Inside the Arts: Alyssa Harrison says art 'challenges my perspectives'

Alyssa HarrisonAlyssa Harrison. // Photo by Beth Mann.

American Dance Festivaladfgo_party is right around the corner, with the first performance coming up June 16 with fan favorite Pilobolus performing “Shadowland.”

Helping kick things off, ADF is throwing an ADF Go season launch party June 17 at the Rickhouse in downtown Durham. Tickets are $20, and get you a ticket to the Pilobolus show, entry to the party and a special RUNAWAY ADF Go t-shirt.

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In anticipation of ADF’s season, we went “Inside the Arts” with school administration coordinator Alyssa Harrison. “Inside the Arts” focuses on the people behind the scene in arts organizations. Read more in the series.

Alyssa Harrison | School Administration Coordinator, ADF

How did you get your start with ADF?

It was at my alma mater, Texas Tech University, where I learned about the American Dance Festival. I knew once I graduated from TTU that I wanted to work for a dance organization because dance was a clear passion of mine. Through research and the mentorship of Genevieve Durham DeCesaro, the associate vice provost for academic affairs at TTU, I decided to apply for an arts administration internship at ADF within the ADF School department. While applying for the internship, I had the opportunity to meet Nicolle Greenhood, the director of school administration at ADF. Meeting Nicolle was pivotal in my ADF trajectory. From that meeting and my intern application, she would eventually hire me as an ADF School intern for the 2009 season. I would later move to Durham in January of 2011 to work for ADF seasonally and would later be hired full-time in 2012!

What’s been the most rewarding part of working with ADF?

There have been so many! I have really enjoyed being surrounded by art, meeting amazing people and growing professionally. Being surrounded by art challenges my perspectives, requires me to be present and constantly opens me up to new thoughts and ideas. ADF brings together so many phenomenal people passionate about the arts: performance companies, faculty, musicians, production technicians, students, staff, interns, community volunteers … the list goes on! I have realized how fortunate I am to work with such a diverse community. Professionally, ADF has given me the opportunity to grow in various positions within the organization, which has allowed me to gain valuable institutional knowledge and attain a variety of professional and life skills that will carry me for years to come.

What is it about ADF that those who aren’t familiar should know?

ADF is destination for dancers to train. We offer summer intensive training programs with around 300 students in attendance, winter intensive training programs in NYC and the west coast with about 100 students in attendance and year-round training opportunities for our local community at ADF’s Samuel H. Scripps Studios.

The “ADF Go” program! ADF Go allows people between the ages of 18-30 to purchase $10 tickets for the ADF performance season. This year we are hosting an ADF Go Launch Party along with Runaway and ArtsNow, which I highly recommend attending! Who doesn’t like a good party?!

ADF is also a huge scholastic resource for the dance community by maintaining archival records.

ADF is joined by other arts groups like Full Frame and Art of Cool. What do you think that says about the Triangle creative community?

First, ADF, Full Frame and Art of Cool are just three of many incredible arts organization in the Triangle creative community. With such a plethora of creative organizations here, it says we are a community that supports culture, creativity and entrepreneurship. I am honored to be plugged into such a rich arts community. I grew up a military brat so I’ve lived a lot of different places. Durham has become one of my favorite locations. Durham surprised me though; the culture, the genuine kindness people share and the openness to people, ideas and expression. It is all so awesome! I truly believe our creative community fosters those ideals. Proud to call Durham my home!

How have you grown creatively in your position at ADF?

Hard question. During my time at ADF, my concept of what it means to create and express has transformed; there is no box. I still dance, but have realized that creativity and expressivity are apparent in my work as an administrator, arts supporter, citizen, family member, friend and individual.

What do you hope for ADF five years from now?

I hope for a combination of growth, steadfastness and evolution for ADF. With so much happening in the Triangle community, it can be hard to maintain relevance. I want ADF to be sustainable and continue to adapt to the needs of the community (i.e. dance community, arts community, Durham community, etc.). ADF is an incredible and important organization. I look forward to seeing where it is 10, 20, 50 years from now!

What are the first words that come to mind when you hear ADF?

Stimulating and contagious!


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