Volkmann, a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and a minor in social work, participated in the top dance training level in River North Dance Chicago’s Summer Intensive. In this program, she trained with the River North Dance Chicago’s faculty and dancers along with instructors from other Chicago dance companies. In the company’s Level 8 program, she participated in classes and rehearsals ranging from ballet, modern and contemporary to jazz and improvisation for more than 40 hours a week.
“I fell in love with River North Dance Chicago in my early teens and wanted to audition for their college/pro summer training program (now called level 8). A good way to find if you really like a company and their work is to emerge yourself in the programs the company offers,” Volkmann said.
She was accepted into the program after auditioning at one of the company’s “One Day Workshops.” She said she was excited to be placed in the highest Level 8 program.
Along with the dance classes, the Level 8 program offered open lunch seminars on Tuesdays and Thursdays where faculty and dancers would discuss nutrition, business, money management and how to keep dance in their lives.
“You can’t dread the rehearsal process and hurry to get on stage; you need to have purpose for why you are in the studio all day to only spend so much time on stage. After hearing current dancers of the company share their journey, I understood that it’s smart not only to have a blueprint and goals, but also to embrace spontaneity. Someone is always going to work harder or be more talented than you, that should not be why you do what you do,” said Volkmann.
Her favorite part of the program, she said, was meeting other dancers from different backgrounds.
“I woke up at 6:30 a.m. to catch the Metra train to the city and then walked 30 minutes to the studio. I really got to experience what it’s like dancing as a company member,” Volkmann said.
At the end of the three-week program, the dancers got to perform the repertoire in an informal showing.
She looks to continue pursuing dance after this summer program.
“For me, there is no ‘after college.’ It’s now,” she said.