5 Faces of Intensive Summer Program


Deepika Wilson, 19
Seattle, Washington

Why did you choose Pittsburgh, and PBT, for your training this summer? “I liked that in their company they chose a lot of dancers from their grad program. I really liked that they train dancers that they’re interested in hiring. That is very appealing to me. Looking at the schedule I could see that they danced a lot…I definitely feel all the company members are very approachable and easy to talk to. If you ever have questions it’s easy to go up to somebody and ask.”

What is your top goal for yourself this summer? “Always getting stronger because stamina is something I really have to work for. My main goal is to be seen by the director and artistic staff so I can be considered for the company here.”

What’s the best part about being here this summer? “There are so many things. Definitely, for me at least, you experience adversity. You’re here with all these people who are really amazing dancers as well so it pushes you to work harder and be your best self. I love all the teachers and artistic staff that we get to work with.”

Why are summer intensives important? How do they supplement your year-round training? “Summer intensives are a place where you can improve a lot in a very short amount of time just because of the sheer number of hours that you’re dancing as well as the instruction. It’s always good to get a different view during the summer…You dance so much that you get better really quickly I think. It also helps you get stronger.”

What makes the all the time, energy and hard work worth it? “I definitely get that rush performing and being in front of an audience. Also, just in the first day of rehearsals when we were getting to work with (the artistic team), I realized no matter what piece I’m in I’m going to be really happy and I’m also going to feel like I’m missing out on all of these other things. I just realized how much I wanted t o dance everything and do it all. I think it’s the little moments like that where you’re like, ‘I really do love to do this.’”

 


Yu-Chieh Chao, 17
Pingtung, Taiwan

Why did you choose Pittsburgh, and PBT, for your training this summer? “I got a scholarship from Taiwan, so I came here last year. The program is really good; you get really good training for dance. The company and the teachers make it stand out.”

What is your top goal for yourself this summer? “Technique and turning.”

What is the best part about being here this summer? “I can dance all day. (There are) more classes. If I go back to Taiwan, I cannot dance as much as here (The programs are different).”

Why are summer intensives important? How do they supplement your year-round training? “If I go back to Taiwan I cannot dance this much. I like it here, so I (decided to) stay.”

What makes the all the time, energy and hard work worth it? “I just like it. So it’s OK even if I’m tired. I sometimes want to go back (to Taiwan), but I like it here. I can dance ballet. It makes me happy (and I want to do it professionally). It is a better place for training, for dancers – with the program and teachers.”


Jonathan Breight, 19

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Why did you choose Pittsburgh, and PBT, for your training this summer? “Pittsburgh has a really strong men’s program and a really strong faculty. You get to work one-on-one especially with Pilates instructors, yoga teachers, the ballet teachers. You’re right alongside some company members – I know Ruslan (Mukhambetkaliyev) just took class with us yesterday – and that’s really nice to have. You get to see what it’s like from almost a non-student standpoint here. They treat you almost as if you’re a professional – and that’s nice. They expect you to perform each and every time you’re in front of them essentially.”

What is your top goal for yourself this summer? “Finding the in-between steps – the transitioning and finding the fluidity of movement qualities. Picking up learning how to dance in a group. In class you’re just dancing by yourself and you don’t have to have so much spatial awareness…”

What is the best part about being here this summer? “For me, since I’ve been here for more than a year having the teachers know your weaknesses and know your strengths, they know what you need to work on. When you go away and you’re only there for a short amount of time, they don’t know you as a dancer so much. For me this is just a continuation of the year and I’m still building off what I’ve already known instead of going somewhere else and having to almost start fresh.”

Why are summer intensives important? How do they supplement your year-round training? “Ballet uses small intrinsic muscles that normal people don’t use. You have to train them every day because otherwise they won’t work properly. If you don’t work ballet smart, it’s so easy to get injured. Personally when I do take off, I lose the focus of what I’m actually supposed to be doing with my body. Each person is different. Not only that but I lose the momentum that I’ve been building up all year. I’ve been pushing and pushing and pushing.”

What makes the all the time, energy and hard work worth it? “I just love ballet. I could take class for the rest of my life and be happy…Of course it’s always nice to see the result at the end, but I just enjoy it. I come in every day sometimes two hours before class, and I just love being in the ballet world. Some people want to find an escape from ballet, I find ballet my escape from everything. I also like the challenge of it being worth it. It’s not that you’re trying to impress anyone, but at the same time mom’s always going to be watching…so you do have someone to impress (laughs).”

 


Coco Alvarez-Mena, 19
Miami, Florida
(Currently studies in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California Kaufman School of Dance)

Why did you choose Pittsburgh, and PBT, for your training this summer? “The program I’m at in school is a mixture of everything, it’s not just focused on ballet. I thought it would be interesting and good for me technically for what I want to do in the future to have seven weeks of intense ballet training. Especially the Company Experience aspect of it to feel what it’s really like to be in an actual company and to get to do a lot of different rep. Not only ballet, but I’m doing The Great Gatsby, which is more like musical theater, and then I have contemporary and the classical of course. It’s a nice experience to be able to know what it’s going to be like…I like PBT especially because they do classical but they also do the contemporary work. I could see myself in a company like this that does a mixture. I really enjoy doing both styles.”

What is your top goal for yourself this summer? “This summer it would be to focus, to go back to the basics, in a sense, in my technique but also to build on those basics to performance. I feel like I need to make the transition from student to professional. This summer that’s what I’m going to focus on – making that transition. Everyone has always told me confidence is key, and confidence makes a huge difference in auditions and in performance and just being sure of yourself.”

What is your favorite part about being here? “I think the different people that I’ve met. I’ve come across a lot of new people – some are like me, they’re in the college route, some are here for the grad program. I find it fascinating the different routes that people take but that we all have the same goal in the end. We all have the same passion, we all want to end up being in a career in dance. The dance world is so small, so meeting these people, making the connections. Everyone I’ve met knows other people I know. Everyone is so connected.”

What makes the all the time, energy and hard work worth it? “It’s not only the discipline for the studio, for dance. It’s just in life. I know a lot of my friends even in dance they’ve realized dance isn’t their career choice. It’s the life lessons that we learn in dance that don’t only apply to the stage or to performing – it’s just in life, working hard for what you want and dedication and discipline and maturity. That sense of knowing what I’ve learned mentally as well as physically, it’s just so worth it to me to have those experiences. I’ll never regret it.”


Ingrid Lewis, 17
Chicago, Illinois

Why did you choose Pittsburgh, and PBT, for your training this summer? “I have actually been here 3 times before, so I think that says a lot about the program. It’s a place that a lot of people keep coming back to. Originally, the first time I came here…I didn’t know what to expect, but I ended up loving it a lot – hence I’ve come back three times since. I’m actually coming back for the year this time, so I’m finally staying for good. I really, really enjoy all of the training that I’ve gotten here. The classes are really inclusive for everyone…Here I find that it’s very evenly distributed with the attention. It’s a really good thing.”

What is your top goal for yourself this summer? “I think right now more than anything before I’m focusing very hard on trying to get into a company. I’m at the age where I’m leaving school and getting into different trainee programs or studio companies. I’m going into the grad program this year. I’m using this summer to kind of test out the place and really watch the company members as well. I’ve learned a lot from them over the years from doing Company Experience and ISP. I really like the company members here, so I think being here in Pittsburgh would probably be ideal for me as job. I’m kind of auditioning myself this summer.”

Why are summer intensives important? How do they supplement your year-round training? “It’s a really good thing because during the year you have either school or work or something else that you have to deal with – with  the training…During the summer I think either it’s a new thing or it’s something you haven’t been doing for a while so you’re more excited about it. Also there’s not as much distraction outside of it so you can focus more on the dance. It’s a way to boost yourself for the next year.”

What is your favorite part about being here? “My favorite part I think is definitely just getting to work with the company members. Sometimes they come in and do variations classes or rep classes and getting to talking to them and listen to them teach and see how their daily lives are, that’s a real inspiration for me. I’m super excited about the point where I get to be in a company and so I just love to look forward to that stuff. It’s great to learn from them. It’s great to learn the company’s rep and think, ‘Oh I’m doing something that these dancers have dance.’”

What makes the all the time, energy and hard work worth it? “When I was really little, probably 5 or 6 years old, I thought, wow it would be really cool to be a ballerina, like a lot of kids think. As time went on and it got harder, I thought, ‘Do I still want to do this?’  And I did. I watched a bunch of documentaries on it, and I kept thinking, ‘Wow I could be like that. Imagine if that was me. If I can make it through this extremely tough training, then I could be that idealized version of myself.’ I think it’s really cool also to have a job that’s both artistic and athletic and be able to come to the studio and dance all day for a living. That would be incredible.”

 

Sub-title
What Brought Them to Pittsburgh; What They Plan to Take Away

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