The Why of It All

7 Aug

As I come to the end of my summer internship working with American Ballet Theatre’s National Curriculum Training team, I find it exhilarating how many questions I’m walking away with. My main goal for the summer was to untangle the inner workings of a massive nonprofit and gain some insight to how it thrives and supports itself. As someone who has worked in numerous fields at all ends of the spectrum, I had never been on the administration side of a non-profit arts organization. This internship was necessary for me to add more tools to my toolbox, so to speak, but I ended up with even more than I bargained for. 

Currently, I am about to go into my 2nd year in the dual degree MFA/MA program at NYU. My masters in Dance Performance and Dance Education will set me up for a future of teaching at a university and eventually maybe guide me to owning a community arts/dance center. I come from a background of dancing professionally, teaching, and choreographing musicals for community theatre, so I was honored to accept an internship with an organization I had revered since I was a child. Most importantly, I knew ABT would offer me a glimpse at understanding the ingenuity of how to keep a dance education program running. 

Working with the National Curriculum Training team, we dove in hard from day one. We had 8 teacher trainings, hundreds of participants, and a small mighty team of 6. Communication was key, and the support within this team was unlimited. I’ve worked with dozens of other bosses but never a team of all women, and I loved learning from these powerhouses. Yes, I was working as a part of a team, but also had been given the agency to make educated decisions which is rare as an intern. I not only managed the teacher participants from the administrative side but also had the privilege of observing and assisting the curriculum trainings themselves. This to me was the most educational piece, observing a classroom of current ballet teachers becoming certified in ABT’s curriculum. This internship forced me to ask myself the question, “why do I teach ballet that way?” I barely have years of teaching experience which is why I’m getting my masters, but I’ve never truly considered why I make the choices I do when I teach. It’s always been ingrained and choices are often made without a moment of hesitation but I should absolutely hesitate. As with most teachers, I’ve always taught what I know and having been trained at arguably one of the best ballet schools there is comfort in knowing that these choices will create a dancer, but what kind of dancer will it be? Maybe I’m going too deep, but my ultimate goal is to support healthy, body-positive dancing and to make that dream come true I need to consider why and how I teach. ABT has opened my eyes by providing strategy alongside ballet and I will forever be grateful for the lightbulb that has been set off in my mind. 

Sarah Bricker

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2021

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