How I Spent My Summer Vacation

In our July issue, we asked several studio owners for project ideas to make summer vacation count. Here's one of the changes they made that paid off in the fall:

Make your summer vacation count.

Back to (Summer) School

  • Who Jane Silane and Marilyn Westlake-Nichols, Ballet Arts
  • Where Emerson, New Jersey
  • What Completing a continuing education course
  • Why Silane and Westlake-Nichols wanted to unify their teaching approach and curriculum for the school. Plus, a continuing education course “gives you and your studio credibility,” says Silane.
  • How They chose to become certified in the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. ABT offers certification in three different sessions: pre-primary through Level 3; Levels 4 and 5; and Levels 6, 7 and partnering. Sessions, which typically last 6 to 9 days and occur several times throughout the year, in New York City and various other locations. The cost of each session ranges from $1,525 to $1,800. After a straightforward application process, selected trainees spend eight hours each day learning how to teach students to use their bodies correctly, focusing on coordination, anatomy and alignment. At the session’s end, trainees take both a written and an oral exam. Though Westlake-Nichols was nervous about the exams, she felt prepared by the session’s end and passed with flying colors. She’s now certified in pre-primary through Level 3 and will return eventually to become certified up to Level 5. Silane is returning this summer to complete the last session.
  • Word of advice Clear your schedule. After watching Silane attend classes during the day and return to the studio to teach at night, Westlake-Nichols knew she wouldn’t want distractions during her own training. If your studio isn’t a commutable distance from the training site, invite faculty to accompany you and make a field trip of it.
  • #ThatFeelWhen Silane and Westlake-Nichols send students to summer programs. They’re gratified to hear other teachers praise their dancers’ knowledge of ballet vocabulary and history. “We know we’re doing something right!” says Westlake-Nichols

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