July 27, 2021
By Mary Ashley Ray
The pursuit of a professional dance career starts at a young age. In addition to the classes they take during the school year, advanced students will spend their summers at intensive programs – sometimes traveling across the country to expand their ballet education.
Texas Ballet Theater School holds an annual Summer Intensive that attracts students from both the Dallas-Fort Worth area and afar. There are 3-week and 6-week programs, each offering concentrated and comprehensive training with TBT Artistic staff, faculty, and distinguished guest instructors. These programs are by audition only and prepare students for future careers in professional dance.
Students at TBT School’s Summer Intensive each have unique experiences, held together by the common bond of TBT School’s classes and special programs. In this latest article, 2021 Summer Intensive dancers share their thoughts about their summer in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Hailing from Olympia, Washington, 17 year-old Jenova Williams made the trek to TBT School for the second time this summer. “I decided to study with TBT this summer because of the welcoming environment, the quality training, the amazing faculty, and the wonderful experience I had in 2019,” she said. “In addition, I have made tons of friends during both Summer Intensives.”
Zoe Hodges is 16 years old and a native Texan, currently living in Fort Worth. Participating in her first TBT School Summer Intensive this year, she appreciates the personal nature of the program. “What makes TBT School’s Summer Intensive stand out compared to others is how dedicated the instructors are to each student’s wellbeing,” she said. “The class sizes allow for each student to be recognized individually and the instructors do a great job of noticing what each student needs in their training. With other programs, it can be hard for students to get that special attention.”
Kaden Pfister, a 15 year-old dancer from Helena, Montana, was inspired by his hometown teacher to study at TBT. “My current teacher, Campbell Midgley, studied under Ben Stevenson,” he said. “I heard so many great things about the program at TBT and all the Artistic staff. I was so excited to get the opportunity to be at TBT.”
Throughout the Summer Intensive, students take a variety of classes emphasizing ballet technique, variations, pointe, modern, jazz, and more. 16 year-old Kate Washburn from Tucker, Georgia, has enjoyed the variety. “The technique and pointe classes have been my favorite,” she said. “I feel like I have really benefitted from having these classes every day and getting advice from instructors. I learn something new and helpful every day. And of course, I absolutely love our Broadway class!”
“I enjoy all the classes,” says Stirling Jones, age 15. “If I had to pick, my top two are ballet and Latin.” Jones is from Dallas and is spending the summer at TBT again after participating in 2019.
Something these students have in common is their love of the special experiences offered in addition to regular classes. “We’ve gotten to Zoom with Marianela Núñez, take a flamenco class, and more. There are so many once in a lifetime experiences!” said Washburn.
“Another feature of the program I enjoy are classes like Pilates, Conditioning, and dance-related studies,” Hodges said. “These have allowed me to understand how the body works and how to care for it as I continue my training, which has been extremely beneficial during this time.”
As the 2021 Summer Intensive nears its end, students will head back home with knowledge, experience, and memories from their time in North Texas – and TBT School staff will look forward to another summer of education and fun in 2022.