American Dance Festival is one of the Durham Art Guild’s partners for the Swing into Spring event April 1, which kicks off an exciting season of the arts in Durham. Along with Moogfest, Art of Cool, Full Frame and others, ADF will help show Durham as a place the arts community thrives. The nonprofit’s festival begins June 16 with fan favorite Pilobolus performing “Shadowland.”

In anticipation of Swing into Spring and ADF’s season, we went “Inside the Arts” with ADF’s Performances and Community Programs Coordinator Mollie O’Reilly. “Inside the Arts” focuses on the people behind the scenes in arts organizations. Read more in the series.

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Mollie O’Reilly | Performances and Community Programs Coordinator, ADF

How did you get your start with the ADF?

I’m from Maryland and studied dance at Indiana University. Halfway through college I became interested in arts administration, so I came to ADF as an intern in the summer of 2011 and then a seasonal employee in the summer of 2012. I decided I liked Durham so much that I stuck around after that second summer and a few months later a full-time position opened up at ADF. I’ve been in my current position for three years now, and I’m going on my sixth summer festival.

What’s been the most rewarding part of working with the ADF?

For me, it’s during the summer seeing students, faculty, performers and audiences come from all over the world to be part of the festival. It’s kind of amazing that all of this happens right here in Durham!

You say from “all over the world.” What are the most surprising locations?

ADF pretty much collects people from every continent (except maybe Antarctica, ha). For instance, last summer we had students from 23 different countries and 39 different states in the US. A lot of them are drawn to the International Choreographers Residency Program or the Six Week School; the summer is an incredibly immersive experience for the students.

[Related: Swing into Spring with the Durham Art Guild]

What is it about ADF that others’ who aren’t already a part of it should know?

I truly believe that ADF can be for everyone, not just aspiring dancers or modern dance aficionados. We try to plan our programs so that anyone with an open mind can find at least one thing at ADF they can enjoy and afford, whether it’s a performance, a free community event, a dance class, a film screening or even just a tour in the summer.

ADF is joined by other arts groups in Durham like the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Art of Cool, etc. What do you think this says about the Bull City’s creative community?

When you look at the variety and the strength of the arts organizations in Durham, I think it’s a sign that Durham as a whole is thriving. The arts bring intelligent, collaborative and open-minded people into Durham who are assets to any community, creative or otherwise. ADF moved to Durham in 1978, and since that time there has been amazing growth!

How have you grown creatively in your position?

Besides constantly being surrounded by artistic individuals, I feel like ADF challenges me creatively in a much different way than when I grew up dancing. I trained in ballet and modern dance very seriously through college, but after I graduated I shifted gears toward arts administration. Administrative work can seem formulaic at first, but I have to tap into my creative side all the time to solve problems and help our programs run smoothly. It’s a different kind of creativity!

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