Tag Archives: education

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

It Is All About People & Opportunities

31 May

In January I flew from Italy to New York to begin my internship at ABT. When I arrived in New York it was all new and my eyes were blinking at every little thing I was looking at. It was very special to enter 890 Broadway and work for one of the most prestigious dance companies in the world. I choose to work in the Education and Training department because I firmly believe in the importance of spreading the arts in a positive and meaningful way. But also, I wanted to witness with my eyes how ABT had raised and launched so many talented dancers.

I worked for the National Training Curriculum for four months. The ABT NTC program deals mostly with ABT dance teachers’ certifications, the organization of the Teacher Training sessions, ABT affiliated dance schools and students’ examinations. During my internship, I came to work in person every day, from 10 am to 5 pm, because I really wanted to get as much as I could from people working in this office. Many days at work were made of daily tasks and administrative duties. That’s when I fully understood that is enjoyable to create educational programs but the realization of them is even more important, and that goes through a lot of daily logistics, payments, shipping, collecting and storing documents. Every Tuesday I participated in the educational department meeting on Zoom, it was very useful as it helped me to understand all the operations that happened in the department. Besides office days, I attended two teacher training sessions on Zoom. In that occasion I had the chance to meet Raymond Lukens and Franco De Vita, the creators of the curriculum. It was in those sessions that I realized the importance of NTC programs: the excellence of ABT comes from its well-structured curriculum, and on the stress put on well-prepared teachers and educators for the students! I also collaborated with the ABT NYU Master’s program in Ballet Pedagogy, participated in a meet and greet with Catherine Hurlin and attended a young donors event where I met Isabella Boylston (I couldn’t go back to Italy without meeting her). I was also an assistant for the Children’s Division Performance at Frank Sinatra, and I got the opportunity to see the Pre-Professional Division and Studio Company perform.

Something I’ll remember forever is when I observed a board meeting in Studio 6, where all the decisions are taken. I will also remember all the times when I was strolling in the hallway and peeked into dance classes to see what was going on. At 890 administrative staff, JKO students and artists share in synergy the same spaces. I really love that! Everyone at ABT is always ready to help others and to accomplish the “other duties” such as to paint point shoes, sew tutus, help with the organization of the storage room or position chairs to arrange the studios. The work at ABT is done of many little things that go beyond management or administrative duties. I came here convinced to discover all the secrets that made ABT so famous all over the world, and I think that the secret hidden at ABT is very passionate and humble people. It is clear that every person working here is very committed to work for the art we all love: ballet.

I will go back to Italy enriched as a person and professionally. Happy to have met great people, above all Molly, Saya who were my tutors, but also Liz and Yesseña that shared the space in the office and cubicles.

Thank you ABT!

Anna Cami

National Training Curriculum Intern (Education & Training)

Spring 2023

ABT JKO School Internship

31 May

A bittersweet feeling rushes into my heart as I write this post. The first day that I walked into 890 Broadway, I remember holding back tears as Olivia James walked me through the building. Hearing the music pour out of the studios as the musicians play for the classes, passing the Pre-Professional students trying on costumes- it was all such a dream. I was definitely nervous, but soon after meeting the people I would work with throughout the school year, I felt at home.

On one of my first days at ABT, I started assisting in the primary classes. Somehow, I think that I was more anxious than the children to be in the class. One of the little girls started sobbing right as she entered the doorway, and for a split second, I panicked. I talked to the teacher to ask what to do, and she asked if I could take the little dancer into the corner and try to warm her up to the idea of dance. My hands were shaking as I took her over. After a few minutes of talking with her, she got the courage to join her peers in class. She loved each class after that.

Getting to share my love for dance with others has been one of the best parts of this internship. Seeing the transformation in the kids from September to May, physically and mentally, has been such a rewarding experience. I will never forget all of the laughs, hugs, or “Thank you Miss Caroline” that I received over this past school year. Each child has such a special place in my heart.

The environment of the office was also a dream. I discovered that there were others from my hometown, which heavily helped the homesickness I was feeling every single day. I was never afraid to ask questions or raise ideas, and was in fact encouraged to do so. From recording attendance to folding brochures, I was never alone when completing my tasks. ABT became a home away from home, and I am torn to say goodbye.

Caroline Riley

ABT JKO School Intern (Education & Training)

Fall 2022 – Spring 2023

You’re an Intern. Now What? 

31 May

You’re an intern. Now what? Call your mom. Do a happy dance. You have one month to find an apartment from out of state. Move in and build your furniture. Do a test run of your commute the day before so you won’t be late for your first day. Get a good night’s rest. Arrive. Say thank you to the elevator operator for taking you to the fourth floor. Learn the maze of stairwells at 890 Broadway. Sit at your desk and complete your first day tasks. You’re an intern.  

For the past 9 months, I have been one of the ABT JKO School interns, and I still remember the feeling of excitement I had with one month to move to New York City and start this new experience. I am amazed I even made it here in one piece. I thought graduating with a degree in arts management would teach me what I needed to know, but you never really understand a job until you’ve done the job. I have learned so much from observing daily life at the ABT JKO School – from communicating with parents, managing students in a classroom, and all of the behind the scenes work that must be done to keep a school of this caliber running smoothly.  

You’re an intern. You learn from the staff around you, and I sure did. I admire so many of the faculty I have gotten to know and assistant teach alongside. The way they handle each and every student’s dance journey and how things outside the studio might be personally affecting them is remarkable. They expect nothing less than students’ best efforts, and they can tailor their teaching to get results out of each individual. The education department staff are the people I learned the most from – what has to be done administratively, what needs to be prepared for future events, how decisions are made, and how to best communicate with students and staff and parents alike. From what I’ve learned these past months, I understand these jobs a lot better and feel I could succeed in a career like this in the future.  

You’re an intern. Nine months of learning. Sending emails. Keeping a room full of children focused on ballet. Taking the stairs. Marking attendance. Printing some copies. Taking some more stairs. Finishing special projects. Making a flyer. Taking even more stairs. Preparing for the spring showcase. Watching the students take their bows.

Olivia Rick

ABT JKO School Intern (Education & Training)

Fall 2022 – 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

The Best of Both Worlds

15 Feb

My experience over the past four months in the National Training Curriculum department has helped me grow as a person, professional, and dancer. An important take-away from this experience is that my passion for dance did not have to end when I left the studio. After dancing for my entire life and recently taking a step back, I didn’t think there was any way I could incorporate it into my future career. This internship experience has shown me the multitude of ways in which one can translate a love of dancing to their work and have the best of both worlds. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came in on my first day, but I was welcomed by Saya, my supervisor and National Training Curriculum Assistant, with open arms. As Saya gave me a tour of 890 Broadway, I was in awe that I would be sharing a space with all the creative minds behind the American Ballet Theatre. Honestly, after all this time, I still keep having to pinch myself. The tour was just the beginning of my ABT journey. Once I got settled into my position, I was able to call on old skills with Microsoft office and learn new ones through organizing data and information, facilitating payments, packaging book and NTC material orders, and drafting certificates and agreements for certified teachers. 

My involvement with other department events has also given me a clearer perspective on the importance of establishing a strong foundation for and continuation of excellent training. There have been many opportunities when I was able to meet and observe true ballet idols. During the Raising the Barre workshop weekend, I met and observed mentors such as Cynthia Harvey teach students about the balletic and historical nuances behind Frederick Ashton’s, The Dream. I also had a chance to have a similar experience in our weekly intern meetings with guest speakers such as Kevin McKenzie, the Artistic Director of ABT, and Stella Abrera, the Artistic Director of the JKO School. These weekly discussions further cemented the knowledge that a love for dancing is not limited to performing.  

My time here has been truly rewarding and educational. I have had a wonderful time working with Saya and Molly and appreciate their patience and guidance along the way. Whatever the future holds for me professionally, I will look back fondly at my time as an intern with ABT.  

Ashley Silva

National Training Curriculum Intern (Education & Training)

Fall 2022

A Dream Come True

7 Jun

First times matter…

I was hesitating a lot about what to write in this post, when friend told me: “Don’t overthink it, describe the happiest moment you have lived during these months at ABT”

So here it goes…

When I flew from Spain to the US, both countries were immersed into Omicron wave, which did not inspire me much confidence that it would be possible to work in person at the office. I don’t know how familiar you are with the visa procedure as an international student, but let me be honest: it’s long, tedious and costs a lot of money. So, doubts and insecurities aside, we started this adventure in NY but working from my little room in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

It is not easy to control that recurring doubt: was I right to come? What difference does it make to be here or in my home country? You will think, logically, “You are in NY, go out and enjoy the city!” Yes, obviously I have done it; but let’s be honest, it’s not the same to work remotely as it is to soak in and immerse yourself in the dynamics of face-to-face work. Besides, after the pandemic, who doesn’t want to go back to the office even if it’s just for a few days a week?

As you can imagine, being an international intern who actually traveled the world for this experience, being able to come in presence to the office was a huge thing! So, when about 3 weeks after being here, in a meeting my boss told me “Send me your vaccination passport, we want you to start working from the office”, a great weight was lifted from my shoulders.

I remember that first day so vividly. I arrived too early, of course, so early that I had a walk around the neighborhood and ended up in Gramercy Park, which is a very small but cute park full of roses and tulips, surrounded by low buildings with the typical New York entrance staircase. It’s these little moments when you become aware of the reality.

Back at the front door of the ABT main office, and after finding my name under the category of “ABT Staff” (again, what?) I took this particular old elevator, in which you find a person who manually operates the lift. 4th Floor: Education Department. Doors open and my colleague Saya was there, waiting for me. My eyes must have been pretty shiny because she told me “How exciting, huh? You seem very happy”.

Then, a succession of magical moments took place: rehearsal rooms, offices of very important people, rest areas with large windows overlooking Broadway, young dancers in class, main company room, … At the risk of sounding corny, just being able to walk through these narrow corridors and meet such extraordinary people was already a dream come true.

And suddenly, just like that, you are introduced to Cynthia Harvey, which is basically like meeting your lifelong idol. I think that moment will stay with me for the rest of my life… You can understand how hard it is to put these emotions into words.

Many weeks of hard work have followed this moment, but I don’t think I ever lost that thrill every time I walked through the doors of 890. Every day in the office has been a new adventure, a reaffirmation that those nerves and doubts are always worth it. During these 4 months I have been able to work with great professionals, people who have helped me feel part of the team. Thanks to the NTC family, Molly, Sonia and Saya, for training me and for showing me the immense formative work you do.

If you are reading this and you are thinking of applying, do it. ABT is a great family, where many things happen at the same time. And it will be an experience that will stay with you forever.

María Cano Nuñez

National Training Curriculum Intern

Spring 2022

My Spring with ABT NTC

7 Jun

My internship experience with the National Training Curriculum team in the Education Department was remarkable and rewarding. Seventeen weeks had gone by so swiftly, and within such a short time, I have learned and grown as a professional and as a person.

I am currently pursuing a master’s degree at NYU in Teaching Dance in Professions, ABT Pedagogy. When I first began the internship, I started my second semester at NYU. Although I was extremely excited about the internship, a small part of me was nervous about the workload in addition to the NYU coursework, including the certification exam I was expected to pass at the end of the semester. Now, I can confidently say that I successfully completed all the given tasks. The challenge taught me to plan thoroughly and flexibly, and with that, I was able to make the best out of the time and experience.

While working with the NTC team, I was responsible for several different tasks. Mainly, I took part in preparing documents for ABT Student Examinations. My work involved constant communication with presenting teachers and examiners. I made sure I received the correct paperwork needed for the exams and reorganized them for the examiners to use for the examinations. I also hosted online student examinations and masterclasses. Hosting Zoom exams meant ensuring online exams run smoothly and providing an environment where students can comfortably take the exams and examiners can adjudicate students without disruptions. Hosting exams required me to be flexible with working hours because online exams occurred in different time zones. I didn’t mind this because each exam was a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to expand my understanding of the National Training Curriculum. My duty regarding the examinations extended to a post-exam task of updating the database of NTC presenting teachers.

What I appreciate the most about this internship is the team of dedicated, hardworking colleagues. Everyone in the team NTC is not only knowledgeable and capable, but they are also genuine and caring. Their mentorship and thorough guidance allowed me to quickly approach and pick up new tasks. They were always willing to support and collaborate, which is an ideal vibe you would want in a team!

If you are thinking about interning with the ABT, ‘don’t hesitate!’ You will be amazed to learn how much you can explore and grow. Furthermore, the ABT internship goes beyond working with the department you are hired for. The program includes weekly sessions where you meet with the internship coordinator and guest speakers from different departments who further broaden your understanding of non-profit organizations. I strongly encourage this internship program for those considering or interested in working for non-profits.

I feel blessed to have had this opportunity and grateful for the new skills and experiences it has given me. Thank you, ABT!

Liz Kim

National Training Curriculum Intern

Spring 2022

9 Months with ABT

7 Jun

Walking through the halls of 890 Broadway never ceases to remind me how lucky I am to be apart of ABT’s family. The pictures on the walls, the classical music being played live while company dancers stretch and rehearse, and the hustle and bustle of the JKO students on the 4th floor, running into Gillian Murphy in the elevator, it all culminates into one big inspirational experience. 9 months of ABT, 4 months in office, and 4 months remote. At this point, I can probably say I’ve done it all, or at least it feels like it.

This internship marked my second with the ABT teams. The first I spent in 890 working with Education, and the second I spent with the Marketing Team remotely. From initially coming back from COVID and into the office, to our first live performances at Lincoln Center, there were moments that were inevitably stressful, but equally as fulfilling. In January, I started working under Brittany and Steven, who are two of the managers in the marketing department. The marketing team was incredibly welcoming to me, and never let my hard work go unnoticed. One of the coolest opportunities I got to take part in, was the development and execution of our Summer 2022 Campaign. Within my first weeks in this new role, I was thrown into the deep end, as the team worked tirelessly to make ends meet and finalize the nitty gritty details. Everything from creating Google ads, to photoshopping backgrounds, and discussing music choices for the campaign video, were things my team dealt with during this time frame. Needless to say, there was no room for me to just be an intern. I knew I had to deliver work that matched the dedication of the rest of the team.

I will never forget how kind the entire staff at ABT was to me and my fellow interns. I have created some of the most amazing relationships with people in the Marketing Department, and the other interns in the program. From Cynthia Harvey saying hi to me from across the room as she taught the Pre-Professional Division students, to joking with Brittany and Steven over zoom calls, my internship is definitely something I will never forget. Thinking about the enormous network I was able to build during my time here, makes me excited for my future. I can’t wait to return to 890 soon and say hi to the familiar faces behind the masks.
Emma Zordan
Marketing Intern
Spring 2022

A Full Circle Moment

7 Jun

My first time at 890, I was a wide-eyed and bushy tailed 14 year old auditioning for the ABT summer intensive. I remember walking up the creaky stairs to the fourth floor, filled to the brim with talented dancers and their anxious moms, to which I would return nearly eight years later as an intern for the JKO School. Interning at ABT truly feels like a full circle moment in my life.

This year, I had the honor of being a teaching assistant in several of the Children’s Division classes including Primary C, Primary A, and 1A. I was lucky enough to teach with Carmela Gallace in the fall, who was one of my teachers at the ABT summer intensive back in 2015. Being in the studio as an assistant was definitely the highlight of my internship. In a child’s life, their dance training is a really precious and special time. I feel so privileged to be involved with these often seemingly small moments that add up to be a significant part of who they will become. I look at how sweet they are in their purple leotards lining up in the hallways peeking their heads into the Pre-Professional Division classes–a tangible vision of what is to come in the future. Many of them will continue on this journey as dancers and I’m so excited for them to progress. I know how much I looked up to my teachers and admired their technique and dedication to the artform. Getting to demonstrate and be an example for them was such a rewarding experience. I can also see the innate passion many of these children have for movement and I have watched many of them begin to fall in love with it. I was able to watch their growth as dancers and as humans while I gathered invaluable lessons from top notch teachers. The training curriculum for ABT is a perfect guiding tool for teachers to structure their classes and it has given me so many ideas for my youth ballet classes.

Interning at ABT is truly unlike anything else. One of my favorite little things is the fact that there is always beautiful classical music humming through the space. Where else can you sit in an office and hear Don Quixote playing from the hallway? The familiarity and comfort of working within the context of a ballet company has felt like the perfect cap to the end of my academic career. As a dancer, my advice to other artists who feel like they may have something more to offer the industry than just performing, is to explore the many facets of working in the arts. Arts administration is a great way to surround yourself with a community of other like minded, passionate individuals without leaving your love for dance behind. In order to have ballet remain relevant and running,
it takes people who see the immense value and importance of the art to support and make it possible. In the Education Department at ABT, I was able to see firsthand the level of dedication and fervor everyone has to make ballet accessible through the numerous avenues of programming that ABT offers. It is definitely a bittersweet ending as my year at ABT comes to a close, but I am leaving with a strong sense of gratitude for this experience and I know that the connections and lessons I’ve learned throughout this year will carry me into a new chapter of my life.

Elena Sundick

JKO School Intern

Fall 2021 – Spring 2022