For dancers, summers don’t always mean sleeping in, laying out by the pool and staying far away from school. In fact, many spend hours a day in classes, and lounging in bed is made difficult by early mornings in dance studios. Summer intensives are known as such for a reason; those who have attended tend to remember them with a combination of a smile and a grimace.

Intensives usually stretch from one week to a couple months and the programs often have kids in dance classes for six or seven hours a day. The experience acts as a rite of passage for many, and not just from a training perspective. Students are usually between the ages of 12 and 18 or 20 or so, and summer intensives provide a structured way for young adults to be away from their parents.

These can also act as extended auditions. Ballet and modern schools often use the time to observe dancers in a close and consistent environment, evaluating whether each student would be a valuable addition to a training program or second company.

The non-intensive type of audition is another summer staple, with dancers flocking to impress directors of prominent companies. These can be international affairs and, for some companies, the idea of auditioning for them is brand-new. The Bolshoi, for instance, held their first open audition happened recently.

The New York Times recently ran an excellent feature on dancers completing summer intensives in New York City. The Moscow News also detailed the first open audition held at the Bolshoi, ever. Both happen during the summer and both represent important rituals in the dance world, whose memories tend to eclipse lazy afternoons on a beach.