The ABT Summer Intensive

25 Jun

By Amelia Bielen, Summer Intensive Intern

Most large ballet companies hold summer intensive programs at their own facilities, but American Ballet Theatre offers 7 programs at sites across the country.   Holding so many programs allows ABT to make their training available to many more students and also enables ABT to find talented students for the JKO School. Programs in California, North Carolina (a recent addition from the former Detroit site), Alabama, Texas, and New York’s 3-week Collegiate intensive, 5-week New York intensive, and Young Dancer program are each geared for specific types of dancers ensuring each student will get the training and experience they need.

In order to fill these sites, ABT holds open auditions in approximately 25 cities across the U.S. and Canada.  Teachers from schools in audition regions as well as faculty from ABT are present at each audition to register and teach the audition classes.  Each student is scored on class presentation and placed in the program best suited for their ability.  By the end of this process about 3,500 students audition and about a 1,000 of those students accepted will enroll.

This process requires a lot of preparation. Following the auditions more work is needed to enter student profiles and audition results into ABT’s database, at a rate of about 750 students a week.  The audition process normally takes 5 weeks, with auditions happening simultaneously in different cities.  Once the auditions are finished and results entered, the acceptance letters are sent to the students.

Once the dancers are identified for each program, the next step is to update and upload student handbooks for each site, housing information, student contracts, a physical, JKO audition, and Indemnification forms for students to download and return.  Each site uses different local housing situations and those places handle their own housing tuition and paperwork.  The New York City programs don’t offer housing so alternative options for families to consider on their own are prepared.

The New York students get discounted tickets to see ABT performances in New York, these dates need to be determined and posted for students to see.

Each program site has different schedules, faculty members, counselors, and accompanists that all need to be coordinated in preparation for the excited students that will arrive for the summer.

Having a website that allows for providing information and the uploading of forms has made the audition and enrollment process a lot more efficient.  There are still many details to consider for a programs to run smoothly but as a previous student of numerous summer intensives I have found it very enlightening and rewarding to be on the administration side of the process.  Now, in less than a month the programs will begin and the real work will start!


Photo: Summer Intensive Instructor Harriet Clark with Students
Credit: Rosalie O’Connor


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