and experiences in a short period of time. “Dancing in a university setting is just as challenging as any other pre professional training program, but here, they will be working towards a degree. I hope they leave with a taste of how challenging our program is and how much they will learn and experience here, from classical work to contemporary, technique in both ballet as well as modern, African and jazz. We try to show what creating movement is. Not something to be afraid of, but another form of expression they should perhaps explore. Most young students are only ever told how to dance, or what steps to do and how.... We want them leaving with a small taste of how to find their own voice in dance through choreographic exploration and critical thinking skills.”

The Intensive will culminate in a performance, allowing family and friends a glimpse of the dancer’s work and progress during their time at UBSI. The performance will be Friday, July 14, at the Marriott Center for Dance at 6PM.