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Don Q’ing Our Way Through the Summer

5 Sep

ABT’s Internship Program is a great opportunity to experience the non-profit work in the arts. With weekly intern meetings and field trips to the Metropolitan Opera, Dance Media and Roundabout Theatre Company, interns are not restricted to only learning about their assigned department. Mentors and staff are always welcoming and open to answer any questions.

The program is also a great opportunity to meet friends. June 1st, 2017, we were just two separate individuals, Sarah Cho and Annabelle Sadoff. As the weeks continued on, we began to merge into one. As Dennis half-jokingly called us (but not really), we were known as Sarabelle. Working in the Education Outreach Department, you’re given a large assortment of tasks, ranging from simple tasks like folding programs to more complex ones like creating worksheets for future workshops.  We started our bond while preparing 3,000 programs for the Young People’s Ballet Workshop, but the pivotal moment in our friendship was the day we went to P.S. 261 K to assist with the final performance of Make a Ballet. We helped with the set up and chaperoning of students, but most importantly, we learned the amazing teaching artist, Richard Toda’s, Don Quixote choreography. While we didn’t have to learn the dance, the choreography was so inspiring and fun that it got us out of our seats to follow along. The choreography stuck with us throughout the entire summer, pulling out the moves in the middle of cleaning the studios, moving barres, during lunch, and whenever our mentor, Dennis, would walk by. Even the repetitive, but important, tasks like filing cabinets became exciting, as we would perform a Richard Toda move after we scanned a binder into the system.

One important project we were assigned for the summer was to re-organize the internal and external communication of the internship program. From planning out the deadlines to creating the intern request forms for staff, we were given directions and guidance but also had freedom to use our own experience as interns to improve the process. Dennis asked for our input in creating the mentor handbook to outline what we thought would be helpful for mentors to know when they work with interns. We created a first draft ourselves and edited the handbook with Dennis to realign the language. It was very satisfying to know that our experience could be of beneficial use to make the internship program more efficient and effective for staff and future interns. Of course, we celebrated our work with Richard’s Don Quixote choreography.

It was a great experience, sitting side by side at the desk meant for one person, throwing angry birds and cupcake beanie babies around, having casual conversations with THE Sascha Radetsky, watching Summer Intensive classes, finding historic pictures from early 1990s in file cabinets, organizing costumes, finding ballet legends’ pointe shoes in the pointe shoe store, running the ABT boutique in the office, and of course, busting out Richard’s Don Quixote choreography whenever and wherever. While the summer term was short, the memories, skills and friendships will last for a lifetime. #sarabelle

Annabelle Sadoff and Sarah Cho    (AKA Sarabelle)

Education Outreach Interns

Summer 2017 

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Pleasant Surprises from an Unexpected Detour: Broadening the Horizons of a Career in the Arts

5 Sep
My first experience with American Ballet Theatre was going to see Maria Kochetkova perform Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House with my mother. I remember barely being able to keep still in my chair, wanting to pounce up and join in the choreography. I remember leaving Lincoln Center on the 1 Tain with the largest smile on my face, not only feeling more inspired than ever to keep dancing, but also that I could do anything if I put my mind to it.
My next experience with American Ballet Theatre was dancing in their three-week Collegiate Summer Intensive in the June of 2016. I soaked in every last moment of being in the studios; I was beginning my Freshman year of college in the Fall and I was getting too old for most Summer Intensives. A classmate had applied to be a counselor for the five-week intensive, and I thought that was something I would definitely be interested in.
The next Spring I composed an email to the Summer Intensive staff inquiring about the Summer Counselor position and was asked to come in for an interview. There, they asked if I would be interested in an internship for the summer with the JKO Pre-Professional Division.
It was incredibly unexpected: I was still only 18 and had only finished my first year of college. But through out my experience this summer, I drew from and continued to refine my knowledge of ballet education and organizational, administrative, and editing skills. I worked closely with the JKO staff preparing for the school year with the students’ registration, refining the student and faculty handbook policies, collecting inventory of the uniforms, and mailing out the teacher and accompanist contracts.
As the school is not in session during the summer I also had the opportunity to assist in other areas of ABT Education Offices, such as Project Plié and the multiple Summer Intensives happening both in NYC and across the United States.
With the internship program we also had other opportunities, such as an exchange program with Roundabout Theatre, a visit to DanceMedia’s Pointe Magazine, tickets to experience some of ABT’s Metropolitan Opera season, and even a backstage tour of the Met. On top of this, every week we would have intern meetings to hear from different departments of the organization and what comprises a career in arts administration: all the way from how ABT functions as a non-profit to grant writing. These lectures were incredibly eye opening for me, as previous to this summer I had only experience as a dancer; I learned of so many more ways the arts can be turned into a career.
Overall, I was immensely moved by the amount of effort ABT placed into the outreach of dance for the youth and in the local schools. In a time where the arts are struggling to remain relevant, ABT is at the forefront of the mission. At the Young People’s Ballet Workshop students from public schools from the NYC area poured into the Metropolitan Opera House to watch some of their peers perform alongside company dancers, and it thrilled me to see the amount of unconfined excitement buzzing in a room full of young students.
I saw them sitting in the seats where I watched ABT perform for the first time, and just looking at the gleam in their eyes and the uncontained smile of their faces that they also were not just inspired to move, but that they could accomplish anything they put their minds to as well.
It was an honor this summer to intern with American Ballet Theatre and to know, that in my small ways, I am helping young dancers to be inspired just as I was and I would recommend this opportunity to anyone interested in any form of arts administration.
Kasey Boekema
JKO School Intern
Summer 2017
Kasey Broekema is 19 years old entering her sophomore year at Columbia University studying dance and English.

My Summer in the National Training Curriculum

29 Aug

Being part of the National Training Curriculum team was full of little surprise joys this summer. I, along with my awesome co-intern, spent our days ensuring teacher training intensive sessions and affiliate student exams were ready to go and efficiently processed. Some of my main tasks included auditing and processing exam results for both teachers and students as well as maintaining physical records and online files. However, it was all the moments from the atypical tasks that truly built the internship experience for me.

For example, early in the summer, all of the interns took a field trip to Lincoln Center to help set up the Young People’s Ballet Workshop featuring ABT’s  students—helping thousands of elementary kids fill up the auditorium to get excited about ballet? Phenomenal experience. Or, even helping out in the apparel and trinkets boutique during dancer intensives or teacher trainings gave me an opportunity to get to chat with some of the participants; I loved learning about different people and how their unique background brought them to ABT for the summer. We also had the opportunity to meet the interns at a Broadway theatre company and share our experiences in the arts at major NYC organizations with each other.

I also thoroughly enjoyed my time learning from the various people who work at ABT. I was so blessed to have such wonderful mentors in Meghan Love, Sonia Jones, and Molly Schnyder. It was encouraging to know that walking into the office every day that these people cared about me as beyond “just an intern”. They were patient, kind, and considerate—I really couldn’t have asked for a better trio to work for. Also, whether it was informally at the lunch table, though a few Q&A sessions at intern meetings, or casually around the office, meeting the people and seeing passion of ABT is inspiring to be part of. I am thankful for meeting such great educators, artists, and administrators.

Sarah Tsung

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2017

 

ABT jumping pic

It’s More than Just an Office Job – My Experience as an ABT Intern

22 Aug

Working for the National Training Curriculum at American Ballet Theatre this summer has been amazing. Unlike some of my past internships, ABT has provided me with experiences that go beyond the development of basic professional skills. Weekly intern meetings allowed opportunities to learn more about non-profits and how to create the perfect resume. Outings to Pointe Magazine Headquarters and the Roundabout Theatre Company expanded my knowledge regarding potential careers in the arts. In addition, speaking with numerous ABT employees helped me network and working alongside the other interns provided me with lifelong friendships. Frequent trips to the Metropolitan Opera House were awe inspiring and validated the hard work that happens at 890 Broadway. Besides the computer, communication and organizational skills that I developed in the office, I also got to meet ballet teachers from all over the world during the training sessions.

After almost three months of amazing experiences however, there is one that stands out from the rest. It was the end of the day during one of our training sessions and I was the only person in the office. The teachers were preparing for their last class of the day in which they would be observing a group of young dancers. As I was printing programs for the Young People’s Ballet Workshop, I happened to look up and see a mother and her young daughter. The mother came over to me with pleading eyes and asked if I knew anyone that could do her daughters hair for class. Luckily, I have danced for years and have conjured countless ballet buns. I told the mother I could do it and watched her face flood with relief. Sitting the little girl in my office chair, I twirled and pinned and twirled and pinned until she was adorned with a perfect ballet bun. They both thanked me profusely and headed off to class.

This moment is so memorable to me because I think it really shows what ABT is all about. It does not matter if you have been a part of the dance world for your entire life or are brand new; ABT brings people together and facilitates a love and appreciation for the arts. Whether it is the Education or Finance Department, student or member of the company, they all work together seamlessly towards a common mission. Doing the little girls hair for class made me feel like I was part of something bigger, and that is what it is like working for American Ballet Theatre.

Lindsey Jacquier

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2017

Ballet and Beanie Baby Basketball

31 Jul

“How do you feel about going on a field trip on Thursday?” Dennis Walters, the Associate Director of Education and Training, asked one afternoon in March. I was here to learn so whatever it was, I knew that it would be valuable for me to observe. Dennis soon explained that he would be going to the City Hall with Ebonie Pittman, the Manager of Institutional Support. She is in charge of corporate sponsorships and grants at American Ballet Theatre and they scheduled a meeting with one of New York City’s Council Members. The meeting would hopefully convince the councilmember to support ABT’s outreach programs with his flexible funds to enrich arts in the schools in his district. I was taking a class on fundraising and grants so this was the perfect opportunity for me to get a glimpse of what a meeting would look like. Then Dennis added a cherry on top to an already exciting day when he asked “I’m going to the Metropolitan Opera that afternoon for a meeting after that. Do you want to come to the meeting?” My answer, of course, was a yes!

 

Thursday came around and Dennis, Ebonie and I got on the train to head to the City Hall. As they reviewed the folder full of data and information on the subway, I was excited to be able to connect what I learned in class to a real funding meeting. The meeting itself was brief but Ebonie and Dennis articulated the importance of arts programs and the results of ABT’s outreach programs through its 20 years’ history. As we left the office, I asked Dennis and Ebonie when the funding would be secured and learned that we may not know until August or September. While it may seem like a last minute decision before the school year, knowing that the students would ultimately benefit from the program would surpass the inconvenience of uncertainty.

 

We then headed to the Metropolitan Opera House. I was in awe of the beautiful chandeliers and it was even more special to see it when the house was empty. Representatives from the Metropolitan Opera, ABT’s Special Events, Company Management and Education Departments gathered to align all the events that were scheduled for the Met Season. They went through each event and confirmed that everyone was on the same page with room arrangements, catering, and even smallest procedures. While it may seem tedious, it was important to prevent any confusion on the day of the event when there are patrons and audiences in the house.

 

Of course this was one of many exciting days. To name a few others, I helped out at donor events, assisted final performances at Make a Ballet schools, helped teach a Make a Ballet Administration class at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, witnessed kids’ excitement as they were about to step onto the stage for Young People’s Ballet Workshop at the Met, sat in on a company wide meeting, and delivered pre-performance workshop materials to the Met. Even a monotonous day at the office was made interesting by flying cupcake beanie babies. (Long story short, they were bought for a pre-performance workshop for Whipped Cream and they are the perfect size to be catapulted across the office without hurting anyone. Don’t be alarmed when you’re in the office and there’s a cupcake beanie baby or an angry bird plushy in the air! Dennis will launch one into the air when you least expect it and an impromptu basketball game might ensue. As Dennis says, all ABT interns learn how to catch because you don’t want your face to end up being a backboard.) From exciting field trips to working in the office, I am so grateful to say that my time as an intern at ABT was full of opportunities to learn and fulfilling.

 

Sarah Cho

Education and Training Intern

Spring 2017

A wonderful experience in the Public Schools

30 Jun

This past Spring I was given the unique opportunity to intern with ABT’s Artistic Coordinator of Educational Outreach, Richard Toda.  It was a privilege to get to be Richard’s first intern and spend a large portion of my internship assisting him in his educational outreach programs.  Primarily I spent my time in the classroom at either Fort Hamilton High School (FHHS) or at PS 1, getting a hands-on experience with ABT’s outreach programming. This experience provided many useful insights, such as helping me to better understand how to customize outreach programming to meet the unique needs of each public school and allowing me to observe the collaboration process between ABT and the public school teachers.

 

However, the most enjoyable part of my internship was getting to interact with the public school students and see how the ABT outreach programs were allowing these students to develop in their execution and appreciation of ballet. Seeing first hand the benefits of educational outreach reinforced my desire to work in educational outreach, and further ignited my passion for arts education. Thus, I greatly appreciated the opportunity to intern with American Ballet Theatre!

 

Wendy Clark

Educational Outreach Intern

Spring 2017

Arabesque Lines; Intelligent Minds

27 Jun
As the semester winds down, school comes to a close, and graduation is in sight, I can hardly believe my 20-week internship with American Ballet Theater is coming to an end. It feels like yesterday that I first walked through the door for my first day. Now I am leaving with more experience and insight than I could have asked for. When you think about dance you imagine the bodies of the dancers. There is a significant amount of energy, training, and sacrifice that each dancer makes to be in the ABT Company and train at the JKO School. However, my internship shined a light on the unsung heroes that are of the education department. The arts administrators in the education department support all of the artistic visions that the artistic staff curates. THEY MAKE THE MAGIC HAPPEN!  It is through their organization that programs are created, maintained, and developed. The education staff is a well oiled machine that works collaboratively and independently assigning different roles to produce the infamous Studio Company, JKO School, National Training Curriculum, Summer Intensive, and Outreach programming. The glamour that is of a premier ballet company is really esteemed because of the people who dedicate so much of themselves to make this company what it is today.

My internship has familiarized me with many insights into the nonprofit arts world. Every budget, email, and marketing flyer gets double and even triple checked. The staff surveys, fields, and handles any and all discrepancies in a situation all while curating the programs, pinning hair into buns, and getting ice for the dancers. These people tirelessly work to make the quote on quote magic happen. I guess what I am trying to say is that the remarkable “lines” and proscenium performance is curated through an efficient assembly “line” of arts administrators that love and honor the arts that is ABT.

I cannot thank the JKO School and the education department for their teaching. I never had a moment when I felt that I did not belong. The arts need us! From the data entry to the pancaking of ballet shoes, to the excel spreadsheets to the recitals. There was never a dull moment. I am so happy to have had this experience and professional insight into the administrative environment of arts management.  I especially cannot thank Rebecca, Katie F., and Katie C. for giving me this amazing opportunity to learn from people who have so much talent and expertise in what they do. I am so happy to end this internship with ABT’s season at the MET. It is a true testament that my 20 weeks of work has compiled to Lincoln Center. This has been an all-encompassing experience of seeing the work of the artistic and administrative worlds collide on America’s most notable arts campus.

Brittany Biolo
JKO School Intern
Spring 2017