I visited the beautiful and spacious Carolina Ballet studios during the 2012 Ruth S. Shur Summer Intensive where serious ballet students come to study with top professionals. On my visit I watched advanced students and company trainees sharpening skills in class with guest teacher Judith Fugate, former New York City Ballet principal dancer and co-artistic director of Ballet NY. When I arrived, dancers were gathering in the hall outside a studio, wrapping toes, tying pointe shoes and stretching. They often glanced from their feet into the studio to watch Carolina Ballet principal dancers Margaret Severin-Hansen and Gabor Kapin in an impromptu rehearsal of the White Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake.
Getting to see professional dancers at work is one of the things that makes Carolina Ballet’s summer intensive unique, according to Tyler Walters, director of the summer program. While aspiring ballerinas have their pick of summer study programs with companies all over the country, dancers in most professional companies are on hiatus during those months. The students at the Carolina Ballet have the benefit of seeing the company’s principal dancers preparing for performances in open rehearsals, and even taking classes from the professionals in the height of their stage careers.
Summer intensive students spend up to 6 hours a day with top names in the ballet world, including Carolina Ballet’s impressive permanent faculty such as ballet masters Debra Austin and Marin Boieru and Artistic Director Robert Weiss. Dancers also study with Walters and assistant director Julie Janus Walters, who were both, among other professional credits, chosen by Robert Joffrey for Joffrey Ballet.
Guest teachers in 2013 are Susan Jaffe, former principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre and current Dean of Dance at UNC School of the Arts, and Michael Vernon, who among other notable undertakings, was commissioned to choreograph a pas de deux for the American Ballet Theater by Mikhail Baryshnikov.
They’ll have finished up with the 11 city audition tour for the increasingly competitive program after stops in Washington D.C. and Boston early in February. There is one audition remaining at the Carolina Ballet studios on February 16th.
The session ends with a performance at the Fletcher Opera Theater in the Progress Energy Center. I have attended this remarkable concert each summer so far, and it has always been a professional ballet production of the high standards Carolina Ballet patrons have come to expect. The show features students of each level for the 5-week program presenting original choreography from faculty members along with some classic variations. This end-of-season celebration helps to define Carolina Ballet as a company committed to education, preservation and innovation in ballet.
For more information about the Ruth S. Shur Summer Intensive visit http://www.carolinaballet.com/the-company/education-outreach/summer-intensive/
See more pictures from the class here.