As I transition to my Fellowship Practicum assignment in Boston, MA, I have tried to take some time to reflect on the six beautiful weeks I spent working at Jacob’s Pillow, attending dance performances, and connecting to so many talented and interesting people with different backgrounds and personalities. This question keeps coming to my mind: What is my relationship to the dance? I’m not a professional dancer, I’m just a dance archivist – how important is that in the big scheme of things?
Everyone who contributes to the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival — as a staff member, scholar, intern, student, company member, or archives fellow — has a different story about how they became involved in the dance world, or where they hope to go in the future. And yet each person is just as important as the next, because it takes all of us doing our individual part to make the Festival a success, just as a dance company relies on each member to contribute their unique strengths for a successful performance. There is more to the dance than dancers and choreographers alone — the dance is rich, and encompasses an equally rich and diverse population.
Coincidentally, this topic was explored recently in the NY Times, where professionals like Christopher Duggan, Photographer in Residence at Jacob’s Pillow, shared their story of how and why they chose to apply their trade in the dance world. I can’t do what a dancer does, and most dancers would be lost in the Archives — but a dancer and an archivist working together can make some real magic happen.
At Jacob’s Pillow, my professional and personal relationship to the dance has been extremely well fed through the variety of programs and performances I have been able to enjoy (see my last post: Scholarship at the Pillow), and also because of the relationships that were nurtured through shared activities and serendipitous opportunities to learn from one another. My time there was wonderful in every aspect — I cannot express the depth of my appreciation for all of the gifted people I have met and worked with, especially for my project supervisor, Norton Owen. In every way, my passion and commitment to work in dance archives and collections and to give back to the dance has been strengthened and refreshed.
I look forward to a similarly positive and rewarding experience from my Practicum assignment, but I will never forget this summer at Jacob’s Pillow!