Bridging the Gap between a Summer Internship and the Wesleyan Experience

Shira Engel ’14 interviews Allison Hurd ’11 about how a summer internship was connected to an on-campus production.

Allison Hurd '11
Allison Hurd '11

During the summer of 2009, Allison interned for the Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group while the company was collaborating with Andréya Ouamba’s Compagnie 1er Temps of Dakar, Senegal. They created The Good Dance – dakar/brooklyn, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She spent every day with the artists and attended every rehearsal, discussion, and event. After the festival, she began working in Brooklyn and then, in the spring of 2010, she acted as the student liaison for the company’s performance of The Good Dance at Wesleyan.

Curious as to how to bridge the gap between summer activities and being a Wesleyan student, I asked Allison how her experience as a dance major informed her internship. She said:

“I think that because the Dance major fosters an approach to the art form not only from a physical, but also from a creative and an intellectual perspective, I was able to more fully apprehend how my experience as an intern touched upon all of these areas.  Because The Good Dance is about the metaphoric, historical, and real world parallels of the Mississippi and Congo Rivers and their cultures, the anthropological nature of the work resonated very strongly with me, and was augmented by the artistic partnership of Reggie and Andréya.  I was also able to engage with the piece’s structural and compositional elements, recognizing the choreographic tools used by Reggie and Andréya and implementing aspects of their artistry into my own.  The Dance major (and, really, in its own way, each academic department at Wesleyan) encourages creative curiosity, collaboration, and the acquisition of knowledge through experience.  I feel very strongly that my internship’s alignment with these aspects of my Wesleyan education powerfully contributed to its success.”

Allison provides an excellent example of how to connect the education she received on campus on a practical level off campus. She exemplifies the creative pursuits of Wesleyan students. The key lies in the ability to translate the experiences from a campus community to a larger audience and then back again.

Liz Lerman: Embodied Knowledge

“When excellence comes to excellence, and is sparked, there’s just nothing like that!” In this video, Liz Lerman discusses the innovative convergence of dance and science at Wesleyan University:

Liz Lerman: Embodied Knowledge

Many of you know that Wesleyan was the lead commissioner of Liz Lerman’s Ferocious Beauty: Genome, her groundbreaking work about the repercussions of genetic research.  One of Liz’s Wesleyan collaborators, Professor of Biology Michael Weir, wrote to her after the world premiere with an idea:

“Imagine a biology or genetics course that begins and ends with students experiencing [the Ferocious Beauty: Genome] piece, and imagine during the semester, when issues like Mendel or gene regulation or bioethics are covered, related parts of the piece were shown to the class. I am imagining that this experience would cause many students to build a new kind of framework in their minds causing them to be more inquisitive and thoughtful about the biology and its significance. They would make associations with the choreography and dance, and I wonder whether their thinking would be qualitatively richer?”

Five years later, with the support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Wesleyan and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange developed Science Choreography – a website that’s a digital textbook with a plethora of tools for teachers who are teaching genetics, evolution and other related issues.

Liz Lerman and Elizabeth Johnson from the Dance Exchange, and Laura Grabel, Michael Weir, and Laurel Appel from Wesleyan’s Biology Department are discussing Science Choreography as part of the Hughes Program‘s special summer symposium in the Life Sciences.