With the dance studio season coming to an end, it’s time to “roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer”…and in the dance world there’s summer study, in particular.
So then the question becomes, “Why dance this summer?” What are the benefits of continuing to dance and not taking time off? In preparation for Man In Motion’s “Dance In New York City: One-Day Intensive” – featuring a faculty of amazing dance instructors – we posed this question to a variety of professionals throughout the dance community to get their opinions and expert advice.
Here’s what they had to say:
REASON #1: Training during dance’s off-season will give you a “leg up”
Alexis Lepperd, founder of the Dance Teacher Network on Facebook, points out that every sport has a regular season and an off-season – and for many dancers, summer is their off-season.
“But athletes still practice and sometimes participate in specialty training during their off-season to keep their training up to date and perhaps even learn something new that can complement their existing knowledge base,” said Lepperd.
“Dance is no exception. Even if a dancer does not attend an intensive and simply keeps up with regular classes, they will be far ahead of their classmates who took the summer off. And those that do take an intensive will return with additional skill sets that will certainly help them shine above their peers.”
REASON #2: Summer freedom provides opportunities to “taste” different dance styles
“Summer training is less about advancing technique and more about opportunities where dancers can gain insight into different styles without adding another class to their schedules.” So says Annette Milone-Singuenza, studio director at A Place to Dance in Maspeth, NY.
“Summer freedom offers a chance to ‘taste’ different dance forms during workshops, through visiting teachers or master classes, conventions, or going to see dance performances. This helps the dancer make decisions about how/where they would like to increase their level of commitment.”
REASON #3: Taking the summer off means resuming in the fall from three steps behind
From the competition perspective, Adrienne Kellett believes that dancers who do not continue to take classes over the summer have a hard time getting back into it and potentially can become lazy. Kellett is competition director for Throw Down Dance Challenge.
“It’s undoing what has already been accomplished,” Kellett said. “I also feel that it takes a good three months for the dancer to get back to the level they were already at. A serious student should dance year-round and take as many classes as possible.”
REASON #4: Dancers can grab the extended time and concentrate on more intricate things
“During the summertime, most kids are stress-free and when they get into dance they focus on just DANCE.” That’s according to Stefanie Salaman, studio director at Performers Edge Dance Academy, Bronx NY.
“With that being said, dancers tend to concentrate on the more intricate things – like closing their rib cage, working on a higher releve’ and working their flexibility to have a correctly placed battement. These elements are all worked on throughout the season, however summer classes will help to make the dancer really understand their body.”
REASON #5: These experiences provide the opportunity for growth, beyond just dance
“Training during the summer,” said Salaman, “whether through workshops, weekly class, intensives or camps, is highly recommended in my studio because it always produces positive results and helps each individual become a better person, as well as a better dancer. Intensives and workshops that provide a positive atmosphere teach dancers not only to dance, but also to be independent and ready for the professional dance world.”
REASON #6: Training in the summer confirms that being a dancer is part of your lifestyle
“The summer is time for sun, fun, and vacation…and for dance! Being a dancer is a lifestyle, and incorporating your training during these months is vital to maintaining all the technique you worked so hard for during the year.” Who would know better than Karla Garcia, a professional dancer, a Season 5 finalist on TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and currently appearing on Broadway in Hamilton.
“It’s also important for returning to your studio in the fall. You’ll find it easier and smoother to get back into a full dance schedule.”
REASON #7: Dance is just plain “Hot Fun in the Summertime”
“On top of everything else, summer dance is so much fun!” Garcia continued. “Meeting new people at intensives and getting to take class outside your studio with other dancers and from different teachers from around the country is all a part of your growth as an artist. By the end of the summer, you will be so INSPIRED to return full force in the fall.”