DanceLink Fellowship Program: Wesleyan University Center for the Arts

Organization Name: Wesleyan University Center for the Arts

Department Submitting Recipe: Center for the Arts

City: Middletown

Program Name: DanceLink Fellowship Program

Program Length: 5 weeks

Program When Elaborate: Internship the summer before the performance

Goal: Increase the number of Wesleyan students engaged in contemporary dance, specifically their engagement with professional dance companies. Specifically, it was our hope to address how colleges can connect their students to professional dance companies, and how college students can help contextualize the work of contemporary dance companies for the college student audience (and the community at large).

Time of Year Offered: Summer

Program Description:

Wesleyan students interned with three professional dance companies during the summer, and then served as ambassadors for the companies when they were presented on campus during the 2013–2014 Breaking Ground Dance Series.

Number of Participants: Three Wesleyan dance students are selected from applications for the internship.

Target Audience: Wesleyan undergraduate students.

Is the program for kids? Instructional.

Private/Public Public

Nature of Audience Engagement: In the spring, undergraduate students apply for the summer internship opportunity, and are matched with a visiting dance company to be presented on campus next season.

Location: The internship occurs wherever the visiting artist dance company is located during the summer.

How Many Staff: Six Wesleyan folks implement the program, reviewing applications, contracting with the visiting artist dance company to arrange for the internship to be setup.

Marketing for Program: The program is marketed through the dance department to their students.

Cost for Program Participants: The interns are paid a stipend.

Attendance To Date: Three

Past Iterations: Once: the first season was 2013-2014.

What works? It is important to interview visiting artist companies on what they are looking for in a fellow before the student interview process begins. The dance company needs to interview the nominated student before the student is given the fellowship. It is necessary to having student fellows provide a marketing plan for the peer-to-peer marketing that can be reviewed by Press & Marketing Director before it is implemented. It is important to have a young person inform an audience about why they feel an artist is important. It affords an audience a point of view beyond the “expert” point of view. We succeeded in increasing the number of students who attended dance performances in FY14 over FY13 by 11% and we increased the number who attended workshops or classes taught by the visiting dance companies by 32%. The project proved that peer-to-peer marketing conducted by the DanceLink Fellows who served as on-campus dance company ambassadors, in addition to our regular marketing mix, was successful in increasing student engagement.

What doesn't work? Student fellows need prompting in terms of what should be included in a pre-show talk; there needs to be editing time and time for the student to be coached on public speaking. Also, the production of the videos about the companies (where the DanceLink Fellows served as interviewers) was the most challenging component of our project. The videos were difficult to manage logistically because of the three different sits of the companies, and it's very time-consuming to film and edit. We noted that in our cohort, a number of organizations had staff videographers, which would help streamline this work.

Performances Where Offered: We only offer this internship around visiting artist dance company performances, not dance department faculty or student performances.

Past Research on Program: No.

Continuing Program? Yes we are continuing this program in the 2014-2015 season.

Additional Comments:

Key accomplishments of which we are most proud include:
a. The extent to which our DanceLink Fellows learned about the inner workings of dance companies and how it informed their decision-making post-college.
b. The fact that we were able to honor our dance students with summer fellowship stipends on a par with those paid to science student fellows.
c. We were able to create videos of each of the interns talking about their experiences and they had an average of 62 views each on YouTube.
d. The deeper relationship we have with the Dance Department because of the existence of a fellowship program for their students and because we were able to engage and compensate faculty to become D/D/D facilitators.
e. The development of this program model: the DanceLink Fellows will continue in slightly modified forms in FY15.

Resources & Links:

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Target Audiences College Students General Audiences

Event Formats Dance 101 - How to introduce contemporary dance to the novice adult

Online Engagement In person

Social Bonding Aspects With other "guides" such as students, volunteers