The Utah Ballet Summer Intensive (UBSI) is currently in session and thriving. With new additions to the program, such as an alternative track for modern dancers, the intensive is a dynamic one, but it still maintains its core values and prestige. This year, over 106 students are participating from a multitude of locations around the United States. About half the participants are from out of state, while the other half are local.
Maggie Wright Tesch, director of UBSI and an Associate Professor Lecturer at the University of Utah’s School of Dance, is in her fourth year of involvement with the intensive. “We throw a really deep curriculum at the students in four weeks,” said Tesch. “We’re teaching them to do the choreography — to be the choreographer.”
UBSI is a four-week long intensive. The curriculum includes classes in ballet, jazz, character, classical repertoire, contemporary repertoire and choreography. “While we do offer classes from big-name guests, I make sure we bring in really nice guests,” said Tesch. Susan Jaffe, who will be teaching William Forsythe modality, is just one of the many guests coming from outside the U to teach the students and bring them unique perspectives. On June 22, Jaffe will lead a seminar on positive intentions, called “The Effect of Intention.” Some of the teachers are faculty members from the U, such as Pablo Piantino, a former Hubbard Street dancer. Piantino will be teaching repertoire and technique classes during the intensive.
Piantino and other U faculty members may give dancers from out of state a taste of what the School of Dance has to offer during the academic year. The program is beneficial for both prospective and current students. Dancers who are interested in attending the U can get a feel for the atmosphere. Current students have access to an excellent local program and may gain residency or fulfill general education requirements. “We do feel we have a more mature intensive,” Tesch said. All the students are over 15, and the majority are over 16 years old. This allows faculty members and guests to provide material which challenges the dancers and demands thought, receptivity and commitment.
This year, the program includes a contemporary track, which permits students to develop their ballet skills without the pressures of doing pointe work. Although only four of the dancers chose to take this alternative route, Tesch hopes more dancers from the modern program at the U will become aware of the new opportunity in upcoming years. Similarly, the intensive gives ballerinas the chance to explore other fields of dance and discover hidden talents. “Not everyone is going to become a ballet dancer,” Tesch said. “They might have a gift in another area.” Tesch wants the dancers to “see the potential in themselves in all different areas.”
UBSI allows dancers to hone in on their creative and technical skills. “They learn how to use their voice, they gain confidence, they learn to trust each other and the faculty, they learn to fail and to fix their failures,” Tesch said.
The program runs June 17 through July 12 at the Marriott Center for Dance for six days per week. A final performance on July 12 will be held in the Hayes Christensen Theatre. The performance is free and open to the public.