Tapping Into Turnout

1 Oct


I am four weeks into a Fall internship here at American Ballet Theatre and I can already say it is the best internship I could ever imagine for myself. I am split between two departments, special events and development, and as someone who loves to be busy it is the ideal work environment for me. When I complete a task in development, whether it be updating the yearly Board Book, reformatting pledge reminder letters or even setting up for board member visits in the dancer’s lounge, I can just walk past studio 1 and get to work on a project in special events! This past week at ABT has been my best yet and is what inspired me to write this blog post so early into my time here as an intern.

On Tuesday we had an all staff meeting and being in the room with such an amazingly talented and dedicated group of people was a privilege I did not take for granted. Principal dancers and staff alike listened intently as Kevin McKenzie revealed the Spring Season and Ormsby Wilkins told a fascinating anecdote about Rachmaninoff’s initial failure as a composer, allegedly due to a drunk conductor! Michelle Dorrance also spoke about her new work for the company and how special it is to work with such intelligent and open-minded artists. From what I have seen (and heard) in the studios, you are not going to want to miss seeing this piece for yourself!

Thursday came around and it was Junior Turnout day, so after ensuring all of the boxes packed with auction items and VIP gift bag goodies were picked up at 890, we were headed down to Spring Place. The event space was transformed thanks to Fallon Sullivan leading us in arranging the auction item displays and Claire McGregor setting up an assembly line of staff to stuff swag bags. At around 6 all of the staff changed out of our sneakers and jeans into swanky Harlequinade themed outfits to excitedly set up a check in table for the guests long-awaited arrival. Before I knew it, the party was in full swing and everyone was having a blast! In between dancing, mingling, silent auctioning and photoboothing, the night flew by and we were all sent home with a VIP gift bag of our very own.

After being a part of such a tremendous event, I am surer than ever that the Special Events department was the right choice for me. The day-to-day work in the office is crucial to the realization of events like Junior Turnout but getting to see it all materialize and partake in the celebration really resonated with me. I am so looking forward to all of the exciting events this Fall still has in store and continuing to pitch in around the office. Dancing has been my passion for almost two decades and I am thrilled to be a part of a prestigious company like ABT, one way or another.

Fiona Huber

Special Events and Development Assistant Intern

Fall 2018


An Enchanting Summer

13 Aug

RachelinternphotoI have been reluctant to write this post till the last moment as I still I have one week to stay at this lovely place. I don’t want to get too sentimental too before my final goodbyes.

While I have done several internships in both small start-ups and large corporations, this internship at ABT can definitely be credited with many “firsts.”  I came here from China to attend a graduate program at Columbia, this internship is my first time to work abroad, and after leaving ABT in mid-August, I will have been in America for one year. There are many other “firsts” as one can imagine, but I won’t count them here.  I’ll divide my post about ABT into three parts: ballet, people, and tasks.

One reason that ABT’s Summer Internship is so attractive is of course because of their season at the Metropolitan Opera House!  I have to admit that unlike other interns, most of whom learned dance and had a strong connection with ABT before they came, I knew little about ABT and even less about ballet.  As a student in an arts administration program, I am interested in interning at great arts organizations, for their artistic achievements and administrative success. Before interning at ABT, my only experience with ballet was The Nutcracker a year and a half a year ago. However, this summer I had so many opportunities to watch ballet, which has totally turned me into a huge fan. (Good job, ABT!)

As for the people, everyone here is so nice! As a Strategic Initiative intern, I have worked and had meetings with staff from several departments including: executive office, marketing, education, development, etc. They have all been friendly, helpful, and funny! I would especially thank my mentor Ophelia and another Strategic Initiative Intern Hannah – you both constantly make my day! Busy or not, I enjoyed working on projects with these two great co-workers and chatting about the industry, musicals, food, and everything! More importantly, I cannot thank them enough for instructing me whenever I have questions and offering suggestions whenever I need one. What makes the workplace even more exciting is that I can meet lots of talented dancers, hear the music and see them dance every time I pass by the studios!

Finally, for my tasks, I will try to describe them in two sentences: (1) ABT values the skills and the interests of its interns – my mentor asked me to select the projects I would like to work on and the intern program provided weekly meetings inviting guest speakers from various fields. (2) These tasks are really meaningful to me – I was challenged and excited by the projects I chose, gaining knowledge about what direction to take and what skills I should develop.

To wrap up my nonsense, I would like to thank ABT – the journey was enchanting.

Rachel Huang

Strategic Initiatives Intern

Summer 2018

The Strategy in New Potentials

10 Aug

HannahinternphotoWhen I walked into 890 Broadway for the first time at the beginning of June, I had no idea what to expect. To say I was wide-eyed would be an understatement. After my first brand new experience of the day — a morning commute through the streets of NYC — I meandered through the hallway in an attempt to find my office, but became more focused on the seemingly never-ending assortment of ABT history that plastered the walls. I think it was this immersion in the years and years worth of posters, photographs, and advertisements that caused the excitement of my upcoming internship to really sink in. I understood just how much I would inevitably gain from being a part of an organization of such rich history and carried with such great passion.

As I settled into my role at ABT, my growth and development felt tangible when I walked out the doors of 890 each day having learned something new about ABT, about the arts world, or about myself. Along with my development, that initial wide-eyed sentiment morphed into a recognition of how the variety of experiences opened my eyes to the previous unknown inner workings of this complex and incredible world. By virtue of my particular position as an intern in the Strategic Initiatives office, I have worked on projects that have required me to learn about every other department in the organization, and especially how they interact with each other. In this way, I am coming away with a new, broader understanding of the complexity of arts administration in nonprofits, and both the day-to-day tasks and long-term research projects that are involved in ABT’s best strategic efforts. My projects were wide-ranging — from website editing to Women’s Movement research to industrial data analysis to much more — and exposed me to a variety of work methods, hard skills, and soft skills. The commonality was they all helped me learn about important facets of ABT’s strength, and I felt as though we were making on working ABT stronger from many different creative approaches.

Aside from my departmental work, I was able to learn even more about the extensive nature of the company and industry through the programming for interns. All of us interns, all of whom are incredibly talented and passionate people I’m grateful to have met, gathered each Friday to learn about some aspect of ABT or arts administration in general. We received advice from ABT’s inspiring Executive Director, a Q & A with an ABT Principal ballerina, a crash course on accounting and 990 forms from the Senior Director of Finance, a resume and cover letter workshop from the Director of Edu & Training, and so much more. We were also fortunate enough to meet interns at a peer arts organization, Roundabout Theatre Company, attending a Roundabout play and an ABT ballet with them and sharing thoughts on our organizations and experiences. These experiences were invaluable in supplementing our departmental experiences and really gave us the comprehensive, holistic ABT experience. Feeling surrounded by such genuine support and by staff members so intent on helping answer our questions, and educate and expose us to as much as possible, was so invaluable.

Over the summer, I came to consider that a sense of care, excitement, and responsibility to a beautiful company — that the ABT posters inspired in me on the first day — is what inspires everyone’s work here, and is how the organization thrives. And although I eventually became accustomed to navigating both the city streets and the office corridors, I remain wide-eyed at the history and community that have surrounded me over these 10 weeks. A poster of a glowing Misty Copeland as the Firebird greeted me right above my desk every day; multiple days at “work” involved spending time at the indescribably stunning Metropolitan Opera House; every conference room and meeting space has at least some gem of ABT decor from past or present to lend a sense of inspiration to the space; music from classes in which the next generation of America’s National Ballet Company’s talent is being trained floats through the hallways. I am so grateful to have had my eyes opened not only to the rich history and beauty that pervades ABT’s culture, but also to the complex, difficult, exciting, and multi-faceted world behind the scenes that makes it all happen, and that has taught me so much. I can’t wait to see how the things to which my eyes have been opened will affect my future path!

Hannah Fein

Strategic Initiatives Intern

Summer 2018

Beauty of the Unexpected

9 Aug

ElaineinternphotoI’ll be honest with you guys, before starting this job I was pretty sureI knew what I was getting into. I’ve had a few internships in arts administration and development and while I knew American Ballet Theatre was an important company in the New York and national arts scene, I figured the experience would be similar enough. So I completed my last final in Boston, drove home to New York and just three days later started my internship at ABT.

It was that night, standing backstage at the Met Opera House as I watched the principals of Giselle that night perform not 30 feet away from me that I realized I may have been in a bit over my head.

What followed was an internship and opportunities that I can hardly believe happened to me. I spent the summer in the Executive Department. For most of the summer my time was split between general administrative and organizational work at 890 and working the nightly spring season performances at the Metropolitan Opera House. After wrapping up my work down in Union Square I would hop on the subway uptown to Lincoln Center.  Each night I would hustle in my office or in the front of house to the strains of Stravinsky and Minkus, preparing meetings, escorting guests and donors, drafting daily schedules and briefings and everything and anything in between.  When I wasn’t doing work for the executive department I was slowly replacing my blood with coffee (hey, it’s not my fault the Keurig is next to my desk!), listening to guest speakers brought in through the internship program or watching the performances the ABT staff has put their blood, sweat and tears into.

ABT has been the biggest, busiest, boldest thing that I had the opportunity to dive into. And while every night I would collapse into bed, I woke up every morning and couldn’t wait to get into work.  The internship program allows interns to truly work on a variety of different projects wants us to develop our own skills and experiences. We had the ability to develop our own careers through things like resume-writing workshops and learn about others (chatting with those in varied positions like conducting and finance).  And when it got intense, all I had to do was sit on the fountain and Lincoln Center and marvel at the place I got to exist this summer.

While it feels like no time had passed, it has been almost three months, and my time at ABT has come to an end. Working with and alongside individuals who are passionate about what they do and their organization’s mission, and who have offered their friendship and guidance this summer has been an amazing privilege.  I’ve gotten to work with and meet incredible people from the stagehands and ushers at the Met, to my co-workers and co-interns at 890.  Managing a behemoth like ABT, least of all a spring season with 64 performances of full-length programming is no small task, and I am constantly inspired by every single person at ABT who makes it, and ABT’s mission, possible. As they say, it’s been a wild ride.  Having to leave this community is bittersweet. But, we’re not really leaving are we? ABT has expanded my world in so many ways outside ballet and the lessons and experiences imparted are ones I will carry on.

Elaine Harris

Executive Intern

Summer 2018

Inspiring in Education

8 Aug

LydiainternphotoInterning at American Ballet Theatre has been an unforgettable experience.

When I applied almost six months ago, I wasn’t sure if my application would even be considered, much less accepted. Being in my late twenties with a background in other fields and minimal arts administration experience led me to doubt my chances. However, I applied anyway. Six weeks later, I was offered the internship!

I was primarily responsible for the company’s outreach programs during my time at Ballet Theatre. I assisted Dennis Walters, the Associate Director of Education and Training, with organizing data and paperwork, drafting correspondence, conducting research, and preparing for events, in addition to general office-related tasks. Because I am a former dancer, I was also able to work with Richard Toda, the Artistic Coordinator of Educational Outreach, by serving as a demonstrator and teaching assistant during dance classes in K-12 public schools, pre-performance workshops, and other events.

As a result of my work in the classroom and studio, I learned that I greatly enjoy working with children and teens. Helping younger people achieve their goals and grow into the adults they want to become is a fantastic experience.

I also enjoyed learning from so many fascinating figures in the performing arts world over the course of the internship, especially during our weekly intern meetings.

If you are considering applying to intern at American Ballet Theatre, my advice is to do it! It is truly an opportunity not to be missed.

Lydia Murray

Education Outreach Intern

Summer 2018

ABT: The Insight(FULL) Insider Edition

7 Aug

MakaylainternphotoAmerican Ballet Theatre’s 4th floor- Home to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, National Training Curriculum, Outreach, and Studio Company staff. A floor full of constant activity from the hustle and bustle of teacher training and the collegiate intensive to the summer dance intensive and dance workshop. The wheels are always turning like a well oiled machine and there has never been a dull moment. The dedicated staff members always created a welcoming and fun atmosphere which truly made this journey one of a kind.

The immediate immersion into outreach projects captured my attention. On the third day of my internship, I was already accompanying teaching artists to a partner school to help with arts and crafts projects for their show the next day! I assisted with pre-performance workshops for Swan Lakeand Whipped Cream. It was a fulfilling and heartwarming experience to witness the joy and enthusiasm on the faces of the young dancers. Their openness to learn and interest in ballet made me smile from cheek to cheek.

Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Whipped Cream, Don Quixote, and Harlequinade-All the ballets I had the pleasure of seeing during ABT’s MET season this year! The sets, stage presence, technique, precision….I could go on and on about how phenomenal every aspect of the performance was, but we would be here forever. During every single show, I was in awe to say the least. Regardless of how many times I see these ballets, everytime is like the first time all over again. My personal favorite was Swan Lake.As a dancer and choreographer, it made my artistic eye tingle seeing the various formations and transitions present in the choreography. The intricacy and nuances of it were so seamless. It left me utterly mesmerized.

As a former Make A Ballet and Summer Arts Institute student, I’ve been able to be on both ends of the spectrum. This past summer, I’ve been able to experience the different aspects relating to school participation, be a demonstrator at SAI and see the multiple components that come together to facilitate each program. I am passionate about any kind of community engagement projects and I’m so fortunate to have been able to get a behind the scenes look at the various features that help the outreach program be so prosperous.

“INSIGHT(FULL)” is defined as “having or showing an accurate and deep understanding; perceptive”. After these two months, I now have greater comprehension of how everyone is essential to the success of this department. Being here, I never felt like just an intern, I was a part of the team. Everything I did mattered. My mentors Amanda, Dennis and Richard needless to say are true visionaries in work ethics of getting tasks done efficiently and have such a passion for sharing their knowledge with the interns. Coming to the office was always a pleasure as I knew I would learn something new everyday. Sitting at Ethan Stiefel’s desk as well as right in front of Sascha Radetsky never got old.

Working here at ABT has been an opportunity of a lifetime. Being able to help this company of this stature in its daily operation is definitely a check on my bucket list.

For me, the ending of my internship isn’t a goodbye ABT, it’s a see you later.

Makayla Peterson

Education Outreach Intern

Summer 2018

Movement Matters

6 Aug

SarahinternphotoAfter 9 weeks at American Ballet Theatre, I can still vividly remember my first day, perhaps even down to the minute. I remember the icebreakers, the tour of the building, and meeting the staff members. I also remember my first official working day, stepping into the Metropolitan Opera House through the stage door and talking to donors during the Golden Circle Luncheon. I truly believe that my ability to reminisce about these days is a testament to how incredible the internship program is here at ABT. From the beginning, everyone involved in this fast-paced, mission driven organization was incredibly welcoming, taking the time to answer our questions and making us feel comfortable with our working environment. The people here make you want to remember every minute and experience, from the meetings to the research to the serendipitous chocolate (which is always a plus).

It was a privilege to work with my mentor Kristine, Assistant to the Chief Advancement Officer, and Tim, Chief Advancement Officer, as the Development Intern. I say “with” instead of “for” because that’s how an internship at ABT functions; you are treated as one the staff members and projects are all collaborative. Being the Devo intern, my projects were spread across the entire board and included drafting acknowledgement letters, processing gifts, reconciling financial reports, conducting donor research, and writing proposals. I got the greatest education in development one could be lucky enough to get, learning all aspects of cultivating relationships and how development is so intertwined with the other departments.

The main projects I worked on were proposals for the newly-minted ABT Women’s Movement, which is still in its early stages and kicking off this fall. The crux of the mission — pushing the traditions of leadership for women — is more relevant than ever and really hit home for me, coming from Wellesley and being a lifelong practitioner of the arts, as well as a woman choreographer. I genuinely enjoyed researching different individuals and corporations and reaching out to them, in hope that they were equally inspired by the unprecedented game-changer the initiative is. I look forward to the day when I read in the New York Times how successful the Women’s Movement is, and take pride in the fact that I had even a tiny role in making it possible. One substantial thing I have learned throughout my time here is that in a non-profit organization, the smallest tasks are incredibly important, and everything you do is contributing to a much, much greater cause that you may even be unaware of.

In my internship search, I was looking for an organization where I would be able to get a holistic education; I didn’t want to be stuck in one department, repeating the same tasks on a daily basis. ABT is the place for anyone with a similar mindset or goal. While each intern is assigned to a specific mentor and department, you are not necessarily confined to learning only about that department. More likely than not, many projects involve multiple departments and individuals, and I found myself learning about other roles when I didn’t even realize it. Furthermore, as someone who has interests in many different areas, I thoroughly enjoyed the weekly intern meetings where we talked to people in numerous other departments such as Finance and Marketing, learning about the 990, accounting forms, and the decisions that go into allowing ABT to fulfill its mission as America’s National Ballet Company.

These lessons and skills learned these past weeks are in no way restricted to the world of non-profit or arts administration. I am confident that these experiences will follow me the rest of my career, and I am forever thankful to have started my professional journey at ABT. I chose to define my internship experience as “influential,” for two reasons: this experience was integral to my identity as a ballet-lover who wants to give back, and I am truly convinced that the work we did matters. In the thick of it all, our work is just one step in ensuring future generations are able to enjoy the magic that is American Ballet Theatre.

Sarah Chou

Development Assistant Intern

Summer 2018