The Nutcracker Reaches Out

4 Dec

As ABT’s Educational Outreach Intern, my primary responsibility is to assist the Associate Director of Education and Training, Dennis Walters, with the programming and coordination of the Make a Ballet (MAB) program. MAB seeks to “meet the need for arts education in underserved schools and communities” by introducing students to “all aspects of the creative and administrative theatrical experience.” I intend to become a middle- or high-school social studies teacher, so it has been a worthwhile experience to work at ABT and learn about the work necessary when writing curricula, creating lesson plans, and building worksheets, study guides, and in-class activities.

Though I have not been able to accompany Dennis to MAB classes at ABT’s partnership schools, I do have a chance to indirectly engage with the students. When completed class activities make their way back to the Outreach Department, I read and comment on the student work. From there, I discuss with Dennis and Richard Toda (Artistic Coordinator for Educational Outreach) about what did or did not go well during class that day and how the classes should proceed. It has certainly been a privilege to work on such a beneficial, arts-education initiative.


My typical MAB-centered day became something more a few weeks ago when I had the chance to interact, in a more personal way, with a young girl from Brooklyn. She wrote a letter that made its way to the Outreach Department. Addressing “the Nutcracker, “ she told of her desire to perform in ABT’s The Nutcracker, so I responded to her, on ABT letterhead, as if I were the Nutcracker. I expressed how happy I was to hear from her and encouraged her to continue dancing and following her dreams. I enclosed Nutcracker-themed activities in the envelope and signed the letter with a special signature. This experience was one of the highlights of my internship. Her letter reminded me of how enchanting ballet can be, especially during “Nutcracker season,” and why it is important that artists and arts companies continue to reach out and give back to their local communities, sharing with them a love of learning and creativity.

Jen Barrer-Gall

Education Outreach Intern

Fall 2013

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