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My Summer with Project Plíe

22 Aug

American Ballet Theatre offers educational development through Project Plié, which reaches children with limited resources, opportunities and adequate support. As a summer 2016 intern, I indulge my efforts in continuing the motion of the project. Constant emails, orchestrating classes, sending materials and assisting my mentor all require my undivided attention. Project Plié continues on and brings classical ballet to youth who would otherwise not be exposed to it.

Approximately 40 Boys and Girls Clubs are participating in the Master Class Series this summer and I am proud to say that Monica(my mentor) and I worked hard to schedule these classes. Hundreds of children around the country have been and will continue to be enlightened by this classical art form and prompted to continue. Scholarships are drafted for children with exceptional talent and many smiles are brought upon their faces after receiving posters of ballerinas.

9 weeks, 8 interns and only 2 days left, I cannot believe how fast time flies. ABT enriches a wide spectrum of intellect and professionalism, all the while allowing room for a warm welcoming culture. Within the realm of this culture, I experience many events in and outside of the office. As the days go by and many of the events swarm in my head, there is one day that strikes me the most.

This, very warm sunny day in July, consisted of two Boys and Girls Club (BGC) ballet classes in Harlem. I assisted one class with the ABT partner teacher and documented the other. The children between ages 8-12 had their blue BGC t-shirts on with bright intriguing eyes. In the beginning of both classes, the children watched a video of how Misty Copeland became a Principal with ABT and was discovered at the same organization. The children were eager to move onto the next part of the class as their energy boiled and prompted them for movement.

BGCA_Harlem1The classes consisted of bright youth with a desire for greatness and ability to learn very quickly. Some students learned the movement within seconds, held their head high, placed their hands in first position and presented their readiness. These children, which most had never even set foot in a ballet class, enjoyed themselves thoroughly and retained an abundance of information within an hour.

There was one particular child, who should receive further training, would definitely make it into a professional ballet company years down the line. His ballonné was innate along with many other natural abilities. ABT’s initiative to seek these young diverse dancers is a start to diversifying the ballet world and infiltrate organizations at every level.

Ballet and other sectors is only the start to help the diversity issue. Project Plié continues in that direction and as an intern with an organization such as ABT, I now further understand the true influence of the classical arts for youth, especially those of diverse backgrounds.


The kids from Harlem and my mentor, Monica Stephenson, continue to touch my heart in a special place. Monica’s help and support, which I truly appreciate, made a huge impact on me this summer. I now realize the world we live in and that equal opportunity is non existent and I am extremely blessed to have had ballet training as a child and am in the position to give back to youth now.

May Project Plié continue to touch many lives and remember that the children are our future.


Yasmeen Enahora

Project Plíe Intern

Summer 2016


Trust the Timing: Artistic Internship

19 Jan

As the end of the summer was quickly approaching, I sat in my apartment and reflected upon all the change that was happening in my life; a new job, a new apartment, a new season. As I sit atop my foam roller wondering what else the universe had in store for me, I received a message on Facebook from a former ballet instructor, Lara Murphy. She asked how my time in New York had been, since I was now going on year three of post undergraduate life. After we caught up on life, she informed me that a friend of hers was looking for young people to do some administrative work at American Ballet Theatre as they develop their new Project Plié outreach program. I thought to myself, ‘another desk job?’ I had just began my career in group fitness and personal training, so I definitely wasn’t trying to return to long days of sitting in front of computers but something about the name ‘Project Plié’ sparked my interest.

After dong some research on the Project Plié program, “a comphrensive intiative to increase racial and ethnic representation in ballet and diversify America’s ballet companies,” I decided to apply. Within a few weeks I had interviewed with the Artistic Department, a place I’d soon find out was a new home, and was accepted into the internship program.

Interning with the Artistic Department has opened my eyes as a dancer. I have always only known one side of being in a dance company, so working with this department allowed me to see what all goes into running a company. I can honestly say that I will never question rehearsal times and spaces ever again. These past few months of creating rehearsal schedules for dancers, has been far from easy.   Along with creating and posting schedules, I was given the opportunity to see ABT quite a few times during their time at the Koch. The skills I learned and knowledge that I have gained from working closely with Tina Escoda and Amanda Sugino is beyond noteworthy.

Another part of this internship that I will forever cherish was the Project Plié mentorship lunches. These lunches not only nourished my body, but my mind as well. I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with almost all sides of ABT, from Ebonie Pittman (Manager of Institutional Support) and Ariel Dupas (Patron Ticketing Associate), to Courtney Lavine (Company Member), to Susan Fales-Hills (Former ABT Board Member). As much as I did not plan on enjoying sitting at a desk for hours on end, this internship has proven that everything happens for a reason and I am forever grateful for all that it has provided me.

Michelle Russell

Artistic Intern

Fall 2016

From Across the Pond to a Summer with ABT and Project Plié

22 Aug

Across the Pond, a few months ago while lying in bed, it hit me that study abroad was drawing to a close and it was time again to search for a summer internship. At Spelman, we have a career opportunities database that emails constant internship and part-time job opportunities that peak your interest or have to do with your major. One cold day in April, yes it was still cold in England, I received an email with dozens of links to different summer internships I would be interested in. Writing internships, PR internships, Law internships, Social media internships, Communications, the whole nine. Don’t worry, I’m an English major so all of these naturally apply. However, hidden within these many emails was something that had nothing to do with my major, but made me more excited than any of these other opportunities combined. American Ballet Theatre was on the lookout for summer interns! To me, this was a magical opportunity. Interning at ABT meant that I could learn how to combine my first love with a career. I could learn what it takes to manage a school, or to run one of the biggest most prestigious and recognized ballet companies in the world, not to mention rub elbows with dancers I have admired since childhood. I applied with haste and anxiously awaited a reply.

Once I received a confirmation for an interview from Dennis, I began to do some research. It has been my experience that interviewers like to ask what is the interviewee’s favorite initiative or outreach program of the company. While perusing the ABT website I came across an initiative by the name of Project Plié.  Launched in 2013, Project Plié is ABT’s initiative to diversify the classical ballet world through several avenues including the dancers, teachers, companies, and arts administrators. Equal representation of all ethnic groups in the performing arts is particularly important to me, so as I researched more about Project Plié I became more excited to answer a question that I usually dread. Surprisingly enough, Dennis didn’t ask me anything of the sort. As the interview was ending, he brought it up himself. In addition to offering me the internship at the JKO School, he offered me a Project Plié scholarship as well!

Working at ABT, experiencing New York for the very first time, and helping to further along a one of a kind diversity initiative was the most fulfilling thing I could have done this summer. Learning more about arts administration and non-profit organizations was just the icing on the cake. I am more than excited to take what I’ve learned at ABT into my future experiences and will never forget this once in a lifetime opportunity. Thank you to Dennis, Rebecca, Monica, and all of ABT!

Eva Cooke

Training Programs Intern

Summer 2015