The Best Dance Summer Programs for High School Students

If you are a current high school student with a passion for dance, you may be considering how you will continue to pursue your interest after graduating from high school. Attending a college that offers a great dance program is an excellent choice for students who intend to further their education. 

Of course, that requires finding a college with a dance program that is not only robust, but also well-suited to your individual needs as a student and as a dancer. 

There is no better way to get a sense of what a college offers prospective dance students than to participate in one of their summer programs, if the school has one. 

There are also several dance programs offered by institutions other than colleges. These may be especially appealing for young dancers who are not planning to attend college. 

To help aspiring dance students in the search for the summer intensive that is right for them, we have compiled this list of some of the best summer dance programs for high school students out there. 

If you are concerned about finding a summer dance program that isn’t in New York City, we’ve got you covered: this list of stellar dance programs does include a few options located in the Big Apple, but there are also several great programs offered in other parts of the United States.  

Read on to learn a little bit about the many exciting options you have to choose from, including program duration, tuition costs, and much more.

Summer Dance Academy Students
Kirill Gorshkov | Shutterstock

AMDA High School Summer Conservatory- Dance Theatre  (Los Angeles, CA)

The American Musical and Dramatic Academy’s High School Summer Conservatory Dance Theatre Program is a two-week residential pre-college program that offers high school dancers the chance to study dance theater in an intensive, conservatory-like training environment. 

The program is open to students who are currently completing grades 8 through 12 and are between 14 and 19 years old, 

Students can choose to participate in this program at one of the school’s two campuses, located in Los Angeles and New York City.

The average day in the AMDA conservatory program consists of nine hours of live class time, one to three hours of social activities, and one to three hours of presentation time. 

Working with professional dancers and choreographers of Broadway, television, and film renown, students engage in the immersive study of dance technique and performance.

At the end of the program, students can showcase what they have learned during the final presentation for family and friends. Additionally, participants are allowed to audition for AMDA College or other AMDA High School Conservatory programs. 

Juilliard Summer Dance Intensive (New York, NY)

Juilliard School
Yair Haklai, Juilliard School-Manhattan-New york, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Juilliard Summer Dance Intensive is a three-week program that allows students to interact with faculty, staff, and students at one of the world’s best conservatories for performance art studies. 

Through myriads of technique classes, discussions, and collaborations with extraordinary guest choreographers, dancers who participate in this intensive learn what this prestigious school offers. 

Intended to prepare dancers for college, the program also provides students with crucial information about how to select a college dance program that aligns with their professional aspirations.  

Juilliard’s Summer Dance Intensive is open to students with significant prior experience who have completed at least one year of high school and will not graduate before the start of the program. 

UNC School of the Arts Comprehensive Dance Summer Intensive (Winston-Salem, NC)

Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

The University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts offers three different options for summer intensive programs for high schoolers. 

These include a four-week contemporary dance intensive, a four-week classical ballet intensive, and a one-week professional studies intensive. 

The classical ballet and contemporary dance intensives are open to all dance students between the ages of 12 and 18, while the professional studies intensive is open to any dancers between 15 and 25 years old. 

Regardless of which of these three programs students choose, they will receive personal instruction from the school’s world-renowned faculty and highly-esteemed guest artists through a series of seminars and Q&A sessions. 

At the end of each program, students can showcase what they have learned to friends and family during a professionally produced dance concert at the school’s downtown theater, the Stevens Center.

Long Lake Camp for the Arts Overnight Dance Camp (Long Lake, NY)

The Long Lake Camp for the Arts offers an overnight summer dance camp for dancers between the ages of 8 and 16. 

In contrast with the many exclusive, competitive summer dance programs out there, the Long Lake dance camp experience is non-competitive, offering dance classes for all levels and styles of dance. 

Both beginners and more experienced, advanced dancers are welcome to participate in the overnight dance camp at Long Lake. 

This makes Long Lake Camp for the Arts an excellent choice for high school dancers who do not have extensive prior training or experience, or even those who feel they could benefit from exploring the art of dance in a lower-pressure environment. 

This dance camp offers private lessons in several different areas of dance, including ballet, hip hop, swing, jazz, tap, and contemporary. The Long Lake dance camp experience culminates with a dance festival at the camp’s gorgeous lakeside Adirondack Park location. 

Pacific Northwest Ballet Summer Course (Seattle, WA)

The Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s Summer Course offers a blend of intensive classical training and training in the many more diverse, contemporary dance forms to meet modern dance companies’ demands. 

This month-long summer course also includes a number of seminars by PNB consultants on a variety of related topics, such as injury prevention, pointe shoe care, mental health, and strength training.     

The PNB Summer Course is open to intermediate and advanced dance students who are between 12 and 18 years old. All students are required to have prior experience training on pointe to be considered for admission to the course.

Barnard Pre-College Program – Dance Track (New York, NY)

Barnard College
Beyond My Ken, Barnard College Lehman Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

Barnard College offers a number of pre-college programs, including the residential summer dance track

Located in New York City, one of the world’s most active, highly-esteemed hubs for dance and the performing arts, this program offered students the opportunity to pursue dance studies within the context of the school’s interdisciplinary liberal arts focus. 

Through class time and live performance viewings, the dance track curriculum allows students to benefit from an in-depth exploration of dance forms from all across the world, including the vast array of different cultural, social, and political ideas that have shaped the practice of dance as a form of expression. 

Barnard’s pre-college dance track program is open to rising high school sophomores, juniors, seniors, and recent high school graduates. 

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Academy Summer Intensive (Detroit, MI)

The Complexions Contemporary Ballet Academy Summer Intensive at the Music Hall Center for Performing Arts in Detroit takes an innovative approach to dance education. 

The intensive program is staffed by many elite current and former professional dancers, premier dance educators, and accomplished guest instructors.  

The intensive is open to all dancers ages 13 and up, and prior experience in pointe training is not required. Complexions does not offer housing for those participating in their summer dance intensives, although discounted rates are available at select hotels in the area.

Tuition for the program is $725. 

Students in this program will train in a variety of dance styles, including classical ballet and NIQUE, a contemporary ballet technique developed by Complexions’ artistic directors Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Academy also offers summer intensives in Florida, Colorado, Las Vegas, New York City, Dallas, and Los Angeles, in addition to an online program.

Houston Ballet Academy Center for Dance Summer Program (Houston, TX)

The Houston Ballet Academy’s Center for Dance offers a five-week summer intensive program for dancers over the age of 12. 

Students who participate in this summer dance intensive will be immersed in the study of dance, with six to eight hours of class time each day from Monday through Saturday. 

During the Houston Ballet summer intensive, students can take classes in several dance styles, such as jazz, musical theater, contemporary, and pointe. 

Additionally, there are various course offerings in dance-related subject areas, including coaching, yoga, pilates, nutrition, and dance history.

Students can participate in one in the series of six end-of-the-summer performances. In addition to the final performance series, family members are invited to attend and observe one ballet technique class during the last week of the program. 

Atlanta Ballet Summer Intensive Program (Atlanta, GA)

The oldest professional dance company in the United States, Atlanta Ballet’s Centre for Dance Education offers a number of different options for summer intensive programs. 

Open to all dancers ages 11 and up, Atlanta Ballet’s summer intensives include a two-week, three-week, and five-week option. 

During the program, students will take classical ballet technique classes from Monday through Friday.

The program’s many supplemental class offerings include partnering, pointe, variations, hip hop, contemporary, hip hop, and musical theater. Additional courses are offered in subject areas related to dance, including wellness workshops. 

Dancers who attend the three- or five-week intensive programs will have the opportunity to participate in a performance at the end of the program; for those who choose the two-week program, performance opportunities will be determined by staff.

The Rock School Summer Ballet Intensive (Philadelphia, PA)

The Rock School for Dance Education offers many different Summer Ballet Intensive programs, ranging in length from just one week to six weeks. 

All dancers over the age of eight are welcome to participate, although housing is only available for dancers aged ten and up. 

Students in the Rock School’s many summer intensives have the opportunity to receive instruction and training from the school’s expert dance educators and dancers

The school boasts that many of its dancers have been awarded the highest prizes at the Youth America Grand Prix, the world’s largest ballet competition. 

The Rock School has been awarded the Youth America Grand Prix “Outstanding School” award for 14 consecutive years, suggesting that young dancers searching for the highest-quality summer program out there need not look further than Philadelphia.