St. Olaf College | News

Connecting with the Kennedy Center

MastersAbby250x375It wasn’t just fancy footwork that helped St. Olaf College dance major Abby Masters ’13 land a prestigious internship at the Kennedy Center this fall.

It was also the ability to tap into a large network of St. Olaf faculty and alumni who are willing to help students move from one opportunity to the next.

Masters had long been interested in an internship at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and discussed her interest with St. Olaf Entrepreneur in Residence Sian Muir. Muir connected her with Erik Wallin ’03, currently the general manager of New York’s famed St. Ann’s Warehouse Theatre, who had interned at the Kennedy Center a decade earlier.

“Erik was more than willing to tell me about his experience working for the Kennedy Center,” says Masters. “With his help, I had an informational interview with the director of dance programming within a few weeks.”

Through her internship, Masters has provided support for three primary functions of the department: programing the ballet and contemporary dance seasons, supporting the local dance community, and producing the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, the company housed at the Kennedy Center. Her projects have ranged from managing the extras in the Joffrey Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker to coordinating the Kennedy Center’s performances of the 2013 Local Dance Commissioning Project.

While her experience as a dancer was certainly a contributing factor to her landing the job, Masters feels that the lessons she learned outside the studio at St. Olaf helped her succeed as well.

“I feel very confident as a young professional entering the field of dance — as well as the greater arts community — with the ability to analyze, promote, and make dance a sustainable and essential art form,” she says.

During her time at the Kennedy Center, Masters has been involved in “a little bit of everything,” from house managing performances and ticketing to tracking finances to editing playbills and dance marketing materials.

“I quickly became integrated into my office and, since day one, have had a lot of valuable responsibility — I feel very connected to my work and to the relationships I’ve built with colleagues and artists,” she says. “I’ve expanded my professional network immensely, and feel grateful to have worked alongside such talented people so early in my career.”