Three Meredith College seniors spent the summer working with the American Dance Festival (ADF) in Durham, N.C. Sierra Smith, Monica Rivera, and Natalie Piper were offered the opportunity to be a part of a six-week internship program with the festival.
As active participants in the Meredith dance program, the seniors had a great learning experience with ADF. The festival brings in dancers and choreographers from around the world. ADF has been around for more than 50 years and is among the most well-known dance festivals internationally.
Each of the women participated in different ways that allowed them to be immersed in areas of their choice.
Smith was a performance intern for the festival and worked directly with performers and artists. Her duties involved picking up performers from the airport, creating itineraries, and helping set up and take down shows. Smith said one of her favorite memories from her summer was meeting Bill T. Jones, a professional dancer, choreographer, and director who was a 2013 recipient of the National Medal of Arts.
As a stage craft apprentice, Rivera was able to take classes in the morning and work in the theatre in the afternoon. She learned how to build show sets in detail, from lighting to sound.
“The job of my crew was to set shows up and make them come to life for the performers,” Rivera said. “As a dancer, this taught me to never take my crew for granted and always appreciate all the work they put into making a show successful.”
Piper, a double major in dance and graphic design, knew she wanted to get involved as a dancer, but when the opportunity to be a graphic design intern for the festival arose, she knew this was the perfect way to combine her passions. Piper also took classes in the morning and worked in the ADF office after lunch. While in the office, she designed several projects including banners, signs, tickets, and books.
“My favorite part was the realization that I was working for ADF,” said Piper. “Because of me, they have these banners and books that they actually use and I got to see my work in print. It was really cool.”
The three women are extremely grateful to the Meredith dance program for the chance to work with ADF. When asked what they would take away from their internships, they all agreed that the networking and relationships with other dancers and choreographers were paramount.
“I enjoyed getting to know other performers,” Smith said. “It showed me just how small the dance community is and I really liked that.”
Alyson Colwell-Waber, professor of dance, is extremely proud of the women for their involvement with the dance festival and is thankful for the experiences students received in areas about which they are passionate. She believes that these internships are important for students in gaining experience and training outside the studio.
“As a faculty member, it makes me so happy to see them applying their knowledge from the classroom out in the real world,” said Colwell-Waber. “I love to see my students thrive on campus as well as off campus.”
By Emma Watson, ’18
Main photo by Ben McKeown