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An Engaging Day: Life at 890 Broadway

31 May

This Spring 2023, I had the pleasure of working with Amanda Tomera and Richard Toda from the Engagement Department at the American Ballet Theatre, in the education office at 890 Broadway.  

When I arrive at 890 around 2pm, I take the elevator to the 4th floor and find my way to the education office to settle in for the afternoon. Classical music floods the hallway, and students stand outside the classrooms while watching their peers rehearse for their performances at the end of the semester.  

I greet Olivia and whomever else is at their desk working when I enter. Yesseña says hello and gives me a warm smile as I pass on my way to the Engagement section of the office. Amanda and Richard are working at their desks, and welcome me when they see me come. As Amanda and I catch up and start to brief the agenda for the afternoon, I see students come and go in the office as classes start to become more frequent in the studios at this time in the afternoon. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School holds ballet classes on the fourth floor at 890 Broadway, so the afternoon is one of the busiest times for the education office.  

To start my work for the day, I go with Amanda to the storage closet to look for small but fun items to put in the blue ABT tote bags as giveaways for the children who will be attending the upcoming ABT Girl Scout Weekend. These students will participate in a series of activities, dance classes, and games run by Richard Toda and ABT teaching artists. They will gain exposure to ballet, music, fun, and games, and will have the opportunity to see a performance of ABT’s main company at the Metropolitan Opera House. Amanda and I find sunglasses from a few seasons ago when they were used for a past Engagement workshop. We also find more pencils with the ABT logo on them, and stickers that say “I’m an ABT Kid!” We take them back to our desks, and then I start printing flyers. There are three flyers we need to print, and one needs to be half the size of a regular sheet of paper, so I have to test one copy before printing 50, to make sure everything is aligned correctly. Once printed, I cut them to the proper size and stack them on my desk, along with the other flyers and materials I will put in the ABT bags. After filling 50 to 60 ABT bags, each with three flyers, a pencil, three different stickers, and sunglasses, they are ready for Amanda to take them to the workshops over the weekend.  

Next, I work on Canva to make new Instagram posts for the Adult Division Open Ballet Classes. I enjoy working on Canva because there is so much potential for beautiful creations. I make three new templates for Amanda to post, by adding new backgrounds, colors, and photos, and I use flowers and bright colors to make them match the lovely new spring weather we are having!  

For a little while, I work on the ABTKidsDaily inventory spreadsheet I have created. Referencing the ABTKidsDaily webpage, I take stock of the resources, documenting the videos, links, worksheets, games, and whether we may be able to use them for the future. This document is helpful so staff can quickly look up materials and resources to use for young children, to go along with a certain ballet, for example, or to go along with a certain federal holiday.  

Around 4pm, I wrap up on the computer and begin to prepare for the JKO class at 4:30–5:30pm which I will help assist. Then I stand by the door, welcoming the little 6–8 year olds to class. They are so eager to move, and have so much energy. They need to be reminded to keep their backs “glued” onto the wall. I pretend to give them “magic glue” so they stay put in their spots. The hallway is especially crowded now as students of all ages transition between classes. When the teacher, Leann Underwood, arrives, she settles into the classroom, and comes to get the students when she is ready. The other assistant arrives as well, and we discuss who will take the first half and later half of the class to be one-on-one with a particular student. When the little dancers enter the studio, I guide them to put their water down by the mirror, and I start to herd them into two lines in the center of the studio, facing the mirror. I place students mindfully, thinking of what arrangement will help them to focus and learn most easily. The other assistant and I stand at the front of the studio with Miss Underwood, demonstrating steps for students. In between combinations, we help to keep the students quiet, practicing the step, and looking at Miss Underwood, rather than talking to their neighbor, spinning in circles, sitting down, and whatever else they think of doing. They are very imaginative and curious, and this often manifests itself in doing activities that are not exactly appropriate for ballet class, but would be great to do after class! 🙂  

At the end of class, we are all tired, but grateful we were able to teach dance and inspire the young students. Some students come and hug me goodbye, then they get their water. The other assistant and I make sure the little ones find their grownups, so that Miss Underwood can gather her belongings and move on to her next commitment.  

I make my way back down the crowded hallway to the education office, gather my own belongings, and prepare to leave. Feeling satisfied, I say goodbye to those still in the office, and I head down the stairs or elevator to leave 890. It is fulfilling to notice students looking up to us, admiring us at the front of the studio, watching us when we dance. Knowing I made a difference in that classroom, for my mentor, Amanda, and for ABT, I leave feeling grateful for my full, engaging day.  

Lydia Crozier

Engagement Intern (Education & Training)

Spring 2023

Education at 890 Broadway

15 Feb

For a ballet nerd or a fan of ABT, the Education offices at 890 Broadway are probably your ideal work environment: there’s classical music drifting down the halls, people sewing costumes and telling stories, and seeing Stella Abrera is a daily occurrence. This fall, I interned in Engagement, which is the department responsible for outreach geared towards schoolchildren and their families. As a product of the artistically barren New York City public school system, I would have been thrilled to participate in the excellent, generous programs that ABT has to offer.

Working in Engagement is uniquely rewarding in the sense that the fruits of our labor are visible and tangible. During an outreach event held at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, hundreds of NYC elementary school children gathered to watch ABT Studio Company perform. It was incredibly moving to watch most of them experience ballet for the first time. The energy in the theater felt less like Lincoln Center, and more like the Super Bowl; the kids gasped, cheered, and shouted out in awe. I personally think that Engagement does some of the most noble and vital work in all of ABT by expanding its horizons, and reaching new and untapped generations of audience members.

During my time at ABT, no two days in the office were the same. I updated school databases, stuffed swag bags, made IDs for company members and staff (you’re welcome, Susan Jaffe!), and created programs, study guides and other educational materials. My department’s biggest and most long-term project was the Ticket Distribution program, which offers free tickets to the ABT fall and spring seasons for NYC schools. Ticket Distribution was multifaceted and required a mix of technical and people skills, and a high degree of organizational precision.

I am so proud to have been a small part of the Engagement team. If you have the opportunity to work for Amanda Tomera, do so. She was easygoing, welcoming and went above and beyond providing me with memorable experiences and peeks into the larger ABT world. I am also grateful to have worked with Dennis Walters, who gives great career advice, and Richard Toda, a ballet history buff and incredibly kindhearted person. I especially enjoyed watching them work directly with the school children. One of my favorite aspects of the internship was the professional development series, which brought in a different speaker every week. A highlight was speaking with CEO and Executive Director Janet Rollé, who generously shared her wisdom, experience, and advice from Beyoncé with us. A huge thank you to Naomi Gewanter and Julie Solomon, who supported all the interns through this series, and everything in between. Working for ABT has been both as wonderful as I expected and completely surprising. My only regret regarding my internship is that it had to end!

Isabella Spagnuolo

Engagement Intern (Education)

Fall 2022

ABT Education & Training Spring 2022

7 Jun

My time as an intern felt very short lived. I applied to be a marketing intern position in the Fall of 2021, but was not chosen. I tried again, but with a department that resonated with me better and it was a match. Being in school with NYU/ABT made me feel like I was in two different places in the same world. None of my work in each entity collided which was very refreshing, but they enhanced each other as time went on.

            I was in charge primarily with the facilitation of ABT’s Open Division. Every week I would open up the zoom room for dancers all over the world to come and take part in ABT’s Open Division, taught by professional teachers/dancers. I was in charge of making sure the accompanist was taken care of and that if anything went wrong, I’d be there to resolve/support. I also made social media flyers for Instagram every week. One thing that stood out to me in that process was staying on brand with ABT’s social media. That was really important and it was hard for me as an artist sometimes to make a post that wasn’t inventive, creative, or me. I learned that a company is not just one person, but it’s every moving part moving together. As small as the posts were, I had to take a step back and understand that the art is falling in line too.

Dominique Fontenot

Education & Training Intern

Spring 2022

My Time with ABT

15 Jan

As a professional dancer, I’ve spent years working on different productions and traveling the world performing. While performing though, I was working on a degree in Business Administration and Management in hopes that one day I could switch to the business side of the industry. When the Covid-19 pandemic put an abrupt halt on the performing arts industry, I had the opportunity to solely focus on my education and finally finish my degree. When it came time to figure out what I was going to do next, I thought this would be a great time to get some hands-on experience doing administrative work for an arts organization. I was so excited when I came across ABT’s internship program; it was exactly what I was hoping to do next. Plus, I’ve always admired and respected the company’s history, mission, and overall presence in the community. I applied to several of the open intern positions and was so excited to be offered an internship in the Education and Training department.  

I didn’t know exactly what I was going to be doing when I started, especially because the situation regarding Covid-19 was still very uncertain, but I was open to anything and everything. Throughout my internship I ended up doing some work in-person and some work remotely. I helped with various projects and tasks: printing lots of student ID cards, helping move ballet bars, updating databases, and helping recruit students for ABT’s RISE Weekend workshop. Every day was different, and I very much enjoyed the versatility of the internship. 

Since my first day at the office, it was obvious that ABT is one big family, and I felt accepted as part of the family from day one. At ABT, everyone works so hard to help each other out and ensure things run smoothly. It doesn’t matter what department you work in or what project you are currently working on, you could ask anyone for help, and they would help you without pause. This feeling of family is one of my favorite parts of the internship experience.  

Another great part of the internship was the weekly intern meetings. Each week there would be a different guest speaker from a different department, or a different topic would be discussed. I really enjoyed listening to the stories of different staff members, the lessons they have learned, and the advice they offered us. There were also workshops and discussions held about resumes, cover letters, and interviews. I found these workshops and discussions to be extremely helpful. In fact, they have already helped me in my next job pursuit! 

In the grand scheme of things, my time at ABT seems quite short. However, the lessons I learned and the impact from my experience here will last a lifetime. I am so grateful to have played a small part in the ABT community and for the connections I have made here. I cannot recommend this internship enough and I hope to see my ABT family again soon!

Hayley Alexander

Education and Training Intern

Fall 2021

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


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. 


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