Alexa Annese has always had a passion for dance. This summer, she’s exploring ways she can turn that passion into a career by working at the American Tap Dance Foundation on a paid internship made possible by Adelphi’s Jaggar Community Fellows Program.
“A lot of students can’t do internships because they’re unpaid,” said Annese, a member of the Class of ’20. “Luckily, this program provides you with a paid internship where you can gain real experience in a field that interests you. I don’t think there are many opportunities like that.”
Founded in 2010 by Adelphi University Trustee Angela Jaggar ’62, M.A. ’65, Ph.D., and her late husband, Scott Jaggar, this competitive program offers Adelphi students of all majors the opportunity to complete full-time, paid summer internships at nonprofit organizations. Close to 500 Adelphi students have participated to date. This year, Annese is among 70 students interning across 44 different organizations.
“I applied to this program because I thought it would be an incredible opportunity to work with a nonprofit,” Annese said. “I thought maybe I could work for a nonprofit one day or create my own by using arts as therapy.”
Annese started her internship on May 29, and it has already proven to be an eye-opening and educational experience.
“It’s amazing how many connections this tap organization has,” she said. “The people who built it were the pioneers of tap dance.”
Annese works Mondays through Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and commutes from Staten Island. She has helped scan and archive foundation documents for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. She is also helping plan major events like the Tap It Out performance in Times Square, and Tap City, the annual New York City Tap Festival.
“For this festival, I suggested projects that I’ll be able to do myself,” Annese said. “I would be a reporter for some of the shows, coming up with questions to ask choreographers, administrators, audience members and venue directors.”
The quotes and information she gleans will be used for promotional purposes, she said.
Annese also created an opportunity to start publishing her own writing about the dance industry.
“I will be writing a review of a show here,” she said. “They’ll allow me in on rehearsals so I can see the development of the piece,” she said, with the goal of publishing a story about it.
Annese has taught dance to kids, and plans to take a beginner tap class with the nonprofit so she can learn from the student’s point of view as well.
“One day, the assistant wasn’t there, so I went in to assist a class,” Annese said. “Just watching the teacher construct her class for 4-year-olds was so inspiring. I learned so much from it.”
Annese is particularly inspired by Tony Waag, co-founder and artistic director of the American Tap Dance Foundation. She plans to interview him for the presentation that all Jaggar Community Fellows are required to give at the end of their internships.
“I want to show people how Tony turned his passion into a career,” she said. “That’s just so fascinating to me because it’s hard. How do you do something like that? Who were the contacts he needed? What are some tips he can provide?”
The internship finishes in August, and she is already excited about the knowledge, skills and connections she hopes to take away from it.
“By doing this, I see the possibilities of what I can accomplish,” Annese said. “Everything sounds more possible, like how Tony toured as a dancer and built his own company. And now I’m able to be mentored by him. I’m truly grateful for that.”