My Summer with Project Plíe

22 Aug

American Ballet Theatre offers educational development through Project Plié, which reaches children with limited resources, opportunities and adequate support. As a summer 2016 intern, I indulge my efforts in continuing the motion of the project. Constant emails, orchestrating classes, sending materials and assisting my mentor all require my undivided attention. Project Plié continues on and brings classical ballet to youth who would otherwise not be exposed to it.

Approximately 40 Boys and Girls Clubs are participating in the Master Class Series this summer and I am proud to say that Monica(my mentor) and I worked hard to schedule these classes. Hundreds of children around the country have been and will continue to be enlightened by this classical art form and prompted to continue. Scholarships are drafted for children with exceptional talent and many smiles are brought upon their faces after receiving posters of ballerinas.

9 weeks, 8 interns and only 2 days left, I cannot believe how fast time flies. ABT enriches a wide spectrum of intellect and professionalism, all the while allowing room for a warm welcoming culture. Within the realm of this culture, I experience many events in and outside of the office. As the days go by and many of the events swarm in my head, there is one day that strikes me the most.

This, very warm sunny day in July, consisted of two Boys and Girls Club (BGC) ballet classes in Harlem. I assisted one class with the ABT partner teacher and documented the other. The children between ages 8-12 had their blue BGC t-shirts on with bright intriguing eyes. In the beginning of both classes, the children watched a video of how Misty Copeland became a Principal with ABT and was discovered at the same organization. The children were eager to move onto the next part of the class as their energy boiled and prompted them for movement.

BGCA_Harlem1The classes consisted of bright youth with a desire for greatness and ability to learn very quickly. Some students learned the movement within seconds, held their head high, placed their hands in first position and presented their readiness. These children, which most had never even set foot in a ballet class, enjoyed themselves thoroughly and retained an abundance of information within an hour.

There was one particular child, who should receive further training, would definitely make it into a professional ballet company years down the line. His ballonné was innate along with many other natural abilities. ABT’s initiative to seek these young diverse dancers is a start to diversifying the ballet world and infiltrate organizations at every level.

Ballet and other sectors is only the start to help the diversity issue. Project Plié continues in that direction and as an intern with an organization such as ABT, I now further understand the true influence of the classical arts for youth, especially those of diverse backgrounds.


The kids from Harlem and my mentor, Monica Stephenson, continue to touch my heart in a special place. Monica’s help and support, which I truly appreciate, made a huge impact on me this summer. I now realize the world we live in and that equal opportunity is non existent and I am extremely blessed to have had ballet training as a child and am in the position to give back to youth now.

May Project Plié continue to touch many lives and remember that the children are our future.


Yasmeen Enahora

Project Plíe Intern

Summer 2016


When Two Worlds Collide

22 Aug
As artists, we may have different backgrounds and different skill sets but we all have one common goal; expressing our passion.  I come from a musical background and though I wasn’t so familiar with the dance world, I was eager to learn more and fully immerse myself in it during the course of the summer at ABT.
The most rewarding part of any job is not only working hard to make a project come to life but also to see the final result unfold.  Throughout the summer, I would sit in the office processing files for the upcoming JKO School year and occasionally I would hear faint excerpts of Brahms Symphony No.3, Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet playing throughout the day.   I would leave 890 Broadway humming the tunes all the way to the subway after hearing these classical works on repeat the whole day.  It was really awesome to hear melodies I’ve performed in orchestras and see them put to dance.  I would be fortunate enough to even see some of the rehearsals from time to time in passing when I was organizing JKO School uniforms in the green room and was blown away by the hard work these young dancers were doing.  Though I am not a dancer,  I trained equally as hard when I was in a preparatory program for music and could easily relate to their vigorous days of rehearsals.
Days before the end of my internship, I was asked to help work the boutique for the Summer Intensive final performances held at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.  As I walked in my checkered rain boots to the water-speckled glass building,  I was secretly  hoping that I would be able to watch some of the final performance in addition to helping run the boutique. After the first round of boutique sales, I snuck into the dark theater just in time for the second dance.

The performance was like putting pieces of a puzzle together to make one final, beautiful image. I was able to hear the familiar classical pieces that I had been whistling for weeks played from start to finish, I saw the completed choreography instead of bits and pieces of a rehearsal in passing to the green room, the costumes added the visual elegance and the young dancers who performed completed the picture.  As a soloist would nail their routine, I could see them go back into the wings of the stage as their fellow dancers would high five their colleagues for a routine well done.  I was so impressed with the young talent I had just witnessed, but I was also reminded that the art that I create through music is exactly the same.  As a violist, I have to take pieces to the puzzle and put them together to create the final image I am trying to convey to my audience.

In order to perfect an art form, whether it be music or dance, the hard work, sacrifice, dedication and a sense of community are the necessary ingredients to convey passion in art.  That day forward, my appreciation for dance and dance education grew enormously and I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to witness such amazing talent this summer.
Aline Vartanian
Training Programs Intern
Summer 2016

A (Not So Typical) Day in the Life

16 Aug

On June 22, I was a month into the ABT internship program and had just finished working my first National Training Curriculum Teacher Training session. I spent the day finalizing exams and certificates, preparing for the next training sessions in July, and chatting with the rest of the NTC staff about the previous night’s performance of Romeo and Juliet in anticipation of what was to come later that night. I was out the door of 890 by late afternoon and rushed over to the Met to begin what I knew would be a night to remember.


After meeting the rest of the ABT and Roundabout Theatre interns at the Met fountain, we went inside for a conversation with ABT General Manager, David Lansky. I spent the hour-long talk at the edge of my seat, absorbing every bit of company life that I could. As a longtime ballet dancer and enthusiast, I could not help but be enthralled by the stories that epitomized the old truism, “the show must go on.” Listening to the challenges that arise due to the nature of live performances and how the ABT dancers and staff overcome them gave me an even greater respect and love for this art form.


After the talk, we strolled between sets and stagehands and Alexandre Hammoudi’s pirouettes to get a view of what the company sees every day during the Met season. As I stood on the Met stage, I could only think of the history that stage has seen. From Mikhail Baryshnikov to Misty Copeland, the thought of sharing that space with so many who changed the ballet world left me speechless and floating among the clouds. That feeling and the view of the empty audience seats with the lavish chandelier hanging above are two of the most vivid memories I will carry on from this internship experience.

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As I ran to catch a train at the end of the night, I could not help but feel tremendously grateful for the magical day I just had. In addition to another great day in the education department, the talk with David Lansky, and the backstage tour, I also got to see my childhood ballet idol, Gillian Murphy, have a stunning and heartbreaking performance as Juliet. I felt like the luckiest intern in the world.

Although not every day at ABT was as glamorous as this one, it left me in a dream-like state for the rest of the summer, ready to take on more teacher training sessions and share my love of ballet with coworkers and soon-to-be certified teachers. I truly could not be more thankful for the experience and open doors ABT- and specifically NTC- has provided me this summer, and I know that I will forever look back fondly on my summer at America’s National Ballet Company.

Brittany Hurley

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2016


The Four M’s

16 Aug

As I stepped into 890 Broadway for the first time, I was immediately enchanted by the classic elevator that carried me to the little office of one of the greatest ballet companies in the world. This little office, however, is also home to not just amazing artistic talent, but to a job that I had only dreamed of doing until this summer. The opportunity to combine my marketing degree with my lifelong passion for ballet has been incredible, and  much like how marketing revolves around the four P’s (product, place, price, promotion), I have found that my internship could be summed up in a similar way, but with four M’s.

Membership, the first of the four M’s, is where I had the pleasure of spending my summer as an intern. It is without a doubt one of the liveliest offices within ABT, as we are directly responsible for assisting members and ensuring that they have a positive experience. There was never a dull moment with everyone working together to ensure that the needs of the members are satisfied and I was able to witness just how vital the members are to the success of the organization. Without our members, ABT would not exist, and I was privileged to work alongside the people in my department to learn how to care for and cultivate membership so that ABT can continue to fulfill its mission. My favorite project with the department was when I researched different fundraising platforms and ideas to launch a social media fundraising campaign. It was interesting to see all of the different marketing options that are available today through social media, and I am thankful for the experience to learn about the process of organizing and marketing a social media fundraiser.

One of the major methods of communication with current and prospective members is through mailings, the second M. On one of my first days of work, I was introduced to one of our good friends in Membership, the mail machine. Though we had our rough days (the machine smells fear!), I eventually learned how to seamlessly glide the letters through without submitting them to the horrors of a paper jam! While I folded countless of mailings this summer, one of my favorite moments was when I had the opportunity to work with volunteers on the task. We would set up in the conference room, surrounded by mountains of mail that quickly faded as we chatted about our love of ballet.

The Metropolitan Opera House, the third M, is where ABT performs during their eight week spring season. Walking into the Met for the first time is an experience like no other, and you are immediately transformed by the beauty around you. The physical beauty of the space does not compare to the dancing that I would witness on the stage this season. Since many of our member events, such as dress rehearsals or a backstage tour, and the membership table, were housed at the Met, I was able to view many amazing moments that happened this spring. By seeing not just the performances, but also a peek backstage pre-show as Stella Abrera tied her shoes or notes from a ballet master in a rehearsal, I was reminded of the hard work and dedication that our dancers put forth to deliver such amazing performances at the Met.

As interns, we participate in events with other organizations in the area, and my personal favorite was our day at Pointe Magazine, the final M. It was so fascinating to see the office and editors that are the masterminds behind the magazine that I read religiously as a young dancer. Stepping into their office and having the opportunity to talk with the editors was wonderful because I got to see the thought process behind the content in their magazines. Everyone seemed so focused, yet the light and open atmosphere made it evident that it is a wonderful place to collaborate and work.

My time with American Ballet Theatre has been an invaluable experience that I will treasure forever. It has reminded me of my passion for the arts, and it has made me a well-rounded person by exposing me to the non-profit sector and field of arts administration. I am so grateful to have the experience with ABT to start me on my journey.

Mary Katherine Marr

Membership Intern

Summer 2016


What a Liberal Arts Education Doesn’t Offer

7 Aug

At Vassar College, “finance” or “business” were esoteric words for a liberal arts student’s vocabulary. As an Urban Studies major, the closest I had gotten to these words in class was when talking about the income inequality gap with an Economics professor. While I love how a liberal art’s education challenges students to become well rounded and exceptional in myriad academic subjects, it is hard to venture outside of academia into the professional world while on campus.

Interning at ABT this summer has granted me the unique opportunity to get the pre-professional experience I yearned for outside of the classroom. While any internship will give a student exposure to the work environment, our Thursday meetings are what gave me tangible information about the mysterious business world. Once a week, as all the interns sat at the round table at 11 in the morning, we’d have the opportunity to hear an employee speak about their responsibilities, challenges, and joys here at ABT. From the finance department to the head of institutional support, I learned what it took to run a national ballet company, and even more so what it took to run a company in general.

As I sat around this round table every Thursday morning, I’d see the varying levels of experience the interns had with this side of business – some came from small liberal arts school like myself, some came from business schools, and others came from music conservatories. Yet despite our spectrum of exposure to the world of arts administration, we always all had something to take away from these meetings. It was comforting to know that we were all here to get a meaningful experience out of the internship, just maybe in different ways.

Outside of these weekly meetings, I was tasked with projects that were outside of my academic comfort zone. In managing the worksheets for the Education Department’s yearly budget report, I was able to get hands on learning into how a non-profit organization organizes their fiscal data. Never had I thought that interning in an arts administration department would give me such experiences.

Along with the many lessons I will take away from my internship with ABT, I get to go back into my beloved liberal arts world with a new set of skills and experiences that no History or Hispanic Studies classes could not have prepared me for.

Max Goldner

Education Outreach Intern

Summer 2016

“Kara Needs an Intern…”

7 Aug

I usually stop by Starbucks before I head into the office, just because somehow I ended up getting to the area with 45 minutes to spare. But this Monday morning, I only had about 20, so I just headed straight to the office a little early.

I had just sat down at the “intern’s desk”, for the JKO School, when Mary Jo the Director of Education and Training came by the area and said, “Kara needs an intern.” Intern? I am an intern, so I turned around to face Mary Jo and listen to what she was saying. That’s when she looked at me and her eyes widened, just enough to show that she had just come up with an idea. “Ranisha, do you think it would be okay if we steal you away from the education department to work with Kara as her assistant? It will just be until she hires someone else full time, so you should be able to get back up here before your time here ends.” “Me!? Work for the Executive Assistant? Of course it’s okay for you to “steal me away’!!”, is what I thought to myself. “Yes, I do not see the problem. I would love to help Kara”, is what I actually said to her.

After she had reviewed my application materials, she introduced me to Kara Medoff Barnett, the Executive Director for American Ballet Theatre. I wasn’t sure that this was actually happening to me until I had sat at the desk of the Executive Assistant and started helping Kara.  While she is very kind and understanding, she also handles very important people and concepts everyday, so I had to be on top of my game at all times. It was quite an experience to be able to work with her.

I told everyone that asked, that I had come to New York to be a sponge and to learn everything absolutely possible in these three summer months and I think I learned as much as I could. Working both in the Education Department and the Administrative Department were altogether different experiences and it was great to be exposed to both and learn what they both had to offer!

Ranisha Shelton

Education, JKO School Intern

Summer 2016

Company Class

1 Aug

My favorite day during my internship was not your typical workday.  Members of ABT are entitled to several events throughout the year, one of which is attending an on stage company class.  This summer the class fell on a Saturday, which also happened to be the day Misty Copeland was taking her turn as Odette in Swan Lake.  Of course Misty was stunning and breathtaking, but I’m here to talk about company class.

I was handed a calendar my first day in the office that had a bunch of member events I could help out with.  My eye was immediately drawn to company class.  I loved the idea of getting to watch ABT’s company members in their natural habitat; taking class, just like every other aspiring dancer in the world.  To top it all off class was held on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House.  My excitement could not be contained.

The day of the event I was tasked with helping people find their way into the theatre and handing out membership brochures, a typical task for interns in the Development department during the performance season at member events.  Once my tasks were complete I got to watch class.

I sat in my own little section of the Met and it felt like there was no one else in the theatre.  I was literally on the edge of my seat grinning from ear to ear.  There is something so special about getting to watch ABT’s dancers take part in this ritual that connects every ballet dancer in the world together. One of the greatest takeaways from the day was realizing that ABT’s dancers are just like us.  They have technique they’re working on in class, they still get corrections in class, and they like to goof around with each other.  Just like us.  Yes, they are unbelievably talented and have unrivaled abilities, but they’re humans too.

I am also incredibly grateful to the Development department for welcoming me this summer.  Getting to work with such a fun group of people made this summer so special for me.  I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity to be a part of an institution I’ve admired for so long.  ABT was the perfect place to begin my career.


Brendan Rosell

Membership Intern

Summer 2016


Brendan Rosell with fellow interns Ranisha Shelton and Yasmeen Enahora