A Year with the JKO School

7 Jun

Walking down the hall of 890 Broadway on a hot September day, I did not know what to expect. As an ABT JKO School Intern, I was one of the first people to re-enter the 890 offices amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The JKO School was preparing for the return of students after a year and a half of virtual instruction. It was an honor to be a part of this successful, safe, and rewarding return. As an intern, I assisted classes, updated records, and contributed to community building activities. I interacted with students, faculty, and families daily, answering questions and helping establish a warm, inviting atmosphere. ABT’s return to in-person instruction was an all-hands-on-deck situation. I helped in areas I had felt prepared for as well as taking on new responsibilities like technology troubleshooting and COVID-19 mitigation. The ABT community came together to find creative solutions to extraordinary challenges and exhibited responsibility and resilience in returning to in-person classes.

What I did not know on that first day was that I was walking into much more than an education internship. I was entering a year of exploration within the arts administration field. The magnitude of the company allows for a wholistic internship program that reaches far beyond one area of interest. The breadth of the program pushed me to explore beyond my assigned specialty. As a recent graduate with a wide range of interests and a passion for learning, this proved to be the perfect environment. Weekly Intern meetings provided me with the opportunity to speak with the company’s most prominent leaders. From Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie to Executive Director Janet Rollé and Principal Dancer Misty Copeland, each individual spoke about their own, unique perspective on their position with ABT. These conversations were particularly pertinent as the company transitions leadership and navigates a pivotal time of change and progress. They spoke openly about their paths, revelations, and moments of growth. These individuals were very generous in taking the time to speak with us, answer questions, and offer their future connection. These discussions opened my eyes to and sparked interest in areas that I had no previous knowledge of. For that, I am grateful.

After expressing an interest in marketing and digital media, my mentor quickly invited me to attend bi-weekly digital media marketing meetings and create content for the @ABTSchool Instagram. I learned about strategies and planning for effective social media campaigns. I was given the freedom to create my own posts highlighting the Spring 2022 intern cohort and friends of ABT. It was exciting and slightly daunting to produce posts for over 64k followers. Attending departmental and other meetings helped me confidently contribute to the company and learn about the extensive work that goes on behind the scenes in a major ballet company.

I am thankful for the skills, experience, and perspective I gained over the course of my year with ABT. My experience playing a small part in a renowned, cultural institution will stay with me forever.

Kathleen Oakley

JKO School Intern

Fall 2021-Spring 2022

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