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Adult dance intensives: immerse yourself in your love of dance

Adult dance intensive - theatre jazz students
Photo by Kevin Taylor

Attending a dance intensive is an amazing experience, but unfortunately, adult dancers don’t have as many opportunities as younger dancers when it comes to attending intensives. Many dance intensives cater to younger students who may be in pre-professional training, or aspire to be. Whereas most adult dancers are not looking to pursue professional dance careers. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t passionate and every bit as committed to their dance practice than younger dancers. Often adults dance for their own enjoyment, as a creative outlet, or as a way to stay active doing something they love. But it doesn’t mean there is any less reason for adult dancers to have access to the benefits of a dance intensive.

While adults may be welcome at many dance intensives that are targeted primarily at teenagers or young adults, the age difference may mean that you don’t really have quite the same experience, because getting to meet you peers is part of the wonderful experience at an intensive.

In this post, you’ll read about what an adult dance intensive is, who should attend one, benefits of attending, and how to prepare and look after yourself before, during, and after an intensive.

What is an adult dance intensive?

A dance intensive is a program that could run for a day, a few days, a week, or even several weeks. Dancers are immersed in dance for the duration of the program. For an adult dancer, it is a rare opportunity to spend a good chunk of time dedicated to their love of dance. For example, the Dragonfly Dance adult dance intensive is a three day event where dancers will spend three days dancing and talking about dancing.

During an intensive, you have the chance to explore elements of dance that you don’t usually get to cover in a regular classes. There is often a focus on building technique, artistry, expression, musicality, and understanding of how your body works, including how to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.

Intensives may be offered in a particular dance style, such as ballet, or offer the opportunity to experience a variety of styles. Intensives offered for younger dancers (children, teenagers, or younger adults) may have a focus on professional training and building professional networks, whereas an adult dance intensive is less about professional opportunities, and more about exploring your love of the artform, improving your skills, learning from a variety of teachers, and meeting other dancers.

A dance intensive will offer you more dancing and physical activity in a short space of time that you probably usually do, but a well planned intensive will also include non-physical sessions where you have the opportunity listen and discuss dance and related topics.

Who Should Attend an adult dance intensive?

Adult dance intensive - ballet students
Photo by Kevin Taylor

Adult dance intensives are designed for individuals who have a passion for dance, and who want to have the opportunity to spend a few days immersed in dance. Dancers attending a dance intensive should have some previous experience, but you don’t have to be an advanced dancer, as many intensives cater for a variety of levels. The main criteria is that you have a passion for dance, you’re interested in learning more about dance, you’re your enjoy discovering new and improved ways to move.

An intensive is a great opportunity for adult dancers who are keen to learn from different teachers, to dive deeper into their understanding of dance, music, and the human body, and who enjoy connecting with other adult dancers. You should have a moderate level of fitness that will allow you to dance for several hours in a day, but you can also choose to sit out some sessions if you need some recovery time in between. Those down times can be a great opportunity for spending time with other dancers.

Benefits of adult dance intensives

Apart from having a wonderful time, an adult dance intensive gives you an opportunity to:

  • Improve your dance skills in a short period of time

  • Deepen your knowledge of dance and the dancer’s body

  • Stay in shape over summer (or other break time) so you don’t lose the gains you made dancing throughout the year

  • Improve in artistry and technique

  • Broaden your experience of different dance and movement styles and practices

  • Be exposed to different teaching style and teachers

  • Meet other dancers who you may not normally dance with in your weekly class, which will boost your network of dance friends and peers

  • Challenge yourself by stepping outside of your comfort zone

  • Build confidence as a dancer

  • Do something just for you

  • Have a lot of fun.

What to expect during an adult dance intensive

There can be considerable variety between intensives, but there are some common features, which includes:

  • Variety of dance styles which enables you to broaden your skill set and gain exposure to different forms of dance and movement

  • Collaborative atmosphere where participants encourage each other’s growth and share their love of dance

  • Feedback and critique from teachers to help you improve and refine the various elements of dance, such as technique, expression, artistry, musicality, and more.

  • Deeper exploration of the elements of dance than you may find in a regular class, which may mean more discussion and explanation, in part to delve deeper into the dance experience, but also to help you manage your energy levels and physical exertion throughout the day

  • Different teachers and speakers who will bring different perspectives and approaches that may result in numerous light bulb moments that help you grow significantly as a dancer

  • Fun and camaraderie as you share this intensive experience with other adults who love dance as much as you do.

Getting the most out of your adult dance intensive

Below are several tips to help you prepare for, and looking after yourself during and after the intensive.

  • Clarify your goals and hopes for the intensive. Knowing whether you want to improve technique, explore new dance and movement styles, meet new people, learn more about the artistry of dance, or simply enjoy the experience. Being clear about what you want from the experience will help you to get the most out of it

  • Explore the program and make sure you choose the sessions that will help you to meet your goals. You may choose to go to sessions in dance style you already know and love and want to learn more about, or to expose yourself to new styles or new teachers, or to challenge yourself to do something you have been afraid or cautious about doing before.

  • Prepare yourself physically. Often, intensives are held during break times, when you are not at your regular classes, so it’s important to maintain some level of condition before you go to the intensive. If you have a few weeks break between classes and the intensive, make sure you are doing some kind of physical exercise in the break, whether that is walking, stretching, weights, your own home practice of dance, yoga, or another types of physical activity.

  • Pack essentials. Make sure you bring dance shoes for each style you plan to participate in. Consider bringing a change of dance gear in case you get very sweaty and want to freshen up. It’s also important to bring plenty of water, snacks, and a light lunch. It’s also helpful to bring things like bandaids, paracetamol, anti-inflammatory gel, and any supports you need to wear during exercise, such as an ankle brace if you have any injuries.

  • Adopt a growth mindset, which means having the awareness that your abilities can be developed. You may find that you attend some activities during the intensive that are new or more advanced than you expected. But that’s okay. The main thing is that you approach it positively and do your best, and focus on what you can take away. Avoid beating yourself up if you feel a little out of your depth at times.

  • Give yourself adequate hydration and nutrition. Make sure you stay hydrated. Drink water beforehand, and continue to take small but regular drinks of water throughout. You also need to bring healthy snacks that fuel your body. One of the best types of foods to eat before and during intensive exercise programs is carbohydrates, so your body has a ready source of energy at its exposure. Eat protein at the end of the day to help repair and grow your muscles.

  • Consider having a hot bath or shower after each day, which helps to increase blood flow, stimulate healing, and relax muscles. Adding some rosemary oil or Epsom salts to your bath can further aid in recovery.

  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep before and during the intensive so your body and mind have a chance to recover.

Dragonfly Dance, a studio based in Adelaide and dedicated to adult dancers, is offering it's first Adult Dance Intensive in January 2024. The intensive builds on our previous summer dance program in 2023. Visit the intensive web page and join our mailing list to make sure you don't miss out when the program is announced and registrations open.


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