Unlocking the Potential of Musical Theater Internships

Unlocking the Potential of Musical Theater Internships

Discovering the Magic Behind the Curtain

As an aspiring musical theater performer, I’ve always been captivated by the dazzling lights, the electrifying energy, and the sheer artistry that emanates from the stage. But what lies beyond the glitz and glamour? The truth is, the true magic of musical theater is often found in the behind-the-scenes hustle and bustle of internships.

In my journey to unlock the potential of these invaluable experiences, I’ve had the privilege of learning from the best in the business. Krisha Marcano, the Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre Dance and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), has been a guiding light, sharing her insights and wisdom on how these internships can truly transform an aspiring performer.

Cultivating Artistry and Entrepreneurship

Marcano’s own path to success exemplifies the power of embracing both artistry and entrepreneurship. As a seasoned performer who has graced the stages of Broadway, she understands the challenges and triumphs that come with navigating the industry. “Artists are magical,” she says. “They can do so much more than they give themselves credit for. It is my job to help them see their potential and develop into fully-formed artists who will change the landscape of the industry for the better.”

This philosophy is at the heart of the internship programs she oversees at UNCSA. By blending practical business skills with the pursuit of creative excellence, Marcano empowers her students to approach their careers with a multifaceted mindset. “During my courses, I recognized how artists need a foundational knowledge of entrepreneurship before they go and pursue their artistic careers,” she explains.

Integrating Wellness and Resilience

But Marcano’s role extends far beyond the traditional boundaries of academia. As the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Entrepreneurship, she serves as a vital conduit between the school’s resources and the students’ well-being. “I’m the first line of defense when a student has an issue,” she says, “meaning I have to be aware of all of the services on campus to be able to best direct students to the appropriate department or program that can help them.”

This holistic approach to student support is essential, especially in the high-pressure world of the performing arts. Marcano emphasizes the importance of integrating wellness and self-care into the daily lives of her students. “As professional dancers, there is huge potential to lose the joy of dance,” she explains. “But I have students who embrace dance as a part of their physical and mental well-being, and that has been particularly inspiring to watch.”

Unlocking the Doors to Opportunity

Internships, Marcano believes, are a critical component in this holistic development of the aspiring performer. These immersive experiences provide students with a unique opportunity to step out of the classroom and into the real-world dynamics of the industry. “Several alumni who took my entrepreneurship class while in school realize that once they are working artists, there are various subjects that they need refreshers on, such as taxes and how to find affordable housing,” she shares.

Beyond the practical skillsets, internships also offer invaluable networking opportunities and a chance to cultivate industry connections. “The network is great for alumni once they are out auditioning and the nos start to happen, so I can coach them on ways to keep encouraged,” Marcano explains.

Fostering Empathy and Authenticity

At the heart of Marcano’s approach is a deep-rooted belief in the power of empathy and authenticity. “Empathy is the cornerstone of my philosophy of how to best connect with students,” she says. “You have to listen, really and truly listen, to students. An active listener needs to put everything aside and listen without talking so students feel like they can completely express themselves.”

This emphasis on active listening and judgment-free support creates an environment where students feel empowered to take risks, explore their artistry, and ultimately, unlock their full potential. “Students know that I will go to bat for them, but that also means that I have to keep them accountable for their own actions,” Marcano adds.

Embracing the Art of the Pivot

One of the most valuable lessons Marcano imparts on her students is the art of the pivot – the ability to adapt and evolve in the face of challenges and unexpected turns. Her own career journey, which has spanned from the world of professional dance to the realm of arts administration and entrepreneurship, serves as a testament to this crucial skill.

“I knew I wanted to get my master’s degree, but I was still contemplating which program felt like the right fit,” Marcano recalls. “I considered different disciplines, including education, arts administration, and business, ultimately deciding on an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Kenney College.”

This willingness to embrace change and pursue new avenues has not only enriched Marcano’s personal growth but has also inspired her students to approach their own careers with a similar mindset. “During my courses, I recognized how artists need a foundational knowledge of entrepreneurship before they go and pursue their artistic careers,” she says.

Empowering the Next Generation of Performers

As I delve deeper into the world of musical theater internships, I’m continuously inspired by the insights and experiences shared by trailblazers like Krisha Marcano. Her unwavering commitment to nurturing the next generation of performers, coupled with her holistic approach to wellness and entrepreneurship, has truly unlocked the potential of these invaluable experiences.

Through her guidance, I’ve learned that the true magic of musical theater lies not only in the dazzling performances but also in the rich tapestry of behind-the-scenes opportunities that shape the careers of aspiring artists. By embracing internships as a transformative pathway, I’m confident that I can unlock my own potential and join the ranks of those who will shape the future of this vibrant industry.

So, if you’re an aspiring musical theater performer, I encourage you to embark on this journey of self-discovery and exploration. With the right guidance and a willingness to embrace the art of the pivot, the possibilities are truly endless. After all, as Marcano so eloquently puts it, “Artists are magical. They can do so much more than they give themselves credit for.”

The Musical Theater Center is dedicated to providing the resources, mentorship, and opportunities that empower aspiring performers to reach their full potential. Whether you’re just starting your journey or looking to take your career to new heights, I invite you to explore the transformative power of musical theater internships and unlock the magic that lies within.

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