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This summer, young dancers from across Iowa are discovering a unique University of Iowa program that's steadily earning a name for itself.
The UI Youth Ballet and School of Dance—the community outreach arm of the Department of Dance in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences—sponsors a five-day Summer Intensive every summer.
"The intensive has evolved over the years and has really come into its own," says Jason Schadt, Youth Ballet artistic coordinator and modern dance instructor for the intensive. "We keep our class size limited to give our dancers individual attention, but word seems to be spreading about the work we do, and we are attracting dancers from all over eastern Iowa."
Throughout the year, the Youth Ballet offers evening and weekend classes for children, teens, and adults of all levels of experience. Subjects aren't limited to ballet—instructors also teach modern dance, jazz, and creative movement.
The program provides teaching opportunities for UI graduate students and upper-level undergraduates who wish to build their experience. Youth Ballet staff mentor new instructors, hiring a handful of assistant instructors each semester as well. All Summer Intensive instructors are graduates of the UI master of fine arts degree program or are currently pursuing an MFA.
"We have heard from the families of our dancers that we are the secret in Iowa City," says Kathryn Smith, who directs the school and the summer intensive. "We don’t advertise much, but the program is a gem.”