For those of you tuning in to keep up with Company dancer Madison Massara’s journey abroad, we have an update! Please read our previous blog post for more information on the program, how she applied, and how she funded her trip.
As you know, she has flown far from home this summer to Prague to attend the International Ballet Masterclasses. Today marks her tenth day abroad, almost the end of her journey. Soon she will be returning home to join us for the 2019-20 season, but until then check out what she has been up to in Europe.
“I had class this morning and variations. In pas de deux class I was living my best life. I danced with a student from Royal Ballet, who was such a pleasure to work with and was very kind. After classes for the day Isabelle Ciaravola (Etoile from Paris Opera Ballet) had an interview with us and it was so fascinating to hear her story and to watch videos of her dancing. A large group of us dancers went out for Pho after class and we had a fun evening of talking and laughing. Excited for another day tomorrow!”
“After dance I walked back to the dorms and came across some more gorgeous architecture then ate and got ready to go out for a fun night.”
“After classes for the day we all went out to this adorable restaurant to celebrate our friend Sophie’s birthday, I had a quinoa avocado salad with pomegranate and grilled veggies (so good). Had a productive fun day and am excited to have some new teachers tomorrow.”
“Today started out great. I had the most amazing technique class with Daria Klimentova and she pulled me aside and asked where I was from and complemented my dancing, and after class had me do a photo of me jumping and her correcting me in the back.”
Madison Massara is one of our newest company members and a Michigan native. She joined the company as a trainee in 2017 and was promoted to company dancer in 2019. Prior to her time at the ballet, she performed as a Guest Artist in Skye Ballet Center’sThe Nutcracker; competed at YAGP and the Indianapolis International Ballet Competition; and attended various esteemed summer intensives.
“Day 1 in Prague. Got in at 8:30am Prague time and had the whole to day meet tons of new people, settle into the hotel, and explore the gorgeous city all day, witnessing all the beautiful architecture from all around Prague.”
This summer Madison has embarked on a new adventure. Madison spread her wings and soared far from home to Prague where she will be living for two weeks while she attends the International Ballet Masterclasses. The International Ballet Masterclasses in Prague was founded by former prima ballerina, Daria Klimentova. Her goal in creating the summer program was to bridge the gap between professionals and students. She wanted to provide rising stars and young professionals with an opportunity to engage with current artists to benefit from their experience and expertise.
“1st day of classes. I had a day full of dancing, learning, walking around town, and meeting more new people!”
After hearing about the opportunity from a friend, Madison quickly researched the program and filled out an application. Promptly after her submission she heard back with an acceptance. She was going to Prague!
“Ate lunch on the river with a group of friends before our last class of the day.”
But how was she going to get there? Madison was intent on raising the money herself and decided to use the popular online platform GoFundMe as a way to secure funding for the trip. She blasted the GoFundMe through Facebook and with the generosity of her friends and family, Madison was able to fund her trip almost entirely.
“Entrance to the studios. Another fun day of dancing. I had a wonderful class with Thomas Edur (artistic director of Estonian National Ballet) who introduced a lot of ballet philosophy into class which challenged me to reflect and come up with some personal philosophies.”
On July 27 Madison embarked on her first journey across the Atlantic. She said while she was most looking forward to meeting and learning from the esteemed faculty members, she also hoped to have time to explore the beautiful and historically rich city of Prague. She planned to immerse herself in the culture by touring the castles, visiting the medieval Astronomical Clock, attending museums, trying new food, and walking around to soak in the beauty of the city. She giggled when asked if she learned any Czech and replied that she planned on learning some before she left.
“Today was a blast. In the morning I had class with Vladimir, then had another amazing variations class and we worked on the talisman variation.”
Good luck, Madison. Keep up to date with her journey through our Instagram!
“We had a fantastic interview with Thomas Edur (artistic director of Estonian National Ballet) and he discussed his career and philosophy behind ballet. I then went back to the hotel, ate, talked to my brother who is in London doing the Royal Ballets summer intensive, then I went to bed after another tiring yet inspiring day!”
Often daunting, always exciting, summer intensives are of the utmost importance for the training of a pre-professional dancer. Most are between three and five weeks, jam-packed with learning, dancing, and making new memories. All professional dancers started as students much like you, attending summer intensives and feeling excited and nervous. As a student, I found that the summer intensives I attended ended up being some of the most transformative years of my training toward become a professional dancer. Whether it be the stellar training, diverse repertoire, adventurous weekend activities, or friendships I made, I never regretted attending a single one of them. Regardless if you’re attending a shorter three-week program or even a longer seven-week program, here are some tips to help you survive and thrive during your summer intensive.
Tip #1: BE NICE
• As in life, this applies to everyone at your intensive. These are your peers, contemporaries, and teachers. You will run into them again, so always have a smile and a kind word.
Tip #2: BE PREPARED TO GIVE 100%
• Make sure you’re in shape before you arrive; do not take time off leading up to an intensive. Up to two weeks before you arrive, you should be taking class every day to ensure your body is in good condition.
• Pack the right things in your suitcase. Of course, start with ballet clothes that follow your school’s dress code, but be prepared to spend time outside the studio exploring your host city. For example, Grand Rapids gets quite warm in the summer but it occasionally has a cooler rainy day (this is Michigan, after all—if you don’t like the weather, just wait an hour). So, you should pack summer clothes and a rain jacket. And don’t forget things like a sewing kit.
• Stay positive. Remember teachers only give corrections because they are trying to help you, so don’t allow yourself to get into the mindset one teacher doesn’t like you. And please don’t fret about your level placement; you are placed in the level in which the school faculty knows you will succeed.
• Work hard and your effort to improve will be noticed. Give everything your best effort; there’s no time like the present to work hard.
Photo: Jade Butler
Tip #3: BE CURIOUS
• The need for a dancer who is able to do both classical ballet and contemporary dance is growing. so it’s important to start as a student—be open to trying new styles.
• You may be scheduled to take classes you don’t normally take at your home studio like character, hip-hop, or Pilates. These classes are all great ways to grow and learn as a dancer and they were included in the curriculum to help you. And you might just end up loving it.
• Remember, your teachers might teach a step slightly differently than they do at your home studio. That’s OK. Different styles of ballet steps (Vaganova, Cecchetti, Balanchine) have differences and it does not mean they are teaching the step incorrectly. As a professional dancer, the choreographer wants you to do their step their way—not your way, mom’s way, or your home studio’s way. Again, you will learn something new, which is always a good thing. Trust them.
“One of the best things about a summer intensive is all of the new information you receive. Whether it’s learning from new students attending an intensive at your home studio, or attending a summer program at a different school, my advice is to be as open as possible. Hold on to everything you know about ballet lightly, and see what matches up based on what you see and what you are taught. If something doesn’t ring true, you can discard it when you go back to your normal training in September, but challenge yourself to try new things for the entire time you are in the new environment.” —Steven Houser, Grand Rapids Ballet Company Dancer and Ballet Master
Photo: Jade Butler
Tip #4: DRESS TO IMPRESS
• I think you know what I am going to say here: Follow the dress code that is a given to you to the letter. Remember, you’re asked to wear a black leotard or pink tights so your teacher can see your lines well. You’re only at this school for a short number of weeks, so you want to put your best foot forward figuratively and literally.
• Show up ready to shine with your hair done nicely and pulled away from your face with no holes or runs in your tights (remember that sewing kit I referenced earlier?)
• Dancing 4-6 hours a day means a lot of sweat, so wear deodorant and shower regularly. This is common sense.
Tip #5: FUEL YOURSELF
• Make sure you’re eating enough to sustain how much dancing you’re doing every day. When you’re craving a snack, have one, but make sure it’s nutritious, sustainable, and minimally processed. And it goes without saying: water, water, and more water.
• Sleep six to eight hours per night (maybe even more, if possible). There’s nothing like a full night’s sleep to prepare you for a full day of dancing and working hard.
Photo: Jade Butler
Tip #6: HAVE FUN
• Enjoy yourself! Go on those weekend activities; I promise you will make memories that will last a lifetime.
• Connect with your new friends…Instagram, email, Facebook, phone numbers, Snapchat. Keep in contact and continue to grow your dance network. You may find yourself next to many of them at the barre in the future and a friendly face is always a nice thing to see.
“During a summer intensive you spend the entire day dancing which can take a toll on your body. I try to spend time every morning before class rolling out and time after the day is over to stretch. I’ve found that this is the best way to prep my body for the long day ahead and also relax after a whole day of dancing.” —Sophia Brodin, Grand Rapids Ballet Summer Intensive student
Summer 2017 Ballet Intensive at Grand Rapids Ballet
When the average student thinks of summer vacation, words like “beach” (as in lazy days on), “sleeping” (as in late), and “binging” (as in Game of Thrones) are probably some of the first to come to mind.
But for others, the words might be “sweat” (as in breaking a), “work” (as in hard), and “intensive” (as in summer).
Grand Rapids Ballet’s annual Summer Intensive, scheduled for June 26-July 28 at the Meijer-Royce Center for Dance, gives you the rare opportunity to refine your ballet skills in technique and artistry. You’ll get face-to-face, hands-on training with some of the best stars and renowned master teachers from today’s ballet world including Patricia Barker (current Grand Rapids Ballet artistic director and former principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet), Nicole Ciapponi (Joffrey Ballet), Elizabeth Murphy (Pacific Northwest Ballet), and Aaron Renteria (Joffrey Ballet).
You’ll also gain valuable insights through seminars and specialized classes in nutrition, injury prevention, cardio training, and more.
To be considered for our Summer Intensive, interested students must first audition in person (schedule below). Dancers attending these open auditions are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes early in order to complete their registration on-site. Bring a head shot and a photo in arabesque; ladies, be prepared to audition en pointe, as well. The audition fee is $20. Call 616.454.4771 or email for more information on how to attend.
Once you’ve auditioned, you may receive an invitation to attend our Summer Intensive at Grand Rapids Ballet. Senior students (age 12-19) will attend class Monday-Friday from 10am-5pm and junior students (age 9-15) will attend class Monday-Friday from 10am-2pm; it’s called an “intensive” for a reason.
Tuition for senior students is $450 per week or $1,875 for the entire five-week course (save $375) and $250 per week or $975 for entire five-week course (save $275) for junior students. A limited number of scholarships are available and are awarded based on need and talent.
So, while it’s no day at the beach, your hard work will produce amazing results and give you tools you’ll use throughout your dance career. That’s way better than tan. For more information on auditions, tuition, housing, faculty, and more, call 616.454.4771 or email us today.
Also, be on the lookout for more information coming soon about our Summer 2017 Contemporary Intensive!