ABT at the Met

6 Aug

The Met Season: Nine ballets, eight weeks, up to seven (sometimes eight) casts per ballet, six days per week. What a tremendous feat for a ballet company to take on. Though if there is one company that can pull it off with great success, it is American Ballet Theatre.

I got the privilege this summer of interning for ABT as an artistic intern as well as a major gifts intern. Getting to experience both departments allowed me to witness the incredible work that goes on both artistically and administratively during the Met Season. For the artistic side of my internship, I got to work two days a week at the Metropolitan Opera House with the artistic staff who temporarily relocated their offices from 890 Broadway to the Met Opera green room. They relocate offices because the company spends the total of their time both rehearsing and performing at the Met during the season. To be honest, it’s more like the artistic staff relocate residence to the green room because “working round the clock” is not an exaggeration for them. Some nights they would leave the Met with just enough time to turn around and come back in the morning.

My primary job as the artistic intern was to verify and calculate dancer overtime/penalty pay for rehearsal and performance days. Most of those days I got to watch rehearsals, see performances and meet dancers coming in and out of the green room. The excitement of walking through those stage doors never got old. In verifying schedules and calculating overtime, I realized just how incredible of an undertaking a season like this is for the dancers performing. The level of professionalism it takes for these dancers to be rehearsing several different ballets for hours during the day then turning around and performing yet another one that night, is simply unfathomable. Not to mention all that entails for the production staff as well.

And of course while all this goes on within the Met Opera House, there’s a whole other side going on administratively. Ticketing, VIP visits, member events, dinners and meetings: it all happens during the Met Season as well. The sheer number of events, let alone the magnitude, that the development staff puts on is incredible. It is an endeavor only accomplished through much commitment, time and effort from everyone involved. As a major gifts intern, I got to see how all the planning and preparation made these events come to fruition.

Though it is a busy time and an extraordinary effort, watch an ABT performance during the Met Season and I think you’ll agree that it’s all worth it. It was without a doubt one of the most thrilling and enjoyable times to be an intern at ABT and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it!

Katie Currier

Major Gifts and Artistic Intern – Summer 2014

Dedication and Commitment: Members and the Membership Department

6 Aug

One of the most interesting aspects of being an American Ballet Theatre intern in the membership department is actually interacting with the donors during the Met Season. Through special events such as the Golden Circle Luncheon and by working at the membership table, it really gave me a chance to gain some perspective on how a non-profit arts organization actually works. It is amazing to see how the membership and development departments care so much about all the donors and work so many hours during the season to see that patrons at every level are able to enjoy the beautiful ballets and all the benefits that come with membership.

It was great being able to develop actual relationships with the donors and gave me a glimpse into the real work that the membership department does. By meeting and talking to all the patrons during my time at the Met, I could see that they all really care about ABT and about the art itself.

The Golden Circle Luncheon, held in honor of Mr. Brian J. Heidtke, was one of the most unique and interesting events to help out as a membership intern. The luncheon is held annually for ABT’s Golden Circle members, who are crucial to the company. The planning that went into the event was immense, but rewarding. From mailing tickets, invitations and acknowledgements, to creating, printing, and folding programs, there was a lot to be done in preparation for the event. At The Plaza Hotel, we began our day bright and early, setting all the gift bags, programs, and place cards at each table and getting ready for the guests to start arriving to check-in. The event moved smoothly from The Plaza to the Met for the dress rehearsal. It was amazing to see how an event of that caliber was prepared for and run in such a smooth fashion. Again, it just reminded of how the membership department works tirelessly for all the patrons to honor and thank them for their incredible support to the company.

Working at ABT this summer has been such a gratifying experience and I am so thankful for the opportunity!

Shivani Badgi
Summer 2014, Membership Intern

“Yes, Sophie, there is a Tooth Fairy”

5 Aug

As the final two weeks of my internship approached, after eight extremely busy weeks of Summer Intensives, I expected things in the office to wind down—I thought I might finish some editing projects, file some last bits of student paperwork and make a few more trips to the dry cleaner to drop off or pick up Studio Company costumes. Low-key tasks. But ABT, ever full of surprises, handed me a fantastic one just over two weeks before I was due to leave. “Hey, Sophie,” Heidi said, “we’re one counselor short for YDSW. Could you help us out?”
Thus began what has arguably been the most exciting, and unexpected, part of my internship experience. The Young Dancer Summer Workshop, or YDSW, is the last of three Summer Intensive programs in the NYC studios at 890 Broadway, comprising about 200 students ages 9-12. The students are divided into nine levels, each with a color name and each with its very own counselor, a.k.a. Supervisor-in-Chief. My counselor duties, I learned, would include taking attendance in every class, checking each student into and out of the building, helping teachers demonstrate in the classroom, setting up PT appointments, handling students’ injuries and illnesses in class, overseeing lunch, generally providing each student with a wonderful ABT experience and, most importantly, never leaving the kids unsupervised. This last assignment, though initially daunting, has proven very easy to accomplish, because the students are all so much fun to be with! My group (Green—26 dancers) has made me eager to be at the office at 8:30 every morning, despite my two-hour commute. They don’t have to try to please me; they’re just so thrilled to be there, to talk to me and to one another and to dance dance dance!
Seeing them in and outside of class every day has reminded me why I wanted a job in the Education Department in the first place. There are many exciting aspects of office work in Education, from the clerical (preparing press packets for the Studio Company tour to Colorado) to the artistic (conjuring floral garlands from hula hoops, fake flowers and a hot glue gun—bippity-boppity-boo!), and it was these tasks I anticipated when I applied for the internship. Yet the most rewarding Education experience for me has been that provided by the YDSW kids. Sure, there have been small crises—only this afternoon a girl I’d never seen before came up to me with a bloody mouth, proudly displaying the baby tooth that had just fallen out and eager to tell me how frequently the Tooth Fairy has been visiting her lately—but these prove as educational for me as any other aspect of the job.
For a fresh college graduate to whom the future often seems daunting, it is immeasurably helpful to be surrounded by young dancers who are just learning to tie their pointe shoes, anticipating the Tooth Fairy’s magical arrival, still looking at life as one long, not yet choreographed dance in which they are all prima ballerinas. I only wish I could stay longer in their world.

Thank you, ABT, for giving me such a wonderful gift.

Sophie Johnson
Education Training Programs Intern Summer 2014

The other side of the National Training Curriculum

4 Aug

The crazy Met season for the company may be over but the busiest time for the National Training Curriculum (NTC) has just begun! I am one of two interns working for the NTC this summer. The NTC provides a scientific approach to the training and education of classical ballet, which aims to produce healthy and well-rounded dancers through the training of dance educators. The curriculum of the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School is based on the NTC and it has been producing numbers of amazing dancers. At the Department of Education and Training, we are working on the administrative side of NTC, making sure that it is serving its mission.

One of the major aspects of the NTC is to offer the teacher training sessions. Now, more than 1000 teachers have been certified in the NTC and the number is still growing. We have many sessions throughout the year but the summer is definitely one of the busiest seasons as we have them not only in the US but also internationally, with the largest session happening at ABT’s 890 Broadway Studios in NYC. Our NYC session started last week with the section of Levels 4 and 5. It was great to see all our preparation come into action with ballet teachers from all over the world. We are still learning and figuring out what works best as we implement—just like teaching ballet!

I am studying ABT’s National Training Curriculum with the partnership Master’s program at New York University. I’ve been studying the materials of the curriculum for the past year, but it has been a whole different experience to see the administrative side of NTC. Also, I had a chance to audit and take a class for Levels 6 and 7 today during my day off. Having the teachers from all over the world added another layer of energy, excitement, and knowledge to the already extensive learning experience I’ve been having at NYU.

It’s about half way through the NYC Summer session, and we are expecting the largest session with 110 teachers for Pre-Primary through Level 3 section next week. Merde to all the teachers who are taking the teacher certificate exam! We’re going to support and to make your time here to be the best learning experience :)

Minami Hara
National Training Curriculum Intern Summer 2014

Injury Prevention and Cabaret!

4 Aug

My summer as an intern at ABT has been a unique one, because I am hoping to pursue a career in Performing Arts Medicine, which is not a common trait that many ABT interns have. Having the opportunity to intern for the National Training Curriculum has been one of the best experiences that I could’ve imagined. As an NTC intern, I worked with Meghan Love, Tiffany Williams, and Molly Schnyder on preparing and executing the Summer 2014 teacher training sessions all around the world. The National Training Curriculum is a program that allows dance teachers to become ABT certified, and learn how to make their students healthy dancers. To me, this means that they are learning a way to help prevent injury while still making sure that their students are keeping up technically, so I couldn’t have asked for a better fit for my interests!

One of the things that I enjoyed the most about my time as an ABT intern was the intern swap that we had with the Roundabout Theatre company interns. An “intern swap” means that there was one night where all of us ABT interns, and all of the Roundabout interns met somewhere for dinner, and then we took them to see The Dream at the Met, and then 2 weeks later, we all met up for dinner again and they took us to see Cabaret. It was great to meet other interns and hear about their future plans and aspirations, and have the opportunity to show them a bit of what it’s like being an ABT intern, and then they got to give us a glimpse of what they do.

Thank you to the American Ballet Theatre for giving me a wonderful internship experience!

Lisa Brachfeld
Summer 2014 National Training Curriculum Intern

My Picture With Craig

29 Jul

This summer, I have been interning in the Marketing Department of American Ballet Theatre. I have been working in their office on projects such as helping to create and edit advertising for the Fall Season at the Koch Theater and The Nutcracker at BAM, and doing researching for audience development. I also worked selling ABT merchandise at The Metropolitan Opera House, where ABT performs for eight weeks during their spring season. One of my favorite aspects of my internship, however, is working with the marketing staff on fun and creative ways to advertise and use social media. From picking Nutcracker pictures to finding Shakespeare quotes to go with photos from The Dream, I really loved being able to contribute to the marketing of ABT.

One of my favorite moments of my internship was taking this picture with ABT Soloist Craig Salstein backstage at the Met that was posted on ABT’s Facebook and Twitter pages. We took the photo because we both happen to be triplets! It was a creative way in which we could advertise the internship program at ABT, while giving people a backstage look at the Met and an ABT dancer. I am really glad I had the opportunity to meet Craig and help advertise the internship program, all while getting a behind-the-scenes look at how ABT runs their spring season at the Met. I am thankful for the opportunities I have had while interning at ABT, and recommend the program to anyone interested in learning first-hand about Arts Management or Arts Education.

Alexandra Tweedley
Summer 2014 Marketing Intern

Alexandra with fellow triplet ABT Soloist Craig Salstein backstage at the Met

Alexandra with fellow triplet ABT Soloist Craig Salstein backstage at the Met

Why Do People Become Donors?

27 Jun

I come from a country where the structure to sustain the arts is not based on philanthropic donations; so one of my priorities for my first internship in the U.S. was to gain hands on experience in a great arts organization, where I could feel inspired for what they do, and where I could understand what makes people become donors and/or members; there was no better option than American Ballet Theatre to learn about it!

 

By interning at the Membership Department I learned that people can join the organization starting with only $75 a year – about 20c per day – and every level of donation gets specific benefits such as: dress rehearsals, studios visits, letters, magazine and season information in advance. ABT offers two different categories for ballet goers;  subscription and the membership. The subscription relates only to tickets, as people get discounts for purchasing in advance a package of tickets, ensuring themselves great locations even before the general public tickets go on sale. In this category there are series of 3, 4 and 5 performances, as well as series for families and special events. The second category is Membership where people give donations in exchange for benefits and is highly recommended for ballet lovers.

From my previous experience, people who help sustain arts organizations often look for something in exchange for their support.  From my time at American Ballet Theatre,  I realized that people donate and become members because they care for the mission of the organization and they trust in the high quality art form that is being represented and the belief of a shared responsibility of supporting the arts. This support is critical for all arts organizations.

The organization draws members in and keeps them interested by preparing different kind of events such as studios visits, sneak peaks, classes and seminars to offer to ballet lovers. Other kinds of efforts are also coordinated with other departments to send subscriptions guides, brochures, calendars, and invites. Lastly, as part of this amazing experience I had the chance to help with the database where all the member’s information is gathered. That allowed me to better understand how the organization classifies members, donors and subscribers by their preferences, seats and performances among other options.

It has been an interesting journey at ABT where I have started learning how one of the best ballet organizations in the world prepares their “behind the scenes” process…..the administrative side of the America’s National Ballet Company to keep the show on! Thanks American Ballet Theatre for this amazing experience.

 

Angelica M. B. Nanez

Membership Intern

Spring 2014

 

Angelica

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