Classes & Programs / Dance

Summer Dance Intensive- July 2023

Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts (MCA) is excited to announce that we will be offering our 20th (yes 20th!) annual Summer Dance Intensive July 9- July 29, 2023. This year’s Intensive will commence in-person while following MCA’s recently updated Health and Safety Code of Conduct. Room and board will be offered as an option. We are so excited to offer a wonderful well-rounded and personal experience for intermediate and advanced dancers ages 11-25.

Dancers interested in attending the MCA Summer Dance Intensive are invited to attend in-person auditions at locations listed below this year.

If you cannot attend either of these two auditions, you may send in a video audition by May 1, 2023.

Please explore the schedule and Q & A below for more information and don’t hesitate to contact us at

Des Moines, Iowa
Saturday, March 4, 5:00-7:00pm
The Pointe Academy of Ballet and Contemporary Dance
6151 Thorton Ave- Suite 100
Des Moines, IA 50321

Winona, Minnesota
Saturday, March 25, 10:00am-12:00pm
Valencia Arts Center
1164 W 10th St.
Winona, MN 55987

The tuition fee for 2023 is $1500 for over 100 hours of instruction. In addition to merit based scholarships awarded at auditions, a limited number of need-based scholarships are available and are open to dancers from any location, however priority will be given to dancers within a 60 mile radius of Winona, MN.

Room and board is available. Cost is $1590 and covers lodging, meals, transportation and chaperones. Boarding location TBA.

Summer Dance Intensive FAQs

Will MCA's 2023 Summer Dance Intensive be In-Person?

The state of COVID-19 in our society remains ever changing, however, we feel confident that we can safely and successfully offer an in-person summer dance intensive experience. All dancers and teaching faculty will be required to follow our MCA COVID Code of Conduct to help keep our community healthy. We are offering room and boarding as an option.


How long does the 2023 Summer Intensive run?

MCA’s 2023 Summer Dance Intensive will run over three weeks, July 9-29. Classes will include ballet, pre-pointe/pointe, contemporary, jazz, modern, theory (such as dance composition, dance related careers, and costume design), and conditioning. Classes will run Monday- Saturday, 9am- 5:45pm. The schedule may vary a bit on July 28th and 29th as dictated by a dress rehearsal and final showcase. All dancers will have the opportunity to perform in the final showcase on July 29th for up to two friends or family per dancer can attend. Below is a sample daily schedule

The fee for over 100 hours of instruction is $1500. Past students are eligible for 25% returning student discount. Registration is limited based on acceptance and then by registration date. Priority will be given to those who have registered by May 1st. Visit the question about registration time and deposit for dates and refund policy.

Accepted students (including past participants) can register here.

Sample Daily Schedule (subject to change)

9:00-11:00 AM- Ballet Technique

11:00 AM- 12:15 PM- Pointe Technique & Variations

12:15- 1:15 PM- Lunch break

1:15-2:45 PM- Contemporary Dance Technique Class (Modern, Jazz, Contemporary)

3:00-4:10 PM- Theory class or repertory rehearsal (Site Specific Dance, Dance Composition, Body Image, Hula, Irish, Costume Design)

4:25-5:45 PM- Repertory rehearsal for final showcase

Three reasons dancers are choosing our Summer Dance Intensive?
  1. Well rounded dance experience….our intensive is rooted in a strong ballet technique but also offers dancers to explore modern, contemporary, dance composition and important dance related topics.
  2. Lots of personal attention….even in the digital format our instructors strive to give personal corrections and get to know dancers.
  3. Affordability….as a nonprofit organization we provide an affordable option for dance education.
What is the weekly schedule?

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic our schedule is still be developed. We hope to offer a performance opportunity for students who attend the 3-week in-person program. A more detailed scheduled is set to be released around May 1. 

Sample In-person Sumer Dance Intensive Daily Schedule (this is a sample schedule that may be modified to meet COVID related recommendations and regulations.)

7:30 am   Breakfast at Alverna Center

9-10:45 am  Ballet Technique Class for Yellow Level S#1

9-10:45 am Ballet Technique Class for Red Level S#2

11 am-12:15 pm Pointe Technique and Variations for Red Level S#1

11 am-12:15 pm  Pointe Technique and Variations for Yellow Level S#2

12:15-1:15 pm  Lunch at Alverna Center and free time

1:15-2:15 pm Theory Class: Dance Costume Design

2:15-3:30 pm  Contemporary Dance Technique Class (modern, jazz, African, hip hop, etc)

3:45-5:30 pm Repertory for selected dancers in S#1

3:45-5:30 pm Repertory for selected dancers in S#2

5:35 pm   Bus leaves for dinner on main campus

5:45-7 pm Dinner and Free Time

7-9 pm Arts and Culture Experience (attend a performance at Great River Shakespeare Festival, Minnesota Beethoven Festival, Minnesota Marine Art Museum, etc) OR Arts and Culture Class (Character Development Workshop, Theatrical Dance Makeup Seminar, Musical Theatre Repertory, Dance Aesthetics in Film, etc)

9:15 pm  Checked into dorms

10:00 pm  In bed

10:30 pm Lights out!


What is the registration timeline?

Registration is due no later than May 1, 2023, you can find the registration form here. The non-refundable deposit to hold you spot is $150 and will need to be paid at the time of registration. The first tuition and boarding payment is due on June 1st, with final payment due on July 1st.

What are the theory classes all about and how will they help me become a better dancer?

The three theory classes each week are designed to inspire creativity, provide important unique dance related experiences, and help dancers make new connections in the dance world. Below are the course descriptions.

Dance Composition – Class will explore a number of creative tools to inspire movement phrases.  Students will meet via Zoom each Monday to discuss work and receive peer feedback.  Choreography, once created, will need to be recorded and uploaded to a class Google drive folder. Instructor: Tammy Schmidt, MCA Director of Dance

Preparing for Performance Workshops – These theory classes will provide insight into preparing for dance production.  Our guest lecturers will provide interesting background on how dance costuming is designed and created, how theatrical makeup is designed and applied, as well as a discussion about utilizing dance performance psychology to create success and consistency onstage.  Each workshop has a hands-on component for student participation. Guest Speakers: TBA


What are the tuition fees and room & board?

The tuition fee for 2023 is $1500 for over 100 hours of instruction. In addition to merit based scholarships awarded at auditions, a limited number of need-based scholarships are available and are open to dancers from any location, however priority will be given to dancers within a 60 mile radius of Winona, MN.

Room and board is available. Cost is $1590 and covers lodging, meals, transportation and chaperones. Boarding location TBA.

As a student, do I have to participate in all the dance forms/ classes offered?

For the best experience and to see the most growth during the intensive, dancers are encouraged to register and participate in all classes and programs that are part of the intensive, however we know that everyone’s dance goals, at-home dance space, and schedules are unique, so we have a variety of cost saving packages.

If space allows Dancers who are interested only in a class or two are able to just register for the classes that they wish to attend. This is a perfect choice for dancers who are looking to supplement classes at their home studio. If a student will be traveling and is not able to commit to all three weeks, we encourage you to contact our office at to learn about in-advanced prorating options.

Please note that in order to participate in pointe class en pointe, dancers must be participating in at least two days of ballet classes a week and must attend the ballet class prior to pointe to ensure safety.


Do female students need to have experience dancing on pointe?

No, dancers who do not have pointe experience or who do not have a safe floor for pointe work are able to participate in pointe class en flat in their ballet slippers. Pointe class will strengthen muscles and technique for both pre-pointers and pointers.

Do I need to be a current or past participant of MCA to register?

No, any dancer of an intermediate or advanced level that is accepted (through virtual audition or video audition) is invited to participate. If in-person boarding and classes are possible, participation numbers may be very limited due to the pandemic. For our virtual programs, dancers from any geographic location are welcome. Please note that all classes will be listed and happen at Central Standard Time (CST).

Our program can also serve as a wonderful supplementary program if your home studio is opened up on a part-time basis, but you are looking to expand your training or dance knowledge this summer. Unlike with our traditional Summer Intensives we are offering many registration options and we are also happy to discuss pro-ration if one of our pre-arranged packages does not fit your needs.

Not sure if this program or level is right for you? Please contact us at: and we will help you find the right right.

Does MCA have any other summer programs?

Yes, MCA plans to offer a variety of dance and other arts programming throughout the summer including a Junior Dance Program. The Junior Dance Program (JTP) is from July 16-29. It is for intermediate students ages 9-16, with 3 years of ballet technique experience. Dance genres include dance technique classes, theory and arts enrichment classes. Final day showcase in the Page Theatre, Saint Mary’s University. Tuition fee is $760 and room & board (includes meals/transportation/chaperones) is $1060. Possible financial-need based scholarships available. Registration deadline is May 1, 2023.


Can you tell me a little more about Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts?

The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts (MCA) is a non-profit 501(c)3 community arts school and affiliate program of Saint Mary’s University of MN. MCA offers classes, camps, workshops, private lessons and performance opportunities in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts. MCA was founded as a Ballet School in 1973 and offers programs for ages 18 mo.- adults.  We are also the home of the Pre-Professional Dance Company, the Dance Repertory Company.

MCA’s programs are designed to encourage artistic expression, develop heightened self-respect, discipline, and confidence. Students and alumni have studied at or performed with: American Ballet Theatre, Ananya Dance Theatre, Ballet Chicago, Butler University, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Colorado Ballet, Columbia College, Continental Ballet, Eastman School of Music- Rochester University, Joffery Ballet, Julliard, Milwaukee Ballet School, Minnesota Ballet School, Minnesota Dance Theatre’s The Dance Institute, Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, Saint Olaf College, St. Paul City Ballet, Texas Christian University, The Laban institute, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, University of Missouri Kansas City, and Wichita State University among others.

We are a proud member of the National Guild for Community Arts School, National Dance Education Organization, and River Arts Alliance, and Winona Non-profit Alliance.

Where is Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts located?

The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts is located in the beautiful South Eastern Minnesota river town Winona, which is sandwiched between the bluffs. This small town with big arts is home to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, The Great River Shakespeare Festival, Minnesota Beethoven Festival, Midwest Music Fest and more. Winona is home to MCA’s affiliate, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Winona State University and South Eastern Technical College. It is a beautiful place take to hike, sit in a cafe, or stroll along the lake path. Families of students attending the intensive may want to plan a family vacation around the camp. Read While in Winona for some ideas of things you might enjoy in Winona.

Winona was named one of the16 most tourist-friendly cities in the U.S. by Expedia in 2017. Parents and students can also take comfort that while in Winona they are also in the city that was named 2016 Number 1 safest college town in America and the 18th safest city in America according to Safewise.

Here is a little video that sums up why we love Winona:







If I have more questions whom do I contact?

Please Contact:
Megan Baginewski,
MCA Administrative Assistant

Meet some of the Past and Future Guest Artists and Faculty for MCA’s Summer Dance Intensive:

Rachael Ryan

Rachael Ryan

Instructor - Dance & Music

A graduate from the Eastman School of Music, Ryan earned her Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance. While at school, she frequently performed with the Eastman Philharmonic, Eastman Collegium, and Ossia.  Over the years she has participated in several acclaimed music festivals such as Bowdoin International Music Festival, Colorado College Music Festival, The Quartet Program, the Rochester Early Music Festival, and Northern Lights Music Festival.   Ryan has performed with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Rochester Symphony Orchestra and has appeared as soloist with the Winona Oratorio Chorus and La Crosse Symphony Orchestra.  Additionally, she has worked alongside many of the world’s leading artists, prize-winning soloists, and Grammy-award winning musicians such as Phillipe Jaroussky, Paul O’Dette, Charles Castleman, Lika Yakupova, and Jaroslaw Nadrzycki.  Ryan’s performance on the Viola da Gamba at the Boston Early Music Festival in the Summer of 2011 was described as “mysteriously beautiful” by the Boston Globe.  Additionally, Ryan is an alum of MCA where she studied Classical ballet for over a decade.  She performed many soloist and principal roles as a member of MCA’s Dance Repertory Company.

Tammy Schmidt

Tammy Schmidt

Director of Dance

Schmidt holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Ballet from Texas Christian University and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Oklahoma. In 2017 she became an ABT (American Ballet Theatre) Certified teacher for Pre-Primary-Level 3 and in 2018 she was certified as Progressive Ballet Technique (PBT) Instructor. As director of dance, Schmidt leads and teaches in the dance division of MCA, as well as the dance minor program at Saint Mary's University. Additionally, she serves as artistic director for MCA's Dance Repertory Company. Schmidt has restaged and choreographed several full-length ballets for the company including: Cinderella, Paquita, The Nutcracker, Excerpts from Swan Lake, and the Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadère. Schmidt received the State of Oklahoma's Miguel Terekhov award for her original ballet, A Tender Age. Schmidt is a member of the American College Dance Festival Association and the National Dance Education Association. She has previously taught at Viterbo University, Winona State University, La Crosse Dance Centre, the University of Oklahoma, North Houston Ballet, and Backstage Dance Theatre. Her performing career includes work with Ballet Dallas, Houston Ballet, Ballet Austin, Milwaukee Ballet, and Oklahoma Festival Ballet. Contact Tammy at: or 507-453-5502.

Jessica Dienger

Jessica Dienger

Assistant Director of Dance & Instructor-Dance

Jess has been a dance educator since 2006. She currently teaches early childhood, jazz, tap, modern and hip hop at the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts and Saint Mary’s University and has taught as a guest instructor at Viterbo University. She has created original works for the Dance Repertory Company’s annual spring productions over the years, including In Session, in the hood, Kid You'll Move Mountains!, One Night at Gatsby's, and Unite as well as choreographing and restaging several of the company’s biennial productions of The Nutcracker. Dienger has also served as the assistant choreographer for several Fountain City River Player annual musicals including Sugar, Anything Goes, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Guys and Dolls. She served as choreographer for their last three summer productions of The Producers, Little Shop of Horrors and Hello, Dolly!. During her performing career, Dienger participated in many DRC spring productions as well as The Nutcracker. Her favorite roles include Spanish Chocolate (The Nutcracker), Spanish Fan Dance and Big Swan (Swan Lake), Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off tap quartet, Bugle Call Rag tap soloist and Drusilla (Cinderella). Outside of the Conservatory, Dienger was a founding member and dancer of the Two Lakes Dance Project in 2010 and performed in their debut performance Theories of Connection.

MCA is a proud member of the following organizations and programs:


Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts
1164 West Howard (10th) Street
Winona, MN 55987

Phone: 507-453-5500
Fax: 507-453-5507


Contact Us



Monday - Thursday- 9:00am-3:00pm and 3:45-8:00pm

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday- Closed


sponsor logo

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Instagram

© Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy | Site Feedback/Changes | Accreditation