Today was the last day of classes at the ABT Summer Intensive 2010. I watched Julian’s technique class–the only time all summer I was allowed “upstairs.” Tomorrow I will get to watch both performances; he is in two pieces–one in the earlier performance and one in the later performance. (That’s kind of lousy; it necessitates purchase of two tickets and two DVDs.)
Right now I’m sitting outside the studio at DANY watching tiny bits and pieces of class/rehearsal on the second-to-last night of the Complexions Summer Intensive 2010. I can hear Dwight Rhoden and see small glimpses of Julian tonight (for the first time).
By Sunday, we will be on our own. On Monday we will begin five days of running from class to class at Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center. We’ll see where Julian focuses his attention. I know he plans on doing lots of hip hop, some tap (just to keep up with it), and some theater jazz (since he lacks this). I think he may do less contemporary this year, since he gets a lot at home, and he might actually do some ballet, which he avoided totally last year.
The reason for more ballet–even after six weeks of it–comes from the feedback he’s gotten. Although he has received great comments from some teachers about his technique level and generally “looking good,” Julian does have a few technique issues to work on. Not surprising. Every dancer does, and he isn’t in a full-time ballet program. This is where we see the difference between the “ballet boys” and Julian, who has chosen a program that is focused on ballet, contemporary and modern.
Julian is now faced with a decision: to continue where he has been and supplement with more ballet and a focus on cleaning up his technique (We have been supplementing to some extent.) or to enroll in a ballet program once again. (He was at Ballet San Jose School for three years, but for two years he has been at TDC.)
We’ve been pretty happy again with his time at ABT this summer, but there were a few things we found ourselves feeling a bit disappointed about. I thought I’d mention them for anyone deciding if this is the right program for their son for next year.
- Julian’s level (green) did not ever get to partner with the green girls. While the green girls partnered with the boys at varying levels, including the higher levels, the green boys were held back and only partnered the lower intermediate division girls supposedly because so many of the boys were short. They were too short, I suppose, to partner the green girls, who were all tall–too tall for them. So, while the green girls benefited from the experience of partnering with boys in higher levels, the green boys who were ready and able to partner the green girls–or girls in higher levels–never received that benefit.
- Julian’s received very mixed messages about his technique. He was corrected very little and told by several teachers that he “looked good.” Then, the last week he was told his technique was not clean enough for him to move to New York and enter the JKO School. (Had he lived in New York, they would have accepted him.)
- In general, the kids do not get corrected much. This is a complaint I heard from the other kids who came to ABT from the ballet studio where Julian takes class in Los Gatos, CA. Julian did not find this too much of an issue. He has learned to listen to the corrections offered to others and take them on for himself. I mention it in case it makes a difference to others since it made a difference to these two girls.
- There seems to be a little bit of preferential treatment given to the JKO students, the training scholars and others with major scholarships, and those coming from Japan. It might be something political; I could be totally off base.
All that said, Julian had a great experience this summer. He learned, improved, made friends, had fun, expanded his horizons. I’m sure he will improve by leaps and bound because of what he learned at ABT this summer. I’m glad he auditioned, that he was accepted and given a scholarship (of any size), and that we made it possible for him to come.
I highly recommend chaperoning your child if they come to ABT. Come along. Take them to see dance. Push them to take some other dance classes. Let them socialize but keep an eye on them. It’s better than leaving a 15 or 16 year old alone in a dorm in New York City and allowing them to run around without supervision. They’ll wish you hadn’t come along, but they’ll be better off for you having done it. I promise.