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.
Education Outreach Intern – Fall 2013
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.
National Training Curriculum Intern – Fall 2013
A Night to Remember
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.
Major Gifts Intern – Fall 2013
Amanda Moretz at the David H. Koch Theater during the Fall 2013 Gala
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.
Institutional Support Intern - Fall 2013
Lauren Wingenroth at the David H. Koch Theater during the 2013 Fall Gala
Working in membership development we deal with different levels of donors between $1000 and $10,000. ABT designates a special subset group of donors called Junior Council to a community of young professionals ages 21-40 who are lovers of ballet. While all membership levels have perks, it is really great to have a Junior Council group that is able to come together and socialize specifically with other young patrons.
One of my very first events I worked on as an intern was the annual Junior Council fundraiser in which they held a silent auction. This was a very exciting cocktail affair at the beautiful Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo. Though the actual event was held early on in my intern experience, the work load for this ordeal was so involved, it lingered long after the final auction bids were made. In preparation for the day I helped in tasks such as writing up gift certificates and signage for donations made, compiling company dancer bio’s who would be attending the event, collecting any physical items for auction, and compiling VIP gift bags to give away. I was amazed at the incredible number of items that were donated which spanned two full rooms of the hotel. Prizes included everything from jewelry to wine, fitness and spa packages, ABT memorabilia; even vacation packages and television tapings! Once at the hotel, set up and clean up were vital duties, but during the auction I was able to relax and mingle with members of the Junior Council (and dancers!).
The party was truly exciting and to watch everyone’s hard work successfully come to fruition was very gratifying. The final moments of the auction were intense as everyone rushed to place their final bids and we ran down collecting bid sheets marking the winners. Once back in the office after the auction was over, we had to input all of the bidder’s information and winning bids into a spreadsheet to be able to accurately charge credit cards and disperse items. In total, nearly $30,000 was raised on behalf of the Junior Council Sponsorship Fund. To complete the experience I helped to formulate acknowledgment letters according to all of the various attendants from members, to sponsors, and donors.
While the auction was a success I did not imagine putting on such a fundraising concept could be so intricately detailed. The fall membership internship was incredibly busy this season and I really got to sample so much of what this department is all about. My time has flown by and I am so grateful to have this extremely hands on opportunity to learn!
Membership Intern – Fall 2013
Junior Council Silent Auction
Marketing Intern Anne Sharpe with ABT CEO Rachel Moore
As a former ABT corps de ballet dancer, Rachel Moore’s passion for ballet and the company has been present since her childhood. Her journey towards becoming the CEO of America’s National Ballet Company grew from her involvement with various arts non-profits, including the National Endowment for the Arts. We learned that her position is highly intertwined with every department of ABT, including the creative side. Acting as a bridge between art and business, she orchestrates how fundraising, marketing, ticket sales, and the budget all function to create one cohesive ballet company.
The part I found most interesting is how she created a brand that defined the company’s goals and standards as artists:
(1) ABT as a Leader in the creation of art, presenting world class versions of dance.
(2) ABT as a Leader of arts education, teaching students and instructors alike healthy, classical ballet.
(3) Maintaining a national presence in the arts.
(4) Serve as ambassadors of American art and culture.
These four components put into simple words how I would describe American Ballet Theatre to any random person I met on the street. It was a great experience hearing how each our jobs tie into Ms. Moore’s overall vision of ABT.
The meeting ended with all of us discussing the path between being an intern and having the career of our dreams. After hearing her experiences, the road seems a little less hazy than it did even a month ago.
Marketing Intern- Summer 2013
Downstage Center at the Metropolitan Opera House
As this summer’s Major Gifts intern at ABT, I have had the pleasure of working alongside the wonderful Patrick Galvin, ABT’s Assistant Manager of Major Gifts. I spend most days writing personalized gift-acknowledgement letters to some of ABT’s most important individual donors, processing mailings, and running errands all around Union Square. Over the past six weeks, I have come to realize how crucial high-level individual donors are for the success of such a large, multifaceted arts organization. ABT relies on many sources of support, including foundation grants and ticket sales, but most of their impressive shows could not take place without some generous individuals underwriting each production.
To thank the underwriters of Alexei Ratmansky’s triumphant Shostakovich Trilogy, Patrick and I decided to give them framed Playbills and photographs from the premiere performance. I matted and framed sixteen Playbills (signed by Alexei!) and sixteen photographs of ABT Principal Dancer David Hallberg. The gifts were either hand-delivered or FedExed to the underwriters’ homes. It was so gratifying to hear about the excited responses from the recipients!
One of the photos of David Hallberg that I framed and matted (Don’t mind the flash!)
The ABT internship program comes with many perks, including complimentary tickets to ABT shows and opportunities to meet interns at other arts organizations. Recently, we all joined the Roundabout Theatre Company’s summer interns for a trip to the Met to watch the classic ballet The Sleeping Beauty. David Lansky, ABT’s General Manager, met up with the group and described the complex process of arranging and scheduling ABT’s international tours. ABT tours annually in locations as diverse as Beijing and Barcelona, and the company’s first-ever trip to Abu Dhabi is on the horizon! David then took us all on a backstage tour of the Met. We saw the dancers’ quick-change stations, racks of beautiful (and heavy!) costumes, hundreds of props, and massive set pieces. It was incredible to view the iconic Metropolitan Opera House from the stage; I can’t imagine how it must feel to take a bow in front of 4,000 audience members!
A view from the wings
ABT General Manager David Lansky describing a typical Corps de Ballet tutu.
-Mikaela Sanders 2013 Summer Major Gifts Intern