Ballet academy

The Colorado Ballet Academy offers exceptional training in any format

Let’s face it, 2020 has been full of surprises. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing the dance world to adhere to social distancing measures, ballet schools have had to create innovative approaches to deliver high quality training. With that in mind, what should aspiring dancers look for in an intensive or pre-professional summer program this coming year?

Colorado Ballet Academy
quickly pivoted to a virtual summer program and fall semester this year, and students thrive on the high level of attention, engagement, and mentorship they receive from faculty. “We’re focusing more on fundamentals and placement, and the results are great,” says Academy Director Erica Fischbach. “Students improved in these necessary fundamentals even more than in person due to the change in focus.”

Exceptional training, whether offered in-person or online, is essential if you’re looking to take your dancing to the next level. But experiences beyond the studio are also important, which is why you also need to consider opportunities for career development and personal growth.

Top notch training online, in studio or in between

Heather Ludlow, pre-professional division student

(Mark Hutchens, courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy)

Colorado Ballet Academy
plans to offer an intensive summer 2021 program in person, while developing hybrid and virtual options consistent with local, federal, and state health mandates. But the program’s rigorous training schedule and attentive faculty, led by summer intensive directors John Gardner and Amanda McKerrow, prove that dancers can progress in leaps and bounds no matter how their classes are taught.

Heather Ludlow, 18, auditioned for the Colorado Ballet Academy’s intensive, pre-professional summer division last spring. She attended the intensive virtually from her home in California and now lives full-time in Denver. “I had such an incredible experience at the summer program that it encouraged me to continue my training at Colorado Ballet,” she says. “The teachers were very focused on helping us refine our technique and craft and were so eager to help us improve. I wanted to surround myself with people like that, who encourage me to pursue my dreams.

In 2021, dancers will have the choice between an intensive course of two, three or five weeks. They will enjoy a full class schedule including Ballet, Pointes & Variations, Partnership, Men’s Class, Cross-Training, Conditioning, Modern and Character. The three- and five-week intensive students will also rehearse for a performance held at the end of the program.

But perhaps what makes the Colorado program unique is the personal interaction students have with faculty. “John and Amanda love getting to know each student as an individual, mentoring and teaching,” says Fischbach. “Every Friday they will have a recap, where they will bring everyone together and talk about what they have achieved. It brings students together and makes them feel valued, instead of just one among hundreds.

“They were there for everything, which I thought was so amazing,” Ludlow says. “They went out of their way to help us feel connected with them and each other.”


Heather Ludlow participated in the Colorado Ballet Academy Summer Intensive virtually from home.

(Courtesy of Ludlow)

Skills beyond the studio


(Mark Hutchens and Martha Wirth, courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy)

While training at the Colorado Ballet Academy is paramount, the school’s goal is to educate the whole dancer. In addition to weekly recaps with McKerrow and Gardner, summer intensives can take advantage of optional Saturday classes, which include technique and a ‘bonus’ class – from injury prevention to an improvisation session to interactive lectures by guest artists. (Last summer’s guests included Devon Teuscher, Cory Stearns and Sarah Lane.)

These opportunities also extend to the Academy’s pre-professional division. In addition to their rigorous dance program, students have a weekly life skills class. The goal is to help them navigate the pressures of the professional dance world and explore other careers associated with the arts. Fischbach brings in company members from Colorado Ballet to talk about their various career paths, as well as other guests to talk about issues like mental health. “I make sure they know everyone who works behind the scenes at Colorado Ballet, in the marketing and production department,” says Fischbach, “as well as dancers who have transitioned to other careers. The skills you learn as a dancer are completely applicable to other careers in life.

A path to a career in dance


(Mark Hutchens and Martha Wirth, courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy)

Colorado Ballet Academy Summer Intensive
is also the perfect opportunity to get an idea of ​​the organization and to be considered for the Pre-Professional Division all year round, especially since the dancers regularly take lessons with the artistic team of the company. . “We even got to work with artistic director Gil Boggs and ballet masters Maria Mosina and Sandra Brown,” says Ludlow.

Once accepted into the pre-professional division, students quickly become accustomed to having plenty of stage time – in fact, every five weeks they perform in the company’s black box theater. “Dancers work with a local choreographer or learn something from the classical repertoire,” says Fischbach. The dancers cap off the year with a full classical performance at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver.

It is also possible to dance on stage with the Colorado Ballet. After one year in the Pre-Professional Division, students are eligible to be selected for an Intern or Studio Company position. “Each year, Gil chooses one to three interns, and they can star in almost any production,” says Fischbach. “For Nutcrackerhe chooses eight other students from the pre-professional division to dance in ‘Snow’, and there are opportunities to audition for additional roles in other productions, such as The Wizard of Oz.”

Fischbach notes that over the past four years, six dancers in the pre-professional division have been offered contracts with the Colorado Ballet Studio Company, a gateway to the main troupe. Case in point: PPD alumni Ever Larson and Catherine Aoki were recently promoted from the Studio Company to Colorado Ballet apprentices for the 2020-21 season.

Ludlow hopes to follow in their footsteps. “This has been a vital period in my training as I try to refine my technique and artistry and make that transition from student to professional. I think the Colorado Ballet Academy program was the perfect opportunity to do that.