On pointe | Dance news | August 17
Every summer marks a new season of intensive programming for aspiring young dancers. The outsider may underestimate the rigorous schedule and the training involved (don’t call it summer camp!), but seeing the process unfold gives new appreciation for what the pros endured growing up. Many a broken limb, sprained ankle, even meningitis (yes, it’s happened) have prompted more than one trip to the hospital. It’s a proud moment to witness these students overcome injuries and grow with each passing week.
In a special to On pointe, first-time summer chaperone and Syracuse University M.A. grad Amy Brueckman found time to snap a few backstage photos of the recent Joffrey Academy International Summer Dance Intensive. She recalls her experience for TOC, as the cooler weather reminds us of the soon-to-be bygone season of intensive dance.
The backstage studio probably looks like most teenagers’ bedrooms: a mess of clothes, snacks and different types of shoes. Girls fix each other's makeup and compare stories about their training back home, while the boys get called by their partners to practice last-minute lifts. There isn’t much rivalry between them now, compared to the first two days during auditions. Besides, they’ve been roommates and classmates for half the summer. Such is the life of an intensive-dance student.
State Street wanderers may have spotted this overzealous crowd of Joffrey Academy summer students wearing pink tights and sporting tightly wound buns of hair as they sauntered through Chicago’s Theater District. These young women (and a handful of young men) came from across the country and around the world to train with the ballet masters of the Joffrey Ballet for five weeks.
Much of the dance terminology was lost on me, a first-time chaperone and a ballet novice. I spent my mornings herding dancers to class and many afternoons taking injured girls to the doctor. While on duty, I expected to be bombarded with requests for ice packs and bobby pins, but the young girls often took care of themselves. I’m used to being surrounded by passionate and hardworking people, but the dedication of these dancers—eight years my junior—was on par with that of a professional. Whether they had swollen toes, sore tendons or sunburns from a weekend excursion, ballerinas and ballerinos alike pushed through their training without complaint.
On the last day of the intensive, dancers showed off during a final performance in the Joffrey's black-box theater (check out the photos above). As I looked on, I couldn’t help but think of the students and their plans beyond summer. Ballet, it seems, will never be too far from their minds. And next summer is only ten months away.