Happy Memories and New Opportunities

10 Aug

I spent my senior year of high school blissfully working in and roaming the halls of 890 Broadway as one lucky twelfth grade apprentice/intern at American Ballet Theatre’s Educational Outreach Program. The office was always bustling with activity from the JKO students and your regular school year spectacles. Now as a dance major done with her first year at college, I wondered how I would fill my summer months back home in NYC. Looking to better my understanding of arts administration (and secretly wondering if ABT was as exciting in the summer as it is during the school year), it made complete sense to return to the home of a company that I had admired as long as I could dance, and a place that never failed to bring a smile to my face at the end of a long day.

As a previous Outreach intern, I didn’t know what to expect as I walked in this past May on my first day to become a National Training Curriculum intern. But after only a couple of days back at ABT, I regretted not stopping to take a look last year at the NTC desks that I had passed a hundred times.

The National Training Curriculum is a program taught at the JKO School and has been extremely successful in turning out highly sought after dancers. The program provides a remarkable and unique opportunity for dedicated dance teachers to learn how to train their students in ballet­—properly and healthily—from ABT’s own instructors, through a series of lectures, demonstrations, and exams. The ultimate goal is to walk away certified by ABT, and hopefully move on to become an Affiliate Teacher by then presenting your students for their own exams. I was fortunate enough to occasionally pass by or walk into a room where a lecture by Raymond Lukens or Franco De Vita (two of the brains behind NTC) was taking place and catch a tidbit of information about how to properly approach your turnout or placement at the barre.

In addition to being an intern for NTC, I was also a counselor for ABT’s five week Summer Intensive program in NYC (which allowed me to learn that yes, ABT is just as exciting and crowded during the summer as it is throughout the year). At the beginning of the summer, I stressed about how I was going to manage to do both, but being submerged in two different branches of ABT’s Education and Training Department entirely enriched my overall experience. The combination of the two programs complimented each other in a way I never expected, and culminated in my sudden enlightenment of another career path.

I never desired to become a dance teacher. Professionally dancing has always been my dream, but I never wanted to consider taking a teaching job. This summer, however, wholly changed my opinion of teaching. As an NTC intern I learned all about the administrative and business side of instructing, and as a summer counselor I had a more hands-on experience in personally dealing with children. The knowledge that I acquired from both made me realize that not only would I not mind teaching dance, but I would also look forward to it. As someone who had never considered taking the dance-teacher route for lack of faith in myself, I now welcome this unforeseen possibility for my future.

My whole adventure with ABT this summer has made for some happy memories. I am thankful for the opportunities that have been provided and for this unforgettable learning experience. What little bunhead doesn’t dream of working with American Ballet Theatre, and helping with the magic behind the curtain?

Julia Sandke

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2015

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