Working at the Ballet, Knowing Nothing About Ballet

22 May

When I first applied for an internship at ABT, I thought I had no chance in getting it. My previous experiences were in film, but I knew I was interested in events and arts administration the most. I was absolutely floored when I got the internship, having thought that they would only hire people with a background in dance. The most experience had with ballet were the two lessons I attended when I was three years old until I realized it was NOTHING like Barbie’s Nutcracker and quit. On my orientation day at ABT, I realized that while a lot of the interns around me did have ballet experience, some of them didn’t. Dennis let us know that they try to find people with diverse backgrounds, which immediately made me feel more comfortable. If anything, I felt like my different career background could help me contribute in different ways.

My mentor at ABT was Grace Hellstrom, the Donor Relations Coordinator. On one of my first days at ABT, we got coffee and spent a little time learning more about each other. I found it very comforting to know that she did not come from a ballet background either, and had more experience with arts administration. It felt good to know that if she could find success in an art form she was less familiar with, then maybe I could too. 

I really enjoyed my time interning at ABT. I loved the office environment, and how fun and kind everyone was to one another. It sounds a bit cliché, but it really did feel like one big family. I found myself getting opportunities to do work for people besides my mentor, which allowed me to get to know more people in the office. By the end of my (in-person) internship, I felt really comfortable, and even more so, excited walking into 890 Broadway. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity I had to work at ABT, and while I’m disappointed that I didn’t have the chance to help with all the events due to the very unusual circumstances of this year, I’m still very happy with the work I did do. I also feel like I finally have some understanding of ballet, and can really appreciate it in ways I did not before. I still may not be able to plié, but at the very least now I can identify one!!

Friday morning, I arrived at 890 Broadway, only the third time since I had started interning. Today was our first intern meeting of the year, but we were meeting in the conference room instead of down in the lounge because they were setting up for a Studio Visit. I grabbed my binder, notebook, and a pen, and walked down the hallway of offices over to the conference room. I was met with other interns, all sitting around the table waiting for the meeting to start. I think we learned about nonprofits that day. When the meeting was over, I quickly put my stuff back on my desk, and went downstairs with three other interns to the gorgeous, spacious lounge. We met with Alex Reffie, the Membership Assistant Manager, who was running the event for the day. While we had missed setup, there was still much for us to do. First, I was assigned to greet guests at the bottom of the staircase, and take them up to the bathrooms if necessary. Next, I was asked to run upstairs and find more hangers a few times when needed. Finally, after Grey Johnson, the Director of Membership, gave his welcome speech, the guests split up into groups, one of which I was leading with another employee. 

As we walked up to the studio, I went up to Grace Hellstrom, the Donor Relations Coordinator who I was paired with, and asked “are we going to sit in there with them?”. When she answered yes, my heart started to pound; I was going to get to watch my first rehearsal! I tried to remain calm while I escorted the group into the studio and then into chairs set up around the room. Once everyone was seated, Grace and I found two open seats and sat down as well. Then, I was transported into another world, watching some of the most incredible dancers rehearse a part of Fancy Free. I don’t think a smile left my face until we finished applauding at the end of the rehearsal. To make things even better, we were going to escort them to another studio, where they (and I!) would get to watch another rehearsal. We walked through the halls to the next studio and repeated the procedure: allow the guests to come in and sit down, and find seats for ourselves. This time, I would get to watch an excerpt from Giselle, with Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin. I have never gotten to see something so incredibly beautiful so up close before. I was speechless, and even began to tear up. Once the rehearsal finished, I went about my day, putting away chairs, cleaning up after the event, and doing various other tasks asked of me; just another day at ABT. 

This is what it’s like to intern at American Ballet Theatre. It’s rushing around, doing a hundred different tasks, whether that be for your supervisor or helping out another employee, and every once in a while, getting to experience a bit of the magic that goes on behind the scenes. While my time at ABT was an interesting one, and time in person was cut short due to COVID-19, I will never forget that day I witnessed the brilliance of ballet just a few feet in front of me. I’ll never forget working on donor research or invitations and hearing the beautiful piano, with bouts of cheers and claps in between. I cannot express how grateful I am for my time at ABT. Thank you to everyone who has made the experience unforgettable.

Jessica Dickman

Donor Relations Intern

Spring 2020

Zoom Zoom

22 May

When we closed the doors at ABT on March 13, 2020 none of us knew what was coming. I assisted my last in-studio class that Friday with the intention of returning to the studio in two short weeks once COVID-19 had blown over. Well, I don’t have to tell you this, but I was sorely mistaken.

As a JKO Studio Intern much of my internship consisted of in-studio class assisting hours. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of my internship as I had the privilege of assisting many of the amazing JKO faculty members. Learning from them in the studio week after week and helping advance the technical level of the JKO students was a remarkable experience.

When it became apparent that we would no longer be able to have in-studio classes, the JKO School moved entirely to online learning via the Zoom platform. As an intern it then became my duty to oversee the Zoom classes, answering student questions, and assisting the instructors in any way possible. For many of these classes I would meet with the instructor a few minutes before class began, catching up and planning our strategies to keep the students engaged. Disabling screen sharing was quite helpful for the younger levels as students in our Primary classes really wanted to show the class their desktops (haha!).

Facilitating Zoom learning was quite an adventure, I met many household pets, witnessed a few sibling quarrels, and saw ballet from every camera angle possible. Despite all of this, the students and teachers in the JKO School didn’t miss a beat. I saw in real-time the versatility of the ABT National Training Curriculum as it was adapted by each instructor for at-home learning. Our students in the JKO School continued to receive world class ballet instruction from their living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and foyers.

Moving to Zoom was an unanticipated challenge this semester but it was met with some of the most qualified and hard-working people I have ever met. I am so proud to have been part of this experience and I am even more proud of the students in the JKO school for meeting this challenge and overcoming it. I wish all of the students I assisted the utmost success in their ballet journey. Keep dancing, keep smiling, keep Zooming.

Tymothy Jaddock

JKO Studio Intern

Spring 2020

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Flavio Salazar and I meeting before a Level 1 class to discuss specifics

  

Spring at ABT

22 May

I came from Chicago to New York City specifically to work with ABT in the spring semester. I go to school at home so while I was nervous to leave, I was more than excited to be an intern at a company I had admired since the earliest days of my dance endeavors. I had trained with ABT in the summer several years ago before I quit ballet to attend college, and I was so excited to return in a position I had really grown to love and to experience the company from a different lens. After several weeks of re-learning the ropes of another city, I had really gotten the hang of navigating my commute and felt a lot more comfortable in the office. Just as I started to transition into genuinely feeling like part of the office as well as understanding the general steps needed in writing grant applications, there was talk of COVID cases rising in the state. At first everyone was calm, with the standard “it’s just like the flu” statement that everyone in the country was experiencing, but after about a week of a consistent rise in concern about the safety of everyone’s health slowly consuming the hope that things won’t get as bad as they say, I found myself booking an emergency flight back home in fear of the city shutting down and being stuck without my family. I, along with most of the staff, assumed we would all be returning in a couple weeks at the most, but after each day it became more and more unlikely that would happen. So, we made the best of it! While the majority of my internship was remote, I still gained so much experience and learned so much about the non-profit arts world. One of my most special memories was watching the Virtual Gala, as it really made me feel so special to be part of such an amazing company, even though my time with them was cut short. It made me cherish the little time I spent even more.

Kayla Taylor

Institutional Support Intern

Spring 2020

 

Finding My Path

22 May

Interning at ABT has been a dream of mine for quite some time now. I remember working on my application packet for weeks, trying to perfect every small detail. When I received an email from Laura Miller asking if I was interested in a new Press Intern position, I began to cry (tears of joy of course!). When I walked into my interview, I was surprisingly calm. On the way to the conference room where my interview was being held, the sound of live piano music filled my ears. I could definitely get used to hearing that all day! A few hours after my interview, I found out that I had received the position. I could not believe that I was being given the chance to work at America’s National Ballet Company. Being the first Press Intern was a wonderful opportunity because myself along with the three other amazing women I had the pleasure of working with: Susie Morgan Taylor, Laura Miller, and Delia Brengel, figured it out together.

I remember my first week at ABT so vividly. I had no idea what to expect, and hadn’t thought about pursuing a career in Press, so I was intrigued by this new opportunity. On one of my first days, I walked into the office at 890 Broadway and was informed that I would be working on a Press feature that was being done on James Whiteside for In the Know. I remember greeting the film crew and making sure that they had everything they needed to set up. The crew needed to film a rehearsal, and Laura allowed me to sit in as well. That day, I had the honor of watching James Whiteside and Stella Abrera rehearse Giselle. The effortless nature of their movements took my breath away. I watched in awe as these beautiful dancers floated around the studio. In that moment, I truly realized how fortunate I was to be a part of American Ballet Theatre, even if only as an intern. Watching this beautiful art up close was just another part of the job, and was truly something that never ceased to amaze me. From writing and editing press releases, or organizing press clippings for the week, to walking past Misty Copeland in the hallway, my experience with ABT has been everything I thought it would be and so much more. I truly looked forward to going to work every day, and truly made the most of each moment. Although my time at ABT was cut short, I will cherish the time that I spent there, the people I have met, and the experiences that I had for the rest of my life. I am so honored to have been a part of this organization. Thank you to American Ballet Theatre and the Press Department for the best internship experience that I could have ever asked for.

Julia Lynch

Press Intern

Spring 2020

The Heart of ABT

22 May

Coming into my internship at ABT, I was super intimidated – to say the least. I have admired ABT’s work and Artistry since childhood. So, getting the opportunity to be an Education Intern the semester was something that really scared me. It wasn’t an opportunity I ever expected to have. But, from the first day, I was welcomed with opened arms. Even during my first week in the office, I felt like I was already a member of the team. 

No two days in the office were ever the same. I was always working on a myriad of different projects. Some days I was at my desk all day, working on Intern Applications or sending emails to schools. Other days, I was running around the building with kids who were here on a field trip. And some days, I was surrounded by glitter and pipe cleaners, while I made some crafts. I loved coming into the office everyday not knowing what to expect. Everyday was an adventure, as I never knew what fun task I was going to get to do. One of my favorite days during my internship was when I got to accompany my mentor Dennis on several meetings. I spent the whole day attending meetings with almost every single department. I already knew that ABT was a special place, before I even arrived. But, it was then that I truly realized what made this place so special – the people who worked here.

As the second half of my internship transitioned to an online platform, I found that what I was missing the most was the people. One of the best things I have walked away with from this experience has been seeing firsthand all the work that goes into creating the artistry I have always admired. I have learned so much about what it means to approach every task with thoughtfulness. As I worked closely with Amanda, Dennis, and Richard, I saw the amount of dedication and passion that they put into everything. Even the things that maybe seemed insignificant or small. It has challenged me to do the same. They have inspired me to approach my work in a different way. This is what makes ABT such a special place. Everyone loves what they do and you can see and feel it in their work.

If you have the chance to intern with ABT, you’re not only interning at one of the most amazing ballet institutions, but you’re also interning with some of the most amazing people in New York City. Leaving this internship is bittersweet. I am sad that this wonderful time has come to an end, but I am grateful to have met such wonderful people. People I now look up to so dearly.

Camryn Rose Pillay

Education Outreach Intern

Spring 2020

 

A Day in The Life of a Membership Intern

22 May

When I first applied to be a Membership Intern with American Ballet Theatre, I can honestly say I had no idea what to expect. I had never worked for a non-profit before, never mind a performing arts organization, but I was excited at the prospect of learning as much as I could. Now in May, nearly 5 months after submitting that initial application, I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Are you considering applying to ABT, and curious about what a typical day could look like? Well look no further – here is a description of my day as an ABT intern on a Friday in January. 

I arrived at 890 Broadway at about 10:00 am, with just enough time to drop my stuff off at my desk before the weekly intern meeting, today being held in the conference room. Today’s topic was about non-profit organizations: their structure, their operations, how they make money, and how they differ from for-profit companies. As a Business major, I found this topic to be particularly interesting. 

The meeting ended at 11, and I and a few other interns made our way downstairs to the Dancer’s Lounge, to help out with the Studio Visit that was happening that day. During a studio visit, members are given an exclusive, behind the scenes look at ABT, and invited to come and watch the dancers rehearse for their upcoming performances. Today, there were about 75 members in all, and I helped to greet them, and direct them to and from studios. There were extra chairs in the studios, so I was allowed to sit in and watch the rehearsals as well, which was incredible, and something I will never forget. After the event and hearing about how much the members enjoyed themselves, I was able to see in that moment how it all came together: the membership team, the larger development department, the members, and even the dancers, all in pursuit of ABT’s mission. 

For the rest of the afternoon, I worked on assembling and sending out acknowledgement packets, sent to members and other donors, to thank them for their contributions to ABT. I also completed some database edits, where I updated member’s phone numbers, addresses, and their preferences for being listed in the playbill that would be distributed during the upcoming season. Although not every day of my internship was as busy as this one, I can truly say that I learned something new each time I stepped into the building. I would like to thank my mentor, Alex, as well as the rest of the membership team for being so kind and ensuring I had the best internship experience possible! 

Samantha Laurelli 

Membership Intern

Spring 2020

It Takes a Village

22 May

My time at 890 Broadway was full of memorable experiences. My tasks included everything from donor prospect research to guiding donors through studio visits, basking in the beauty of excerpts from Giselle and Romeo and Juliet. Throughout my internship, I’ve marveled especially at the vast and vibrant teamwork taking place in the office, particularly within my development team and among organizational leadership.

When I joined ABT as the Major Gifts intern, I knew I was also joining a small team of development staff, having immediately received a warm welcome from the Associate Directors of Major Gifts, Diane Kuhl and Jon Haddorff. After our first department meeting, however, I realized that the team stretched farther than I could’ve imagined, encompassing not only major gifts, but also employees in membership, institutional support, database management, and special events. I was taken aback and inspired by realizing the massive number of people working towards the similar fundraising end goals. This team of supporters only continued to expand in my mind as I learned more about the organization.

A few weeks into my internship, we were visited in an intern meeting by Executive Director Kara Medoff Barnett. She walked us through her personal journey, sharing anecdotes about early experiences post-grad, her time as a producer both on and off Broadway, her position at Lincoln Center, and the shift to her current role at ABT, all while juggling motherhood and other personal triumphs. We all laughed and chatted as we absorbed her powerful advice and experience. Following the meeting, I went back to my desk and prepared some ticket order forms before the weekly development department meeting. Not one hour later, we were visited in this meeting by Kara as well, but this time immediate work at hand took precedence. She immediately shifted gears, discussing cultivation strategies and ABT’s diverse Board of Directors. Watching the seamless transition from lighthearted advice to stern and clear leadership, while remaining upbeat and optimistic, was quite special.

One thing I’ve been taught time and time again in school is that “no one owns a nonprofit,” and its success is reliant on the work of all team members; as an intern, I’ve felt this as I’ve continuously been encouraged to share questions and ideas as a valuable member of the development team. However, I think ABT pairs this well-balanced team with inspiring leadership, from both Kara and Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. I knew I would be grateful for the opportunity to work with world-class artistry right at my fingertips, viewable even on the walk from my desk to the mailroom. But even now with COVID-19 having shifted the office to a remote setting, I am grateful to work with incredible staff members, from executives down to my fellow interns. Everyone offers something to learn, and just being present at these various meetings has taught me an incredible amount.

Emmalie Tello

Major Gifts Intern

Spring 2020

ABT From Home

22 May

You never know what to expect at ABT. One Friday, we were eating pizza in the dancers lounge (while Isabella Boylston was coming down the stairs) and the next two Fridays,  I was working from my home in another country. 

The little time we got to be in the building was memorable. I planned on this for so long and I tried to live everyday as an extraordinary day since I arrived. It is something I am grateful for, because I enjoyed so much of the little time I was there. 

One of the most remarkable things I got to do was to experience how ballet can be transmitted through different generations. As part of the NTC team, I got to see how adults experience their training and how knowledge was transmitted. I got to see their excitement and their nervousness. I got to see how students of the JKO school were extraordinary, sensitive, empathetic and hardworking humans – as I was on the same floor as them. I got the opportunity to see how hardworking and human (yes like you and me) the dancers of ABT are. I also saw how nervous they can feel before an exam and grateful to the team for giving them something to do during this time. Finally, as I got the chance to volunteer, I got to see how kids were amused by the art and how different they are -as not all of them were really interested in their ballet classes.

I have to say it was difficult to transition to an online training course – learning from mistakes and how to improve. One of the most stressful times in my department is when the training courses are being held. With the online platforms, other kinds of problems arose, but I was happy to be able to manage the situations. I think I wouldn’t have learned from these kinds of problems if we had had the traditional training.

While my internship has not finished by the time I write this, I certainly miss walking through the hall of the JKO school, watching all those beautiful pictures of the young dancers. I miss seeing my colleagues and the other interns and I miss the environment around this amazing office. So, If you become an intern, enjoy every single moment you are there, as you never know what to expect!

Mariana Nivon Anaya

NTC Intern

Spring 2020

Studio Visit Magic

22 May

Friday morning, I arrived at 890 Broadway, only the third time since I had started interning. Today was our first intern meeting of the year, but we were meeting in the conference room instead of down in the lounge because they were setting up for a Studio Visit. I grabbed my binder, notebook, and a pen, and walked down the hallway of offices over to the conference room. I was met with other interns, all sitting around the table waiting for the meeting to start. I think we learned about nonprofits that day. When the meeting was over, I quickly put my stuff back on my desk, and went downstairs with three other interns to the gorgeous, spacious lounge. We met with Alex Reffie, the Membership Assistant Manager, who was running the event for the day. While we had missed setup, there was still much for us to do. First, I was assigned to greet guests at the bottom of the staircase, and take them up to the bathrooms if necessary. Next, I was asked to run upstairs and find more hangers a few times when needed. Finally, after Grey Johnson, the Director of Membership, gave his welcome speech, the guests split up into groups, one of which I was leading with another employee. 

As we walked up to the studio, I went up to Grace Hellstrom, the Donor Relations Coordinator who I was paired with, and asked “are we going to sit in there with them?”. When she answered yes, my heart started to pound; I was going to get to watch my first rehearsal! I tried to remain calm while I escorted the group into the studio and then into chairs set up around the room. Once everyone was seated, Grace and I found two open seats and sat down as well. Then, I was transported into another world, watching some of the most incredible dancers rehearse a part of Fancy Free. I don’t think a smile left my face until we finished applauding at the end of the rehearsal. To make things even better, we were going to escort them to another studio, where they (and I!) would get to watch another rehearsal. We walked through the halls to the next studio and repeated the procedure: allow the guests to come in and sit down, and find seats for ourselves. This time, I would get to watch an excerpt from Giselle, with Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin. I have never gotten to see something so incredibly beautiful so up close before. I was speechless, and even began to tear up. Once the rehearsal finished, I went about my day, putting away chairs, cleaning up after the event, and doing various other tasks asked of me; just another day at ABT. 

This is what it’s like to intern at American Ballet Theatre. It’s rushing around, doing a hundred different tasks, whether that be for your supervisor or helping out another employee, and every once in a while, getting to experience a bit of the magic that goes on behind the scenes. While my time at ABT was an interesting one, and time in person was cut short due to COVID-19, I will never forget that day I witnessed the brilliance of ballet just a few feet in front of me. I’ll never forget working on donor research or invitations and hearing the beautiful piano, with bouts of cheers and claps in between. I cannot express how grateful I am for my time at ABT. Thank you to everyone who has made the experience unforgettable.

Emily Latshaw 

Intern Spring 2020

All-Star Meeting

22 May

I started at ABT knowing almost nothing about ballet – I had a background in art history, and I was really curious about moving into the realm of arts management.  ABT ended up being a place where I was able not only to explore this world, but explore it from the front seat, watching the greatest of great.

The second or third week into the program, we had our first all-staff meeting. Like the name implies, this meeting was for all the staff – from administration staff to dancers. This meeting was the moment I realized just how much I had would gain by being at ABT. As executive office intern, I helped set up for the meeting, laying out what seemed like countless chairs, and then waited while the rest of the staff trickled in. Before the meeting began, there were snacks and breakfast foods laid out and we had the opportunity to chat with with the other staff members. I started talking to one of the costume designers and he told me about all his past positions (both in other ballet companies and at the MET opera), his inspirations, and experiences at ABT. And I just sat there thinking – here I am, with so little experience, talking to one of the best costume designers in the business – this is incredible!

When the meeting was about to start, we all filed into the studio, and the many chairs we had laid out earlier did not nearly fit everyone. The meeting itself was to announce the start of multiple new ballet children’s books, the choreography of a revolutionary dance for ABT’s Spring Gala, and many other things. I left the meeting think ‘how in the world did I luck out so much to have the opportunity to be a part of all this.’

Throughout the program, we had the opportunity to hear from different members of the organization every Friday. I looked forward to those meetings every week as they gave me even more insight into the experiences of those working at ABT, arts management and the non-profit world as a whole. When again would I get to sit in front of Kara Barnett or Kevin McKenzie (over Zoom) and hear their life stories, insight, and tips and tricks about the business?!

Whether you are an experienced dancer and/or have worked with other companies before or not, ABT will blow everything out of the water. I had the chance to watch amazing dancers rehearse every time I walked down the hall, and even as an intern, I felt like I was I was a part of something truly magical.

Emily Jelen

Intern Spring 2020