Summer Internship Reveals What's Behind the Curtain

Avery Lythcott-Haims

Avery Lythcott-Haims (B.A. Dance and Cultural Anthropology ’23) is no stranger to dance. Dancing for 18 years, the rising senior has performed in, choreographed or managed nearly 10 productions at Duke — and shows no signs of stopping. 

Her dedication and talents haven’t been lost on audiences or faculty, either. Recently, the Dance Program unanimously named her the recipient of the Clay Taliaferro Dance Award in recognition of her artistic and technical growth, and potential to become a professional dancer, teacher or choreographer.

So, with a firm foundation in the performance-side of dance, why did she choose to step outside her comfort zone this summer with a production internship at the American Dance Festival (ADF)?

Avery says this internship provides the opportunity to explore the slightly foreign world of production, while still having the familiarity that comes from working closely with dancers, choreographers and artists.

“I applied because in recent Dance performances, I’ve felt a push and pull between performance and production,” she says. “Performance, and especially dance, is both my comfort zone and my most beloved thrill, but I’ve begun to hunger for what’s on the other side of the stage. The aliveness of the tech rehearsals and the offstage mechanics has been calling.”

During her summer with ADF, Avery wants to learn how to execute the different roles of production while getting comfortable in those spaces.

“From my understanding, I’ll be working crew in different roles at every performance, including stage managing, lighting, sound, costumes and carpentry,” she said.

She’d also like to leave her internship with a new vocabulary and skill set that will make her ready to tackle new roles in the future. 

In the fall, Avery returns to Duke for her senior year and plans to add more productions to her resume while focusing on course work and planning for life after Duke. 

“I’d like to work in performance,” she said. “Part of me still dreams of being a professional dancer, but I may also lean toward production or administration. I hope this summer will help me figure that out!”