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It Is All About People & Opportunities

31 May

In January I flew from Italy to New York to begin my internship at ABT. When I arrived in New York it was all new and my eyes were blinking at every little thing I was looking at. It was very special to enter 890 Broadway and work for one of the most prestigious dance companies in the world. I choose to work in the Education and Training department because I firmly believe in the importance of spreading the arts in a positive and meaningful way. But also, I wanted to witness with my eyes how ABT had raised and launched so many talented dancers.

I worked for the National Training Curriculum for four months. The ABT NTC program deals mostly with ABT dance teachers’ certifications, the organization of the Teacher Training sessions, ABT affiliated dance schools and students’ examinations. During my internship, I came to work in person every day, from 10 am to 5 pm, because I really wanted to get as much as I could from people working in this office. Many days at work were made of daily tasks and administrative duties. That’s when I fully understood that is enjoyable to create educational programs but the realization of them is even more important, and that goes through a lot of daily logistics, payments, shipping, collecting and storing documents. Every Tuesday I participated in the educational department meeting on Zoom, it was very useful as it helped me to understand all the operations that happened in the department. Besides office days, I attended two teacher training sessions on Zoom. In that occasion I had the chance to meet Raymond Lukens and Franco De Vita, the creators of the curriculum. It was in those sessions that I realized the importance of NTC programs: the excellence of ABT comes from its well-structured curriculum, and on the stress put on well-prepared teachers and educators for the students! I also collaborated with the ABT NYU Master’s program in Ballet Pedagogy, participated in a meet and greet with Catherine Hurlin and attended a young donors event where I met Isabella Boylston (I couldn’t go back to Italy without meeting her). I was also an assistant for the Children’s Division Performance at Frank Sinatra, and I got the opportunity to see the Pre-Professional Division and Studio Company perform.

Something I’ll remember forever is when I observed a board meeting in Studio 6, where all the decisions are taken. I will also remember all the times when I was strolling in the hallway and peeked into dance classes to see what was going on. At 890 administrative staff, JKO students and artists share in synergy the same spaces. I really love that! Everyone at ABT is always ready to help others and to accomplish the “other duties” such as to paint point shoes, sew tutus, help with the organization of the storage room or position chairs to arrange the studios. The work at ABT is done of many little things that go beyond management or administrative duties. I came here convinced to discover all the secrets that made ABT so famous all over the world, and I think that the secret hidden at ABT is very passionate and humble people. It is clear that every person working here is very committed to work for the art we all love: ballet.

I will go back to Italy enriched as a person and professionally. Happy to have met great people, above all Molly, Saya who were my tutors, but also Liz and Yesseña that shared the space in the office and cubicles.

Thank you ABT!

Anna Cami

National Training Curriculum Intern (Education & Training)

Spring 2023

The Best of Both Worlds

15 Feb

My experience over the past four months in the National Training Curriculum department has helped me grow as a person, professional, and dancer. An important take-away from this experience is that my passion for dance did not have to end when I left the studio. After dancing for my entire life and recently taking a step back, I didn’t think there was any way I could incorporate it into my future career. This internship experience has shown me the multitude of ways in which one can translate a love of dancing to their work and have the best of both worlds. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came in on my first day, but I was welcomed by Saya, my supervisor and National Training Curriculum Assistant, with open arms. As Saya gave me a tour of 890 Broadway, I was in awe that I would be sharing a space with all the creative minds behind the American Ballet Theatre. Honestly, after all this time, I still keep having to pinch myself. The tour was just the beginning of my ABT journey. Once I got settled into my position, I was able to call on old skills with Microsoft office and learn new ones through organizing data and information, facilitating payments, packaging book and NTC material orders, and drafting certificates and agreements for certified teachers. 

My involvement with other department events has also given me a clearer perspective on the importance of establishing a strong foundation for and continuation of excellent training. There have been many opportunities when I was able to meet and observe true ballet idols. During the Raising the Barre workshop weekend, I met and observed mentors such as Cynthia Harvey teach students about the balletic and historical nuances behind Frederick Ashton’s, The Dream. I also had a chance to have a similar experience in our weekly intern meetings with guest speakers such as Kevin McKenzie, the Artistic Director of ABT, and Stella Abrera, the Artistic Director of the JKO School. These weekly discussions further cemented the knowledge that a love for dancing is not limited to performing.  

My time here has been truly rewarding and educational. I have had a wonderful time working with Saya and Molly and appreciate their patience and guidance along the way. Whatever the future holds for me professionally, I will look back fondly at my time as an intern with ABT.  

Ashley Silva

National Training Curriculum Intern (Education & Training)

Fall 2022

An Encounter with ABT

22 Aug

I grew up as a dancer but decided to move off-stage to be an arts administrator to help young dancers grow up. It was a valuable decision for me which is why I applied for the Education Department internship at ABT. As an international student and dancer, I’m so proud that I can make my dream come true as an intern at ABT. I was honored as the National Training Curriculum intern with the Education& Training department this summer. I cannot imagine how ten weeks passed so fast. I still remember accepting the offer and preparing for my internship start. On the first day, I entered a classic building to take a very old elevator up to the 4th floor Education Department. My colleague Saya and former spring intern Maria were waiting for me. During the first day of training, I began my journey at ABT. 

In the beginning, I had no idea how to start various projects and process book orders, but with the encouragement and cooperation of Saya and Molly, everything went smoothly. I have become a professional mailing master, processing several weekly book orders and sending them to the post office. In addition, I learned a lot about data management. Whenever I use FileMaker to track teachers’ information, it’s like conversing with them through data, so this is one of my favorite projects.  

I feel fortunate to be able to work in office almost daily. I especially like the working atmosphere of the Education Department, where each team gets along well and is friendly. Every day, I can see the young dancers in the studio, who are hardworking and lovely, which reminds me of myself growing up. Even if continuous teacher training sessions were a marathon, I can meet teachers with different backgrounds and styles. I like to help them to deal with various problems. When I got a teacher’s thank-you letter from California in the mailbox, it made me feel warm hearted and motivated.

During my internship at ABT, I broadened my network with many excellent ballet teachers and dancers and communicated with interns from other departments. This summer working at ABT will be a memory I will cherish forever. Thank you to my NTC team—Molly and Saya, and all colleagues in the Education department, for helping and teaching me a lot; it gave me a sense of belonging in the performing arts industry. I always believe you should pursue on your dreams and don’t give up. With hard work and diligence, you will succeed! 

Xuejing Cao  

National Training Curriculum Intern (Education & Training)

Summer 2022 

A Dream Come True

7 Jun

First times matter…

I was hesitating a lot about what to write in this post, when friend told me: “Don’t overthink it, describe the happiest moment you have lived during these months at ABT”

So here it goes…

When I flew from Spain to the US, both countries were immersed into Omicron wave, which did not inspire me much confidence that it would be possible to work in person at the office. I don’t know how familiar you are with the visa procedure as an international student, but let me be honest: it’s long, tedious and costs a lot of money. So, doubts and insecurities aside, we started this adventure in NY but working from my little room in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

It is not easy to control that recurring doubt: was I right to come? What difference does it make to be here or in my home country? You will think, logically, “You are in NY, go out and enjoy the city!” Yes, obviously I have done it; but let’s be honest, it’s not the same to work remotely as it is to soak in and immerse yourself in the dynamics of face-to-face work. Besides, after the pandemic, who doesn’t want to go back to the office even if it’s just for a few days a week?

As you can imagine, being an international intern who actually traveled the world for this experience, being able to come in presence to the office was a huge thing! So, when about 3 weeks after being here, in a meeting my boss told me “Send me your vaccination passport, we want you to start working from the office”, a great weight was lifted from my shoulders.

I remember that first day so vividly. I arrived too early, of course, so early that I had a walk around the neighborhood and ended up in Gramercy Park, which is a very small but cute park full of roses and tulips, surrounded by low buildings with the typical New York entrance staircase. It’s these little moments when you become aware of the reality.

Back at the front door of the ABT main office, and after finding my name under the category of “ABT Staff” (again, what?) I took this particular old elevator, in which you find a person who manually operates the lift. 4th Floor: Education Department. Doors open and my colleague Saya was there, waiting for me. My eyes must have been pretty shiny because she told me “How exciting, huh? You seem very happy”.

Then, a succession of magical moments took place: rehearsal rooms, offices of very important people, rest areas with large windows overlooking Broadway, young dancers in class, main company room, … At the risk of sounding corny, just being able to walk through these narrow corridors and meet such extraordinary people was already a dream come true.

And suddenly, just like that, you are introduced to Cynthia Harvey, which is basically like meeting your lifelong idol. I think that moment will stay with me for the rest of my life… You can understand how hard it is to put these emotions into words.

Many weeks of hard work have followed this moment, but I don’t think I ever lost that thrill every time I walked through the doors of 890. Every day in the office has been a new adventure, a reaffirmation that those nerves and doubts are always worth it. During these 4 months I have been able to work with great professionals, people who have helped me feel part of the team. Thanks to the NTC family, Molly, Sonia and Saya, for training me and for showing me the immense formative work you do.

If you are reading this and you are thinking of applying, do it. ABT is a great family, where many things happen at the same time. And it will be an experience that will stay with you forever.

María Cano Nuñez

National Training Curriculum Intern

Spring 2022

My Spring with ABT NTC

7 Jun

My internship experience with the National Training Curriculum team in the Education Department was remarkable and rewarding. Seventeen weeks had gone by so swiftly, and within such a short time, I have learned and grown as a professional and as a person.

I am currently pursuing a master’s degree at NYU in Teaching Dance in Professions, ABT Pedagogy. When I first began the internship, I started my second semester at NYU. Although I was extremely excited about the internship, a small part of me was nervous about the workload in addition to the NYU coursework, including the certification exam I was expected to pass at the end of the semester. Now, I can confidently say that I successfully completed all the given tasks. The challenge taught me to plan thoroughly and flexibly, and with that, I was able to make the best out of the time and experience.

While working with the NTC team, I was responsible for several different tasks. Mainly, I took part in preparing documents for ABT Student Examinations. My work involved constant communication with presenting teachers and examiners. I made sure I received the correct paperwork needed for the exams and reorganized them for the examiners to use for the examinations. I also hosted online student examinations and masterclasses. Hosting Zoom exams meant ensuring online exams run smoothly and providing an environment where students can comfortably take the exams and examiners can adjudicate students without disruptions. Hosting exams required me to be flexible with working hours because online exams occurred in different time zones. I didn’t mind this because each exam was a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to expand my understanding of the National Training Curriculum. My duty regarding the examinations extended to a post-exam task of updating the database of NTC presenting teachers.

What I appreciate the most about this internship is the team of dedicated, hardworking colleagues. Everyone in the team NTC is not only knowledgeable and capable, but they are also genuine and caring. Their mentorship and thorough guidance allowed me to quickly approach and pick up new tasks. They were always willing to support and collaborate, which is an ideal vibe you would want in a team!

If you are thinking about interning with the ABT, ‘don’t hesitate!’ You will be amazed to learn how much you can explore and grow. Furthermore, the ABT internship goes beyond working with the department you are hired for. The program includes weekly sessions where you meet with the internship coordinator and guest speakers from different departments who further broaden your understanding of non-profit organizations. I strongly encourage this internship program for those considering or interested in working for non-profits.

I feel blessed to have had this opportunity and grateful for the new skills and experiences it has given me. Thank you, ABT!

Liz Kim

National Training Curriculum Intern

Spring 2022

Not Just an Office Job

15 Jan

I had an amazing time interning at the American Ballet Theatre this semester. As an intern with the National Training Curriculum, I really didn’t know what to expect on my first day in the office. Little did I know that I would learn so much in such unexpected ways as an intern.  

The day-to-day taught me a lot about the operations of nonprofits and of a ballet education department. I am grateful I was able to come into the office given our current global circumstance, and I walked away feeling assured in skills that I know will come in handy in the future. I can confidently say I am a master at mail merging now along with Microsoft Office. The best thing about going to the office, though, was seeing the other workers in my department. Sonia, Saya, and Molly have all been such great supervisors and I felt so welcomed from day one. In the small but mighty National Training Curriculum department, I knew that my work meant something.  

One of the biggest events that happened during my time at ABT was the Raising the Barre workshop in October. It was a two-day event providing teachers and students with world-class training both online and in person. That weekend, I found out what really kept the backend of ABT going – teamwork. The National Training Curriculum team, along with the Education Media intern Emma Zordon, faced every issue that came up with collaboration and vigilance. The hard work we put in that weekend felt worth it though, especially the last day of the program when I was able to watch Amanda McKerrow and Cory Stearns teach. It was particularly special because we interns had watched ABT’s performance of Giselle just a week prior, their first performance back since the pandemic.  

During my time at ABT, I couldn’t help but think back to my own time as a dancer. When I would see the students at the JKO school, I wondered if I could have been at that level had I had the opportunity to train as they have. It made me passionate about finding ways for ballet and dancing, in general, to be more accessible. This is something that I am taking away from this internship and hopefully something I can implement in my own hometown in the future. I learned so much about what makes a good ballet teacher most directly from Saya, the National Training Curirculum Assistant, the exams I graded for the ABT NYU program, and even from Misty Copeland herself.  

One of the highlights of the internship for me was the opportunity to speak to so many different people at the company. Most notably: Misty Copeland and Kevin McKenzie. When Misty came and spoke to us, I was able to ask her how we can make ballet more accessible to low-income communities. One of the suggestions she gave was to go directly to the students in the Boys and Girls clubs. I hope to one day help students find ballet as she has.  

These are just some of the things I have learned this semester. I loved my time at ABT and I am so thankful for the skills, experience, and perspective it’s given me. Thank you ABT! 

Micayla Renfro 

National Training Curriculum Intern  

Fall 2021 

Worth the Wait

15 Jan

May 2020? No good. August 2020? No good. January 2021? Still no good. August 2021? Finally. After a year and a half of back and forth, yes’s and no’s, I finally set foot in the hallways of 890 Broadway to undergo the craziest, yet rewarding, 3.5 months of my life.  

My internship story is a unique one. My title? Education Media Intern. My job? Everything and more. Since first applying and being accepted into the program in May of 2020, I have been offered interviews and internships in many of the departments around ABT. Over the course of my application process,  I interviewed with the JKO School, the National Training Curriculum, the Press Department and the Executive Office. But in the long term, I got the best of all worlds. An internship that puts me right at the center of it all. It was definitely worth the 1.5 year wait to set foot in person amongst the chaos that would ensue as ABT works to comeback from their 2 year hiatus out of office.  

ABT is run on a tight ship, with a small but mighty crew that knows how to get it done. Within my months at ABT, I watched 8 months of hard work come to fruition as we finally brought students back to the studios. I got the opportunity to run a seminar with the National Training Curriculum staff, photograph principal dancers and students in the school, work on marketing analytics projects, and create tons of content for ABT’s social media platforms. With a foot in every door, I was able to create a unique, but equally fulfilling internship experience here at ABT.  

What I didn’t expect to get out of this internship were the opportunities to participate in professional development seminars, and really learn the ins and outs of this company from firsthand sources. The opportunity to talk to people in different facets of ABT gave me a lot of insight about the operations that go on behind the scenes to make ballet happen. Learning about all the hard work that goes unnoticed gives me a deeper appreciation for the nonprofit industry, and particularly for this company that I have admired for so long. To my surprise, we even got to talk with Misty Copeland, which was such an honor.  

I’m not sure what I expected to get out of this internship going into it, but what I ended up with was much more than I could have hoped for. From professional development to photographing classes, I feel so fulfilled as I come to the end of my internship. This program not only strives to give their interns the best opportunities, but gives them the tools they need to succeed in whatever capacity their future holds. I am excited to enter the offices at 890 again, whenever that day might come, but until then, I will miss the hustle and bustle of the Education Department and saying hi to so many familiar faces. 

Emma Zordan 

Education & Media Intern 

Fall 2021 

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

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!


Amy Wensley

NTC Intern

Fall 2020

The Connectivity of Ballet

11 Aug

When I began my internship with the National Training Curriculum team at ABT, I was anxious and excited about both my role, and the company’s transition to online work. I had just graduated from Rutgers University with my BFA in Dance; while taking my graduate courses online, I realized that dance still had the chance to bring people together, even if virtually. I came into the internship with the same hopeful spirits that I had finished my undergraduate degree with, and I believe that has made my experience and the experiences of those who I have worked with impactful.

Despite the challenges of having to work remotely, my team and I were able to connect with dancers all around the globe. Particularly, having the chance to learn from Raymond Lukens and Franco de Vita was such an amazing experience. That opportunity showcased to me how the dance community is truly able to make light out of a dark situation. Further, I was even able to have personal conversations with participants who taught me a few things about their side of the world. I am now able to say “Thank you” in Greek: efcharistó. (I am really looking forward to the chance to say this on the steps of Mykonos when that’s possible again.)

Walking out (or logging off) of my time at ABT, I will take away with me how important it is to connect with and learn from different cultures. I truly believe that the more we learn from other people, the more we can learn about ourselves. I am so grateful that I was granted the opportunity to listen to speakers and guests near and far, all while in the comfort of my house in New Jersey. My time at ABT has been incomparable, and I hope that I continue to be open to learn from other cultures and people through dance.


Gillian Popino

NTC Intern

Summer 2020