Teacher and Student

SUMMER DANCE LAB (SDL) was begun at the behest of the Washington State Arts Commission in 1971. The program was the result of 9 practicing professional dancers drawn from the Joffrey Ballet, New York City Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre; convening to create a training program that would meet the needs of young dancers. The program emphasizes small classes and personalized instruction by a staff of professionals who are specialized in various disciplines. Summer Dance Lab has been a part of Whitman College since 1976.

It was decided by this group that a program should meet the ever-changing and constantly demanding problems presented by contemporary choreographers. The results of this gathering produced a curriculum that included Ballet Technique, Pointe, Partnering classes, Modern Dance, Jazz, Character, and American Theatre Dance. The program was an immediate success and has since been replicated throughout the United States by many organizations.

 Male DancerThe founder of SDL, Charles Bennett, led an exemplary career within which he established a world renowned reputation for his dancing, choreography, and directing.

The SDL program is an outgrowth of this career and the highly talented artists who have taught and developed the special curriculum of SDL over the years. SDL represents a valuable and unique legacy in the dance world and has a reputation that is respected throughout the Northwest.

The SDL program focuses on developing well rounded dancers who have the proper depth of training and experience that prepares them for a sustained career with the tools that will enable them to meet the demands of an ever changing dance world.

SDL has produced a comprehensive curriculum which includes Ballet Technique, Pointe, Partnering, Modern Dance, Jazz/Hip-Hop, Character and American Theater Dance, plus a number of new electives each year.

Housed on the campus of Whitman College in the beautiful historic town of Walla Walla, WA, students take classes in clean, ample studio spaces, and have use of campus facilities while being provided with 24 hour campus security. The program emphasizes small classes and personalized instruction by specialists in their various disciplines. Training is designed to help foster a positive environment for students to learn and grow.

Blue Mountain Foundation Scholarships and other financial aid awards are available to students showing need.  A financial aid form must be submitted to be considered for any financial aid.