Friendships, collaborations, and new paths are forged through internships at the Yard

The Yard interns from top left to bottom right, Aria Roach, Meghan McVann, Maggie Lipton, and Zach Khoo. —Jesse Keller

The Yard, Chilmark’s nonprofit contemporary artist residency and dance performance center, began its official internship program in 2011. Summer interns submit applications in a highly competitive nationwide search beginning each fall. Applicants do not have to be dancers, but are usually connected to performance in some manner. International applicants must have a student or work visa to apply. In the end, the Yard hires four to six individuals. This year’s group included four interns: Zach Khoo, the media and marketing intern and artist; Maggie Lipton, the community programs and education intern; Meghan McVann, the technical production intern; and Aria Roach, the artist services intern.

Each intern contributes immensely to the Yard’s summer season, working six days a week with Sundays off, as well as evenings when there are no performances. All interns have access to daily dance classes and yoga classes taught by staff and visiting artists. They enjoy a weekly farm share, receive a modest stipend and travel reimbursement, and live together under one roof. They share a house on the Yard campus, which means walk-on passes to Chilmark’s beaches. From mid-May to the end of September, they become a very tight-knit group. Many interns have gone on to secure permanent positions at the Yard, including most of the present staff.

The interns are the smiling faces that greet you when you drive in for a performance. They

sell tickets, hand out programs, and so much more. Each intern is hired for a specific area of interest, but all have the opportunity to rotate leadership roles and receive mentorship from artistic directors, senior staff, and resident artists.

On Sept. 7, the interns shone at the Artists Rising Together on the Vineyard performance. Their presentation “Bight” was filmed, edited, and performed by all four interns at the Great Rock Bight Land Bank property. The stunning dance film showcased the talents of each intern individually and collectively. A second presentation, “Unstitched,” was choreographed and performed by Aria Roach with lighting design by Meghan McVann. All four interns performed in choreographer Deborah Damast’s “Bolero,” along with other Yard dancers. Ms. Lipton’s and Ms. Roach’s families traveled to the Island to attend this special evening.

Although each intern returned to his or her respective home at the end of September, they plan to reunite in Zach Khoo’s home country of Malaysia later this fall and and road-trip together through Malaysia and Thailand. Then they plan to travel to New York City and share an apartment.

Aria Roach, raised in Vermont, arrived at the Yard after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.F.A. in dance and choreography. She plans to pursue a career as a performing artist while also continuing to work in arts administration. Her ultimate goal is to perform internationally with a professional contemporary dance company. “Working at the Yard has allowed me to experience a whirlwind of professional dance while also honing my skills as an administrator and learning the ins and outs of a renowned nonprofit arts organization,” Ms. Roach said. “I live, dance, and work among incredibly talented staff in an environment that continuously inspires me as an artist and an individual. We eat, breathe, and sleep dance. Coming out of this internship, I feel prepared to dive into the professional dance world and invigorated by the connections I have made with the many diverse artists that flow in and out of the Yard’s residencies.”

Meghan McVann, originally from Milwaukee, recently graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a dance and theater major. She now feels pulled more toward dance than theater, but hopes to continue working in both fields. “Being an intern at the Yard was such a wonderful opportunity,” Ms. McVann said. “The staff here is so invested in us personally, professionally, and artistically.”

Maggie Lipton received her master’s in dance education from NYU Steinhardt, and is certified to teach dance in New York City’s public schools. She has been using dance as a means for impacting change since age 16, when she founded a children’s dance troupe that raised awareness of social justice issues.

Zach Khoo graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.F.A. in dance, and performed in various Austin dance theater pieces. Besides his performance work, Mr. Khoo’s artistic endeavors include choreography, photography, and videography.

Good luck to the 2016 Yard interns in all of their future endeavors. Perhaps we’ll even get a postcard from Thailand.