June 2021 Carmel’s own Indiana Ballet Conservatory (IBC) is pleased to have students returning to its Summer Intensive—an eight-week program designed to give serious students a well-rounded dance education and exposure to the Vaganova-based curriculum provided by IBC. Taught by world-class instructors in a professional atmosphere, IBC’s Summer Intensive program will allow students to experience the training that has consistently won awards and recognition in the ballet world. IBC’s Summer Intensive program has quickly grown into one of the most well-regarded and sought-after summer programs for career-minded students. A Brief Overview of IBC IBC was founded in 2010 by Artistic Director Alyona Yakovleva-Randall. IBC’s mission as a preprofessional ballet school is to be committed to providing the best classical ballet training to its students and launching the next generation of dancers onto the world stage. IBC students continually place in top positions in national and international competitions and pursue professional careers in dance throughout the globe. Alyona Yakovleva-Randall Surviving the Unexpected With the generosity of its current students’ and alumni’s families, as well as supporters from throughout the community, Yakovleva-Randall shared that she was able to keep the school’s operations running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Swan Software Solutions, Harlan Foundation, the Griskie Family Foundation and the Wildshore Foundation are some of IBC’s most committed donors who have helped to keep IBC’s mission moving forward with little pause but a great deal of innovate thinking and flexibility on the parts of both the instructors and students. With safety at the forefront of its classes, IBC was able to transfer from online Zoom instruction back to in-person instruction in its studio. Yakovleva-Randall emphasized that she and her staff continue to work with county and state health officials as the pandemic restrictions become more relaxed and as more people become vaccinated. IBC continues to regularly test for COVID-19 among those who have not been vaccinated and follows all of the current recommended social distancing and disinfecting protocols. Innovative and Inspired Thinking IBC proudly presented its annual Summer Gala in 2020, safely outside on the Connor Prairie stage, and is excited to be returning to Conner Prairie for this year’s Summer Gala 2021 at the conclusion of its Summer Intensive program. Devout fans of IBC’s performances may recall that prior to 2020, IBC had collaborated with the Center for the Performing Arts and presented its beloved “The Nutcracker” in the majestic hall of the Palladium. Obviously, with the pandemic numbers surging last fall/winter, IBC was unable to perform in that venue but pivoted its programming so that it could perform at its studio for three scaled-down audiences comprised of family members of the students. Yakovleva-Randall has reassured her patrons that IBC has secured the dates of Nov. 27–28 for “The Nutcracker” and is thrilled beyond measure to be performing again at the Palladium! That being said, it was still a significant revenue loss for IBC. So, in February and March of 2021, Yakovleva-Randall and her staff rearranged their studio into a “black box theater” for performances that showcased contemporary pieces inspired by Shakespearean sonnets as fundraisers for IBC. “We had great support from our current families, our alumni and our generous donors and foundations,” Yakovleva-Randall shared. “This is how we survived, financially. And I truly, truly appreciate it.” The Importance of In-Person Instruction IBC moved from its traditional in-person, in-studio instruction to a virtual platform during last year’s governor-ordered shutdown as a direct result of the pandemic. Yakovleva-Randall explained that while student participation was “great,” it does not equally replace the benefits of in-person instruction. “We survived the Zoom teaching,” Yakovleva-Randall said. “And as we were in very close communication with the health departments, we slowly reopened our studio, beginning with one-on-one private lessons. We’ve been lucky enough to operate without a complete stop, and none of our students quit the professional program.” With the pandemic restrictions relaxing, IBC is thrilled to be able to operate its Summer Intensive program in person, which is not only better for the students—it’s safer. “My students adapted to the different training on Zoom and were able to keep themselves in shape,” Yakovleva-Randall said. “The dancers need a full barre observation with a mirror and space. For actors and musicians, it’s a different story. You can sing and practice lines in your kitchen, but it is dangerous to try to do pointe work. With in-person instruction, we can see the students’ muscles and observe everything at 100%. Instruction through a computer, it’s at 50%. You can see the body, but you don’t see the details of the muscles moving.” For more information on IBC’s 2021 Summer Intensive Program and its upcoming performances, visit indianaballetconservatory.org.