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Pleasant Surprises from an Unexpected Detour: Broadening the Horizons of a Career in the Arts

5 Sep
My first experience with American Ballet Theatre was going to see Maria Kochetkova perform Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House with my mother. I remember barely being able to keep still in my chair, wanting to pounce up and join in the choreography. I remember leaving Lincoln Center on the 1 Tain with the largest smile on my face, not only feeling more inspired than ever to keep dancing, but also that I could do anything if I put my mind to it.
My next experience with American Ballet Theatre was dancing in their three-week Collegiate Summer Intensive in the June of 2016. I soaked in every last moment of being in the studios; I was beginning my Freshman year of college in the Fall and I was getting too old for most Summer Intensives. A classmate had applied to be a counselor for the five-week intensive, and I thought that was something I would definitely be interested in.
The next Spring I composed an email to the Summer Intensive staff inquiring about the Summer Counselor position and was asked to come in for an interview. There, they asked if I would be interested in an internship for the summer with the JKO Pre-Professional Division.
It was incredibly unexpected: I was still only 18 and had only finished my first year of college. But through out my experience this summer, I drew from and continued to refine my knowledge of ballet education and organizational, administrative, and editing skills. I worked closely with the JKO staff preparing for the school year with the students’ registration, refining the student and faculty handbook policies, collecting inventory of the uniforms, and mailing out the teacher and accompanist contracts.
As the school is not in session during the summer I also had the opportunity to assist in other areas of ABT Education Offices, such as Project Plié and the multiple Summer Intensives happening both in NYC and across the United States.
With the internship program we also had other opportunities, such as an exchange program with Roundabout Theatre, a visit to DanceMedia’s Pointe Magazine, tickets to experience some of ABT’s Metropolitan Opera season, and even a backstage tour of the Met. On top of this, every week we would have intern meetings to hear from different departments of the organization and what comprises a career in arts administration: all the way from how ABT functions as a non-profit to grant writing. These lectures were incredibly eye opening for me, as previous to this summer I had only experience as a dancer; I learned of so many more ways the arts can be turned into a career.
Overall, I was immensely moved by the amount of effort ABT placed into the outreach of dance for the youth and in the local schools. In a time where the arts are struggling to remain relevant, ABT is at the forefront of the mission. At the Young People’s Ballet Workshop students from public schools from the NYC area poured into the Metropolitan Opera House to watch some of their peers perform alongside company dancers, and it thrilled me to see the amount of unconfined excitement buzzing in a room full of young students.
I saw them sitting in the seats where I watched ABT perform for the first time, and just looking at the gleam in their eyes and the uncontained smile of their faces that they also were not just inspired to move, but that they could accomplish anything they put their minds to as well.
It was an honor this summer to intern with American Ballet Theatre and to know, that in my small ways, I am helping young dancers to be inspired just as I was and I would recommend this opportunity to anyone interested in any form of arts administration.
Kasey Boekema
JKO School Intern
Summer 2017
Kasey Broekema is 19 years old entering her sophomore year at Columbia University studying dance and English.
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It’s More than Just an Office Job – My Experience as an ABT Intern

22 Aug

Working for the National Training Curriculum at American Ballet Theatre this summer has been amazing. Unlike some of my past internships, ABT has provided me with experiences that go beyond the development of basic professional skills. Weekly intern meetings allowed opportunities to learn more about non-profits and how to create the perfect resume. Outings to Pointe Magazine Headquarters and the Roundabout Theatre Company expanded my knowledge regarding potential careers in the arts. In addition, speaking with numerous ABT employees helped me network and working alongside the other interns provided me with lifelong friendships. Frequent trips to the Metropolitan Opera House were awe inspiring and validated the hard work that happens at 890 Broadway. Besides the computer, communication and organizational skills that I developed in the office, I also got to meet ballet teachers from all over the world during the training sessions.

After almost three months of amazing experiences however, there is one that stands out from the rest. It was the end of the day during one of our training sessions and I was the only person in the office. The teachers were preparing for their last class of the day in which they would be observing a group of young dancers. As I was printing programs for the Young People’s Ballet Workshop, I happened to look up and see a mother and her young daughter. The mother came over to me with pleading eyes and asked if I knew anyone that could do her daughters hair for class. Luckily, I have danced for years and have conjured countless ballet buns. I told the mother I could do it and watched her face flood with relief. Sitting the little girl in my office chair, I twirled and pinned and twirled and pinned until she was adorned with a perfect ballet bun. They both thanked me profusely and headed off to class.

This moment is so memorable to me because I think it really shows what ABT is all about. It does not matter if you have been a part of the dance world for your entire life or are brand new; ABT brings people together and facilitates a love and appreciation for the arts. Whether it is the Education or Finance Department, student or member of the company, they all work together seamlessly towards a common mission. Doing the little girls hair for class made me feel like I was part of something bigger, and that is what it is like working for American Ballet Theatre.

Lindsey Jacquier

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2017

Arabesque Lines; Intelligent Minds

27 Jun
As the semester winds down, school comes to a close, and graduation is in sight, I can hardly believe my 20-week internship with American Ballet Theater is coming to an end. It feels like yesterday that I first walked through the door for my first day. Now I am leaving with more experience and insight than I could have asked for. When you think about dance you imagine the bodies of the dancers. There is a significant amount of energy, training, and sacrifice that each dancer makes to be in the ABT Company and train at the JKO School. However, my internship shined a light on the unsung heroes that are of the education department. The arts administrators in the education department support all of the artistic visions that the artistic staff curates. THEY MAKE THE MAGIC HAPPEN!  It is through their organization that programs are created, maintained, and developed. The education staff is a well oiled machine that works collaboratively and independently assigning different roles to produce the infamous Studio Company, JKO School, National Training Curriculum, Summer Intensive, and Outreach programming. The glamour that is of a premier ballet company is really esteemed because of the people who dedicate so much of themselves to make this company what it is today.

My internship has familiarized me with many insights into the nonprofit arts world. Every budget, email, and marketing flyer gets double and even triple checked. The staff surveys, fields, and handles any and all discrepancies in a situation all while curating the programs, pinning hair into buns, and getting ice for the dancers. These people tirelessly work to make the quote on quote magic happen. I guess what I am trying to say is that the remarkable “lines” and proscenium performance is curated through an efficient assembly “line” of arts administrators that love and honor the arts that is ABT.

I cannot thank the JKO School and the education department for their teaching. I never had a moment when I felt that I did not belong. The arts need us! From the data entry to the pancaking of ballet shoes, to the excel spreadsheets to the recitals. There was never a dull moment. I am so happy to have had this experience and professional insight into the administrative environment of arts management.  I especially cannot thank Rebecca, Katie F., and Katie C. for giving me this amazing opportunity to learn from people who have so much talent and expertise in what they do. I am so happy to end this internship with ABT’s season at the MET. It is a true testament that my 20 weeks of work has compiled to Lincoln Center. This has been an all-encompassing experience of seeing the work of the artistic and administrative worlds collide on America’s most notable arts campus.

Brittany Biolo
JKO School Intern
Spring 2017

A Fouetté Turn Into My New Internship

22 Jan

Backstory: Summer 2016 was one of my biggest transitioning periods yet. After, interning and working for Dancewave for the past two years, my time came to an end in May. Due to funding, I was sad to hear that I was not going to be returning to Dancewave in the Fall. Although, I was bummed about the news, I am thankful for the amazing staff who introduced me to the field of arts administration and provided me with an exceptional experience of a working non-profit company in New York City.

At this point, I knew I wanted to continue gaining experience in arts administration or in the dance world in general, so I considered potential internships or jobs that would provide me that opportunity. My opportunity came sooner than I thought, when I was hired as a Summer counselor for ABT’s Summer Intensive 6-week program in June. In those 6-weeks I enjoyed watching over my group of students, taking class, and working with ABT’s staff. It was at the end of the 6-weeks, in July, when I was informed that I was not going to return to Dancewave. By now, I knew most internship positions were unavailable for the Fall, so I looked for internship positions in Spring – one of them being ABT’s Education and Training internship with the JKO School. Just when I thought I would have to wait an entire semester to even apply for the position, I received an email by Rebecca Schwartz (Director, ABT JKO School) offering me a positon for the Trainings Programs Internship for the fall semester. Delighted and beyond excited, I said yes.

Before I knew it, it was already September and my internship began. Interning with the JKO school gave me the opportunity to acquire office literacy skills, hands on experience/interactions with students, parents, and working professionals. It has taught me how to handle and manage situations with the most efficient solutions possible. My colleagues, Rebecca, Katie F., Katie C., and Leann of the JKO School took the time to teach me the ins and outs of what it takes to run a school within a world-wide known company like ABT.

Attending events like ABT’s 2016 Fall Gala at Lincoln Center or Sacks Fifth Avenue-Land of 1000 Delights, while working behind the scenes is an experience of a life-time. Knowing I was part of a team that was working towards making a high-volume event come together for the company, the students, their parents, and guest audiences to enjoy, brought me self-satisfaction and honor. I got to see working professional artists like Misty Copeland or Gillian Murphy outside of the stage in their morning company class or backstage at Lincoln Center, securing their ribbons just before going on stage; I felt like a little kid in a candy store. Inside the ABT studios, I was surrounded with warm-smiling children, older students, and teaching artists every day. Both the students and teachers were dedicated to each other in providing exquisite training and commitment to their progression in their training.

Four months later, walking away from my internship, I realized it was a dream come true. I could never fully put into words how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to intern for ABT or how much more I have learned about myself and professionally. The skills that I have acquired will stick with me for a life-time and I will be applying them throughout my career within the performing arts.

Elizabeth Juarez

Education and Training Intern

Fall 2016

When Two Worlds Collide

22 Aug
As artists, we may have different backgrounds and different skill sets but we all have one common goal; expressing our passion.  I come from a musical background and though I wasn’t so familiar with the dance world, I was eager to learn more and fully immerse myself in it during the course of the summer at ABT.
The most rewarding part of any job is not only working hard to make a project come to life but also to see the final result unfold.  Throughout the summer, I would sit in the office processing files for the upcoming JKO School year and occasionally I would hear faint excerpts of Brahms Symphony No.3, Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet playing throughout the day.   I would leave 890 Broadway humming the tunes all the way to the subway after hearing these classical works on repeat the whole day.  It was really awesome to hear melodies I’ve performed in orchestras and see them put to dance.  I would be fortunate enough to even see some of the rehearsals from time to time in passing when I was organizing JKO School uniforms in the green room and was blown away by the hard work these young dancers were doing.  Though I am not a dancer,  I trained equally as hard when I was in a preparatory program for music and could easily relate to their vigorous days of rehearsals.
Days before the end of my internship, I was asked to help work the boutique for the Summer Intensive final performances held at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.  As I walked in my checkered rain boots to the water-speckled glass building,  I was secretly  hoping that I would be able to watch some of the final performance in addition to helping run the boutique. After the first round of boutique sales, I snuck into the dark theater just in time for the second dance.

The performance was like putting pieces of a puzzle together to make one final, beautiful image. I was able to hear the familiar classical pieces that I had been whistling for weeks played from start to finish, I saw the completed choreography instead of bits and pieces of a rehearsal in passing to the green room, the costumes added the visual elegance and the young dancers who performed completed the picture.  As a soloist would nail their routine, I could see them go back into the wings of the stage as their fellow dancers would high five their colleagues for a routine well done.  I was so impressed with the young talent I had just witnessed, but I was also reminded that the art that I create through music is exactly the same.  As a violist, I have to take pieces to the puzzle and put them together to create the final image I am trying to convey to my audience.

In order to perfect an art form, whether it be music or dance, the hard work, sacrifice, dedication and a sense of community are the necessary ingredients to convey passion in art.  That day forward, my appreciation for dance and dance education grew enormously and I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to witness such amazing talent this summer.
Aline Vartanian
Training Programs Intern
Summer 2016

Project Plíe Bridge Class

21 Jun

 

As an intern with the Project Plié initiative I have had the opportunity to experience a lot of different aspects of the education department. One experience that I would like to talk more about is my interaction with the Bridge Class.

The JKO School Children’s Division Bridge Class is an important component of Project Plié. Around 20 boys and girls from all over NYC auditioned at the start of the school year to become part of the inaugural class. They come to ABT every Monday evening to take class, in addition to the classes they take at their existing studios or schools. I think the Bridge Class is a huge component of the Project Plié initiative because these children are the future of ballet in America.

Knowing that the work I was able to do was helpful and supportive was really rewarding because it is so clear how much these kids enjoy ballet. I was able to work on information handouts about the class and help with events for them a lot this semester and that was really a treat. I wish all the best to the children of the Bridge Class because I know they will go far!

Trecia Smith
Training Programs Intern
Spring 2016

I never thought I would have to work with Baby Dragons…

23 May

Having to write a blog post has to be the hardest thing on earth for me. It makes me wonder if I can fit all the amazing experiences I have had at ABT fit in one post. My internship with ABT has really showed me the ins and outs of the non-profit organization. I interned with the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and helped my mentor Rebecca Schwartz and the rest of the JKO Staff with projects, spring performances, and anything else they needed help with.

Coming to 890 Broadway for the first time I was a nervous wreck. I did not know what to expect, how the office would look, how many people I would be working with, I came in blind-sided because I wasn’t from the area. I had just simply applied through my University back in Laredo, TX and had a phone interview with my mentor Rebecca. Next, I knew I was packing my bags and on my way to live in New York. I honestly did not think I would enjoy my internship as much as I did. I knew it was going to be a learning experience for me but I did not think it would be a career starter.

During my internship I really got the full experience working at ABT I was told. I helped out the JKO School Pre-Professional division and Children’s division. I helped with other educational outreach programs, including Make a Ballet, Ballet for the New Audience, and Young People’s Ballet Workshop. I helped sell Boutique items for the education department. I was also hired as the receptionist two days out of the week during the night. For my internship hours I would work during the day three days out of the week, work Monday nights for the school, and work on Saturday’s as well. Working Monday and Saturday were the best days out of the internship program because that was when I was able to talk to the students more and hear about their experiences at ABT. I would be able to walk to the 9 different studios ABT has and talk to the students about their rehearsals they were having for the performances.  Sometimes on my way back to the fourth floor I would even be able to peep my eye into the studios to watch the main company dancers rehearse right before the Met Season. I was also able to talk to the parents and assist them with information when needed. It was a great experience all together.

During the week I would work on many small projects for the spring semester but by far I would have to say it is the craziest time for the school. During my internship I worked on mid-year evaluations, end-year evaluation templates, two spring performances, daily student ballet buns, and Baby Dragons. You might think “Baby Dragons?” but it might not be exactly what you are thinking. There are many, many projects I can write about but I will just let you know about the Pre-Professional Division Spring Performance. I had the chance to work with former ABT Principal Dancer Ethan Stiefel as he was choreographing Knight Life for the JKO School Level 7. He had a vision of what he wanted his piece to look like and along side my mentor we were able to make it possible. He envisioned having a Dragon and two baby dragons for the piece and that was my job for about a month and a half. I researched online for hours a day on how to make his vision for the costumes come to life and it happened. It was crazy at the beginning but it all worked out. Now you might be thinking where do baby dragons take place? Well Mr. Stiefel for his piece wanted two of the JKO Children’s Division Students to come out as baby dragons. And as creative as Mr. Stiefel is, he wanted the costumes to be unique and not just a Halloween costume you can buy online. It took forever and a lifetime, as it may seem to get the perfect image in our hands. I sat in the office four days prior to the performance getting the small details of the costume correct, this meant that I sat in the office painting ballet shoes, socks, and even bobby pins, yes I said it bobby pins, green. All the stress I was under was all worth it in the end because the school had a successful performance at the Joyce Theatre and Mr. Stiefel’s piece had amazing reviews. And of course, the baby dragons looked adorable.

 

Interning at American Ballet Theatre has been the greatest experience of a lifetime. Not only because it is America’s National Ballet Company but also because all the workers are humble and kind. It makes you feel like you are wanted and the environment on the fourth floor is just incredible. If you truly enjoy the Arts and the administrative side you will enjoy working at ABT and who knows you may even become a new employee for them like I have. I am now the 19th intern to get hired and my new position is Summer Intensive Assistant.

Sheridan K. Clark
Training Programs Intern
Spring 2016
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