“Yes, Sophie, there is a Tooth Fairy.”

5 Aug

As the final two weeks of my internship approached, after eight extremely busy weeks of Summer Intensives, I expected things in the office to wind down—-I thought I might finish some editing projects, file some last bits of student paperwork and make a few more trips to the dry cleaner to drop off or pick up Studio Company costumes. Low-key tasks. But ABT, ever full of surprises, handed me a fantastic one just over two weeks before I was due to leave. “Hey, Sophie,” Heidi said, “we’re one counselor short for YDSW. Could you help us out?”

Thus began what has arguably been the most exciting, and unexpected, part of my internship experience. The Young Dancer Summer Workshop, or YDSW, is the last of three Summer Intensive programs in the NYC studios at 890 Broadway, comprising about 200 students ages 9-12. The students are divided into nine levels, each with a color name and each with its very own counselor, a.k.a. Supervisor-in-Chief. My counselor duties, I learned, would include taking attendance in every class, checking each student into and out of the building, helping teachers demonstrate in the classroom, setting up PT appointments, handling students’ injuries and illnesses in class, overseeing lunch, generally providing each student with a wonderful ABT experience and, most importantly, never leaving the kids unsupervised. This last assignment, though initially daunting, has proven very easy to accomplish, because the students are all so much fun to be with! My group (Green—26 dancers) has made me eager to be at the office at 8:30 every morning, despite my two-hour commute. They don’t have to try to please me; they’re just so thrilled to be there, to talk to me and to one another and to dance dance dance!

Seeing them in and outside of class every day has reminded me why I wanted a job in the Education Department in the first place. There are many exciting aspects of office work in Education, from the clerical (preparing press packets for the Studio Company tour to Colorado) to the artistic (conjuring floral garlands from hula hoops, fake flowers and a hot glue gun—bippity-boppity-boo!), and it was these tasks I anticipated when I applied for the internship. Yet the most rewarding Education experience for me has been that provided by the YDSW kids. Sure, there have been small crises—-only this afternoon a girl I’d never seen before came up to me with a bloody mouth, proudly displaying the baby tooth that had just fallen out and eager to tell me how frequently the Tooth Fairy has been visiting her lately—-but these prove as educational for me as any other aspect of the job.

For a fresh college graduate to whom the future often seems daunting, it is immeasurably helpful to be surrounded by young dancers who are just learning to tie their pointe shoes, anticipating the Tooth Fairy’s magical arrival, still looking at life as one long, not yet choreographed dance in which they are all prima ballerinas. I only wish I could stay longer in their world.

Thank you, ABT, for giving me such a wonderful gift.

Sophie Johnson

Education Training Programs Intern

Summer 2014

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