Stepping into the Spotlight

Our performing arts intern Emily shares her experience of curating an Alt Cabaret show. See the show for yourself on Saturday, January 21, 2012, at 8:00 pm, and dance with us for free during the community workshop on the same day at 2:00 pm!


As the 2011/2012 performing arts administration intern, a position that is grant-funded by the Tin Man Fund, I get to curate my very own show… and I can’t believe how quickly the date is approaching! When I started my job at MASS MoCA seven months ago, I had no idea how much work (and joy!) would go into booking, planning, and finally bringing the stunning modern-Irish steppers of Darrah Carr Dance to the museum:

1. RESEARCH: Before I could book a performing artist, I needed to figure out what my interests were. What was I passionate about? What did I want to see more of in the Berkshires? As a recent grad of Connecticut College (go camels!) with a double major in Human Development and Dance, I immediately knew that I wanted to bring accessible and innovative modern dance to MASS MoCA. My Human Development interest in communities and education also fueled my desire to curate dance that could interact with the public, possibly through a workshop of some kind. I spent a few days in NYC visiting our performing arts curatorial team and researching dance companies that appealed to my interests and to MASS MoCA’s audience. In the end, I decided on Darrah Carr Dance – Darrah blends traditional Irish step dancing with modern dance vocabulary and techniques, and also has a developed educational outreach program, so she was a perfect fit.

2. MAKING THE DEAL: Next, I reached out to Darrah, to see if she wanted to partner with MASS MoCA – she did! I drafted an offer letter outlining the basics such as show date, compensation, and travel arrangements for Darrah, the curatorial team, and my cool boss Sue (Manager of Performing Arts + Film) to sign… and voila! We were set to do a show together. That meant that Darrah and I had lots and lots of questions for each other. I wanted to know about which dance pieces she might bring, who her audience was, and the specifics of her community programs. She wanted to learn about the size of the performance space, our tech capabilities, and if our hotel served continental breakfast! Darrah and I were (and still are) in constant phone and email contact to iron out all of the details that go into producing a show. We eventually both signed a much more in-depth contract together, so that all the details we discussed on the phone and via email are put into one organized document.

3. SPREADING THE WORD: I was excited about the performance, Darrah was excited about the performance, so then it was time to get everyone else excited about the performance! Under the guidance of Katherine, our amazing Director of Marketing, we started spreading the news about Darrah’s performance. Our talented graphic designers printed beautiful posters, the super marketing intern Cora put up flyers all over the Berkshires, and Keifer down in the Box Office enthusiastically plugged the show to all incoming patrons. We also created advertised on many types of social media, contacted local professors of dance or Irish culture, reached out to Irish dance academies all over New England, and asked a few newspaper and radio stations to give us a shout-out. Getting butts in seats is important for obvious reasons (we want MASS MoCA to always have the funds to showcase inspiring performances in the future!), but it’s also important because Darrah and I want to share our passion for dance with as many friends as possible. 

4. BEHIND THE SCENES: I can’t even express how much  backstage work went into producing this performing arts show! First, there were a billion technical aspects that need to be prepared; luckily I had the hilarious duo of Eric and Eric, who keep the Production department running smoothly, to help me through it. Together we decided on a seating set-up, a one-of-a-kind stage plot, ad-hoc wing space, necessary lighting and sound equipment… the list goes on and on. With Meg (Company Manager and, more importantly, my MASS MoCA Mom), I arranged all the artist services components of the show. I booked hotel reservations, organized meal plans, and prepared the dressing rooms. I also organized ushers, planned house management, and wrote the program with the help of Court, who coordinates volunteers and coordinates front of house during performances.

CURTAIN CALL: And now, finally (finally!), the show is looming only a few days in the distance – soon, Darrah Carr Dance will be at MASS MoCA in the flesh (the shuffle-ball-changing, pirouetting, flying leaping dancing flesh)! I’ll have a busy day helping Darrah and her dancers with their arrival, community dance workshop, tech and dress rehearsals, and the evening performance, and I absolutely can’t wait. Curating my own show was a huge undertaking that opened my eyes to just how much effort and how many people it takes to produce a performance. I am so, so thankful for all the generous, cooperative, wacky-wise-wonderful friends who helped me pull this off. Darrah, Sue, Katherine, Keifer, Eric & Eric, Meg, Court, and everyone else who was involved: you guys are the bee’s knees.

Come see what we’ve all been working so hard on – Darrah Carr Dance at MASS MoCA on Saturday, January 21 (free workshop at 2:00 pm/ticketed performance at 8:00 pm)! Call the Box Office at 413.664.4481 for more information.

See you there! Love, Emily


Posted January 13, 2012 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Alternative Cabaret, BLOG, Dance, Darrah Carr Dance, Interns
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Minding the Kids

Our terrific Kidspace intern Amanda contributes this blog about her experience here since September:

It was hard to imagine six months ago, during the stress of final exams and scrambling for post-graduation plans, that my first full-time gig as a college graduate would have turned out to be so relaxing. Especially when I was looking only at jobs that involved working with kids.

But here I am, listening to ocean sounds all day long at my desk. And I’ve been meditating more often in this past month than I have in my entire life. Did I mention that this counts as work? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted November 8, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Interns, Kidspace, Museum Education

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The good, the amazing, the M.Ward fiasco… Summer 2011

On her last day our wonderful marketing intern Kathryn offers these reflections on her summer at MASS MoCA.

Family dinner


The summer is coming to a close, and I cannot believe how fast my time at MASS MoCA came and went. I still feel like I just sat down at my desk for the first time, with a lovely note from the previous intern Marissa. Yet, in reality I’ve experienced a ton of new things, seen some amazing art and performances, and best of all, I’ve met some truly incredible people (especially my fellow Summer Interns of 2011: Porkshire Edition) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted August 25, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Interns, Nari Ward: Sub Mirage Lignum, North Adams, Staff, Wilco Solid Sound Festival
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How to: Curate a Rory Scovel Comedy Show!

Step 1: Get a job

Thanks to the Tin Man Fund, Charles Jabour, a graduate from Eastern Michigan University, was hired for a year long internship in the performing arts administration and programming department at MASS MoCA.

(Picture by: girlingreendress)

Step 2: Get a job that lets you curate an event

As a part of the internship – Charlie began working with Rachel Chanoff, performing arts curator at MASS MoCA. In the course of this partnership he would eventually organize his own event at MASS MoCA. The event was set to take place on February 5. Now the question is…Out of all the types of performances-which one would you like to curate?

Step 3: Pick which type of performance you would like to curate

Charlie originally wanted to stick to his roots and curate a theater event.

(Eastern Michigan University production of Treasure Island…[you can spot Charlie in the blond wig on the left! hehe])

Charlie has written, directed, organized, and performed in numerous theatrical productions throughout his life but he felt the Alt-Cabaret series and the Club B-10 space was an ideal setting for a stand up comedian. NOW the question is…Out of all the comedians-which one do you choose?

Step 4: Choose a comedian

Some of you may be aware, but originally Kumail Nanjiani was the comedian Charlie chose for the Alt-Cabaret series. He was recommended to MASS MoCA by comedian Eugene Mirman. Charlie began researching Kumail and booked him because he was so funny…SO funny in fact: that he got an offer to be on Comedy Central and had to cancel his MASS MoCA gig (we totally understand, Kumail!). So NOW the question is…What OTHER comedian do you choose?

Step 5: Choose another comedian

Luckily, Kumail’s people recommended another hilarious comedian to Charlie.

Ladies and Gentlemen….RORY SCOVEL!

(That’s Rory)

“It’s amazing we have comedians who are so cool with giving each other work,” said Charlie. He feels Rory is great fit for the MASS MoCA and the Alt-Cabaret series.

Rory has a clever sense of humor, “It’s like talking to your really funny friend at the bar,” Charlie said.

Charlie also traveled to Albany and booked the Albany-based comic, Matt Kelly, to open the show along with the Williams College Improv Troupe, Combo Za!

And finally… You have to ask yourself: How do you get people to come to the event you curated?

Step 6: Promote your event!

A good idea is to ask your friend to write a witty blog about your event (hence the witty blog).

(That’s Charlie and Me at the Bhangra Funk Dance Party!)

We’ve also hung about 100 posters, put fliers in pizza boxes, posted videos on facebook, etc. And so we ask you…What are you doing this Saturday at 8pm? Coming to see the stand-up comedian, Rory Scovel, at MASS MoCA?…That’s what we thought!


Check out the Rory Scovel facebook event for more information on the comedians that will be performing at MASS MoCA!

In the meantime…click here to watch this great clip with RORY!

Posted February 4, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Interns, Rory Scovel, Staff
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Cinematic Ventures in the Sol LeWitt Retrospective

Education intern Kate fills us in on lobby question number 2.

Our second installment on the question board in the lobby queried what movie patrons felt should be set in the Sol LeWitt Retrospective. The 105 wall drawings on view in Building 7 generated many ideas for actual films, but fictitious ones as well.

One thing that makes the Sol LeWitt Retrospective fantastic, is the fact that viewers are continually able to revisit it, and, quite frequently notice something (or many things) new each time they enter the galleries. The eclectic variety of movie titles demonstrated individual reactions to the different phases of LeWitt’s career represented in the Retrospective. Responses included family favorites, musicals, and contemporary films.

Here are some of our favorites:

Posted August 9, 2010 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Interns, LeWitt
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What’s on your soundtrack?

Our Education department installed a cork board in the lobby featuring changing questions about the galleries, exhibitions, etc. Our Education intern Kate wrote the following blog about the first question on the board and the answers we got.

Petah Coyne’s exhibition Everything that Rises Must Converge has attracted viewers across all audiences. How can we tell? A question board in MASS MoCA’s lobby recently displayed patron’s selections for a hypothetical soundtrack accompaniment.


In many ways, all of us have personal soundtracks to our lives. With the innovation of MP3 players, particularly the iPod, it’s quite common to see someone out for a stroll casually bopping to their favorite tunes – whatever they may be. Curiously, the vast display of Petah Coyne’s artwork has evoked an equally vast musical response.

What’s interesting about these song selections is that in many ways they delineate the unique ways artwork has potential to move disparate audiences. Responses on the board eclipsed age differences and genres, spanning from Bach’s eighteenth century piano concertos, English rock hits such as Blackbird from the Beatles’ two-disc White Album, to contemporary singles by bands like The Postal Service, Smashing Pumpkins, and the artist Lady Gaga.

Though it may be hard to imagine a soundtrack juxtaposing songs such as Big River by Johnny Cash with Maurice Ravel’s solo piano rendition of Gaspard de la Nuit, below are my personal favorite responses for the Petah Coyne soundtrack:

The Everything that Rises Must Converge soundtrack is only the first question on the feedback board for the summer. Stay tuned for future questions in the MASS MoCA lobby.

Posted July 12, 2010 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Interns, Petah Coyne
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