890 Broadway: A Community

21 May

890 Broadway seems to hold a special place in the hearts of so many people who are a part of American Ballet Theatre. This physical address was mentioned in our weekly intern meetings by many different guest speakers, again in weekly check-in meetings with the Children’s Division staff, and by teachers during JKO ballet technique classes. I have heard stories of students running up and down the hallways asking questions of the JKO staff, the relationships that are forged between pianist and dancer in the company’s studios, and the conference rooms in which a small, but mighty, marketing team discusses ways to bring ABT “into the now.”

Throughout my time as an intern for American Ballet Theatre, however, I have discovered that 890 Broadway is so much more than a physical location with ballet studios, offices, and conference rooms. 890 Broadway is a community of people—students, dancers, artists, musicians, staff, and audience members.

As one of the JKO School interns, I hosted and moderated the JKO Zoom technique classes throughout the week for four different levels. Although my face was hidden behind the ABT logo under the guise of “ABT JKO School”, I too feel part of the 890 Broadway community. Watching the dancers work and grow throughout the semester has been such a wonderful experience—one that inspires my love for this art form even further.  I watched as the Level 1A’s began to more clearly understand the technique of a tendu, was inspired by the Level 3A’s eagerness to explore the mechanics behind certain steps, listened as the Level 1B’s shared the excitement of their days before beginning their warm-up, and read their comments supporting each other during center exercises. Teachers encouraged questions and understanding; lectures in partnership with the NYU Harkness Center taught dancers about anatomy, nutrition, and mental health. Character classes brought excitement to the traditional schedule of ballet, conditioning, and modern classes, and parents were able to observe their dancers perform an exercise to music from The Sleeping Beauty during the final week of classes.

The JKO School is a community, and this community extends beyond the school, through every facet of the organization. Every single staff member or former intern who spoke during our weekly Friday intern meetings encouraged us to reach out with questions, or even just to have a conversation. Dennis Walters, our ABT internship coordinator and the Director of Education Operations, was available any time of the day for internship help, resume questions, and ideas on how to make the internship experience the most valuable it can be. The camaraderie among staff was almost tangible in the Weekly Education Staff meetings, and the JKO team of Katie Ferris, Katie Currier, and Jenna Berloni were so welcoming and quick to respond to any questions I had while moderating Zoom classes.

Over the last few months, I also worked on evaluation projects, summer intensive database entry, and began work on increasing the accessibility of adult classes. One project that particularly resonated with me was transferring data from a JKO fundraiser in coordination with Custom Ink to an Excel spreadsheet. Hundreds of individuals purchased a sweatshirt or donated in support of the school, but they also left comments sharing what ABT means to them and how the JKO school has shaped their life. The way American Ballet Theatre has impacted so many individuals, whether former dancers, company members, current students, audience members, or fans from across the world, is so inspiring. These comments are such a beautiful testament to ABT’s commitment to its mission of bringing ballet to the widest possible audience and the global community the company has created.

So, although I have never traversed the maze that 890 seems to be, what seems to truly make this place is the people.  I feel so honored to have been able to work with, learn from, and be a part of the same community as all of the wonderful staff at ABT. Thank you so much to the JKO team for such an engaging semester, and I cannot wait to see how the Children’s Division continues to grow, adapt, and become an even stronger community. 

Morgan Jankowski

JKO School Intern

Spring 2021

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