29 Jul

I haven’t had a typical ABT intern experience. Technically, I’m not an ABT intern at all!  I am a “21st Century Intern” for the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Over the summer, the program sends students to work with performing arts companies around the world.  During the following school year, those students help host the companies when they come to perform in Michigan. When I first got the 21st Century Internship, all of the ABT summer intern roles were already filled.  My supervisors searched for months to find somewhere to send me.  The day before I left to go home for the summer, they found a loophole.  I would spend Monday through Thursday as a Programming Intern for the Joyce Theatre in Chelsea.  Then, I would come to ABT on Fridays to participate in their Professional Development Workshops and sporadically work on small projects.  I was even given the fancy title of “occasional education intern.”  

Though my hours at ABT have been limited, they have been incredibly rich.  My first day of “work” at ABT (excluding the Friday workshops) was a trip to New Jersey.  I met Taneshia Nash Laird, the president and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall. She described her vision for the company, and I was moved by her determination to hold social activism at the center.  It meant so much to me to see an empowered woman of color leveraging her position to specifically uplift marginalized communities. It was one of the first times I’ve been able to point to someone and say, “that’s the work I want to do.”

My second excursion was to the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, where ABT teaches free classes as part of a partnership with the New York Department of Education.  I took two (very humbling) ballet classes alongside eager middle and high school students. While I was only there for one day, I was able to learn a lot about how to responsibly enter and serve communities.  I will apply those lessons when I am hosting and planning community events with ABT, when they come to perform at the Detroit Opera House next year.

While I wish I could have spent more time with ABT this summer, I am more than happy with the way things worked out.  I now have an experience completely unique from any other ABT or 21st Century intern. One of the most important lessons I have learned is this: Don’t miss out on an opportunity just because there isn’t a neat structure already in place.  The job description might not be a perfect fit- it might not even exist! That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you. And when you get there? Help make room for others. 


Image description: a far-away mirror selfie in a dance studio at the Newark Symphony Hall.  There are colorful, hand-drawn posters on the short side wall. The adults are talking in the corner.  The marley reflects the ceiling lights, and the two long walls of mirrors reflect each other.

Victoria Briones

Occasional Education Intern

Summer 2019

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