We have been lucky to have two great interns from Simon Fraser University this year. Anna Dueck and Gerta Heba share what working at The Dance Centre has been like for them:
I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, growing up as a competitive dancer in a variety of styles as well as completing a fine arts dance program in my high school. I knew come grade 12 I wanted to pursue dance in an academic setting further, which led me to auditioning and being accepted into the Bachelor of Fine Arts Dance Major program at Simon Fraser University. Halfway through my third year, an Administrative Assistant position became available with The Dance Centre. The FPA 406 Internship in Contemporary Arts course provided me the opportunity to gain experience in a field I am interested in pursuing after graduation. Organizing and planning events had always been an interest of mine while dance had always been my passion; working for The Dance Centre as an intern allowed me to combine the two.
Finishing almost a year with The Dance Centre, I have been privileged to take part in a variety of projects including the Granville Social, Dance In Vancouver, and the conversion of thousands of videos in the newly-renovated archival video library. The Granville Social demonstrated to me the ways of reaching the broader community of downtown Vancouver. Programming free dance performances, providing information through brochures and giving away promotional material resulted in a successful event.
Dance In Vancouver was my favourite project. I was able to see well-established dance organizations from all over the world connect with local artists to continue the development of dance. This five-day event brought together national and international dance presenters to interpret what Vancouver as a dance community is producing, allowing artists the ability to push their work further. Having a small leadership role creating a Guidebook App for the presenters, ordering promotional material for their goodie bags and taking part in internal planning enhanced my event organization repertoire.
The Dance Centre’s Instagram account is my biggest accomplishment as part of the team. I started the account in May, as another platform for reaching a broader community. I’ve seen the account grow to over 360 followers and help reach new dance lovers through a different form of communication. As an avid Instagram user myself, I was surprised to see how an art form such as dance, that captures moments through photography, has not expanded on Instagram as much as I expected. Pictures allow us an insight into an artist’s work and have the potential to provide followers with a new perspective of what is happening in the dance world.
I’ve learnt that artists begin working months if not years before they present and finalize their work without ever having the opportunity to be toured. I was unaware of how much preparation there was in programming a season in terms of marketing, artists, dancers and timing. This type of information does not get taught through courses at SFU, and as a student I appreciated getting to learn these processes hands on. The Dance Centre has provided me a much larger appreciation for the work in arts administration, sparking an interest for a career in administration and marketing after graduation. I’ve also acquired the appreciation of the work that goes into running a building requiring front of house staff, volunteers, technical crew, front desk reception and studio scheduling...the list goes on!
What surprised me the most about this past year was how much support and love there is for the art of dance, down to the nitty gritty preparations to even create a studio showing. The coordination between artists, marketing a performance, meeting box office targets, finding time to add lighting to the show and making sure the building is ready for the event. It has taught me that coordinating multiple elements and people, is a task I enjoy overseeing - schedules, to-do lists, email communication and meeting arrangements.
I am looking forward to using the experience and knowledge I have gained from The Dance Centre staff and Scotiabank Dance Centre in my future endeavours. I would like to thank the entire team for providing me such an enriching opportunity, allowing me to grow while supporting my academic studies!
Art is what fuels my soul, creativity, passion, and purpose in life. When I was a kid I was singing before I could speak, and I have always been immersing myself in different art forms such as piano, singing, guitar, and dance. My dream is to work in the music industry, as a professional singer-songwriter and write music with substance, that can not only bring people happiness, but inspire them, and heal them in their times of trouble just has music has done with me. Seeing that music is a cutthroat industry, I decided to study Communications as a back-up plan, after speaking with other students and professionals in the field who expressed to me that Communications would be a right fit for me if I wanted to work in the music industry. Although the discipline can be quite theoretical at times, I have learned valuable information that can be applied to any work place. Some of the marketing strategies, methods of communication, and PR tactics I learned in school, crossed over to the practical tasks I undertook at The Dance Centre.
I applied for the Administrative Assistant position with The Dance Centre through a contemporary arts internship program organized by my university, SFU. Preceding this internship, I was rummaging through different job descriptions, trying to find an appealing co-op position that would be compatible with my interests and help me obtain some practical work-experience in the Arts/Communications field. Unfortunately, I was not able to place a co-op position, but I consider this a blessing in disguise because I got the opportunity to work at a great organization with an honorable mandate.
Besides the playful dancing I do in my house to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the only professional dance experience I have had is being on the hip-hop dance team in high school for one year. Coming from a non-dance background, I was in for a surprise when I started my internship. Before joining the team, I was not very involved in BC’s dance scene, and did not keep myself up to date with the happenings of BC dance, or even arts and culture in general. Being a singer-songwriter myself and having a passion for music, I have mostly attended music performances, and very few arts/cultural performances in Vancouver. Reflecting on this experience, I can say with confidence that I have gained an utmost respect and appreciation for dance culture, and arts organizations as a whole.
Gaining an inside perspective on the work that goes on behind the scenes to sustain the organization and build its community has really helped me appreciate not-for-profit arts organizations. Everyone at The Dance Centre works independently in their respective jobs, yet there is a beautiful harmonious relationship that is developed, in pursuit of making a difference in the lives of dancers and supporting the dance scene in BC. I have come to realize that not-for-profit arts organizations are understaffed for the amount of work they have on their plate, but they are still whole-heartedly putting in the effort day in and day out, because of their passion to improve the dance landscape, and there is something to be said about that.
This internship has not only helped me appreciate arts organizations, but has influenced me to appreciate dance as an art form more. I have been exposed to a variety of different contemporary dance styles, which are a part of the Global Dance Connections performance series, as well as mixed dance genres that are included in the Discover Dance! series. Experiencing the Danny Nielsen + Friends tap dance show was truly incredible. From the rush of the people swarming into the theatre, to the anticipation of the crowd waiting for Danny to present, and the audience being kept on the edge of their seats during the performance - I was moved by this atmosphere. There is a beautiful chemistry between the performers and the audience that occurs at a dance show, it is not a unilateral experience where the performers are delivering to the audience, but it is a mutual artistic experience, where the performers are thriving off of the audience’s energy. Relatively, tap dance is a style that is not emphasized much in the mainstream dance landscape, so it is exciting to be exposed to hidden gems like the tap dance genre. There is a great deal of unrecognized beautiful art and talented artists in BC, and The Dance Centre has had a significant impact in exposing these treasures. I am grateful for the experience of working at such an honorable organization, and I know that I will be coming back for more shows in the future.
THANK YOU Anna and Gerta, from all of us at The Dance Centre!
Photos top to bottom: Anna Dueck in class/courtesy SFU; Julio Borgwardt teaching salsa at the Granville Social/Chris Randle; Dance In Vancouver studio showing/Dance Centre staff; Gerta Heba/Graceleen Cruz; Danny Nielsen + Friends/Chris Randle.