Magazine article Dance Magazine

Houston Keeps It Cool

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Houston Keeps It Cool

Article excerpt

What should you bring when you go to Houston Ballet Academy's summer session?

"Bring bug spray!" laughs fifteen-year-old Melody Mennite of Scotts Valley, California. "And a positive attitude," chimes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida's twelve-year-old Stephen Freiberg.

The kids at last year's six-week session had plenty of both, plus talent. The near-tropical summers in the fourth-largest city in America didn't dampen their enthusiasm. Heat and humidity aside, this twenty-year-old summer program has plenty to offer, from classes taught by world-renowned teachers to first-rate performances.

The adventure starts long before dancers arrive in Houston, with the audition. Academy Principal Clara Cravey, a former dancer with the Harkness Ballet company and Ballet Internacional de Caracas, says it's more of a master class than a regular audition. "I always thought it was so cruel to cut kids during an audition, so we don't do that." The audition, like the workshop, "deals with the whole student," says Cravey, "not just pieces of meat."

Held in a about a dozen different cities across the U.S., the audition costs $15 (cash only), and dancers must bring copies of their birth certificates and full-length snapshots of themselves in leotards and fights.

Fourteen-year-old Peter Zweifel of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, thinks it's worth it just to audition. "Even if you don't get it," he says, "you'll learn something. They give corrections and everything, just like a real class."

The 250 or so young dancers who did get in last year studied technique, pointe, variations, pas de deux, character, jazz and modern dance run six days a week. Pre-professional students also take nutrition and body conditioning class (all students can avail themselves of the state-of-the-art conditioning studio). Those in levels seven and eight spend time rehearsing for the final performance. …

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