The Energy of the Process: Spring Studio Visits for Members

10 Apr

Earlier this month, ABT hosted members for the first round of Spring Studio Visits, an event welcoming members to attend closed rehearsals at ABT’s studios. Given my increased excitement each morning I walk through the doors of 890 Broadway, I admit that what follows in this blog post stems from a biased place. However, despite my predisposition, this opportunity to experience private rehearsals is not to be missed. In fact, I find these visits alone to be completely convincing of acquiring an ABT membership. Two weeks after the open rehearsals, I am still finding myself thinking about the event and feeling energized by the experience. The proximity to such an incredible quality of work, the climate of focused determination and smart humor, and the tone set through both the verbal and the tacit dialogue is an experience unlike any onstage performance.

As an intern, I am slowly beginning to understand the enormity of an organization with this responsibility, history and scope. ABT is a critical player in the field, which demands strategy, passion and persistence from those providing funding and energy to the organization. Just as spring brings a sense of clarity with coat shedding and sunshine, the Spring Studio Visits felt like a clarifying simplification. This first-hand view of what ultimately fuels this terrific organization was nothing short of extraordinary. With all of the moving parts required to keep an organization relevant, it was striking to boil it all down to the movement—the art that drives the fundraising, the enthusiasm that sparks the marketing, the details that motivate the training, the work that charges the education, the thrill that engages audiences and the intellect that sustains them.

In our product-oriented world, it was striking to have two hours to pause and absorb the process. Of course, the polished, onstage ABT product can be truly magical. Nevertheless, spending a morning reveling in the process of how this magic grows has been a highlight of my spring, and I cannot recommend it enough.

 

Molly Gibbons, Institutional Support Intern

March 2014Image

THE Special Event

10 Dec

As the Special Events intern, there was no doubt that the highlight of my internship experience with American Ballet Theatre was the Fall Gala. What was particularly exciting was that this was the first time in 37 years that the company has held its gala at the David H. Koch Theatre (formerly the New York State Theater) at Lincoln Center. The actual night of the gala was momentous beyond words, but it was putting all of those preparations into play that truly made the evening spectacular for me.

I had various tasks in the two months that I was interning before the gala. Some ranged from small “Print this out?”s or “Mail this to this person?”s to hand picking the program and menu cards at the specialty paper shop down the block and assembling all of the information packets for everyone working at the gala.

“Attention to detail” was no joke when I was buying the paper. Making sure it was just the right size, color, weight, and quality for printing was all crucial (I did end up having to make a few returns back!). When I purchased the perfect paper – stark white for the programs and a stormy grey (reflecting the night’s theme of The Tempest) for the dinner and dessert menus – the Special Events Assistant, Maria, and I took them over to Staples to have them printed. I remember picking the five or six heavy boxes up the next night and running into one of the Studio Company dances who helped me take them up a few streets from Union Square! The rest of the night, Maria, Katie (the Special Events Associate), and I bonded while sorting the place cards with their appropriate tables.

The day of the gala, my job was to print the staffing lists, phone numbers of everyone working, seating charts of the gala dinner, and face book with short biographies of notable guests and celebrities in attendance. Updating and organizing the face book and bios was a recurring project that I was in charge of, and it was gratifying to see that come into play when I, along with the Artistic intern, printed and assembled around 40 of these information clipboards.

At the event, these were distributed, and we as the development department team pow-wowed and made changes to the seating lists in the Koch’s green room. Before the guests arrived, this was everybody’s big task. Then, us interns and a few of the staff distributed complimentary coat check cards (which I created, printed, and tore hundreds at their perforated lines during class the day before the event) for our dinner guests.

The real fun began on the Promenade as soon as the performance started. The development department, interns, and volunteers madly ran around to place those beautiful calligraphy name cards at each table, as well as personal thank you letters, and the Melville Straus Leadership Achievement Award to Ms. Adrienne Arsht. Sounds easy enough, but with over 700 guests, the wait staff simultaneously adding their own finishing touches to each table, and the dark ambiance – complete with storm sound effects and strobe lighting – it was tricky (thankfully, but albeit after many minutes of frustration, the lights were turned on fully!).

After seating our guests (I believe I was only able to seat two parties – it was very  crowded! But, it was fun to match a face with the bios and pictures that had been working on), we were all able to be seated for dinner and dessert – and, later, dancing! The other interns and I took turns handing out the gift bags – goodies from our sponsors Clinique and Badgley Mischka – to our departing guests. All in all, it really was a terrific night, and it was an incredible feeling to be a part of it all! I have been so grateful and humbled to have been a part of this incredible organization, for all that they do in the arts world.

Justine Stephens

Special Events Intern – Fall 2013

Justine with ABT Soloist Misty Copeland

Justine with ABT Soloist Misty Copeland

My ABT Journey: From Counselor to Intern to Staff Member

10 Dec

If you love ballet and children, then there is no greater place to intern than the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. I spent this past summer as one of the Summer Intensive counselors at ABT and absolutely loved it, so I was thrilled to be accepted into the ABT internship program and be back at the school for another semester. I spent my time from September through the beginning of November as the Training Programs Intern in the Education department. Among other things, my responsibilities included re-doing the bulletin boards for the Pre-Professional and Children’s Divisions, organizing inventory for uniform sales, and making sure every dancer’s forms and information was up to date. Most exciting for me, was getting to be the teacher’s assistant for the three and four year old pre-primary classes on Wednesday’s, taught by Meghan Love. There is truly nothing cuter (or more exhausting!) than those classes of little dancers dressed all in white learning all of their ballet vocabulary and working through their plies, tendus, and foot progressions.

Things got particularly exciting for me at the beginning of November when I was offered a full time position with the Education department as the JKO School Assistant. The ABT internship program has a great track record of hiring former interns, but for it to happen to me was such a dream come true. So, now I spend my Tuesdays-Saturdays with the JKO School. My tasks are generally the same, although on a greater scale and with much more responsibility. I am able to sit in on meetings with parents and see how the school functions on a much deeper level, and I find that I am learning so many new things every day. Talk about a very steep learning curve! I was also still able to participate in some of the other intern activities, such as the Roundabout Exchange and the weekly meetings, so I was able to take advantage of the whole intern experience.

Elizabeth Owens Skidmore

Training Program Intern – Fall 2013

Assisting the JKO class on Halloween

Assisting the JKO class on Halloween

The Nutcracker Reaches Out

4 Dec

As ABT’s Educational Outreach Intern, my primary responsibility is to assist the Associate Director of Education and Training, Dennis Walters, with the programming and coordination of the Make a Ballet (MAB) program. MAB seeks to “meet the need for arts education in underserved schools and communities” by introducing students to “all aspects of the creative and administrative theatrical experience.” I intend to become a middle- or high-school social studies teacher, so it has been a worthwhile experience to work at ABT and learn about the work necessary when writing curricula, creating lesson plans, and building worksheets, study guides, and in-class activities.

Though I have not been able to accompany Dennis to MAB classes at ABT’s partnership schools, I do have a chance to indirectly engage with the students. When completed class activities make their way back to the Outreach Department, I read and comment on the student work. From there, I discuss with Dennis and Richard Toda (Artistic Coordinator for Educational Outreach) about what did or did not go well during class that day and how the classes should proceed. It has certainly been a privilege to work on such a beneficial, arts-education initiative.

My typical MAB-centered day became something more a few weeks ago when I had the chance to interact, in a more personal way, with a young girl from Brooklyn. She wrote a letter that made its way to the Outreach Department. Addressing “the Nutcracker, “ she told of her want to perform in ABT’s The Nutcracker, so I responded to her, on ABT letterhead, as if I were the Nutcracker. I expressed how happy I was to hear from her and encouraged her to continue dancing and following her dreams. I enclosed Nutcracker-themed activities in the envelope and signed the letter with a special signature. This experience was one of the highlights of my internship. Her letter reminded me of how enchanting ballet can be, especially during “Nutcracker season,” and why it is important that artists and arts companies continue to reach out and give back to their local communities, sharing with them a love of learning and creativity.

Jen Barrer-Gall

Education Outreach Intern – Fall 2013

Nut

ABT & Project Plié

28 Nov

I have to pinch myself every time I approach 890 Broadway, as when I walk in, I’m a proud intern of one of the greatest ballet companies in the world.   I’ve been fortunate to have been chosen to work the with amazing JKO School’s National Training Curriculum Department, headed by Molly Schnyder.  This is an important year for the school because they are introducing a new initiative called Project Plié.  What American Ballet Theatre wants to do is increase the racial and ethnic representation in ballet and diversify America’s ballet companies.  I think this is an amazing endeavor to take on and I’m very happy to see ABT taking the lead on this.

I was able to be a part of this by working with Jenna Bitterman and Meghan Love to send information to over one thousand ABT Certified teachers across the country to nominate teachers of color to receive scholarships for the National Training Curriculum seminars that are held throughout the year.  The passion Molly, Jenna and Meghan exhibit is not only inspiring but also refreshing to see people who care so much about their organization and want only the best for its future.

I was invited to attend the Project Plié’s Pre-Performance reception which was held during ABT’s fall season at the Koch Theater.  Besides the delicious appetizers and drinks, there were amazing speakers such as Valentino Carlotti, and ABT Trustee, Rachel Moore, ABT’s CEO, Kevin McKenzie, ABT’s Artistic Director and Susan Fales-Hill, a die-hard ABT supporter and fan whose mother’s legacy has been honored by the creation of the Josephine Premice Fales Award.  The award acknowledges one promising young dancer of color with a full scholarship to ABT’s JKO School and a cash stipend for living expenses.  How amazing is that?

I had a wonderful time meeting other board members who wholeheartedly support not only ABT, but also the JKO School.  There were a few celebrities including Star Jones and Wynton Marsalis.  To top it off, I was able to watch an amazing performance by the company featuring Misty Copeland in two of the three ballets of the night.  That night, I ate well, met some incredibly inspiring people, watched the greatest American ballet company perform and went to bed feeling proud to be part of the making of history for American Ballet Theatre’s JKO school.

Tiffany Williams

National Training Curriculum Intern – Fall 2013

The Launching of Project Plié

A Night to Remember

 

A Season of Events

28 Nov

Working as the Major Gifts intern in the development department at American Ballet Theatre this past Fall Season was an incredible experience and opportunity, an experience that I will most certainly never forget.  As an intern in the Major Gifts department, I was able to attend each and every Fall Season event as part of the development team, something that I truly loved!  I felt like such a vital and helpful part of the work team, taking part in the organization, planning, set-up, and actual course of every memorable event.  From the Tempest production reception at the home of one of ABT’s finest donors where Alexei Ratmansky himself spoke of the artistic process of creating a new ballet masterpiece, to sneak peek studio visits prior to the opening evening of Fall Season, each event was carefully and beautifully orchestrated with a team of talented and dedicated ABT staff.  It was amazing to not only work such fantastic events, yet also have the opportunity to meet with donors, board members, and essential parts of the American Ballet Theatre community that help facilitate the ballet and allow art to come to life on the stage.  I was blow away by the dedication and commitment of the donor community, seeing true passion for the arts come to life.

The opening night gala that marked the beginning of a remarkable Fall Season was a glamorous and wonderful evening, a night that I will surely never forget.  Upon arrival to the Koch Theater on the afternoon of the Gala, I was immediately busy helping with last minute organizational details, changing into my formal gown, and embarking on an evening of hard work and incredible amounts of rewarding fun.  I helped with coat check, the overall gala check-in process, distribution of personalized notes to donors, as well as the gift bag table, packed sky high with Badgley Mischka and Clinique brand handouts.  It was an incredible evening to say the least, and I cannot thank ABT enough for this amazing opportunity.  Throughout the rest of Fall Season, I was able to help with other events such as dress rehearsal viewings, an exclusive Partners evening pre-show talk and reception, and the Chairman’s Council Curtain Call post-show dinner, events where I was able to view ballet and mingle with donors and essential members of the ABT community.  All of the events during the course of my internship really allowed me to see hours and weeks of hard work come to life, experiences that I will never forget.  My internship in Major Gifts was more than I could have ever hoped for, an opportunity of a lifetime that I will always remember and cherish.  I could not have asked for a better experience or better co-workers.  ABT is a remarkable and amazing organization, and I have learned so much from this wonderful and compassionate team of artistically passionate workers.

Amanda Moretz

Major Gifts Intern – Fall 2013

Amanda Moretz at the David H. Koch Theater during the Fall 2013 Gala

Amanda Moretz at the David H. Koch Theater during the Fall 2013 Gala

“Incredible Generosity”

28 Nov

Throughout my time as an intern at ABT, I have written countless thank you letters. Of course, it is a fulfilling and interesting task to learn the names of the foundations, corporations, and individuals that support ABT, and to learn the specific programs and dancers that mean enough to them to inspire them to donate their time and money. At the Fall Gala, however, my job as the Institutional Support Intern came to life as many of the individuals and companies I had been writing to were present at this event, all in the same room. It was a very special experience to put faces to names, and even more special to see the incredible community surrounding ABT. In my letters, I use phrases like “incredible generosity,” “tremendous loyalty,” and “outstanding dedication to the arts” quite often, and sometimes it feels as though they lose their meaning over time. With one look at the Koch promenade that night, it was clear that this is not the case. The fact is that these words of praise are meaningful, and are appropriate in describing the many Gala attendees who contribute to ABT. Being a part of this event was a truly magical experience – it was incredibly inspiring to meet the people who allow ABT to be the amazing company that it is.

Lauren Wingenroth

Institutional Support Intern - Fall 2013

Lauren Wingenroth at the David H. Koch Theater during the 2013 Fall Gala

Lauren Wingenroth at the David H. Koch Theater during the 2013 Fall Gala

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