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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 


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

A Week in the Life of an ABT Education and Training Intern

3 Dec


The energy of the JKO students fills the air as they arrive at the Koch Theater for the Fall Gala. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the JKO School and the 75th Anniversary of ABT, the JKO students are opening the gala with a piece choreographed for them by Alexei Ratmansky, Pièce d’Occasion. With other current and former interns, I lead the students and their parents up the stairs to watch the dress rehearsal of the company’s pieces for the gala. Once everyone is in their seats, I sit down to watch the rehearsal of a brand new piece by Liam Scarlett, With a Chance of Rain. I’m captivated by the dancers and enjoy the opportunity to see the dance come together with the orchestra’s music. After the rehearsal is finished, I lead a group of anxious students to a hallway where they await their turn on the stage. The 140 students jump up and down, both to warm up their feet and try to rid themselves of their nerves. They have no reason to be nervous, however; their piece is beautiful and highlights their strong technique while evoking the speed with which childhood passes. Once they finish their rehearsal, we take the students through the maze-like hallways backstage to a studio downstairs until the performance begins. At 6:30, nerves abound as we lead the students back up to the wings of the stage, where they receive last-minute words of encouragement from Kevin McKenzie. After the piece has finished to enthusiastic applause, we make sure the students are checked out of the theater, before emerging from the stage door ourselves back into the reality of the outside world.


I’m back at Lincoln Center, this time as an audience member at a performance of Raymonda Divertissements, Jardin aux Lilas, and Fancy Free. Before the performance, the ABT interns met apprentices from the Roundabout Theatre Company for dinner and networking, discussing the similarities and differences between working at non-profit theatre and dance organizations. Now, sitting in the audience chatting with Roundabout apprentices before the curtain goes up, I find it hard to believe that last night I was backstage in the wings at this time; the two worlds seem so different. The performance is delightful, and I especially enjoy the chance to see Fancy Free, which I had been reading about a few weeks ago at the office as I helped make worksheets about Fancy Free for ABT’s Make a Ballet outreach program.


Today finds me at the office, and I have time to respond to a few emails before heading to the weekly intern meeting. Today we’re working on interview skills, and after discussing how to prepare for an interview and common questions asked, we launch into a game of “Interview Jeopardy.” Interns take turns selecting “Good,” “Bad,” or “Ugly” cards and responding to the questions they contain, which range from “Tell me about yourself” to “Why were you fired?” I’m unlucky enough to get two of the “ugliest” questions, but we all get a good laugh over them and learn how not to respond in awkward situations. After our meeting, I work on finishing up research sheets on influential people from the 1940s that students in the Make a Ballet program will study and use as inspiration for their own ballets. Once this is done, I create a flyer describing the internship program to be used at a career fair at NYU later in the day and work on updating the Intern Alumni Database that I recently created. Overall, it’s been an exciting week at ABT as the fall season began. I have learned so much already about arts administration and education and look forward to seeing what the rest of the semester holds.

Isabel McGrory-Klyza

Educational Outreach Intern

Fall 2014