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Cultivating talent

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  • | 4:00 a.m. August 6, 2014
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Those unfamiliar with the dance world might not know what summer intensive is. Others might mistakenly think it’s just another summer camp.

For young Sarasota dancers summer intensive is serious; it says it in the name.

The ballet-speak refers to the rigorous auditioned summer study programs designed to allow students to hone their craft the way a professional dancer would — for six hours a day for weeks at a time. For many serious dancers, it’s a necessary prerequisite for a professional career.

For others, it’s a way to improve their talents and keep their bodies in great condition during the off-season. The following are summer intensives in our area.

Sarasota Cuban Ballet School
Summer intensives aren’t just an American thing. Students from around the world travel to the United States to be a part of particular programs.

For Sarasota Cuban Ballet School’s 2014 summer intensive, the director set up an exchange program, DanzAmerica, which allowed five students from the National Ballet School of Cuba to train here for six weeks alongside the other students. Ariel Serrano and his wife, Wilmian Hernandez, operate Sarasota Cuban Ballet School; both are former dancers from Cuba.

Ramona de Saa, their former teacher and internationally recognized trainer of classical Cuban ballet at the National Ballet School of Cuba, also came here through the exchange to work with students.

“She created the Cuban ballet curriculum that is taught in all the ballet schools in Cuba and which we teach here at our school in Sarasota. To have our students being taught by my teacher, a world acclaimed master, is a dream come true,” Serrano says.

See more photos here.

Sarasota School of Russian Ballet
In addition to de Saa, choreographer Carlos dos Santos; Roberto Machado, a teacher from Mexico; and teacher Ana Julia Bemudez de Castro of the National Ballet School of Cuba work with the students.

Off Cooper Creek Boulevard at the newly remodeled studios of Sarasota School of Russian Ballet, three studios of nearly 50 dancers improve their skills. Darya Fedotova, a former professional ballet dancer and director of the school, works with young students in one room on pirouettes.

“It’s very important to keep your level up,” she says. “Our dancers come from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — it’s lots of hours and it makes a difference.”

In the adjacent studio, the advanced, high-school-aged students work with guest teacher and former principal dancer of Orlando Ballet, Katia Garza.

See More Photos here.

Sarasota Ballet School
At the other end of University Parkway, at FSU Center for Performing Arts, there’s another particularly exciting guest teacher giving a master class to 119 students (this number has grown steadily from 2011, when it had just 26 students).

Laura Alonso, daughter of Alicia Alonso, the founder of the National Ballet of Cuba, is working with the students. She taught Director of Education Dex Honea when he was a dancer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

“It was such a privilege to have her visiting our school and to share that experience with my students,” he says.

Honea says he took summer intensives when he was younger. In fact, it’s how he gained exposure and was placed in a year program at Canada’s Royal Winnepeg Ballet School. For Sarasota Ballet Students, it works the same way — it’s kind of like an unofficial audition for the program. And it’s why the intensive includes students from around the world as far as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Sweden and Japan.

Some of the students finish Sarasota Ballet School’s five-week summer intensive and immediately start the three-week Carreño-Barbieri Festival for Pre-Professionals summer intensive the following week.

Two months of dancing, or nearly all of summer vacation, speaks to the dedication of these students.

See more photos here.

Fuzión Dance Artists
At Charles Ringling’s former house on the campus of New College of Florida, Fuzión Dance Artists hosts its first official summer intensive. It’s a little different than the others for a few reasons.

For starters, it’s contemporary dance. Second, the 30 dancers range from teens all the way up through middle school teachers and adults brushing up on their skills. Third, a portion of the intensive caters to three emerging choreographers. The intensive students presented the choreographer’s work at the week’s culmination Aug. 1 and Aug. 2.

Founder of the group, Leymis Bolanos-Willmott, says it’s important to provide this access to mature dancers.

“I wanted to cultivate something where we’re nurturing people where they are at (in their careers); there needs to be a place for everyone from starving artists to choreographers,” she says.

See more photos here.


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