by Ashley David
After a long seven-hour car ride from Maryland, I was tired, nervous and excited all at once, not knowing exactly what to expect from my new press/editorial internship position at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts. As I got off of the highway onto Jacob’s Ladder Road, a scenic byway in Western Massachusetts, my heart skipped a beat. Between trees, rolling hills and a beautiful lake, everything I saw out of my car window was green or blue. Having lived in only metropolitan-suburban areas outside of Baltimore, MD or Washington, D.C., the abundance of nature both intrigued and frightened me. As I continued driving on this gorgeous byway, now only 15 minutes away from my destination, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach fluttering around. It wasn’t until I saw this famous sign directing me to turn off the road that it finally felt real—I was in for the summer of a lifetime at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival!
At this point, I could not contain my excitement any longer. I let out a squeal and performed my own little happy dance before heading back towards check in because at that moment, I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be.
As a dance and communication-public relations student at the University of Maryland, College Park, arts administration is something that has always been a driving career goal. While it is not necessarily a path that is offered directly, I have found my own way into that world. I love performing and teaching dance as well, but am most focused on finding the intersection between my passion for dance and skill set in public relations. Here at Jacob’s Pillow, I know the tools and resources are endless for me to explore and learn.
As a treasured 220-acre National Historic Landmark, a recipient of the prestigious National Medal of Arts, and the home to America’s longest running dance festival, Jacob’s Pillow is part of the elite team when it comes to arts administration. The 32 interns that make up the intern program here are some of the most driven and motivated individuals I have ever had the privilege of working with. They push me to work harder and stay on top of my a-game. Then, there’s the staff who take on so many roles besides making sure the festival runs—these people are mentors, educators and administrators. I feel like every corner I turn at the Pillow and every conversation I have, I end up discovering something new. There is truly never a boring day.
I have been here prepping for the 10-week festival for four weeks already by learning and experiencing everything to do with life as a press/editorial intern including writing and editing press releases, media advisories , pitching emails, and programs, as well as giving tours and working in the box office. Through all of this, I almost forgot that the Festival includes so much more and that prepping is only the beginning! The students for the ballet program arrived earlier this week and artists for the gala arrived today. Things are finally kicking off and I could not be more excited as the atmosphere is abuzz with nervous energy and anticipation from everyone for the summer and Festival to actually begin. These past four weeks of preparation have been considered “negative” weeks and the first week of Festival is really like a whole new beginning.
The most unique thing about the Pillow that I have discovered so far is the environment. Staff, interns, students, artists and patrons alike can all be found within the same area, engaging in conversation with one another. There is no hierarchy that is created from one person to the next—we are all just people and each person’s craft is treated the same. While I will definitely still be a little star struck to see someone like Wendy Whelan casually walking outside of my office window, the Pillow is teaching me that the dance industry is a tangible world. I am so eager to see what kind of opportunities come forth from this summer and I cannot wait for the memory making to continue. All I hope is that I don’t blink my eyes and it’s all over!
Intern Ashley David is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park where she double majors in communication-public relations and dance. Her ultimate goal is to combine her public relations skills with her passion for dance and become a well-rounded arts manager.
In summer 2012, she had her first experience in the Washington D.C. arts management world as a PR/Marketing intern for the nonprofit organization, CityDance. She spearheaded many marketing, design and public relations projects in the administrative office and worked at the conservatory. In September 2012 she had the privilege of dancing with the amazing CityDance faculty in the first annual faculty show, FRESH VISIONS: under one umbrella.
During the school year she is the Undergraduate Assistant to the Director of Marketing and Communications for the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland, College Park. She focuses on managing the website and marketing news and events through digital and social media.
In her spare time, she is the Secretary of UM UnBound Dance Team, Secretary of the UMD Chapter for the Public Relations Student Society of America, House Representative for the UMD Chapter of Delta Chi Xi-Honorary Dance Fraternity Inc., a Student Ambassador for UMD College of Arts and Humanities, a Tour Guide for Maryland Images and a Morale Captain for Terp Thon.