Nina Neumann ’20
For Nina Neumann ’20, summer 2017 was spent mastering ballet at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet 5-Week Summer Ballet Program.
Each day began with two 90 minute technique classes which were followed by a pointe or variations class. The day typically wrapped up with an optional technique or partnering class.
Neumann said she admired the wide variety of distinguished teachers who provided different perspectives on what she could improve while at the camp.
“From the intensive, I certainly gained independence and strength in terms of my technique, but the main thing I took away from the program was confidence,” Neumann said. “A couple of teachers really highlighted not being afraid to dance big. This really helped me feel less afraid to express myself through my dancing.”
Neumann found out about the program through a teacher she had been working with. After doing some research of her own, and hearing nothing but good feedback, she decided to submit an application. Neumann said the application process included the submission of photos in various dance positions and a placement class during the first day of the program to assess each dancer’s skill level.
“This summer program was more challenging than my previous summer experiences because the teachers were able to pinpoint our weaknesses straight away and tailored each class to fit our needs rather than sticking to a strict syllabus, ultimately allowing for a huge amount of improvement,” Neumann said.
Neumann said her favorite moments were those spent bonding with teachers outside of the studio and getting advice from experienced professionals with careers she is interested in.
Meera Sastry ’19
With the stroke of a pen, word after word appeared on Meera Sastry’s ’19 page. Sastry spent every morning like this for four weeks at the California Sate Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA) as part of the creative writing intensive she was taking.
CSSSA is a residential program at the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts) in Santa Clarita that allows students to study visual, performing, and literary arts. In order to apply to CSSSA, all students, regardless of discipline, must submit a portfolio showing the breadth of their skills.
For Sastry, this meant submitting a collection of writing ranging from screenplays to speculative fiction.
Sastry said studying writing at an art school helped reinforce the idea that writing is a creative pursuit, not just an academic one.
“Because you’re there with kids from visual and performing arts, it’s kind of like having an artistic community,” Sastry said. “You really feel how creative writing and literary stuff is part of an artistic legacy.”
In addition to the opportunity to study writing outside of an academic environment, Sastry said she also appreciated CSSSA’s workshop-driven approach to writing.
“Getting feedback from other dedicated, focused writers that are my age was really helpful in determining what works in my style and what doesn’t,” Sastry said.
Sastry said she is most satisfied with being able to attend such a rigorous program without having to travel too far away.
“I’ve never really been to a sleepaway camp like this before,” Sastry said. “It was nice to kind of be closer to home. It’s one of the best programs that they have for high school [writing] students over the summer.”
Calvin Kaleel ’18
Calvin Kaleel ’18 immersed himself in different art forms, particularly jazz, while at Interlochen Arts Camp for three weeks this summer.
“Everyone is in the spirit of Interlochen,” Kaleel said. “You play with great people and everybody has some different talent.”
Kaleel auditioned through a series of video recordings after hearing about the camp through middle school performing arts teacher Starr Wayne.
Though this summer was the third time Kaleel attended the camp, he found each year’s experience different because he entered at different levels. Kaleel said that he was a beginner the first year, so he saw a large improvement in a short time span. On the other hand, when he came back more experienced he was able to play with a better group of musicians, and still learned a lot.
Kaleel’s program at Interlochen consisted of master classes to learn bass techniques, improve musical listening, and the history of improvisation. He also rehearsed with a large band and smaller combos to build his skills and prepare for concerts. Kaleel participated in three concerts, two of which were in a band and the other in combos.
“In my combo, there were great musicians,” Kaleel said. “It was amazing how with little preparation we could just put something magical together and help promote another, different art form.”
Kaleel said that he not only gained bass techniques, but he also met many people who inspired him musically.
“I definitely improved my bass skills over the three years that I have done it,” Kaleel said. “I have gotten a lot of sense musically, and I met a lot of kids from a lot of different backgrounds, musically at least.”