by Ashley David
Who would have thought this suburban/city born and raised girl could have made it for 10 weeks in the woods? I certainly would have never thought so, but it looks like I have! I am more than halfway through my Press/Editorial Internship at Jacob’s Pillow Dance, America’s longest running international dance festival, and I can sufficiently say I am a “Pillow Person.”
For six days a week and on average somewhere between 8-12 hours a day, I am hard at work writing and editing programs and press releases, sending heaps of emails, meeting with journalists, giving tours, and selling tickets at the box office. All of this was in the job description and what I knew would be happening before I arrived here. What I didn’t realize would become such a large part of the experience is all of the other, incredible opportunities of working where the New York Times calls “the dance center of the nation.”
Let me give you just a few of my favorite experiences from Pillow life so far:
- Dancing at the Jacob’s Pillow Gala next to New York City Ballet legend Wendy Whelan and tap-goddess Michelle Dorrance.
- Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner with every artist that comes here to perform in the historic Stone Dining Room. I mean, seriously, I casually said good morning to former Batsheva in-house choreographer Barak Marshall, and his mother the legendary artist Margalit Oved every day the week they were at the Pillow.
- Walking down the stairs of my second floor office to peek into the attached Bakalar Studio (the same studio that Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers used to rehearse and perform in the 1930s) to watch awe-struck as Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet does a ballet barre.
- Working in the box office and selling tickets to some of our patrons who have been “coming to the Pillow since the days of Ted Shawn.” I once even had a woman tell me she has a picture of herself sitting on Ted Shawn’s knee from when she was a young girl.
- Having access to the most comprehensive dance archives in the world. I was doing research to design a Pillow tour specifically for kids and decided to ask for some advice from the Director of Preservation on what to look for in the vast archives. He directed me to a children’s book written about a young girl’s adventure at the Pillow. I opened the front cover and what did I find? A handwritten note from the author to Ted Shawn in 1956.
- Meeting acclaimed dance critics such as Deborah Jowitt, Janine Parker of The Boston Globe, and Brian Seibert of The New York Times. Soon I will also be meeting legendary New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay and editor-in-chief of Dance Magazine, Wendy Perron.
- Spending 45 minutes talking to Kina Poon, the Associate Editor of Dance Magazine, about my experience at the Pillow, her background in dance, and our favorite dance companies—including my obsession with Keigwin + Company.
- Designing and implementing the kid’s tour to more than 100 children and parents as well as creating a special “Pillow Passport” for kids to bring with them during the tour.
- Hanging out at the Pillow pub after a performance and looking at the table next to me to find none other than the award-winning musician Toshi Reagon, who performed live original compositions for Dorrance Dance’s world premiere of The Blues Project.
- Taking an hour and half master class with every artist who performs in the Doris Duke Theatre including such artists as Shantala Shivalingappa, Brian Brooks, Tere O’Connor, Michelle Dorrance, and Kyle Abraham.
The list could really go on and on, but this is just a snapshot into what is every day, normal life inside of the Pillow bubble. Most important of all, I am surrounded by staff and interns who are passionate about the same thing I am, and want to share that passion with me. I don’t feel like I am the stereotypical intern doing mindless, unnecessary tasks. What I do matters and what I do would not be completed if I was not here. This sense of responsibility and worth is a priceless part of the experience and something I truly cherish. Not only am I completing my tasks, but also I am learning throughout the entire process. Special intern seminars to teach us about the ins and outs of arts administration are held every other week as well as “lunchtime learning sessions” with various staff members on other topics in the field. If I still feel like I have a specific question, I am encouraged to explore my curiosities and seek answers.
One of my favorite quotes by Edgar Winter states, “I can’t imagine anything more worthwhile than doing what I most love, and they pay me for it.” While I don’t necessarily get paid as an intern right now (although I do get free room and board, performances, and classes) this internship encompasses what I love–in the industry I would like to be a part of in the future. While there have been the occasional bumps along the road, there is nowhere I would have rather spent my summer. My eyes are open to the world around me, and my hunger to succeed in the dance industry as an administrator, performer, educator, etc. is stronger than ever. I only hope that my final weeks here do not completely fly by because I am not so sure I am ready yet for the bittersweet goodbye!
Intern Ashley David is a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park where she double majors in communication-public relations and dance. Her ultimate career goals are to perform dance, teach dance and combine her public relations skills with her passion for dance and become a well-rounded arts administrator.
Currently, Ashley is spending her sumer at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival as a Press and Editorial Intern with Jacob’s Pillow Dance during their 2013 Festival Season. She is responsible for conducting media relations with all artists performing in the Doris Duke Theatre, one of two theaters at the Pillow. She will write press releases, show programs, pitches, and media advisories, maintain a media archive, and create press packets. She will also be gaining experience working in the box office and giving tours, including a specially designed kid’s tour.
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 President of UM UnBound Dance Team, Internal Development Morale Captain for Terp Thon, Event Coordinator and Dance Instructor for the UMD Chapter of Delta Chi Xi-Honorary Dance Fraternity Inc., a member of the Maryland Dance Ensemble, a Student Ambassador for UMD College of Arts and Humanities, a Tour Guide for Maryland Images and a member of Maryland Students for the Arts.
Ashley couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to intern with 4dancers! Her responsibilities include maintaining, formatting and updating the 4dancers website. Additionally, she writes blog posts, manages social media and link builds with other blogs.
For more information about Ashley, please visit: http://ashleymdavid.wordpress.com/