Welcome Letter from

Melissa Allen Bowman
Artistic Director of ABT Summer Intensives

7 January 2009

Dear Parents and Dancers,

Welcome to the 14th year of ABT’s Summer Intensives. It is exactly this legacy of excellent training that has motivated our Summer Intensive staff to seek changes that will deepen the connection among all our sites.

We’ve read hundreds of dancer surveys from our 2008 program and on the basis of these and my visits to each site, I am evolving a strategy of cohesive training that will address each dancer’s individual needs at the exact level that dancer needs to grow professionally.

The ABT National Training Curriculum will be taught at all the sites this year, ensuring that each site can offer the maximum training potential. In this way, we strengthen the connection with our New York site and the training goals of American Ballet Theatre. It is my sincere wish to provide each dancer with the best training experience possible.


To that end, I am excited to announce these aspects of our 2009 ABT Summer Intensives. Some are new, and some are returning because of their tremendous success:
  • Franco De Vita will be the new Artistic Coordinator of the Alabama Summer Intensive, bringing his considerable expertise with the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT to dancers who desire to strengthen their technique.
  • Faculty will be emphasizing individual corrections, regardless of class size. One of our main goals is to return to solid training, and we believe that individual corrections are the best way to help a dancer grow along his or her unique path.
  • A separate men’s technique classes will continue, as will the separate men’s repertoire piece in the final performances.
  • ABT II Artistic Director Wes Chapman will observe and teach at designated sites. I will also be visiting all sites to observe both dancers and review the program in general.
  • We will continue to observe students at each Summer Intensive location to award National Training Scholarships and recommend students for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT.
  • Perhaps most important, all of the programs will be spending more hours on training and fewer hours on rehearsals. We still believe that performing is a vital part of a dancer’s growth, but we feel strongly that it should not displace training. To that end, we will continue performances but with shorter pieces so that less time is spent rehearsing and more time is spent on technique and artistry.
Excellence in training means placing students in an environment where they can thrive. We will continue our traditional distinctions among sites with regard to the dancer’s training level. I believe this is an important part of training value because dancing is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. It demands tailoring to individual needs. Therefore, as your dancer chooses a program, please keep these differences in mind:
  • Our Alabama and Texas sites can best serve dancers who need more emphasis on placement, explanation, strength, structure, refinement, increasing stamina, and broadening vocabulary.
  • Our Michigan site can best serve the intermediate to advanced dancer who wants to refine and strengthen an already well-built foundation.
  • Our California site, which will again take place in August, can best serve the advanced dancer who wants to train intensively in a professional environment and prepare for the fall term of their home school or studio.
  • Our New York site can best serve the advanced student who wants to train intensively in a professional environment over a six-week period in June and July.
Although our expert staff will consider each dancer’s preference, they will place that dancer in the program they believe will be the most beneficial. In these trying economic times, The ABT Summer Intensive staff will do their best to accommodate geographic location requests to make the Intensives as affordable as possible.
Regardless of the site you attend, you can expect:
  • Training that is consistent with the ABT National Training Curriculum for the level being taught,
  • Expert faculty well-versed in the Curriculum and in providing individual corrections,
  • Specialty classes that may not be available at your home school or studio, and
  • A professionally organized performance at the end of the program consisting of pieces from ABT’s extensive repertoire.

It has been and always will be my personal objective to continually improve American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensives and to provide each dancer with the training they need to succeed. I look forward to another successful year.


Melissa Allen Bowman
Artistic Director of Summer Intensives


Close this window to return to ABT's website