I had the amazing opportunity to return to the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) conference in New York City this year, and as a soon-to-be college graduate, I jumped at the chance. Where last year my goal was to develop a holistic understanding of the performing arts, this year I attended with a focus on professional development and post-graduation employment opportunities. Texas Performing Arts fostered my love for the performing arts four years ago when I was hired, and the APAP conference is helping me develop my passion as a career.
My favorite part of the trip were the visits to alumni who work in the field. Of the two, I found the New York City Center the most striking location. The mix of historical architecture and a deep connection to not only the arts, but to the community, highlighted the importance of the performing arts as a cultural landmark. At Roundabout Theatre, I saw how essential theatre is to a well-rounded education as well as noticed similarities to my work at the Long Center. Moreover, it was nice to catch up with friends, whether it was over coffee or the group dinner.
The conference itself offered many interesting sessions and showcases. I learned that people are more inclined to experience the arts if they can bring someone with them, which is an effective way of doubling audience and exposure. This is specifically applicable to students who have difficulties with accessibility and a lesson I can take home with me. The Bass Pass program we have at TPA seemed to hit on the head of every lesson I learned in this Student Engagement seminar. Besides seeing childhood hero Yakko Warner perform Animaniac songs, I had two favorite showcases. I had the privilege of watching the New York Ballet perform three pieces, the last of which catered to young children as a way to engage them with the performance; the rhythmic snapping and patting in their rendition of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky had me mesmerized. The other showcase featured Winston Churchill telling stories about his life and reading letters. I never saw the performer out of character and I wholly believe I met the Prime Minister himself that day. On our way to the New York City Center, I saw him outside smoking his cigar, Churchill’s commitment to the craft blew me away.
Outside the conference, I visited the Museum of Modern Art where Starry Night is housed. Seeing paintings in person bring a new (and literal) light to the piece as the stars twinkled in a way I’ve never experienced before. Besides the impressionist art, the most exciting experience I had in the MoMA was seeing a Tony Smith sculpture similar to the one we have on campus. I took advantage of Rush tickets and watched two Broadway shows, but Avenue Q Off-Broadway struck a chord, I saw myself in Princeton, the lead puppet. His first line begged the question “what do you do with a B.A. in English?” and as I face graduation with an English degree, nothing could be more relatable. Unlike Princeton, I have a positive experience at the APAP conference to lead the way into a career, and Texas Performing Arts to act as the wind in my sails. I am so incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to attend the conference not only once, but twice, and I look forward to wherever my path may go after graduation.
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