Hi! My name is Madeline Malone, and I received a scholarship from the Southwest Committee to go to the International Cecchetti Summer School held at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. [I’m here to tell you about my experience there and to thank the board for giving me the scholarship.] [I’m here to show you what it was like to go to the Cecchetti Summer School and hopefully convince some of you to go next summer!] I really enjoyed my time in Michigan, and I learned a lot from it. I learned to persevere through many long classes, my technique improved significantly, and I brought home and applied some great choreography. I hope you enjoy hearing about some of my daily experiences at the camp.
After two short flights, *I arrived at the Holland airport. There I met a counselor and a few other girls and took a shuttle to Hope College. We checked in and then moved our stuff into the *dorm building. After unpacking and settling in, I started to wonder where my roommate was. It seemed like everyone had already arrived, and I thought I might not HAVE a roommate. Two weeks in a sad, empty dorm room would have been miserable! Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. *Several familiar teachers from our region were also at the camp, and Miss Angela was there to help sort things out. She hunted down my roommate, whose flight had been delayed, and finally she arrived! *This is Catherine. She’s from California and is very nice. She and I got along really well and got pretty close over those two weeks!
*The camp was held at Hope College. *The campus was very pretty, and also very spread out. Dance classes were held at several different buildings in the four corners of campus, so there was lots of *walking involved. I would definitely recommend bringing tennis shoes! The weather was perfect, though, so walking to and from class was quite nice. *There was also a cute downtown right beside the campus. People there are used to throngs of hobo-esque girls with slicked back buns and tights walking around the town, since the camp is held in the same place every year. They all look forward to watching our final performance.
Every day we had breakfast, two class periods, lunch, two periods, dinner, and then two final periods. Three of the periods were regular classes: Mostly ballet, sometimes contemporary, or jazz, and occasionally body alignment or stretch and relax. One period was always a rehearsal, and the other two were breaks. Meals were held in *the cafeteria. The food was good, and meals were a *great time to chat with friends.
*One of the main things I learned from summer school was how to cope with such a rigorous schedule. I got used to many hours of dance every day. I was apprehensive about 14 days in a row and was worried that it would be really hard and exhausting and even miserable, but I was totally wrong. I had so much fun that I didn’t want to come home “ever,” as I texted my mom. I found the energy to take class after class, with enthusiasm and diligence. I don’t think there was a single time when I wasn’t giving my absolute best.
*There were many options as to how to spend our breaks. Sometimes I would just chill in my dorm room or take a nap, others I would hang out with friends. Sometimes we would go downtown, and sometimes we took *cool pictures around the campus! This was taken on a really rainy day. There was a huge puddle outside one of our dance buildings, so naturally, after getting out of class we rolled up our tights and splashed around like little kids! This was just one of the many fun moments. We had a few special days were our last class would be cancelled and we would do an activity instead. We went swimming one night. On another we watched a movie in the same theater that our performance was in, complete with candy, popcorn, and soda. On a third night, we held an outdoor talent show. It was fun to see what people liked to do besides dance. I teamed up with two other girls and sang “My Favorite Things,” from Sound of Music.
All of the teachers were incredible, but there were a few that I especially liked. *This one might look familiar! Dr. T taught stretch and relax. It was a nice break from the rigorous ballet classes that we normally had. We even got to bring pillows and blankets and took a nap at the end of class! *Michael Fothergill studied at ABT, Milwaukee Ballet, Boston Ballet School, and School of American Ballet. He had perfect technique and perfect turnout. He made normal port de bras look grand and majestic, and he taught challenging combos. *Denise Gillman studied the Cecchetti method, achieving her diploma, and also studied at the National Ballet School of Canada. She taught simple combos, but expected perfection. She inspired us to work extremely hard, and congratulated us when we reached her standards. She had a fun personality, and her classes were always interesting.
Thanks to all of these great teachers and classes, my technique improved a lot. When I got back home, I noticed that memorizing combinations was easier and that my performance quality had improved significantly. One area where I saw a LOT of progress was in my pirouettes. Turning has always been a struggle for me. Before summer school I could barely do a double on a good turning day, but during summer school I did a pretty good one in the center of the stage, in front of hundreds of people, and during my first class back at home found myself doing triples!
Another thing that I got out of Cecchetti Summer School was a lot of great choreography. Immediately after I came home, I got to teach a lyrical class at my mom’s summer camp, so I incorporated some of my favorite parts of the contemporary and jazz choreography into a dance for my students. Since I don’t have any footage of us dancing AT camp, I thought I’d at least show you the dance I put together.*
My students, most of whom were totally new to lyrical, learned it within a week and then performed it for their parents.
**On our second to last day, we had a formal banquet. It was interesting to see everyone *all dressed up with their hair down! We met in front of the dorms and walked IN HEELS across campus to the venue in a giant group. I felt bad for the poor cars that had to wait for us to cross the street! There we had a *delicious dinner with fancy tables and waiters. During the banquet, scholarships were awarded and many of the teachers gave speeches, and all of the students received participation awards.
*On our last day, we had one last ballet class to get warmed up and ready for the show. Afterwards, as we walked from the dance building to the theater, *a storm started to roll in. We were all in costume, and we were afraid we wouldn’t make it to the theater before it started to rain! Even worse, we would have to walk around the back of the theater to get from the dressing rooms to backstage in between every dance! Point shoes, rain and wet concrete would have been a disaster. Well, the clouds kept coming, but we did make it to the theater before it started raining. Miraculously, *the sun came out in time for the recital! Everything went off without a hitch. After the show we went back to our dorms, packed up our stuff, and headed back to the airport. It was hard to say goodbye after such a great two weeks! I’ve been able to keep up with most everyone through social media, though. And I hope to see them again next summer!
*Cecchetti Summer School was truly an amazing experience. I used to think that travelling out of state to go to a summer intensive was just something that really talented, amazing dancers did. I never thought that I’d be able to go! And I’m not an incredibly amazing dancer, but thanks to the Southwest Ceccetti Council of America, I did go and I learned so much from it. I learned how to be diligent and do the best that I could in each and every class. My technique and performance quality improved significantly. And I learned great choreography from incredible teachers.[I can’t thank you all enough for giving me the scholarship.] [I would definitely encourage anyone who is able, to go! You’ll love it.]