Wednesday, April 13, 2011

from Shanleigh Philip, GMU class of 2010

1. Can you describe a typical day in your position at The Joyce Theater assisting executive director Linda Shelton? What are the most exciting (and least exciting?) parts of your job? 

A typical day for me begins by quickly glancing through my emails, checking voicemails, and reviewing my boss's schedule for the day. When she arrives, I update her on any changes that have been made or things that have happened overnight that she should be aware of immediately. She lets me know of anything on her end as well. Once we are caught up, I spend about 90% of the day coordinating her schedule for the upcoming days, weeks, months, and even years! The Joyce not only operates their theater in Chelsea 52 weeks out of the year, but also runs Joyce SoHo and DANY Studios. Aside from The Joyce, my boss is very active in the local, national, and international dance community, so it is important for me to help her balance her many lives as efficiently as possible! Because there are so many people she needs to meet with inside and outside of The Joyce, it is my job to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks as well as prioritize her commitments, meetings, etc.  It amazes me everyday how busy she is, and one day seems to be busier than the next. I also plan all of her business travels. Since June I have helped in planning trips to San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Baltimore, London, and Cuba. I also help organize materials for our weekly staff meetings and speak with our Board of Trustees on a regular basis. Anytime my boss is unavailable, I usually speak to people on her behalf. The most exciting part of my job is that I am in a theater where dance companies are in and out every week. I get to meet all of the staff, artistic director, and dancers. I still become a bit star-struck! I also get tickets to any performance that is here, and even better, I usually get to bring Chrissy as my date. Since January, we have seen 13 companies here. I would say that the least exciting part, or most frustrating part, is finding enough time in the day for my boss to get everything done. I find that is where my creativity comes into play - sometimes she covers more of the city, going from meeting to meeting, than any tourist could even dream of and it is my responsibility to chart the best course.

2. What was it like to come back and see the current GMU students performing in the Gala in April?

It was such an incredible feeling to see the current GMU students perform. Chrissy and I were quite giddy the whole way down to DC and back to NYC. I felt really proud to go back to a place that gave me the foundation of my career. I kept thinking to myself how excited I am to be associated with GMU's School of Dance. It was fun to come back to The Joyce and tell my boss about the pieces that were performed in the Gala; she was quite impressed! I definitely think the School of Dance instills commitment, passion, and endurance into its students and those are qualities that are useful no matter where your career takes you.

3. What is the most important advice/suggestion you can pass on to someone graduating this year?

Similar to what Chrissy said, it's okay not to have it all figured out just yet. I will embarrass Chrissy a little and say that she has helped me so much with this. I'm not sure what I would do without her constant support and optimistic advice. I am someone who wants a backup plan for their backup plan, and sometimes that's a good thing, but uncertainty and spontaneity have brought a lot of excitement to my life over the past 11 months!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

from Chrissy Tully: "Communication is key."

Hearing about the adventures and accomplishments of students who graduate from GMU's School of Dance is without a doubt one of the best parts of teaching. When current students presented the School of Dance Gala last weekend, Shanleigh Philip (in the photo above on the left) and Chrissy Tully (on the right) from the Class of 2010 were in the audience at the Center for the Arts. Their current positions with The Joyce Theater (for Shanleigh) and Ellen Jacobs Associates (for Chrissy) give them an insider’s perspective on how choreographers and companies survive and thrive. I asked Chrissy to answer some questions about her day-to-day life, and also to offer advice to students graduating this semester…. Here are her replies:

Can you describe a typical day? What are the most exciting (and least exciting?) parts of your job?

Chrissy: I know it sounds a bit cliché, but there is no typical day in my position. However, there are standard procedures, such as editing press releases, archiving press on clients, drafting press kits, respecting deadlines, etc. It's the unexpected part of my day that is the most exciting. When I get the opportunity to attend a photo call and see a work the day before its premiere, and when I get to interact with choreographers and artists one-on-one, that's what makes it all worthwhile.

What was it like to come back and see the current GMU students performing?

Chrissy: It was a unique experience coming back to GMU and watching the current dance majors. It definitely seems much longer than a year ago that I was on that same stage. While watching the Gala, it was clear that the students in the School of Dance are outstanding--they're strong, versatile, and above all, powerful movers. That being said, power isn't always art. I know there are students who were not chosen to be in any of the selected pieces in the evening's program, but that does not mean that they are any less of an artist. Some of the greatest works I have seen since living in NYC had little to do with technique. I know from being in their shoes, or lack thereof, that the competitiveness can be discouraging. Some people aren't meant for the most well-known companies out there, but that doesn't mean they don't have a shot at pursing their passion.

What is the most important advice/suggestion you can pass on to someone graduating this year?

Chrissy: Some advice to pass on to someone graduating this year is that you don't always have to have "it" figured out. Life can take you in all sorts of unexpected directions and you just have to go with it and make the most of every situation you're in. A suggestion I have is to see and read about as much of the arts as you possibly can. The more you immerse yourself in the arts world, the more exciting and fascinating it will be.

Are there classes or experiences you had as an undergraduate that prepared you for what you are doing now? or looking back on your college years do you wish you had taken a class or experienced something that would be useful for your careers today?

Chrissy: 9am dance classes Monday-Friday were definitely a preparation for what I am doing now!