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Post by Vanessa Woods, MCB School Resident Assistant

It’s the hump week in Miami City Ballet’s 5-week Summer Intensive Program. The bus ride on the way to the studio this morning was eerily quiet with sleeping ballet dancers, however by mid day, there is an energy buzzing through the air. I am one of the six chaperones living at the University of Miami with the 120 students. It’s almost surreal being back here because 10 years ago I came to this very summer program as a student. Then in 2006 I came back and studied here year-round before landing my first job. I have been dancing professionally ever since, currently with the Saint Louis Ballet. In an ever-changing world, it seems not much has changed here. It still has the incredible teachers, staff and fellow dancers who all come together to make this program a unique and a valuable learning experience.  Sixteen-year-old McKenna Karnes says that getting to have classes with so many different teachers is a real highlight. The real standout teacher is Mr. Edward Villella himself whom the girls got giddy talking about. They describe him in awe, saying, “he’s not scary” and love how he dances to the music throughout class.

The 2012 RAs! (I'm the second on the left)

After powering through a semi slow-moving first two weeks, little time elapses before friendships emerge that seem life-long. At the studio, students are focused but have a real sense of camaraderie as they lounge around the hallways resting or changing shoes in between their rigorous 4-5 classes a day. When we get back to the dorms, rare do I find a student not huddled in among a group of giggling bun-heads.  Regularly, you catch a gaggle of them flocking from the dining hall to scamper off to the pool, TCBY, Starbucks or some other popular close by destination. Last Wednesday broke up the busy week with our July 4th IndepenDance cruise. Packed into a two-story boat, the students dressed to the nines parade aboard after concluding a full day of classes at the studio. Soon, there is a pile of shoes growing and sweaty dancers crowd the top level of the boat for non-stop dancing leading up to the breathtaking fireworks overlooking the water. Even with training some six hours a day, it seems the students always have a reserve of energy saved for the lucky chaperones at night.

Hanging out on Biscayne Bay

By week three, the ever-important act of icing becomes key and many dancers are seen waltzing around the dorms with bags of ice for their various ailments. After a week of hard work and limited sightseeing, the students are able to sign up for exciting weekend excursions. Last weekend we went to Lighthouse Beach at Key Biscayne and Parrot Jungle. On Saturday’s beach trip, we unloaded our busses-o-ballerina and after turning a few heads, the dancers enjoy some sun on the sand, turquoise warm waters and traditional Dominican snacks under a shady pavilion.  With the snorkeling and Spiderman in IMAX trips this weekend combined with the end of program show just weeks away, the students have much to look forward to. After ten years since doing this summer intensive, I am amazed at how quickly the adaptation process to this whole type of program takes place. With quick adjustment to dorm life, dancing all day, making new friends, having roommates and eating cafeteria food, one would think these students have been doing this for years…then you realize, with this kind of talent, many of them have.  Still, there are some adjustments no amount of experience can prepare you for. When asked what she misses most about home life, 16 year old Morgan Povinelli says with smiling conviction, “home cooked meals”.