Summer Dance Diary: Week FIVE

Although MCB School’s 5-week Summer Intensive Program has ended, it appears that another student left his diary behind! Watch to see student Michael Holden wrap up the Summer Dance Diary series in this final diary entry. Hope you enjoyed the series!

Summer Dance Diary: Week FOUR

Student McKenna Collins writes about her fourth week at MCB School’s Summer Intensive Dance Program in this week’s Summer Dance Diary!

McKenna Collins

Dear Diary,

We have just completed the fourth week of classes at Miami City Ballet (MCB) School’s 2013 Summer Intensive Program and I’m feeling very accomplished and inspired!

Coming into this program as an Apprentice with Madison Ballet in Madison, Wisconsin, I was eager to begin learning from such a renowned school. After having finished the fourth week, it is clear to me as to why it is one of the best schools in the country. From the spacious facilities to the worldly teaching staff, this program has been an incredible learning and growing experience…and it’s not even over yet!

This is my first summer with Miami City Ballet as well as my first time in Miami. Coming from a state where you can drive for miles and only see fields of corn and lots of cows, it’s a very different atmosphere here in the city! From the moment I stepped into the beautiful studios just off of South Beach and met all of my wonderful teachers, I knew this would be a great summer.

The Ladies of Level III!

Having participated in various summer intensives, such as Ballet Chicago, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, I was looking forward to continuing my Balanchine training here at MCB School. We have been covering a wide range of styles from classical to neoclassical, and learning from some of the most experienced dancers in the world. But, with experience comes expectation! Week four has been the toughest of them all so far.  The teachers are really challenging us to perform at our highest level possible every day and to strive for more in every class. It’s that kind of support and encouragement that motivates me to work hard and be the best that I can be!

One of my favorite parts of MCB School’s Summer Intensive Program is the amazing faculty that we have had the privilege of studying under! Each of them is so accomplished and gifted — it is humbling to be able to take class and receive corrections from them. Something that I have noticed in most of my classes here is the emphasis the teachers put not only on making each movement technically correct, but also on dancing the movements. Being in such a prestigious environment has motivated me and fueled my passion for dance even more!

McKenna working hard in the beautiful South Beach studios!

As the weeks progress, so has our repertory piece come together. It’s an honor to have Ms. Maribel Modrono as our Repertoire choreographer. She has set a beautiful neoclassical contemporary ballet piece on our level, which we are very excited to perform in just 6 days. She is so creative and passionate about what she does — it is truly inspiring to learn from her!

After a long day of rehearsals, my roommate and I love nothing more than being able to walk right out the doors and on to the beach! We spend our free time shopping on Lincoln Road, trying new foods and of course, soaking up the sun. Celebrating my birthday here was also a once in a lifetime treat.

Relaxing after HOURS of dance class!

Overall, MCB School’s Summer Intensive Program has been an eye opening journey for me that I will never forget. The friends I have made here I will cherish forever. The corrections I have received I will take back home with me and continue to perfect. I have grown as not only a dancer, but also as a young woman here this summer and had the experience of a lifetime!

Yours truly,

McKenna Collins

Summer Dance Diary: Week THREE

Another student has left their diary out! Watch MCB School’s latest video diary entry to discover all of the 5-Week Summer Intensive Program secrets.

Summer Dance Diary: Week TWO

Student Caroline Stevens writes about her second week at MCB School’s Summer Intensive Dance Program in this week’s Summer Dance Diary!

Caroline (left) with her best friend McKenna (right).

Dear Diary,

I have just completed my second week here at the Miami City Ballet School’s 2013 Summer Intensive Program. It is my first summer dancing at Miami City Ballet School and I have been having a blast!

I was elated to hear that I had been accepted to this summer program, which is regarded as one of the best in the country! I auditioned at the School of American Ballet, only a bus ride away from The Rock School in Philadelphia where I have been a student for the past year (I am originally from South Carolina). After the audition class, which was taught by the company’s artistic director, Lourdes Lopez, I knew that I wanted to study here. Ms. Lopez and all of the teachers I have had so far at Miami City Ballet School are committed to making each student the best dancer they can be. Throughout the summer program, my goals are to strengthen and refine my technique and artistry, along with becoming a more well-rounded dancer. I feel very motivated and honored to be here at Miami City Ballet!

A typical day for me starts with getting ready and eating breakfast at the University of Miami dorms. We then hop on a school bus that takes us directly to the beautiful Miami City Ballet facilities. Each level has a two hour technique class in the morning, followed by an hour of pointe/variations. After our lunch break, we return to the studios and have either a jazz or modern class followed by some sort of “cool down” class (such as Pilates™, stretch & strengthen, or conditioning). I love the intensity of the program, and the variety of classes offered has made me realize how important it is to be a versatile dancer. My ultimate dream would be to become a professional dancer with the Miami City Ballet or a company in Europe.

On the first day of classes, I was extremely nervous! My first ballet class was taught by Geta Constantinescu, who I had heard only good things about. She is a very methodical teacher and really stresses the importance of adding breath to our movement (including having us make exaggerated breathing noises during combinations!). I was excited to hear that Geta would also be my repertory teacher. My level is learning excerpts from the first act of Giselle, which is one of my all-time favorite ballets! The rehearsal process has been tedious, but enjoyable at the same time! We spend a lot of time perfecting our stage craft, which includes presence, staying in line [formations], and the focus of the head and eyes. It is a lighthearted piece and I enjoy working on it!

One of my favorite teachers so far has been Mr. Olivier Pardina. In his class, Mr. Pardina takes the time to explain every detail and correction, with a special emphasis on port de bras and the use of the head. He has eyes like a hawk and can spot a mistake from across the room! One correction of his that has really stuck with me is to “always dance as though the stage is too small for you.” A lot of the time, I get so caught up with the technical aspects of a combination, that I forget to really move and emote. On top of being a very intelligent teacher, Mr. Pardina is also extremely friendly and approachable.

I have been having a lot of fun outside of the dance studio as well! On the weekends, my friends and I love walking around South Beach and shopping on Lincoln Road. This past week was the big Fourth of July Cruise, which included dinner, dancing and fireworks, while sailing around the beautiful Biscayne Bay. At one point it started pouring rain, but that didn’t stop the dancing! Everyone had a blast! It has been so cool to meet people from all over the world, too. So far I have met people from Canada, France, Brazil and Mexico. I cannot believe how fast the program is going, and I am very excited to see what the next three weeks have in store for me!

Yours truly,

Caroline Stevens

Here I am posing in a phone booth on Lincoln Road:-)

Beautiful Miami Beach!

Summer Dance Diary: Week ONE

Sneak a peek at Miami City Ballet School’s Summer Dance Diary…but, make sure you don’t get caught! Student Alexandra D’Alessandro shares her insights on her first week of MCB School’s Summer Intensive Program in our first VIDEO diary entry of the series.

Saying Goodbye to Ashley and Erick

The five-week Summer Intensive Program is over and Ashley and Erick have moved on to other ventures. We miss them already! It seems like just yesterday we were halfway through the program. Before they left, we chatted with them one final time!

Halfway Through The Summer Intensive

Remember Ashley and Erick? We touched base with them recently to see how it feels to be at the halfway mark of the Summer Intensive Program. Ashley and Erick share with us what they’ve been learning and what works they’ve been rehearsing for the presentation at the end of the summer.

This is my DANCE BAG!

The Summer Intensive students spend lots of time in the studios during the program, so they have to bring tons of stuff with them in their dance bags. We’ve been so curious as to what they carry around all day that we just had to ask!

Barre Tab

Post by Kris Kramer, Corporate Gifts Officer and former MCB dancer

One morning, before the Summer Intensive Program began, I ran into our Production and Lighting Director, John Hall. John was in his normal friendly demeanor and I immediately struck up a conversation with him. Since he had a pad of paper in one hand and a pen in the other, I asked him what he was up to. “I’m counting barres,” he replied. As he filled me in on what he was doing and why he was up to this “barre tab,” I instantly thought, “Our blog followers need to know about this!”

John explained that he was taking inventory of the barres mainly to get prepared for the 211 dance students that would arrive from all over the world for Miami City Ballet School’s Summer Intensive Program. Since there is such an influx of dancers during the five weeks, MCB needs to make sure we have enough equipment for the students.

His tally was up to 50 barres. Fifteen of the 50 were aluminum, light-weight barres that couldn’t be used because they were uncomfortable for the students. As a former dancer with the School and Company, I would never choose these aluminum barres when I took class. On the rare occasion I had to use one, it was always frustrating. If I was doing a hard combination and was relying on the support of the barre, it wasn’t there and that prevented me from getting the most benefits from the exercise. I would say they were mostly a nuisance, as these barres are so light you can pick them up with one hand. I was glad to hear that John was getting rid of them.

Since there was going to be a reduction in the barre tab, John continued to explain to me that they were going to buy 20 new barres. These barres are white and have two parallel bars at the top spaced about a foot apart. This makes it easier to accommodate dancers of different heights and allow them to move more gracefully through different exercises and stretch at different intensities. In addition, they are relatively easy to adjust. Dancers often adjust the height of the barres before their warm up exercises depending on their height so their hands hold the barre at a certain angle, a little less than 45 degrees from their torso. These barres are $200 each. So with 20 new ones, MCB will have to cough up a $4,000 barre tab. Ouch!

John shared this last tid bit with me. The 12 barres that travel with the Company from theater to theater were being brought into the studios as well. This would help accommodate the 211 Summer Intensive students during their training and bring the barre count to 67 in total. Three or four students to a barre is perfect in my book so I think John got his number right.

As I walked to my desk on the third floor administration level, I remembered there was even another type of barre used here. They are big, heavy, metal barres and usually need to be carried around the studios by two dancers. These mostly stay with the professional dancers, but will be used by the students over the Summer Intensive Program and were also figured into John’s 67 count. I sat down at my desk and had a final thought: “Wow! even the barres around Miami City Ballet can be so interesting.”

Here is one of the big, heavy, metal barres. Two dancers have to carry these!

This is one of the light-weight barres John was getting rid of.

This is one of the good barres! See how they have two parallel bars at different heights? Perfect!

MCB School’s 5-Week Summer Intensive Wraps Up

The time has come to bid farewell to the Summer Intensive Program students. The stage of MCB’s Lynn and Louis Wolfson, II Theatre was graced with the dancing of these young students yesterday as they showcased what they learned. The entire MCB building was buzzing with excitement. Five weeks of hard work was evident as the serious dance students, ages 12 years and older, displayed their abilities and strengths. Friends and family came from all over the world to watch their favorite dancer.

We are sad to see them go. During the past weeks, the studios and hallways were flowing with vibrancy and positive energy. It was something else to watch students who didn’t even speak the same language come together and form friendships. We’ve been chronicling the Summer Intensive through videos and pictures on MCB School’s Facebook page.

We look forward to having these bright dancers return next summer. Watch out for them! There are big things ahead for our students. Lucky for us, some of them will be training at MCB School during the Winter Program.

But we don’t have to wait until the Winter Program begins in September to have students in the studios! On Monday, the 2-week Summer Program (for 11 & 12-year-olds who are just starting on pointe) begins.