Evolve, Empower and Grow at Atlanta Ballet's Summer Intensives

Atlanta Ballet Dancer Sergio Masero with Summer Intensive Students. Photo by Kim Kenney.

For young students, choosing the right fit for their summer study can be daunting. Dancers see their summer intensives as a launch pad for their future careers. Although many schools boast that their training promotes career development, Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education, Dean Sharon Story, noticed that many intensives' regimented view on technique, above all else, was a detriment to the student. “Students were just taking classes all day long, which is good. You always need to enhance your basic technique,” she says, “but getting them into the studio to actually rehearse, work on their artistry, have coaching and work with ballet masters, that is very rare.”

Summer students ultimately become immersed in Atlanta Ballet’s environment and culture. They have the opportunity to interact, learn and converse with all levels of the organization, as their classes are taught by the school’s faculty, Atlanta Ballet company repetiteurs, current company dancers and guest teachers. All students take daily classical ballet technique classes. However, their schedules are supplemented with new styles, techniques, variations, choreography, wellness workshops and challenges that they may not have the opportunity to experience at their year-round schools.

The program focuses on musicality, artistry, creativity and building a well-rounded technically artistic dancer. After all, students spend roughly eight hours in the studio daily. But, dancers who travel to Atlanta get the unique experience of living and learning in one of the country’s most rapidly growing cities with immense cultural diversity, a flourishing arts community and centuries of history.

Boarding students reside in the Georgia Tech University dorms, equipped with a fully functioning kitchen, communal living spaces, a gym and laundry. Georgia Tech’s campus, or as the Atlantans call it, “Tech,” is situated centrally in Midtown Atlanta. The campus is also a convenient 15-minute commute to Atlanta Ballet’s headquarters. For students staying at the Tech dorms, a chartered bus takes them to and from their daily classes.

On weekends, the same buses transport the students to excursions across the city. In the past, activities have included The World of Coca-Cola, mini-golf arcades, the Georgia Aquarium, the High Museum and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Dance photoshoots are also a common occurrence for weekend enjoyment. Living in a creative and cultural epicenter, such as Atlanta, enriches the student learning experience beyond what can be discovered in the studio.

Throughout the program, students work toward a final cumulative performance. In the final showing, all students are appraised for the full-year academy program. The Professional Intensive students are evaluated for positions in Academy VI, the highest level of the school, as well as Atlanta Ballet 2. Many Atlanta Ballet company members, Atlanta Ballet 2, and full-time students are summer-intensive alumni.

These positions are few and coveted, but Story reassures students that the ultimate goal is not a school or an Atlanta Ballet 2 position. “The whole aim is to give them an experience of evolution and empowerment. We’re here to help them grow… We offer a noncompetitive environment that focuses on evolution, empowerment and growth as a dancer. Our purpose is to create strong technique and confident artists.”

Summer Intensive Students at Georgia Tech.
Summer Intensive Students at The World of Coca-Cola.