When it comes to Summer Intensives, auditioning and choosing the right program can be a daunting process—for young dancers and their parents.
It’s good to talk to someone who’s been there, which is why we sat down with Rose Montgomery-Webb, one of our trainees this year, to discuss her experience with our Summer Intensive.
First, some background: Montgomery-Webb has a particularly unique story—she came to us all the way from Anchorage, Alaska. The 17-year-old first started taking dance classes when she was four and quickly grew to love it.
But she had another love—for horseback riding—that was also competing for her time. Couple that with school and Montgomery-Webb’s schedule was leaving little time for her to rest.
In the few moments she had to herself, she began to realize that dancing could be something more than just a hobby for her. She loved it enough to pursue it wholeheartedly.
And so she did. She quit horseback riding (after earning some year-end awards) and committed herself to ballet.
We’ll let her take it from here.
Interested in auditioning for our Summer Intensive program? We’re in the middle of a nationwide audition tour right now. You’ll find all of the info here.
So what happened after you decided to quit horseback riding?
[Dance] became a lot more fun for me. I felt like I could progress. I used the complete opposite muscles for horseback riding. It was very productive when I focused my mind on just one.
How did you go about pursuing ballet and summer intensive programs after that?
A few years ago, Alaska Dance Theatre got a professional company, so I met some of the dancers there. They were helping guide me. There was one named Barry Kerollis—he started mentoring me through this. He recommended I look outside of Alaska. It wasn’t anything new. They always tell their intermediate students you need to look outside. He said, “You need to look at a pre-professional program and trainee program.” That’s how I found BalletMet.
And you decided to audition?
I sent in a video to audition. [That’s] not super great for me as a dancer. I’d get really nervous and not do well at live auditions. It was such a new experience. I did a video. It was just this past year. I checked on the form I would like to be considered for the Intensive and Trainee Program. I checked yes to everything.
What happened when you heard back?
They said that I got into the Summer Intensive and got a partial scholarship. That was the first scholarship I got. I felt like because they gave me a partial scholarship that they wanted to work with me as much as I wanted to work with them. It also said I would be considered for the Trainee Program. That was another big thing.
How was it moving from Anchorage to Columbus?
My mom stayed in a hotel here for a couple of weeks to look at the neighborhoods. I stayed in the dorms. My whole family is very supportive of the move. I got here, and I wasn’t accepted into the Trainee Program at first. [BalletMet Academy Director Tim Lynch] told me that he thought I’d be good as a Level 7/trainee hybrid. I was thrilled that he offered me anything at all. I went through the whole summer intensive, and I started seeing that he was accepting more people as we went through. He also told me that there was a possibility I could be moved up throughout the year. It gave me more reason to stay. I could’ve gone to Atlanta Ballet. They offered me a spot in their conservatory, but I wanted to go here.
So you eventually did get accepted to the Trainee Program—how did that happen?
The last week right after the performance at the end of the intensive, my mom and I went up to Tim and thanked him. We told him that we’d see him during the school year. He said, “I’m sorry you didn’t get the news earlier, but we’ve decided to make you a full trainee.” My mom started crying. I freaked out. Afterwards everyone moved down. My parents have been very supportive.
Wow—so what was your biggest challenge throughout SI?
Keeping the level of intensity up for that long. They are long days. I think, for me at least, every day was an audition because I really wanted to get into the program here. And it still is.
What’s your schedule like now?
It’s crazy. It’s really intensive. It’s basically a summer intensive every day. It’s worth it because of the level of instruction and the opportunities that come with it. It’s 30 to 40 hours a week, plus this month and next month we have auditions. At least three classes a day—Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Modern, Variations, Character and Partnering.
So how do you balance school?
I’m homeschooled with the Anchorage School District. I work on school work whenever I can. I try not to bring it here, but if I have to read a book for some English project then I’ll bring that and read it during breaks. I try to leave that at home. Sundays are my big homework day. I’m working on SAT prep.
I’m auditioning for summer intensives now. I’m not sure if I’ll be back at this program. I think I will be, but I’m not sure. I’ll go to whatever summer intensive I feel is the best place for me next. I’ll talk to Tim and everyone just to make sure I have all the info I need. And then I’ll go to a summer intensive and see what happens after that. I do want to come back here because I really like the training I have. I’m auditioning for college BFA programs. I do want to stay on this track to a professional ballet career, but I just want to keep all my options open.
That’s smart. Do you have any advice for younger dancers?
Audition everywhere, and pick from them instead of banking on one place.