By Jen Dayton
On January 5, 2014 I left for Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts to start an artist services internship. While I was driving to Jacob’s Pillow that day I remember all the thoughts going through my head in anticipation of my experience. Driving back to Brockport three weeks later to start classes, I had no idea I would leave feeling content, accomplished, and as if I found a new sense of independence and purpose as someone who loves the arts.
While I was interning at Jacob’s Pillow I learned a lot about what it would be like to work in the off season festival environment and how much planning and preparation takes place before a world renowned festival such as Jacob’s Pillow begins. The levels of details that go into planning a prestigious festival can be overwhelming at times. The primary planning goal is to make sure everything runs smoothly during the festival and that all of the artists, companies, and seasonal faculty will be happy and get what they need. In large part, this goal can only be accomplished by communicating with the attending artists from all around the world and making sure all of their requests are covered. The work involved in the planning phase of the festival includes a review of artist contracts to ensure the right information and details are included, negotiations that have to occur, packets that need to be put together, finding places for the companies to stay, company meals and transportation. These are just a few things the department I interned with needed to take care of before the festival can begin.
One of the most memorable experiences I had at Jacobs’s Pillow occurred when I first arrived. I was staying in a house that many companies over the years had stayed in, and I remember trying to picture all of the professional dancers that had stayed in that farmhouse and wondering where they are today (most of them probably being some of my dance idols). Also, upon arriving that first day, I will never forget meeting all of the full time faculty and being given a tour of the grounds. Walking around the campus at Jacob’s Pillow and seeing the theaters was inspiring to me. The history behind a prestigious festival and how the campus was created and built still amazes me. Being able to intern at a place filled with so much history and dance was what made this experience that much more fulfilling. The companies that have performed in these theaters, Ted Shawn and his dancers building parts of the campus at Jacob’s Pillow and the Carter Family’s background on how Jacob’s Pillow was named; without the passion of these ground-breakers, the world at Jacob’s Pillow might not exist.
To sum it up, being able to intern at Jacob’s Pillow and feel as if I was a tiny part of what makes Jacob’s Pillow stay alive with the work I put in, made me feel a sense of accomplishment in doing my part as an advocate for the arts and the dance world. Furthermore, I will be returning to Jacob’s Pillow this summer to learn even more and experience all of the magic as the festival begins in May and I could not be more thrilled.