Summer ballet programs are a rite of passage for many serious ballet dancers. They are a time of excitement, burgeoning friendships, advancing skills, and growth. If you’ve never participated in a summer program before then prepare for an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life!
8 Reasons to Participate in a Summer Ballet Program
Summer ballet programs are about so much more than “staying busy” during the summer months. They advance skills in more ways than you’d expect, helping to develop connections, friendships, and mental acumen that will last you a lifetime.
1. Maintaining Physical Advancements
Unfortunately, the adage “use it or lose it” is true when it comes to a physical sport like ballet. Ballet is a multi-faceted sport, requiring balance, strength, flexibility, and aerobic ability. Each of these begins to diminish in only 1-2 weeks of inactivity. According to some studies, you can lose up to 10% of strength in one week, and over 3 months can lose most of your gains. Participating in a summer ballet program helps ballet students maintain the progress they’ve made throughout the year.
2. Learning Opportunities
Another reason summer ballet programs are important is that they are excellent learning opportunities. Unlike traditional ballet classes which focus on a combination of technique and choreography, summer programs offer a more direct and dedicated effort to develop more advanced skills. Think of this as the time to hone skills that there just aren’t time for in your regular classes. Along with maintaining your already momentous gains, you’re developing and mastering skills you probably wouldn’t have otherwise experienced yet.
3. Great Connections
Summer ballet programs are also a great way to make connections in the ballet world. They typically include guest instructors, seasonal teachers, and dancers from other programs that don’t participate in your day-to-day lessons. The other dancers there are “your people.” They’re the dancers that choose to focus on long-term gains instead of short-term banalities, opting to spend hours during their summer vacation training in a studio instead of relaxing around the home. These friendships are powerful and can serve to motivate you during your training and support you through your growth as a dancer and beyond. As well as new friendships, you can expect to make great professional connections during a summer program as well.
4. Competitive Advantage
We know that it takes on average 10,000 hours of progressive practice to become an expert in any given field. It’s not abnormal for some dancers to take a break during the summer, but your commitment to a summer ballet program will give you a competitive advantage since you’ll be adding to your total practice hours in your journey toward expertise. You won’t have to “brush off the rust” at the beginning of the season, and you will have gained new skills during that time.
5. Responsibility & Work Ethic
As we grow from childhood to adulthood, one of the most important skills we learn is “grit,” or the ability to persevere even when things get difficult. We know that “grit” is a muscle that needs to be exercised, and like physical fitness as discussed earlier in this article, without regular practice we can lose some of our ability to persevere.
For some ballet students, persevering in training during the summer is one of the first experiences they’ll have in prioritizing responsibility and work ethic when it would probably be easier to decide to decline instead. Props to you for choosing to strengthen yourself and grow—that skill will prove to be invaluable during your lifetime!
6. Reduce Risk of Injury
Another reason choosing to participate in a summer ballet program is important is because it helps to reduce the risk of injury. While stress fractures are a reality when it comes to ballet (which is why fitness, rest during downtimes, and proper technique are important), they can also occur when we overextend ourselves after we’ve lost flexibility and strength during an extended break. Maintaining training during the summer months helps your body stay strong and flexible to be able to reduce the risk of injury.
7. Mental Edge
Participating in a summer ballet training program is also an excellent tool for strengthening your mental edge. You’ll find that maintaining your training during the summer months strengthens your confidence and reduces the first-of-season jitters that often derail students during the first weeks of fall classes.
8. Continual Improvement
Finally, a summer ballet program helps to ensure you’re continuously improving. You won’t be moving backward and having to regain skills you used to have; you’ll be able to keep the forward momentum you were experiencing during the highest gains of your fall and spring classes.
At Central Utah Ballet, we believe wholeheartedly in the importance of summer programs in the training of our serious dancers. If you are interested in auditions, competitions, or becoming part of a college program (or professional company!), then summer programs are an important part of your training. Learn more about our summer ballet programs and summer ballet intensives by clicking the button below.