It always amazes me how many parents and students ask the question, ‘Is it really necessary to take summer classes?’ YESSSS!!!!!
I tell all my students to take at least a few summer classes and no, I do not tell my students that they should take advantage of summer study opportunities in order to make money! In fact, I prefer and encourage all my older dancers to go away for summer study if they can afford to do so.
The truth is summer is the best time for school aged students to achieve real progress in their dance education. Without the stress of academic school, they are more focused and less tired and therefore can make a huge amount of progress in a small amount of time. Am I saying that they need to go away to expensive summer programs? No, though I will say that spending 3 to 6 weeks away from home working with different teachers can add to a child’s self-esteem, confidence and drive as well as their technique and artistry. One of my favorite times of year is when all my students come home from summer study and I am able to see who has made the most progress.
That being said, I know ‘away’ summer programs can be expensive and a major financial burden on families. The good news is there are usually many alternatives. Many schools, such as my own, offer classes a few days a week for the younger students and older students that cannot afford to go away during the summer so they can keep up with their technique. I also usually recommend Pilates, yoga and swimming outside the studio for the students that stay home so they can maintain their strength, flexibility and stamina. If your own school doesn’t offer summer classes or intensives, most likely another area school will and there’s nothing wrong with taking a few classes from a different school over the summer to stay in shape.
As for the youngest dancers, 3 months can be an eternity and if they do not take at least a few classes during the summer months, it can be like starting all over again in the Fall.
Whatever the reason for not taking summer classes, from finances to your child wanting to try different activities to wanting your child to spend more time with the family, I can definitely see the argument. However, it is important for the kids and parents to understand that they cannot expect to then come back in the fall at the same level. By not coming to class, they have regressed; they have not stayed the same. Those opting to take summer classes have progressed. You have made the choice, for whatever reason, and I’m sure you felt that your choice was a valid one, but then you must deal with the consequences of those choices on your child’s dance education. Please do not give your child’s dance teacher a hard time about where they are then placed in the fall. The world of dance is a very competitive place and you must put in the work in order to reap the benefits.
I’ll leave you with a famous quote from Jacques D’Amboise, one of America’s first famous male dancers, “Just remember when you’re not practicing that someone somewhere is. And when you meet them, they will win.”