Great Summer Dance Programs for High School Students

If You're Passionate about Dance, These Programs Are Worth a Look

Dance students posing at barre
Cultura RM Exclusive/Frank and Helena / Getty Images

If you love dance and are looking for a way to develop your skills and keep busy during the summer, a summer dance program could be a great choice. Not only are you doing something you love, but an educational summer camp or enrichment program looks great on your college application. Some programs even carry college credit. Here are some top summer dance programs for high school students.

Juilliard Summer Dance Intensive

The Juilliard School and Reflecting Pool at Lincoln Center
Loop Images/Mike Kirk / Getty Images

The Juilliard School's Summer Dance Intensive is a rigorous three-week ballet and modern dance program for rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors ages 15-17. Students are expected to have significant training in ballet, and an audition is required as part of the application. The program is designed to refine technique and performance of various styles of dance through classes in ballet and modern technique, classical partnering, ballroom dancing, music, improvisation, Alexander technique and anatomy, ending in a student performance at the end of the session. Students may stay in one of Juilliard's residence halls and have the opportunity to see various cultural sites around New York City on free evenings and weekends.

School of Creative and Performing Arts Summer Dance Camps

Champlain College
Champlain College.

Nightspark / Wikimedia Commons 

The School of Creative and Performing Arts (SOCAPA) offers this Contemporary Jazz and Hip-Hop Intensive residential program for high school students at its three locations:

Participants take jazz and hip-hop as well as some specialty dance courses, preparing routines to be featured in both live dance performances and videos shot by the instructors. All skill levels are welcome, and one, two, and three-week courses are offered.

SOCAPA dancers share and living space and sometimes collaborate with campers who are studying film, photograph, acting, and music. You may even get a professional head shot by a photography student.

Interlochen High School Dance Summer Programs

Interlochen Kresge Auditorium
Interlochen Kresge Auditorium. grggrssmr / Flickr

The dance programs offered by the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan, are targeted at rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors dedicated to furthering their dance education. Participants choose an emphasis in either ballet or modern dance and train for six hours a day in areas including ballet and modern technique, pointe, improvisation and composition, jazz, body conditioning and repertory. Students must have had at least three years of formal dance training to attend, and auditions are required as part of the camp application. Interlochen offers one-week and three-week programs.

Interlochen has an active summer arts scene with other camps offered in film, music, theatre, and visual arts including drawing, painting, metalsmithing, and fashion. Campers stay on the Interlochen campus with its 120 cabins and three cafeterias.

UNC School of the Arts Comprehensive Dance Summer Intensive

The School of Music at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts
The School of Music at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Allen Grove

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) offers comprehensive dance summer sessions for intermediate, advanced and pre-professional dancers ages 12-21. The program emphasizes proficiency in a variety of dance forms in order to prepare students for the competitive world of professional dance. Students take daily classes in ballet and contemporary dance techniques, including pointe, character, composition, partnering, music, somatics, yoga, contemporary repertory, ballet repertory and hip-hop repertory.

UNCSA offers one-, two-, and five-week sessions. Students in the five-week sessions will have the opportunity to perform in a final show at the end of the session. The campus is active in the summer with other programs running in drama, filmmaking, music, and the visual arts.

UCLA Summer Sessions: Dance Theater Intensive

UCLA Campus
UCLA Campus. saturnism / flickr

The University of California Los Angeles offers this nine-day residential Dance Theater Intensive for rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors over the age of fifteen. The nontraditional program combines dance with elements of theater, music, identity exploration, human relations and social activism. The curriculum includes training in various dance forms, from postmodern to hip-hop, as well as physical theater classes and improvisation and composition, all directed toward encouraging students to explore dance as a tool for personal development and social change. Students collaborate in a final ensemble performance at the end of the session. This program also carries two units of University of California credit.

The UCLA campers stay in a residence hall on the university's campus. Students are required to participate fully in the residential experience—commuter students are not allowed.

York State Summer School of the Arts

Case Center at Skidmore College
Case Center at Skidmore College. Photo Credit: Katie Doyle

The New York State Summer School of the Arts is a collaborative summer program offering advanced training in the arts through several New York state colleges and universities. Among these are residential summer programs for New York high school students in ballet and dance, both hosted at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. Partnered with the New York City Ballet, the School of Ballet offers lectures and intensive instruction in ballet, pointe, character, jazz, variations and pas de deux led by staff, guest artists and members of the NYCB. Students in the School of Dance receive instruction in modern dance technique, composition, music for dance, careers in dance, repertory, and performance in addition to workshop performances and field trips to the nearby National Museum of Dance and Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

The camp is four weeks long and requires applicants to audition. Auditions are held in New York City, Brockport, and Syracuse (School of Dance only) in late January/early February.

Colorado Ballet Academy Summer Intensive

The Armstrong Center for Dance, home of the Colorado Ballet
The Armstrong Center for Dance, home of the Colorado Ballet.

 Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0

The Colorado Ballet Academy Summer Intensive in Denver, CO is a highly-regarded pre-professional program for dedicated young dancers. The camp offers residential and day programs ranging from two to five weeks long, during which dancers participate in classes and workshops on a variety of subjects, including ballet technique, pointe, pas de deux, contemporary dance, body conditioning, and dance history. The three- and five-week programs have a final performance.

The program boasts a faculty of internationally renowned masters, and many Colorado Ballet Academy students have successfully transitioned from the pre-professional program into the Colorado Ballet Company and other major companies across the globe. Live auditions are held in several cities each year, and video auditions are also accepted.

Residential students stay in suite-style, air-conditioned housing on the University of Denver campus.

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp

Twin Lake, Michigan
Twin Lake, Michigan. Wendy Piersall / Flickr

The Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, MI offers two-week residential programs for middle and high school students in several concentrations of the visual and performing arts, including dance. Dance majors spend five hours a day learning ballet technique, pointe, men’s classes, repertory, and contemporary dance as well as attending special workshops on subjects such as injury prevention, composition, and improvisation. Blue Lake campers can also choose a minor in another area of interest, with subjects ranging from team sports to opera to radio broadcasting. Intermediate and advanced dancers may also audition for the dance ensemble, a four-week intensive offering more in-depth instruction and performance opportunities.  

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp is a 1,600-acre campus located in Michigan's Manistee National Forest. Students stay in 10-person cabins, and it's camp policy that all students leave their cell phones at home.