Company trainee Natalie Panayi shares her summer intensive experiences.

By Cindy Case

The audition date for the 2020 Pre-Pro Summer Intensive is January 19th. Learn more about auditioning on our summer intensive page.

Attending summer intensives is a building block of pre-professional ballet training. As dancers mature, these intensives become an important bridge to attaining a traineeship with a professional company. Such is the case for our 2020 Pre-Professional Summer Intensive, held July 20th through August 1st, which will provide pre-pro ballet students the opportunity to hone their technique, build on their artistry, and gain strength and versatility in a professional and focused yet positive atmosphere.

Students of the 2019 Pre-Professional Summer Intensive.
Students of the 2019 Pre-Professional Summer Intensive.

Students receive the highest-quality professional training in a variety of dance styles, as well as the opportunity to work directly with SDB’s Artistic Director, Javier Velasco, and be considered for a Traineeship with the professional company.

That’s what happened for company trainee Natalie Panayi at our 2019 intensive. A native of Melbourne, Australia, Natalie was a student of the Australian Ballet School and received a secondment with Sydney Dance Company before coming to San Diego. We sat down with her to learn more about her experience dancing at last year’s summer intensive.

Did you know at the beginning of the summer that you would be staying as a trainee for the year?

At the beginning of the summer I did not know that I would end up staying as a trainee with the company for this season. I had planned on dancing elsewhere for the year; however, I was hoping to be offered a place with San Diego Ballet. At the end of the intensive I was offered a trainee position and I was beyond excited. I flew back home to Australia knowing that the next time I came back to America I’d be moving to San Diego. It made the summer intensive even more rewarding.

Natalie Panayi in motion. Photo credit: Taylor-Ferne Morris.
Natalie Panayi in motion. Photo credit: Taylor-Ferne Morris.

In what ways did the summer intensive help you grow as a dancer? What was the best advice you received from a teacher?

I learnt a lot during the summer intensive and was able to improve my artistry and confidence as a dancer with the range of classes and teachers we had, and also from the other dancers in the class. It was a very encouraging and inspiring environment. I loved having a variety of classes during the intensive and moving outside my comfort zone. We were taught by company faculty and dancers of San Diego Ballet, who all passed on valuable knowledge and advice.

How did the summer intensive prepare you for being a part of SDB this season?

The summer intensive prepared me for the varied repertoire the company performs, and it was a great way to get to know the faculty. I loved meeting some of the dancers who were already in the company, and they were happy to share their insight dancing with San Diego Ballet.

What was your favorite experience of the summer intensive?

I enjoyed every aspect of the summer intensive, from the variety of classes, to meeting dancers from around the world. However, I’d have to say my favorite part was learning an excerpt of the ballet “Don Juan” choreographed by Javier Velasco and having the opportunity to perform it at the San Diego Museum of Art.

What was it like performing at the San Diego Museum of Art?

It was such a great experience to dance in this beautiful museum, located in Balboa Park. It was very exciting to do a public performance at such a popular location in San Diego. We did three performances that day of “Don Juan” and had the audience watching us from all around and even from above. I never imagined having the opportunity to perform in a historic museum, and I am so grateful I got to do so.

There will be more wonderful opportunities in the 2020 summer intensive, so reserve your space now for the audition on January 19th. Can’t make the in-person audition? We also accept video submissions. Priority acceptance is given to videos submitted through January 17th. We will also accept dancers through video audition through February 29th. Visit our summer intensive page to learn more.