Dance Intensives vs. Workshops
Summer vacation means a break from school, but it shouldn’t mean a break from dance. The summer months are a great time to seek additional training opportunities that you wouldn’t have time for during the rest of the year. Dance intensives and workshops both provide fantastic opportunities to hone your skills and broaden your horizons, and are rewarding ways to spend your summer break and benefit your dance career.
Intensives are generally geared toward higher-level dancers, have a focused lesson plan and long duration- lasting anywhere from a couple weeks to a month. Workshops, on the other hand, are shorter, ranging from a single day to a weekend or full week, and are more open to dancers of all skill and experience levels. Each type of summer dance experience has its advantages, and it’s important to fully understand them in order to make the best decision for how to spend your break.
Define Your Goals
The first step to deciding between an intensive or a workshop is defining your goals. Make a list of why you want to attend a summer program and what specific skills you hope to gain from the experience. Ballet Scoop suggested asking yourself whether you want to just improve your technique or want exposure to college recruiters, directors and job opportunities. Do you want to add a new style of dance to your repertoire, or do you want to learn from a renowned instructor? Once you know what you want to get out of your summer dance experience, you can better evaluate which type of program is the most worthwhile.
Intensives are great for advanced dancers who are working toward the next phase in their careers. Intensives at a company school or university are designed to prep students for entry into a professional position or college career, and connect students with influential directors and decision-makers. Since many dancers attend intensives in a major city, they get a taste of what employment opportunities there are in that area, noted Dance Informa magazine. If dancers have their sights set on certain college programs, then attending an intensive at that school can help them form valuable connections and gain a better understanding of the skills and qualities most desired by the school, which gives them a leg up when audition times come around.
Alternatively, workshops are generally found locally in towns of all sizes. They are a great choice for younger dancers who have never been away from home before and for novice dancers or those looking for a fun dance experience with minimal commitment, since they typically focus more on different styles and techniques than career prep.
Scheduling and Costs
Another important factor to consider are the costs and schedule demands of each program type. Intensives generally cost much more than workshops, though the experience can be well worth the money. Dance Spirit magazine recommended that dancers consider any pre-arranged travel plans or other commitments that they may have during the summer when choosing a program, too. In some cases, a weekend workshop might be more feasible than a month-long intensive in a far-away city that offers little flexibility.
Dance intensives typically include more focused practices and lessons and stick to one style of dance, which is great for dancers looking to advance their skills and gain a professional edge. For dancers of all levels who are looking to learn a new dance style or jazz up their practice, workshops may be the better option, since they generally have a more laid-back environment that’s more open to experimentation. And being able to dance in multiple styles is a great advantage in college auditions. As Steps Dance Studio noted:
“Summer is your chance to move your body in different ways and try new styles. Nowadays, choreographers want to work with dancers that are versatile, who pick things up quickly and who can capture different styles immediately.”
Finally, dance intensives and workshops offer dancers different levels of personal development. Traveling away to an intensive gives dancers the chance to not only improve their skills, but grow as individuals. Dance Informa noted that intensives prepare students to be self-sufficient, which they’ll need to be as professional dancers, and to step beyond their comfort zones. The new and unfamiliar environment enables dancers to gain new perspectives and see themselves in a different light, which forms a stronger self-identity. Dance intensives also provide students with a rich sense of community and can help them form deep relationships with other dancers.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing a summer dance experience. Consider duration, costs and goals – both personal and dance-related – to make the best choice for you.