Beyond the internship program with Lexie Thrash

2017 Company Management Department; photo Brooke Trisolini
2017 Company Management Department; photo Brooke Trisolini

In 2016, Lexie Thrash arrived to Jacob’s Pillow an Intern and completed the year as Program Apprentice & Assistant to the Director. Since completing her apprenticeship, now known as the Administrative Fellows program, Lexie continued her work in arts management and as a movement artist. Lexie returned to Jacob’s Pillow this year as the Company Manager of Ephrat Asherie Dance and provided insight into her Pillow intern experience and what led to her current position.

What made you apply to the Jacob’s Pillow intern program?

Lexie Thrash: I started an internship at LA Dance Project when they were only two or three years old. I moved out there and worked with the company manager and administration assistant in a variety of tasks that had to do with arts administration. This was my first encounter with the world of dance from a business standpoint. Previously I had a lot of my own training, teaching, and choreographing and was the person on stage but I felt super interested in learning about how to enter the dance world from different perspectives and learn as much as I could.

The company manager at the time was a Pillow intern the summer after she graduated college. I was about midway through the summer and was talking to her about her career path. She said the biggest thing she did was intern at Jacob’s Pillow. From that point on I knew that I wanted to apply to Jacob’s Pillow as an intern. I looked into other internships but I ultimately felt like the Pillow was the place I wanted to be because I’d never been before. Jacob’s Pillow is this magical place in history books and I felt a really big affinity to the history and it was the only place that felt right post-grad.

“I will never forget that moment where I realized, I found the place where I fit and I want to be in this for the long haul.”

Lexie Thrash

Lexie Thrash; photo Hayim Heron
Lexie Thrash; photo Hayim Heron

How has your work at Jacob’s Pillow prepared you for the work you’re currently doing?

LT: The Pillow is a beautiful place that allowed me to dabble in different areas of interest in addition to the area that I was hired to work in. I had a lot of opportunities to spread my wings and make connections with people working and visiting. There was a lot of room to explore my interests in archives and video digitizing and even how Director of Preservation Norton Owen manages his video archives. I spent a few months with Norton in the off-season and helped him archive videos from the 1980s and 1990s and transfer them from actual film to digital.

The ability to feel open and welcome to explore other interests within the field really empowered me to look for ways to forge my own path following my time at the Pillow. I was able to identify that I really love working with artists directly and love being present through their thought process. I love being able to contribute managerial and critical thinking skills I learned in company management at the Pillow because not a lot of artists have that when they’re so focused on their art. I was able to have that perspective in addition to having an artist’s perspective through teaching at Berkshire Pulse. Being able to merge those two things for myself helped me realize that I needed to share the administrative skills I gained with other artists that I knew and loved. That’s how I started working with the artists that I work for now. I started working for Ephrat Asherie the week after I finished here at the Pillow. I gained the confidence here to put myself out there and approach an artist that I was interested in.

Lexie Thrash; photo Hayim Heron
Lexie Thrash; photo Hayim Heron

How do you find a balance between being an artist and working in arts administration?

LT: I’m still learning. It’s a challenge especially living in an expensive city like New York. To prioritize art making when it’s not going to provide income over work that you know is going to help pay rent—it’s a fine line. I found that there can be seasons where I am working really hard in my administration jobs for two months and then I can drop them for a month and dance more because I’ve saved up and can balance. It’s really difficult for your brain to go to a dance class and then have to hop into administrative work. I’m still figuring out what that balance is for me and what the formula is. I talk to people who are much older than me who are doing this and they still haven’t found the answer yet. I think it’s a lot about finding out what works best for me!

I think the key is in understanding there’s going to be seasons of each and being open to the fluctuation of life. Work will come and will go, dance work will come and go but it’s important to keep in the forefront of my mind what my priority is—making art and being an artist, but also growing my professional career in the arts whether that means as an administrator, filmmaker, or designer.

“…the Pillow felt like a wonderful educational extension from my college degree and is still the underbelly of my ability to make a living in New York.”

Lexie Thrash

What advice do you have to the current Pillow Interns & Fellows?

LT: The most important thing I did as an intern was seriously take advantage of the people that were here, not just the staff, but if there was an artist coming that I was really interested in I would make a point to go sit with them at lunch and introduce myself or go to their PillowTalk or have some sort of interaction with them—really be strategic about engaging with the people that interest you. Being open to things that I didn’t think I was interested in, going to PillowTalks that I didn’t know anything about and seeing what happens. Using the Pillow staff as a resource as well as the Pillow alumni network. A lot of alumni visited during my intern summer and it was interesting to hear about the kind of work that they were doing, where they’ve gone after the Pillow, their path, and learning from them.

I think my biggest piece of advice for Fellows is to find the thing that’s not work that you can pour your heart into. For me it was teaching at Berkshire Pulse and making work with friends that I met here and we eventually produced our own little show at No. Six Depot. I think my other Fellow friends were happiest when they had other things that fed them as people outside of dance and outside of the Pillow. You can bring that perspective to your work, especially when you’re living here.