Razzle Dazzle, Sparkle

14 Dec

When you see a ballet production (or any kind of stage production for that matter) how many of you think that the costumes play an integral part of the experience? Raise your hands! I am assuming that all of your hands are raised high so from now on I will just assume you are all agreeing with me. So. These costumes. I have always had a fascination with them. I loved to play dress up as a kid and I was probably a little (a lot) more passionate about it than my peers. As soon as my mother showed me how to operate her sewing machine I was hooked.

Fast-forward a few years: out of both necessity and passion I found tutu making. I am originally from Norway so it was way too expensive to ship a tutu all the way up there. Now, if you have ever seen a tutu on a ballerina you know what I am talking about (of course you have – you are reading an ABT blog…) The beautiful pancake or bell shaped skirt, the crystals, the beading and of course the glamour. Or so you think. The truth is, if you look at a tutu up close you will see that it is probably kind of dirty and smelly. Especially if it has been used for a production or two.

Even if you have seen tutus on stage many times, you might be surprised at how complex these costumes actually are; a lesson I learned when experimenting with making them myself. I did not have any formal training to make tutus but I found this out through a few years of trial and error, lots of books and Internet forum searching.

Even though I have a good grasp of making and repairing these costumes, it is always a treat to study costumes made by others up close – there’s always something to learn! Getting to work in the education department, I was able go get my hands on and work on several tutus that belong to the school at ABT. These are mostly old tutus donated by the company (from the 70s and 80s at least if I am not mistaken) and they have been worn a lot (and they are usually labeled with the ballerinas names inside, #fangirlmoments). These poor old tutus needed a lot of love so I spent a good chunk of my time repairing and reinforcing parts of these tutus so they can have a few more years in the spotlight without falling apart.

A few weeks into my internship the school was lucky enough to get a new donation of tutus from the company. These tutus were used for a previous production of Sleeping Beauty which I actually saw being performed back in the summer of 2011 when I was visiting NYC. I remembered drooling over these ethereal and gorgeous costumes from the audience and now here I was – actually getting to touch these costumes. It’s a costume nerds dream! Especially the tutu for Aurora – the colors that are used for the layers of tulle, the fabrics, the decorations… It is absolutely gorgeous. And you can imagine my inner fan girl getting a little star struck when the label inside reads “Murphy”. Gillian Murphy wore this tutu and now I have it in my hands. Yes, I know that sounds weird. But it is pretty cool, right?

Sunny Bjaanes

JKO Costume Intern

Fall 2018

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United Through Ballet

13 Dec

At my studio back home in Idaho, American Ballet Theatre seemed so glamorous and distant. Seeing an ABT ballet would have been a dream come true and working for them was out of the question. Little did I know what was in store for me and how comfortable this place would feel. All of the administrative work was grounded in purpose and I was able to see first hand how small the ballet world really is. Ballet is a global art form and crosses language barriers. I helped process information for students, teachers, and schools all over the world who were all connected to each other and ABT through the National Training Curriculum. I was able to see this for myself during the Raising the Barre workshop when teachers and students from around the world came to learn Coppélia dances from those who knew it best. People may not have shared the same background or even language, but ballet connected them and it was truly beautiful. I saw ballet connect people beyond the education aspect as well. I distributed and collected surveys during an evening performance, and it was fun to talk to audience members during the intermissions, hearing what brought them to the ballet. One man told me all about his favorite performances and how he had religiously attended ABT shows for fifteen years, and a college student, a former dancer, told me how glad she was for student rush tickets. That love of ballet could start young too. It was beautiful to watch children clad in ballet themed Halloween costumes light up when they met dancers at the Family Matinee, or focused with a smile as they learned Fancy Free themed choreography on the street. My experience at ABT ultimately taught me that ballet unites people, no matter the age or country. The once distant ABT became a comfortable place where I could witness and play a small part in facilitating unity amongst people through ballet.

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Deanna Irving

NTC Intern

Fall 2018

Passion For Pliés

12 Dec

For the past three months, I have had the opportunity to witness and be a small part of the beauty that is the American Ballet Theatre. I am a part of the JKO School through the newly designed internship, studio management, in which I am able to assist ballet classes for children three to eight years old. This past August, I had privilege of attending the National Training Curriculum Intensive for Pre-Primary to Level 3 and I was able to become a certified instructor. After obtaining my certification, I was very eager to apply my newly learned skills and to see this curriculum “in action.”

I knew I belonged at this internship after a special moment with a young student in October. Before class one day, the student ran up to me saying, “Miss Alison, look! I have to show you my perfect tendu!” She then proceeded to tell me that she had been practicing all week and had been showing off her skills. When I first met her, she was very shy and hesitant to speak or even perform any combinations. Now, she is an energetic and confident five-year-old that has found a passion for dancing. This was the moment that I realized my work and involvement in the classes had been making a difference in the children’s self-confidence. Overall, I have seen the children transform not only into ballet dancers but also into students that take pride in their accomplishments.

I have learned that a great deal has to go on behind the scenes in order for the JKO School to be success and to run smoothly. I have been able to witness all of the administrative work that must be done such as tracking attendance records, organizing class schedules, financial budgets, and the formation and application of expectations for students and parents. As this is a year-long internship, I am looking forward to expanding my skills next semester and delving more into the administrative duties as I know this is crucial for studio management. This is just one facet of the new season of my life that I am entering. I am now transitioning from dancer to dance teacher and I am hoping to instill in the children this passion and appreciation that I have for dance. I am grateful for the inspiration that the teachers and staff at ABT have given me as I have observed the passion that they have for the future generation of dancers.

Alison Felici

Studio Management Intern

Fall 2018

Making ABT Shine

11 Dec

It’s crazy that I’m almost done with my internship at ABT. I have really enjoyed getting to work with the staff and learn more about the functions of arts organizations both by listening to speakers in our weekly intern meetings and by working in the development department. Throughout the semester I have had the chance to work on a wide range of projects and events varying from spending four days cleaning out the development closet and working backstage just before the Fall Gala performance.

Weirdly, one of my favorite experiences was actually cleaning out the development closet. Although it seems kind of tedious and frustrating (which at times it was) it offered a really cool chance to look at the history of the company. We had to go through boxes and files to find what we could get rid of but in the process we found a old playbills, materials from past events, membership information and old thank you letters for donations. At also felt really good when we finished because even though it seems pretty insignificant in the grander scheme of things, something that simple can make life a lot easier for everyone in the department which, I hope helps them succeed more in the future.Picture8

Honestly that’s how I felt about a lot of the projects I worked on at ABT. I spent a lot of time processing and recording tickets sold through the Patron Services department and spent several weeks working on data analysis from the past Met seasons. Even though it can feel tedious, it is important and useful to make sure major donors have good seats to the shows that they want to see and to understand what ballets people want to see and who is actually buying tickets. I really appreciated being able to contribute to ABT even if it was in a small way.

Katherine Baldwin

Patron Services Intern

Fall 2018

 

Amazed Blessed Thankful

10 Dec

… would best describe my feelings related to my experience as a studio intern at American Ballet Theatre this semester!

I had the absolute privilege to work with the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School for my internship this semester, a new intern position. Working with the amazing staff of ABT JKO School was inspiring to say at least! I was so happy to get to helpwith weekly projects like students’ attendances and incident reports, mid-year evaluations and more. Getting to work with the strong and intelligent women in the office made me realize how much work goes into keeping the school functioning at its peak and how passionate and dedicated everyone is.

Another amazing aspect of my internship was that of class assisting. What an amazing opportunity to be an actual part of the classes and work with such great educators like Sonia Jones and Jaime Hickey! Working with kids was so rewarding and heartwarming!

Some of the most special parts of this internship experience was the intern weekly meetings we had as well as the events/workshops I had the opportunity to help with and attend. Not only did I get to see the company perform during their Fall season at David Koch Theatre, but I got to attend the “Raising the Barre workshop”, where some of the best teaching artists shared their valuable knowledge with us! During our meetings I had the honor to spend time with some incredible people and leaders in the ABT community, get tips from the professionals in this organization and was offered valuable advice and information about non-profits and arts administration.

I could never fully put into words how grateful I am for this opportunity and cannot thank enough Dennis Walters, Katie Ferris and Katie Currier for treating me so well and being so accommodating whenever I had a question! I have a great respect for them and the skills I gained through this program and I will cherish them for life!

Thank you ABT!

Dioni Georgitsou

JKO Studio Intern

Fall 2018

Before The Stage

9 Dec

It’s almost fitting that I’m ending my internship where I began: on this very blog. After having heard about this internship from a friend, I decided to apply as the Development Assistant Intern at American Ballet Theatre to gain professional experiences and learn more about the cultivation of an art form. What culminated to my first day at 890 Broadway, riding up a quaint, manually-operated elevator and sitting at a desk under posters of famed ballets and dancers, were jittery fingers scrolling through the accounts of previous interns who only increased my desire to be a part of ABT.

And now here I am: concluding my final week at ABT, where my eyes have been opened to a whole world that I have only ever seen on stage and was only previously more interested in its scores. Whether it was running into dancers who I had just conducted researches on for projects in the hallways of the 3rd floor, or learning more about ABT and how it operates behind the stage in projects that I am given that are challenging yet incredibly informative and educational, it has all been such an amazing whirlwind of an experience.

There was always a certain sort of delight in simply running the mail machine to send out acknowledgement letters for gifts made to doing researches on prospective donors even if it sounds less than exciting. But it was part of a bigger picture that made the performances possible on stage. And there is a lot that goes on before that can happen, and a lot that ticket sales do not cover, and I learned all of that and so more here at ABT. I can say, for certain, that attending a ballet performance at Palais Garnier under the frescoes of Chagall was an incredible experience, but getting to sit in orchestra seats at the David H. Koch Theater with pride that I helped play a part in making the performances happen on stage is so much better.

Janet Cho

Development Assistant Intern

Fall 2018

NYC Crash Course

8 Dec

This week marks my last week as an intern in ABT’s Institutional Support Department. I am still looking forward to the last weekly meeting with Dennis Walters who is the Associate Director of Education and Training and the other interns, as well as ABT’s Executive Director, Kara Barnett. I will also close out this experience with an 80’s themed Holiday party this Friday!

Coming from my hometown of Arlington, TX to New York City for three months for this internship has been a crash course to say the least; a crash course in NYC living, non-profit organizations, and professional life as a whole. My supervisor Ebonie Pittman, the Associate Director of Institutional Support and Special Campaigns, has introduced me to the opportunity of supporting this over 40 million dollar organization by soliciting donations and grants through formal requests and networking. It is empowering to fundraise for a non-profit with a mission that aligns with mine, sharing the both historic and progressive aspects of dance and fine arts to a broad audience, especially those who may not otherwise have had access to it. (Shoutout to Project Plié, ABT’s diversity initiative.) I am looking forward to transferring the skills I’ve gained to future opportunities and hopefully being able to help financially support myself and my peers who are starting small dance companies and arts organizations with impactful missions.

I have a deep love for travel and did not expect such a cultural shock by moving to NYC this fall. Throughout my recent four years at Howard University, I became familiar with public transportation by living in Washington, DC and studying abroad in Paris, France for a semester in 2016. However, the New York City Metro is a whole different beast. The fast pace of everything and the high volume of people (and dogs in sweaters) was more than I could expect, but I love the fact that there is always something to do in the city that truly never sleeps. I can always catch a late night train or dance class. There is always something new to experience and someone new to meet.

Working in an office like ABT has shown me how fun professional life could be. While I’ve grown up as an aspiring dancer thinking being a professional in an office environment would be boring and draining, I have learned this fall about the potential that working in the right office environment can give. Taking on new projects, challenging oneself, helping create and facilitate exciting events, working with a determined team toward a common goal, and seeing the direct impact of positive work makes me eager to find my next professional opportunity. (My new requirement = a dog-friendly office) I also got to see all the work that goes behind the scenes of creative endeavors like dance companies from the important team that finds the funding for tours and galas to the teams that ensure that an audience will show up through marketing and membership. There as so many individuals working their hardest to ensure that Misty Copeland can fouetté on stages in Hong Kong or Detroit.

After three months in New York City, I am ready to return to the notably slower paced Dallas-Fort Worth area to celebrate the holidays and prepare for my next endeavor. This NYC crash course has prepared me for whatever my next step is, whether it is continuing to build my dance career, finding a new city to explore, using my new skills to support my entrepreneurial goals, helping another mission oriented organization in a creative office environment, or hopefully a good mix of everything. I am grateful to have gotten to experience New York and ABT over the past few months. From watching World Premieres from this year’s fall season shows to meeting the principal dancers and every staff member, it has been a wonderful experience. I am glad I’ve been able to use my love for dance and writing to support ABT for this short period of time!

Reya Roussel

Institutional Support Intern

Fall 2018