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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!

“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?”

Mapping Out My Time at ABT

3 Dec

The moment I was handed a blank floor plan of the promenade level of the Koch Theatre and was told to map out a to-scale drawing of the event space for the family-friendly matinee performance during ABT’s fall season, I will admit I was a little nervous. It seemed like a huge responsibility; to create a document that would lay the foundation for the entire event. Would I get the dimensions of every station table correct? Would the flow of line traffic make sense and would there be enough space between the craft tables and the meet the dancer tables for the right amount of chairs to be set up? I sat down, determined to do it right, taking into account every detail I could think of and mentally preparing to erase and start over, multiple times.

Fast forward to a week later, I was invited to join in on a tour of the theatre’s event space prior to the event. We discussed logistics with the coordinator at the Koch and mapped things out, in person, viewing the space as an empty canvas, making changes to the original plan and solidifying ideas. To-scale event floor plan take two. As I measured and drew up my second draft of the promenade, I had a feeling this was the final piece to the puzzle and was confident we had it right this time.

Two weeks later, it’s Family-Friendly matinee day at the ballet. The elevator from the basement of the Koch Theatre opens up to the promenade and we’re looking at the real thing, a drawing come to life. What was once just a project to work on had become a reality and it looked great!

This is how my entire experience interning at ABT has been. I have been entrusted with important projects and encouraged every step of the way. There is an obvious feeling of teamwork within the education department and I feel very lucky to have spent some time being a part of that team. My time at ABT has been very rewarding and being able to work on a wide variety of projects has allowed me to learn in a very hands-on approach. The mentorship aspect of the internship program is a

huge part of what makes the experience so fulfilling because interns are able to learn directly from a staff member in the department they are working within, seeing their day to day responsibilities and how their work directly adds to supporting the mission of the company. It has been a privilege to play a small part in such a big organization and to get the chance to witness the direct results of some of my own work and the combined work of my team this Fall.

 

Nicole Stein

Outreach Intern

Fall 2019

Different

29 Jul

I haven’t had a typical ABT intern experience. Technically, I’m not an ABT intern at all!  I am a “21st Century Intern” for the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Over the summer, the program sends students to work with performing arts companies around the world.  During the following school year, those students help host the companies when they come to perform in Michigan. When I first got the 21st Century Internship, all of the ABT summer intern roles were already filled.  My supervisors searched for months to find somewhere to send me.  The day before I left to go home for the summer, they found a loophole.  I would spend Monday through Thursday as a Programming Intern for the Joyce Theatre in Chelsea.  Then, I would come to ABT on Fridays to participate in their Professional Development Workshops and sporadically work on small projects.  I was even given the fancy title of “occasional education intern.”  

Though my hours at ABT have been limited, they have been incredibly rich.  My first day of “work” at ABT (excluding the Friday workshops) was a trip to New Jersey.  I met Taneshia Nash Laird, the president and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall. She described her vision for the company, and I was moved by her determination to hold social activism at the center.  It meant so much to me to see an empowered woman of color leveraging her position to specifically uplift marginalized communities. It was one of the first times I’ve been able to point to someone and say, “that’s the work I want to do.”

My second excursion was to the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, where ABT teaches free classes as part of a partnership with the New York Department of Education.  I took two (very humbling) ballet classes alongside eager middle and high school students. While I was only there for one day, I was able to learn a lot about how to responsibly enter and serve communities.  I will apply those lessons when I am hosting and planning community events with ABT, when they come to perform at the Detroit Opera House next year.

While I wish I could have spent more time with ABT this summer, I am more than happy with the way things worked out.  I now have an experience completely unique from any other ABT or 21st Century intern. One of the most important lessons I have learned is this: Don’t miss out on an opportunity just because there isn’t a neat structure already in place.  The job description might not be a perfect fit- it might not even exist! That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you. And when you get there? Help make room for others. 

IMG_3154

Image description: a far-away mirror selfie in a dance studio at the Newark Symphony Hall.  There are colorful, hand-drawn posters on the short side wall. The adults are talking in the corner.  The marley reflects the ceiling lights, and the two long walls of mirrors reflect each other.

Victoria Briones

Occasional Education Intern

Summer 2019

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 

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

You Think You’d be Starstruck….

26 Apr

When asked to write a blog post about my internship at American Ballet Theatre, I wasn’t sure what to say. There have been so many wonderful things about the experience so far, it’s hard to choose just one to focus on. Most people probably want to hear about the times I met famous ABT dancers. I could tell you about the time I met Sascha Radetsky (Center Stage fans should be jealous), or that one day I ran into Misty Copeland in the stairwell, or the time that I swear Herman Cornejo walked past me in the hallway (yes, he is as amazing in person as he is in photos). But those things actually become a norm when you’re here. You think you’d be starstruck, which sometimes I am, but everyone makes you feel so welcome that it becomes a comfortable environment for you. Plus, there are simply so many more important things to tell you about.

 

As the Educational Outreach intern, I want to tell you about the experiences I have had with the children who participate in the different ABT programs. I’m an Arts Administration major at Rider University so I have taken classes in Education and Outreach. However, I didn’t quite understand how important outreach programs are until I saw them first-hand. My favourite part of my internship is when I have interaction with students, whether that means traveling to New York City public schools, or having on-site programs here at ABT.

 

When I’ve visited schools for Make A Ballet programs, I’ve helped with arts and craft classes and photographed their final performance. Watching the children dance in the Make A Ballet programs is such a heartwarming experience. Most of these students have never danced before, and here they are performing for their fellow classmates. The smile on their faces just says it all, and that’s when you start to realize how important outreach is. We all love this art form already, that’s why you’re here reading my blog. But imagine if you were never introduced to it. The work that American Ballet Theatre’s education department does is nothing short of incredible.

 

Walking into 890 Broadway, I don’t always know what to expect. Will there be a school here for a program? What projects will I be working on? All I know is the work that I do is meaningful and useful, and I am never stuck filing. The internship program here is a real program – they want you to learn! Whether I’m personally working on something, or simply sit in on a meeting about a particular project, I am always included in the conversation because they want me to learn the ins and outs of the education department.
This internship has confirmed what I want to do with my career in Arts Administration, and that’s all because of the incredible experiences and mentorship I’ve had here at ABT. Each day I learn so much and am so grateful to be here. American Ballet Theatre has a wonderful internship program, and I hope you have just as much of an amazing experience as I have!

Mia Bowyer

Educational Outreach Intern

Spring 2016

ABT Experience 8000 miles away from home!

18 Dec

In the summer of 2015, my search for my fall semester internship began. I was entering my second year in Performing Arts Administration at NYU Steinhardt. My goal was to secure an internship at a ballet company, and what better name is there in the world of ballet than the American Ballet Theatre. I applied online like a hundred other applicants that apply to ABT from all over the world. Being relatively new in the country, I didn’t expect to make the cut. One morning as I was sipping a cup of tea, Dennis called, asking me to come in for an interview. I was ecstatic that I was even being considered, so you can imagine my joy when I actually secured an internship in the Education and Training department of ABT. Interning at ABT meant I would be involved in some way with performers I had seen only on TV back in India. How star-struck was I, when I got to meet Ethan Stiefel on my very first day! Meeting everyone else, I just knew I was going to get an opportunity to learn from the best people in the business and witness, first-hand, all their efforts in making ABT the well-oiled machine that it is.

 

I got the chance to work on different programs throughout my internship period such as ABT’s Make a Ballet program at P.S. 20 and the Young People’s Ballet Workshop at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. When I was not working on these programs I got a chance to create a school database, which consisted of schools participating in ABT’s Educational Outreach programs. I would say the most important program in ABT’s education and outreach initiatives is its award-winning Make a Ballet program. It reaches out to schools that are in the need to and want to introduce arts education in their curriculum. This model program introduces students to all aspects of the creative and administrative theatrical experience.

 

Working at ABT and experiencing the office environment at one of the best ballet companies in the world was a dream come true for me. Completing my credit requirement at NYU was only an added benefit for me. I would do it all over again if I get the opportunity. Thank you Dennis and all the staff members.

 

Sanket Kodolikar

 

Education and Training Intern

 

Fall 2015

An Education in Connection

5 Aug

A room in the basement of the Met is filled with little kids barely higher than my waist, most in pink leotards and some with frilly tutus. Tchaikovsky’s soaring score, from Swan Lake, fills the room as the children flap their arms like swans. The parents are sitting along the mirror alternately cooing and snapping pictures of their children on their smart phones. It is barely eleven am on a Saturday, a time I would scarcely see during my college days, and yet I am very happy to be there. The scene I have just described is from American Ballet Theatre’s Pre-Performance Workshop series, aimed at helping young kids understand the ballet they would see later in the afternoon.

Some people my age would be unable to handle the number of youths around them. I am, instead, invigorated by it. Ever since I taught my first class at the age of thirteen, I have loved working with younger kids. Therefore, this summer, I wished to be an education outreach intern for ABT with the hopes that I would soon understand how a major ballet company seeks to inspire the next generation. I am starting to understand and in doing so, have fallen in love with ballet again, myself.

ABT makes it about the story. Especially for the youngest kids, getting them to understand the story is important. During my first experience with a The Sleeping Beauty pre-performance workshop, the teaching artists had the little kids dance out the dramatic scene between the King and Queen, the evil Carabosse, and the Lilac Fairy. They would shake their arms in fury like Carabosse and then make a pleading motion like the King and Queen. By letting them dance to the music and learn the story beforehand, ABT hopes to make it personal for the children so that when they see the performance, they will recognize it and have a connection. And that is main reason why I pursue different forms of art: for the connection.

I have been a part of an arts program ever since I was ten years old and even though I was interning at ABT, I still woke up early to help teach tap classes for them. And being around the dancers and staff at ABT, I know why I keep returning. It is because a connection through the arts can create second families, second homes. It is the cause of why even though Julie Kent has retired from dancing, she has not left the ABT family and she can still be seen milling around the education offices, helping them to bring new initiatives to life. I consider myself lucky to get a chance to be a part of this world. It has reaffirmed my belief that I never want to leave the arts.

Nicole Wong

Education Outreach Intern

Summer 2015