How to Cope with a Challenging Summer Performing Arts Program

Injured ballet dancerHow Do You Survive Summer Intensives?

You have passed the audition to train at a summer intensive for performers. Now it’s a piece of cake, right? Wrong! While you definitely deserve a gold star for immersing yourself in a unique craft versus an extended vacation, these programs can catch you off guard if you feel exhausted, injured, overwhelmed, or let down. Not exactly your dream of an exhilarating experience. Fortunately, it’s possible to take your skills to the next level by knowing how to cope with the challenges that accompany extreme training. Check it out.


If you’re like most enterprising performers who come to the Big Apple or elsewhere for advanced training, you probably were the “star” of your hometown arts school. Suddenly, you are surrounded by a roomful of talented others, who aspire to “make it” in your profession. Your ego can take a big hit if you can’t adjust. Problems that make this difficult include comparing yourself to others or questioning whether you’ll live up to your earlier successes at the audition or even last year’s program. When in doubt focus on YOU, not the competition. It also helps to remember that a summer intensive doesn’t make or break a career.


Being away from your support system is stressful, especially if you’re homesick, stuck in a tiny apartment, or lacking essentials like sufficient sleep and food. After this summer’s experience, you’ll have your eyes wide open and know what questions to ask, such as “Do you have a kitchen?” In the meantime, do your best to get eight hours of sleep, pace your workload by not being a super hero, eat wholesome food every 3-4 hours, and listen to your body. If something hurts for five days, please take advantage of your program’s medical services or ask for a referral and follow your doctor’s advice. Most work-related injuries recover within the first month as long as you catch them early.

Life Balance

Okay, you’re totally focused on progressing as a performer. Still, please try to create a balance between work and relaxation. It will help you to be more productive, while easing the pressure from dancing, memorizing a new monologue, or polishing your vocal or musical technique. Everyone benefits from taking a break, which means time off to just be yourself without any pressures other than enjoying the sights or relishing your friends or favorite activities. This lifestyle applies to the entire year, not just just during summer intensives. Never forget, even the most dedicated performers need downtime to excel.

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