Photo © Angela Sterling

10 Strategies for thriving at summer course

PeterClass 0093
  1. Arrive Fit
  2. Be Prepared
  3. Set Goals
  4. Be Curious
  5. Stay Positive
  6. Fuel Your Body
  7. Address Homesickness
  8. Address Injuries
  9. Be Kind
  10. Have Fun!

Read Part I here and Part II here!


The faculty at PNB is rarely aware of any issues of homesickness during the summer course because of the extensive experience of the dorm staff. Dave Jensen, Summer Course Residence Director, will be in his 21st year of overseeing the dorm lives of PNB School students this summer! At this point, he has dealt with almost any issue that you may come across. Additionally, many of the other dorm staff have been dancers and attended summer intensive programs themselves, so they can relate to what you are going through and help you feel comfortable.

Photo © Angela Sterling

However, some tips on avoiding homesickness are…

  1. Let the summer residence staff know that you are missing home. Your counselors cannot read your mind and will not know that you are having a hard time unless you communicate with them.
  2. Limit calling home to once per day—if you are constantly on the phone with your family and friends at home, you are probably not making new friends at your summer course.
  3. Try to eat food that is similar to the food you eat at home. If you find the dorm food, which I remember being delicious, to be very different than your mom’s home cooking, make sure that you go to the grocery store—there’s one just two blocks from the PNB studios—and pick up a few snacks that are familiar to you.
  4. Again, make sure that you are getting enough sleep.


PeterClass 0184
Photo © Angela Sterling

Make sure that you listen to your body! When you have pain, you need to be honest with yourself and prioritize long-term health over short term pressures. Is it soreness that you are able to push through and still improve? Or is it pain that continues to get worse as your dancing demands increase?

If you are having trouble knowing whether or not to continue dancing, seek outside information from your teachers, an onsite physical therapist, or a doctor, if necessary.

At PNB School’s Summer Course students are able to see physical therapist Henry Lu, who comes to the studios a couple times per week throughout the program.

If you are lucky enough to be working with a physical therapist, make sure you are doing the exercises they give you! That way you will get better faster and build the strength necessary to prevent re-injury.

Tip #9: BE KIND

Use summer course as a chance to build a positive reputation in the dance world and define who you want to be as a person.

Photo © Angela Sterling

Build and expand your network of friends and dance connections. Many of the people who you will meet at summer intensives will be people who you will cross paths with for the rest of your career. For example, I know at least 5 dancers dancing in all of the major American ballet companies from summer courses.  I met Misty Copeland (principal ballerina, ABT), John Lam (principal dancer, Boston Ballet), and Oliver Halkowich (soloist, Houston Ballet) at San Francisco Ballet summer program when I was 14. I met my fellow Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers, Jonathan Porretta, Laura Tisserand and Lucien Postlewaite at SAB summer course when I was 15. At that same summer course I also befriended Teresa Reichlen & Megan Fairchild of the New York City Ballet and Lauren Fadeley (Principal Soloist, Miami City Ballet). By practicing kindness, you guarantee that you won’t burn any bridges. More importantly, however, it gives you the best chance to foster relationships with friends that you will have for life!

  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!
    • Other students are craving social connections just as much as you and will most likely be relieved if you break the ice. Remember, everyone at summer course has at least one thing in common—the love of dance!
  • If you run across an instance of bullying, intervene and stand up for the victim or alert the school staff/faculty to the situation.
  • Cell phone images & video, once taken, are there forever.
    • Negative images and videos taken with the intent to hurt others are especially cruel, as well as permanently incriminating. At PNB School, the discovery of any such behavior is grounds for expulsion.
Photo © Angela Sterling

Tip #10: HAVE FUN! 

Photo © Angela Sterling

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but also the most important!