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A Summer of Learning

29 Jul

It has been an honor to have the opportunity to be a small part of American Ballet Theatre this summer, as an intern in the Education Department working in the area of the National Training Curriculum, growing in my knowledge of many things in the process. I have admired ABT for as long as I can remember, and certainly continue to now, as a graduate student completing a Master of Arts degree in Dance Education at New York University with a concentration in ABT Ballet Pedagogy. It has been a summer filled with ballet and with learning.

I came into this internship as an ABT Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum, and with significant teaching experience, but I have looked for and found a great deal of continued growth in my understanding of this brilliant curriculum and best practices for teaching ballet. I have had the privilege of observing other teachers both teaching and learning as I assist with the training workshops, proctor exams, and act as an administrator for master classes, and I have found opportunities to look deeper into the logic behind the curriculum. I have learned a lot about the exam process as I have assisted with processing exam results. The internship is virtual, with work-from-home projects and Zoom meetings, and I have refined my technology navigation skills in numerous previously unfamiliar tasks.

The ABT staff members I have the joy of working under – Sonia Jones, Sayako Harada, and Molly Schnyder – are nothing short of incredible. It has been inspiring to see the determination, passion, and skill each of these women has. It has been a busy summer in the NTC, with eight teacher trainings taking place (including trainings held in Spanish and Italian), and there is a lot to stay on top of every week. Even with their busy schedules, though, the NTC staff are consistently positive and kind, and the utmost professionals. Additionally, working alongside fellow NTC intern and NYU student, Sarah Bricker, has been delightful. Dennis Walters, the Director of Education Operations who has guided the internship program throughout the summer, has been one of the most gracious examples of leadership in the arts I have encountered in my life.

I humbly recognize this internship as an amazing opportunity, and I am grateful to have been granted the chance to learn and work for ABT. It has been a full and challenging summer as I have juggled the internship along with teaching and my final semester of graduate school, but it has been worth every minute. I am confident that the experiences I have had this summer will carry me forward in my career, and that the many relationships and connections initiated during this internship will continue to blossom and flourish. Thank you, ABT.

Taryn Ouellette

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2021

JKO Intern Reflections

9 Dec

As a dance student entering my senior year of college, I was nervous as to how transitioning into virtual learning would impact my dance training and educational experience this semester. Dance students and educators across the globe have all faced the challenge of how to move their instruction into a meaningful virtual format this semester, and as the JKO School Intern this semester I had the unique opportunity to be apart of this process and assist the wonderful JKO School team in cultivating high-level training and attempting to replicate the JKO community atmosphere online.

In weekly team meetings, we discussed ways in which we could improve the online learning experience for the students, and my main role as an intern was administrating the Zoom classes. As a zoom administrator, I witnessed the resilience and creativity of both young students and teachers in adapting to the online studio environment. I was impressed with how teachers were able to engage their students and got a little taste of the students’ lives as they introduced their pets and shared stories about their lives at the start and end of classes.

While I would love to venture to 890 Broadway, interning this semester was special as I felt I experienced this tremendous challenge to dance training and was able to support the JKO staff, faculty, and students, in overcoming it.  I helped to coordinate a wellness workshop series with the Harkness Center for Dance injures in order to cultivate the school community and give JKO families the opportunity to learn about best practices for dancing at home. I helped to create virtual classes to be posted on social media for students to take. In assisting in executing this programming, I watched the JKO School go above and beyond to create a rich and authentic virtual learning space and make ballet become more accessible than it ever has been to the larger community.

I had a fantastic experience with ABT this semester, and feel immense gratitude to Katie, Katie, and Jenna for their continued support and mentorship. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the JKO school community!

Sophie Visscher-Lubinizki

JKO School Intern

Fall 2020

Welcome to the ABT Family

4 Dec

This fall, I completed the National Training Curriculum (NTC) Internship within the Education Department at American Ballet Theatre, working September 11 – December 11, 2020 in a remote setting. During my internship, I was responsible for assisting with special projects and day-to-day operations related to the NTC, such as:

  • Co-hosting the Level 6-7 & Partnering teacher training course, taught by Franco De Vita and Raymond Lukens
  • Hosting weekly JKO children’s division ballet classes for Harriet Clark
  • Hosting Winter Intensive classes
  • Assisting the Raising The Barre weekend workshop with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, featuring Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden
  • Grading Exams for the ABT/NYU Master’s Program teacher training

I worked directly with the brilliant NTC team: Molly Schnyder, Sonia Jones, and Saya Harada, under the JKO Artistic Director, Cynthia Harvey. I also interfaced regularly with the Education Faculty at the weekly virtual staff meetings, which allowed me to gain more insight into the entire department and witness firsthand how collaboration, communication, and a little bit of humor make for great team work (#winning)! I had the invaluable opportunity to get to know ABT inside and out through meetings with staff from marketing, development, company management, finance, and the executive team. Working in an environment that believes in the power of dance education, I saw how ABT’s mission to share dance with the widest possible audience impacts their daily decisions, which in turn continues to positively impact the current and future generations of dancers and arts administrators.

In addition to my organizational work — which included working in OneDrive, practicing my mail merge skills, creating presentations, and more — I also helped with the @abtschool social media posts for the ABT/NYU Master’s Program! Bringing my knowledge of marketing and media from my past work experience, I was able to use those media skills in my work at ABT to produce IGTV videos for a current audience of 32K followers.

I feel very lucky to have been invited onto the Education team this fall, and become a part of the small, wonderful family that is the ABT National Training Curriculum team!

Cheers,

Amy Wensley

NTC Intern

Fall 2020

Emma Goes to the Warehouse

1 Dec

Starting my internship at ABT, I was thrilled by the opportunity and very eager to learn. The experience has managed to exceed my expectations. This isn’t the type of internship where you show up with a laundry list of to-dos and strict deadlines. Instead, you are called upon to brainstorm ideas and share your perspective. My main project over the semester has been developing content and ideas for the ABTKids Daily webpage. I have been able to use my creativity in all of the projects I have been given, and the best part is that there are tangible results to go along with each task. I get to see my work come to life on the ABTKids Daily page every week, and I know that someone is out there watching and learning from home. Not only that, but I get to learn alongside them as I create the content! First, let me tell you about my new friend, Winston.

Winston, an emerging internet sensation, also happens to be the son of my supervisor, Dennis Walters. Winston is well known for his work hosting the ABTKids Daily series, Winston Goes to the Warehouse. Winston Goes to the Warehouse is a series of videos following Winston as he tours the ABT warehouse and interviews the property master and wardrobe supervisor. I had the pleasure of going through all of this footage and determining what types of episodes we could create with the content we had on film. Diving into the footage, I felt like I myself was getting a tour of the warehouse. Spending hours watching and rewatching the videos, I not only feel like I could give a tour of the warehouse, but I also feel like I met Winston. That is one of the most special things about this remote internship, that ABT makes you feel like you are there in person. ABT has made a conscious effort to go the extra mile and keep their students engaged while they are cooped up at home. It is so rewarding to be a vehicle to help deliver this content to the kids, and the best part is that I am learning and experiencing it all alongside them.

ABT has truly taken this virtual world by storm. I would argue that their use of virtual programming has made ballet even more accessible than before, thus fulfilling their mission to bring ballet to the widest possible audience. Everything ABT does ties back to this. I feel lucky to be a part of an organization that is so driven by their mission, a mission that I am proud to support.

I have had a great experience at ABT over the past few months. I have grown professionally and personally and had a great time while doing it. Thank you to Dennis for mentoring me and showing me the ropes, and to Amanda and Richard for so graciously welcoming me to their team.

I hope you have the opportunity to intern at ABT, for it will undoubtedly be a very memorable and impactful experience.

 

Emma Alteri

Education Outreach Intern

Fall 2020

 

P.S. Check out an episode of Winston Goes to the Warehouse below!

If You’re Well, I’m Well

23 Nov

Spending time with the JKO School Children’s Division has taught me the value of engagement, wellness, and community in the world of dance. Although I revered the company and school prior to my internship, I’m leaving with more admiration than before.

I was the administrator for several Zoom classes every week, so I got to experience the classes firsthand. The faculty and staff work extremely hard at keeping students engaged and well. Many faculty begin their classes with saying hello, asking kids about good things that happened that week, and making sure their dance space is set up and safe. Throughout the class, faculty “spotlight” kids in Zoom to encourage them and complement their dancing. Every student has a chance to demonstrate as well. This keeps students engaged and excited about their dancing- they want to be spotlighted! Structure and curriculum are also very important, for the faculty want them to be ready for whenever they return to in-person classes.

Wellness is also a priority. JKO cares about each individual student, and they are quick to meet with students, encourage them, and help them through struggles and circumstances that are a consequence of the pandemic. One of my favorite experiences was moderating lectures in conjunction with Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Throughout the semester one-hour seminars would be held from Harkness, and these workshops were aimed at promoting physical and mental wellness in the community. They had a positive and healthy quality and addressed crucial topics: the dangers of going on pointe too early, specific health issues for female athletes and how to avoid them, and (actually) healthy mindsets when it comes to eating. It is so important to teach these things to ballet students at a young age, so I was happy to be a part of these workshops.

Finally, as an intern with the JKO School, I got to help create community in a time when it is more difficult than usual. The other JKO intern and I would edit pre-filmed ABTots classes for Instagram so young children could take a free class every week- complete with a story and a craft. We also made a student directory so families could connect remotely. Every week, the JKO Children’s Division staff, interns, and some faculty would meet to discuss logistics and how we could make the semester better for individual students and the division as a whole. In these meetings, I learned how ABT had promoted wellness for dancers in the past and how they strive to do it now in the pandemic.

My internship was a very enjoyable and educational experience. ABT is a positive place and I loved interning with them!

Morgan McIntosh

JKO School Education Intern

Fall 2020

“What is a Maypole?”

19 Aug

As my internship comes to an end, I am still unable to grasp the extent of all that ABT has shared with me over this short period of time. In addition to acquiring valuable new skill sets, learning in a collaborative environment and observing renowned speakers, the thing I have come to cherish the most is a simple project about a maypole.

The transformative maypole project started off as a spontaneous idea pitch called “What is a Maypole?” by my mentor, Dennis Walters. I quickly realized that before I could fulfill answering the project question with a fun and educational activity for ABTKids Daily, I first had to find my own answers that included more than “a tall pole named after a month.” Starting with the snippets of information I gathered from Dennis’s description, I found myself falling into a black hole of new google tabs filled with maypole research. From learning about the pole’s cultural relevance on the historic Beltane festival to comparing Guinness World Records for the largest pole standing, the project surprised me in more ways than one. I was shocked by how much I didn’t know and intrigued with everything I had learned.  

As the research process continued to spark new insights, I came across the next exciting task to transfer the information I had learned into an engaging activity for kids. As a person who trends toward drawing inside the lines and finding comfort in rules and directions, I was challenged with thinking outside of the box to complete this task. By finding inspiration in the little things, specifically a pencil, a few ribbons and a push pin, I was able to overcome my creativity roadblock and watch a fun DIY maypole craft come to life. Not only was I amazed with the simplicity of the craft, but also surprised in my ability to find solutions to a problem that seemed so unfamiliar at the start.

Much like the maypole project, my virtual internship experience was a learning curve, filled with uncertainties that were answered by exploring the unknown with excitement and an open mind. As I celebrated many firsts with ABT this summer, my first time working at a nonprofit, my first introduction to arts administration, my first virtual internship, ABT continuously provided me with a haven to grow and learn without boundaries. Thank you to my mentor, Dennis, and the outreach team, Amanda and Richard, for supporting me with endless opportunities to grow beyond my comfort zone and tackle projects such as the maypole through a multidimensional mindset. I am sincerely grateful to learn from such a passionate team that welcomes curiosity with open arms. My time at ABT was a cherished experience and as an added bonus I am now well versed in what a maypole truly is!

 

Ananya Chatterjee

Education Outreach Intern

Summer 2020

 “What is a Maypole?”

The Children MUST Dance!

6 Aug

I can certainly attest to ABT’s resilience during these uncertain times! The resounding efforts by all departments allowed the organization to continue their educational mission, and more impressively re-envision an impactful fall season. Being the JKO intern during Summer 2020, I did not experience the magic of 890 Broadway. Rather I was fueled by the community spirit proudly exhibited in weekly zoom meetings and in details of assigned projects. A phrase that was often proclaimed in challenging moments, “the children MUST dance”, served as a motivational mantra in all my tasks. No one could predict the coming months, but we all knew the children would be dancing together again.

The anticipated decision of the JKO School fall re-opening plan came with an abundance of preparation: zip code enrollment analysis, scenario planning, parent surveys, and weekly re-opening discussions. My involvement in these plans took a data-centered approach. I analyzed the student’s feasibility of travel, anticipated housing accommodations, preferences for learning scenarios, and attitudes towards pre-cautionary health/safety measures… all in the name of “the children MUST dance”. With a deeper understanding of the student’s capabilities and needs, I wrote generalized conclusions that informed an inclusive fall re-opening plan. Perhaps most informing were the commentary left by students and parents from the JKO School. I read about the tight-knit community in the JKO School, and I learned about the incredible artistry created in the studios. Once again, that notion that “the children MUST dance” echoed in all their responses.

Though I won’t be able to see the children dance together again in the fall, I am proud to help re-connect the JKO School community. In the future, I hope to experience the in-person magic of 890 Broadway. Thank you ABT, and the JKO School Staff!

 

Allaistar Regan

JKO Intern

Summer 2020

Zoom Zoom

22 May

When we closed the doors at ABT on March 13, 2020 none of us knew what was coming. I assisted my last in-studio class that Friday with the intention of returning to the studio in two short weeks once COVID-19 had blown over. Well, I don’t have to tell you this, but I was sorely mistaken.

As a JKO Studio Intern much of my internship consisted of in-studio class assisting hours. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of my internship as I had the privilege of assisting many of the amazing JKO faculty members. Learning from them in the studio week after week and helping advance the technical level of the JKO students was a remarkable experience.

When it became apparent that we would no longer be able to have in-studio classes, the JKO School moved entirely to online learning via the Zoom platform. As an intern it then became my duty to oversee the Zoom classes, answering student questions, and assisting the instructors in any way possible. For many of these classes I would meet with the instructor a few minutes before class began, catching up and planning our strategies to keep the students engaged. Disabling screen sharing was quite helpful for the younger levels as students in our Primary classes really wanted to show the class their desktops (haha!).

Facilitating Zoom learning was quite an adventure, I met many household pets, witnessed a few sibling quarrels, and saw ballet from every camera angle possible. Despite all of this, the students and teachers in the JKO School didn’t miss a beat. I saw in real-time the versatility of the ABT National Training Curriculum as it was adapted by each instructor for at-home learning. Our students in the JKO School continued to receive world class ballet instruction from their living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and foyers.

Moving to Zoom was an unanticipated challenge this semester but it was met with some of the most qualified and hard-working people I have ever met. I am so proud to have been part of this experience and I am even more proud of the students in the JKO school for meeting this challenge and overcoming it. I wish all of the students I assisted the utmost success in their ballet journey. Keep dancing, keep smiling, keep Zooming.

Tymothy Jaddock

JKO Studio Intern

Spring 2020

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Flavio Salazar and I meeting before a Level 1 class to discuss specifics

  

The Heart of ABT

22 May

Coming into my internship at ABT, I was super intimidated – to say the least. I have admired ABT’s work and Artistry since childhood. So, getting the opportunity to be an Education Intern the semester was something that really scared me. It wasn’t an opportunity I ever expected to have. But, from the first day, I was welcomed with opened arms. Even during my first week in the office, I felt like I was already a member of the team. 

No two days in the office were ever the same. I was always working on a myriad of different projects. Some days I was at my desk all day, working on Intern Applications or sending emails to schools. Other days, I was running around the building with kids who were here on a field trip. And some days, I was surrounded by glitter and pipe cleaners, while I made some crafts. I loved coming into the office everyday not knowing what to expect. Everyday was an adventure, as I never knew what fun task I was going to get to do. One of my favorite days during my internship was when I got to accompany my mentor Dennis on several meetings. I spent the whole day attending meetings with almost every single department. I already knew that ABT was a special place, before I even arrived. But, it was then that I truly realized what made this place so special – the people who worked here.

As the second half of my internship transitioned to an online platform, I found that what I was missing the most was the people. One of the best things I have walked away with from this experience has been seeing firsthand all the work that goes into creating the artistry I have always admired. I have learned so much about what it means to approach every task with thoughtfulness. As I worked closely with Amanda, Dennis, and Richard, I saw the amount of dedication and passion that they put into everything. Even the things that maybe seemed insignificant or small. It has challenged me to do the same. They have inspired me to approach my work in a different way. This is what makes ABT such a special place. Everyone loves what they do and you can see and feel it in their work.

If you have the chance to intern with ABT, you’re not only interning at one of the most amazing ballet institutions, but you’re also interning with some of the most amazing people in New York City. Leaving this internship is bittersweet. I am sad that this wonderful time has come to an end, but I am grateful to have met such wonderful people. People I now look up to so dearly.

Camryn Rose Pillay

Education Outreach Intern

Spring 2020

 

ABT From Home

22 May

You never know what to expect at ABT. One Friday, we were eating pizza in the dancers lounge (while Isabella Boylston was coming down the stairs) and the next two Fridays,  I was working from my home in another country. 

The little time we got to be in the building was memorable. I planned on this for so long and I tried to live everyday as an extraordinary day since I arrived. It is something I am grateful for, because I enjoyed so much of the little time I was there. 

One of the most remarkable things I got to do was to experience how ballet can be transmitted through different generations. As part of the NTC team, I got to see how adults experience their training and how knowledge was transmitted. I got to see their excitement and their nervousness. I got to see how students of the JKO school were extraordinary, sensitive, empathetic and hardworking humans – as I was on the same floor as them. I got the opportunity to see how hardworking and human (yes like you and me) the dancers of ABT are. I also saw how nervous they can feel before an exam and grateful to the team for giving them something to do during this time. Finally, as I got the chance to volunteer, I got to see how kids were amused by the art and how different they are -as not all of them were really interested in their ballet classes.

I have to say it was difficult to transition to an online training course – learning from mistakes and how to improve. One of the most stressful times in my department is when the training courses are being held. With the online platforms, other kinds of problems arose, but I was happy to be able to manage the situations. I think I wouldn’t have learned from these kinds of problems if we had had the traditional training.

While my internship has not finished by the time I write this, I certainly miss walking through the hall of the JKO school, watching all those beautiful pictures of the young dancers. I miss seeing my colleagues and the other interns and I miss the environment around this amazing office. So, If you become an intern, enjoy every single moment you are there, as you never know what to expect!

Mariana Nivon Anaya

NTC Intern

Spring 2020