Summer Intensive Q&A

Guest Writer: Melissa Rosko, Public Relations Intern

Melissa Rosko recently sat down with Academy Associate Director Shelly Power to find out her thoughts on the first summer intensive in Houston Ballet’s Center for Dance. Here’s what she had to say.

Shelly Power teaches class at Houston Ballet's Academy.
Shelly Power teaches class at Houston Ballet's Academy.

1. As the program’s director, what are you most looking forward to during summer intensive?

Seeing as this is our first year in our gorgeous new building, I am thrilled to be able to use the Margaret Alkek Williams Dance Lab for this year’s program. Such a versatile and convenient performance space will really help the students grow this summer. Beyond the new building, I am excited that we will be hosting our biggest program yet with over 300 students from across the country, as well as from multiple countries such as Romania, Brazil and Japan. It is wonderful that we are able to reach so many new dancers with our summer intensive. This summer will not only be a very significant artistic experience for the students, but it will also very much be a cultural experience that will expand the minds of both the students and the staff.

2. How do you think such a challenging collaboration between the dancers and musicians will help shape the students’ artistic growth?

I think that putting the students on the other side of a performance will give them a whole new perspective not only on choreography, but everything else that goes into making a performance possible. This opportunity will teach them time management, working under pressure, leadership, and how to bring creativity into form. All of these things will bring them a greater appreciation for new jobs in the dance world.

3. How important is it for the program to introduce its students to career paths within the dance world other than just performance?

It is important for the students to know that most people who work behind the scenes of a dance performance have previously had a dance career. I think that a multifaceted program will plant the seeds for growth so that they can start to understand and explore new career options with which to fulfill their love of dance. Also, having knowledge and skill for what goes on behind the scenes gives the dancers a better understanding of the craft itself, making them more well-rounded artists.

4. How does the rigorous 9 hour schedule affect the dancers during their six weeks in the intensive?

While the dancers are with us for 9 hours per day, they are not necessarily dancing for the entirety of the time. We have strategically planned breaks for them throughout the day so that they can rest their bodies, but still enjoy great learning experiences that will build their strength and knowledge. For example, after the students take pointe class, we have scheduled a modern dance class to follow, so that the barefoot dancing will massage the students’ aching feet. We also have a wide variety of classes such as nutrition, ballet hairstyling, role-coaching, and Pilates among other things that will continue to help them grow. However, such a rigorous and busy program is important for the dancers so that they can experience the training, learning and performing that makes up the everyday schedule of being a professional dancer.

5. What do you think is the most important thing a dancer can take away from their experience with Houston Ballet’s unique program?

It will be important for the students to really absorb what Houston Ballet is all about. They will be learning repertory and technique that have a style unique to our company, and it will be important for the students to pick up on our differences so that they can apply them in their future training and become more versatile dancers. I also think it will be important for them to learn everything they can about our company’s history and mission as well as the city that houses it. Above and beyond these things, I think that a program like this is designed for the students to make immense progress, and that is something that they should accomplish as well.

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