This year’s Ballet Idaho Summer Intensive had a lot of interesting students from Idaho, Montana, New Jersey and British Columbia, Canada. In a previous blog you can read what Madison Cole’s mom said about their experience here in Boise at the Summer Intensive. Madison is going to be 12 years old soon and she comes from the same school in New Jersey, The Academy of Dance Arts, that Jessica Sulikowski came from. Jessia is a professional dancer in our company and I worked with her many years ago on The Nutcracker in New Jersey when she was a child. See how good training can lead to great things?

Madison was a real standout this year. But we had lots of others, too. Two girls came to us on scholarships awarded through Montana Dance Association. I was happy to provide them with these places as we’re seeking to include students from other Inter Mountain states in our programs. It reminds us that Ballet Idaho is the only professional ballet company with an academy in the Inter Mountain West.
All the students had wonderful experiences with familiar and new teachers. Heather Hawk, Racheal Nole, Jared Hunt and Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti are well known dancers and teachers here, but at the Summer Intensive they pushed their students farther than usual. Our own Ballet Idaho Academy students LOVED what they did for them, both technique-wise and in choreography. The guest students loved the special attention these teachers provided and worked very hard in some really challenging material. Jared’s Jazz class was a HUGE hit with all the students.
Racheal and Jared staged the “Garland Waltz” from Sleeping Beauty. Racheal knows a version of the original choreography and shaped it on the students at hand. She mixed several different levels and came up with a beautiful and cohesive work that involved some pretty striking patterns and beautiful steps. Everyone looked great at the performance on the last day.
Heather and I staged the Fairy variations from the Sleeping Beauty Prologue. It’s a beautiful scene, where each Fairy enters and bestows a gift on the infant Aurora at her Christening. The gifts are not the standard fare, they are attributes the child will take with her as she grows. The Fairy of Grace provides beauty of movement, the Breadcrumb Fairy provides that the child will never go hungry, The Songbird Fairy gives the child a beautiful voice, Fairy Violante gives her energy! And the Lilac Fairy gives her Wisdom. In Russian folklore the Lilac is a symbol of wisdom.
We had two completely different casts for this scene, one of tall girls, one of shorter girls. They all did splendidly! I think the audience on hand was very surprised how difficult and demanding this material was. The girls knew it, of course! They worked very hard to perfect the technical requirements as well as the choreographic intent of each different quality. This was a good introduction for our own Academy students, too, because Ballet Idaho will be dancing the full-length Sleeping Beauty next season and we will be using lots of students from our school. It’s going to be as big as Nutcracker!
In the second week of the Intensive we had the rare privilege of having Nicholas Ade teach our students. Nicholas was a dancer in Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle and after a distinguished career, went on to become first a teacher, then a principal in their school. Nick is a phenomenal teacher! He’s unique! He has a very meticulous and careful method of teaching — at first his class seems incredibly slow, until the student figures out that he’s probing deep into every muscle and bone to explain how technique works. It’s exactly the kind of training I want to have here at Ballet Idaho, so his method really helped the students understand how their bodies are supposed to work. He explains everything so well, and he has great stories and he’s really funny! The kids all loved working with him. After teaching a full load of classes, Nick coached the girls dancing Sleeping Beauty variations. His advice and counsel were invaluable to them and I think they all took a tremendous lesson with them.
It was sad to see everyone go after spending such an intense and focused two weeks. We hope our students left with lots of knowledge, insight, eagerness to do better and a sense of themselves as dancers. I know they left exhausted but exhilarated! We hope to see many of them back next year. Thanks to everyone for all your hard work and dedication.
-Peter Anastos