The Right Opportunity at the Right Time 

23 Aug

Last spring I participated in an internship centered on development for a regional equity theatre company. I then desired to build upon the skills I developed there and apply them on a bigger scale at a larger performing arts non-profit. My background and love of dance coupled with ABT’s wide-reach and impressive engagement with national and international audiences led to the perfect fit. Additionally, making the move from my development experience to the specificity of a major gifts office seemed like a natural step in my growth in this development space.  

This was a very exciting summer to join the major gifts department. This summer season brought ABT’s return to the Metropolitan Opera House stage for the first time since the pandemic, and what a season it was. With five weeks and countless performances, it would be dishonest to say the complimentary ballet tickets and access to interfacing with ABT members and patrons wasn’t a highlight of the summer. Working on office work during the day and getting to come to the theatre at night was a delightful compliment. I found it uniquely special to see the result of all the work the ABT administrative and artistic teams put in day after day, year round.  

More specifically though, my role consisted of data-entry and organization, working the membership table during performances at the Met, and conducting prospective major donor research. Donor research helped the majors team identify potential candidates for solicitations of major gifts, but more often the process helped identify individuals the majors and development team desired to develop a closer relationship with. This was very interesting to me and represented my favorite administrative part of the job. I got to learn more about patrons through publicly available information and often discovered their ties to other arts organizations or philanthropic endeavors. These indicators often communicate to the majors team that a prospective donor may be a good fit based on their demonstrated interests or career.  

I also appreciated seeing how memberships with patrons and donors are cultivated and maintained. This happened in a more public facing space, at the membership table. Here I observed how ABT staff answered questions, communicated membership costs and bonuses, and handled customer service situations, such as ticket issues or other complaints. I also got to take part in this important public facing role myself and found it to be quite enjoyable.  

At the end of the summer I came away with my goals accomplished. I feel the experience I gained at ABT this summer researching prospective donors built on the skills I developed in my previous non-profit arts internships. Additionally, I gained important database experience—which is applicable at numerous organizations and in countless fields. I am very grateful I was selected with this amazing cohort of summer 2022 interns. Everyone I met was kind and motivated. I can only speak highly of the program and my supervisor. I have immense gratitude for the whole ABT team, each of the speakers who took the time to teach us, and our wonderful program directors!  

Nell Adkins

Major Gifts Intern (Development)

Summer 2022

A Summer of Change

22 Aug

When I took on the position of Artistic Intern for the summer semester, I had no idea what I would expect. Coming from a musical theatre background and very little knowledge about the artistry of ballet, I really didn’t know what I was walking into. Sure, there’s a job description with weekly hours and logistics. But, still, nothing can truly prepare you for the crazy, magical, stressful, beautiful world that is the American Ballet Theatre’s Artistic Department. I was brought on at a considerable time of change and growth for the department and the almost 80-year-old company: beloved Artistic Director, Kevin McKenzie, was retiring after 30 years of impeccable guidance to ABT and, in addition to such a high emotional transition, this was also the first summer season at The Metropolitan Opera House since the Covid-19 pandemic. Needless to say, pressures were high for the company, and I was walking into the eye of the hurricane, ready to be of service and help in any way, shape, or form.

I began working at the office and rehearsal space of ABT, where I would assist in the preplanning for the company’s summer season at The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. As I said, I was coming into a pivotal point in the company’s history, so there were lots to be done, and I knew I would have my hand in many different tasks and projects in my three short months here. I worked closely with the Assistant to the Artistic Staff, Allison Sugino, and communicated with Playbill.com to get the programs together for the season, as well as assisted them with other projects around the office. I also got the crates we would take from the office to The Met organized and ready to go out. Overall, my time at 890 was short, filled with getting to know the staff and dancers, and was a great introduction to what was to come.

Once I got to the Metropolitan Opera House, it was a completely different world full of long, maze-like hallways and the typical hustle and bustle of backstage life; something I was very familiar with growing up in musical theatre. Our offices (known as the Green Room to the Touring Company) were at the center of it all: a place of high stress to get all the moving parts together, yet fun banter and memories that would balance out the intensity of the environment. I was in charge of calculating overtime for the dancers, distributing schedules around the Met, and communicating with different departments on tasks for the Artistic team. It was then rewarding at the end of the day to watch these gorgeous ballets night after night and experience the level of artistry in full effect.

While at The Met, my mentor, Director of Artistic Administration, Tina Escoda, and I were planning a massive celebration for outgoing Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. Tina and I worked long hours and leaned on each other to get all of the pieces together. I was responsible for managing, organizing, and communicating with the VIP guest list, communicating with a video production company to curate a tribute video for Kevin, compiled COVID tests for the event, met with different departments to discuss what Artistic would need, and, most importantly, made sure the event was running smoothly so that patrons and the staff could celebrate and have a good time. Together, Tina and I worked to achieve a successful, smooth, and enjoyable evening.

Overall, I had dipped my toe in as many projects as I could and all with one goal in mind: to be a helping hand to this historic company during such a pivotal time of change. While the projects and experiences I had were incredible, none could hold a flame to the inspiring people I met this summer. As I said, I didn’t know what to expect, and I really didn’t expect to build such a strong relationship with the staff and dancers of ABT. These people welcomed me with open arms and were the kindest, warmest souls I have ever worked with. The dancers were friendly, talkative, and beyond talented, and the staff was hard-working, dedicated, and trusting in me. The one person who had the most significant impact on me this summer was Tina Escoda, my mentor. Tina took me under her wing and included me in everything to engulf me in this magical world of ballet. She would take me to watch tech rehearsals in the house to escape the pressure cooker of the green room, encourage me to sit in on rehearsals at 890, walk around together to chat with dancers, and introduce me to high-profile people in the industry. We would even watch curtain call together at the end of each show at The Met. Tina and I built a great, trusting work relationship and, over time, a friendship. Tina Escoda will forever stay with me as one of the most incredible, hard-working, and inspiring humans I have ever worked with.

It’s hard to sum up my summer with ABT into one experience or memory that encapsulated my time with them when, in fact, I did more than I ever expected to do, and it’s worth sharing. This company is going through an enormous change, and I was there to help at the beginning of that vast adjustment. I do not doubt that my path will cross with ABT in the future, regardless of the scenario. These people and experiences have changed my life, and I am eternally grateful.

Nate Jones

Artistic Department Intern

Summer 2022

Magical Moments at the Met: Membership Intern

22 Aug

What a summer! It has been incredible working with the Development Department during ABT’s return to the Met Opera House! From talking to audience members about the membership program to attending post-performance cocktail hours, it was incredible interacting with donors, who were all ABT fans just like me! 

As Membership Intern, I learned all about how donations are handled. Apart from my role this summer working at the Met Opera House, I created acknowledgment reports, where I sorted donation gifts and categorized them appropriately each week. Writing letters to donors and interacting with ABT members through emails has been exciting and taught me a lot about communication. My favorite part was getting to work at the membership table and attend donor events, where I saw how important maintaining donor relations were for generating enthusiasm. What better way to spend the summer than to watch and talk about ballet! 

Membership Table at the Met

I remember on my first day in the membership team meeting, Director of Membership, Grey Johnson made it clear that “no donation is small”. The amount of giving and generosity that is poured into ABT is inspirational and makes me eager to support the arts in any way I can in the future. Thank you to everyone in the development department for letting me see what it takes to grow ABT’s mission!  

Veronica Greydak  

Membership Intern (Development)

Summer 2022 

An Encounter with ABT

22 Aug

I grew up as a dancer but decided to move off-stage to be an arts administrator to help young dancers grow up. It was a valuable decision for me which is why I applied for the Education Department internship at ABT. As an international student and dancer, I’m so proud that I can make my dream come true as an intern at ABT. I was honored as the National Training Curriculum intern with the Education& Training department this summer. I cannot imagine how ten weeks passed so fast. I still remember accepting the offer and preparing for my internship start. On the first day, I entered a classic building to take a very old elevator up to the 4th floor Education Department. My colleague Saya and former spring intern Maria were waiting for me. During the first day of training, I began my journey at ABT. 

In the beginning, I had no idea how to start various projects and process book orders, but with the encouragement and cooperation of Saya and Molly, everything went smoothly. I have become a professional mailing master, processing several weekly book orders and sending them to the post office. In addition, I learned a lot about data management. Whenever I use FileMaker to track teachers’ information, it’s like conversing with them through data, so this is one of my favorite projects.  

I feel fortunate to be able to work in office almost daily. I especially like the working atmosphere of the Education Department, where each team gets along well and is friendly. Every day, I can see the young dancers in the studio, who are hardworking and lovely, which reminds me of myself growing up. Even if continuous teacher training sessions were a marathon, I can meet teachers with different backgrounds and styles. I like to help them to deal with various problems. When I got a teacher’s thank-you letter from California in the mailbox, it made me feel warm hearted and motivated.

During my internship at ABT, I broadened my network with many excellent ballet teachers and dancers and communicated with interns from other departments. This summer working at ABT will be a memory I will cherish forever. Thank you to my NTC team—Molly and Saya, and all colleagues in the Education department, for helping and teaching me a lot; it gave me a sense of belonging in the performing arts industry. I always believe you should pursue on your dreams and don’t give up. With hard work and diligence, you will succeed! 

Xuejing Cao  

National Training Curriculum Intern (Education & Training)

Summer 2022 

A Summer of Learning, Joy, and Kindness 

22 Aug

As a lifelong dancer, New Yorker, and writer, with developing passions for journalism and communications, the ABT Press Internship was the ideal opportunity. The tasks I took on were familiar enough to confirm and fuel my passions, while also challenging enough to prompt questions and learn a lot about the inner workings of the Press Department. There is so much to share about my summer with ABT, so I will focus this post on three main pillars of my work: being at the Met, writing On Point articles, and working in Cision. Day-to-day, I also completed lots of smaller projects to support my mentor and the rest of the team that included organization, research, and polishing/updating many different types of documents, in addition to Zoom meetings and the occasional photoshoot. Every day, my mentor and the rest of the Press team were always accessible and more than happy to answer all my questions (do ask questions!!!) They worked their hardest to offer me every opportunity available and responded to my feedback about the types of projects I was interested in. From day one, they not only trusted me with their work, but also confidential information. I truly felt like another member of the team—very far from a coffee fetcher.  

At least once a week during the Summer Met season, I was able to join a member of the Press team at the theater to hand out press tickets and/or escort photographers and videographers. Handing out press tickets was very much a game of coordination with company management and reviewers, and then also a great way to learn names and faces as the same reporters showed up show after show. When photographers or videographers came to capture content for archival or media purposes, they frequently had questions about the production or specific dancers that the Press team answers. This was a learning curve at first, because as an intern, I was in the same information desert the reporter was in, but I quickly learned how to think on my feet and get them the information they needed. A huge plus of helping at the Met was getting the chance to watch performances and rehearsals of each ballet!  

After talking to my mentor about wanting to work on more writing intensive projects, one of my supervisors tasked me with working on two different articles for the Fall On Point newsletter! One article was entirely prose on two Fall season ballets, which I researched and wrote, and the other was an interview between a choreographer and dancer, which I transcribed and condensed. Getting to work on both was a great exercise in writing for both information and commercial purposes (we want people to come to the ballets!) and in editing based on feedback from my supervisors, all while writing about stuff I love! I expect it to be super rewarding to see my work in print, knowing it has gone out to ABT members everywhere, and will motivate people to get excited about the Fall season.  

Working in Cision may have been a less glamourous duty than the Met or On Point articles, but equally rewarding, informative, and a great learning experience. Cision is the website the Press department uses to monitor and organize mentions of ABT in the press. Each day I worked (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) I went through articles from the past days and tagged them according to their content. A few times throughout the summer, I worked with my mentor to organize them into a newsletter, complete with images, blurbs, and a high level of organization, to be sent out to ABT staff, dancers, and administration. This task was something I never considered the Press team was responsible for but is a critical aspect of the department. I learned that the role of the department is not just to facilitate ABT obtaining and making the most out of press opportunities, but also to keep everyone in the company informed of how they are being portrayed in external media.  

Before closing, I’ll add that in addition to how fabulous each individual department is, the intern program itself was awesome. Naomi and Julie are great resources and knew how to bring in other great resources to talk to the interns during our weekly meetings about all things arts administration. They communicate just enough to preserve our independence but let us know we are still supported and appreciated. Spending the summer with ABT was an incredible opportunity for so many reasons. If you are thinking about applying, do it! 

Sarah Weiner  

Press Intern

Summer 2022 

New Perspectives

22 Aug

Growing up as a violinist, the closest interaction I had with ballet was playing in the orchestra pit, barely seeing the dancers above me. As an arts administration student, I had only just scratched the surface of what it means to be in a development department through class and one other previous internship. My time at ABT gave me new perspectives on both the ballet world and development work. 

One of the best perks of being an ABT intern is obviously the chance to see each performance. Though I have very little understanding of dance still, I was fascinated by the beautiful dancers and the precision with which they moved. It was also fun to see how the music I was so familiar with was interpreted on stage. My favorite performance was of Swan Lake with Gillian Murphy. Moreover, I gained a fuller picture on why people loved the ballet so much and why they wanted to donate to this cause.  

I learned even more about how and why people give through my work in Patron Services. Because Patron Services works with every department of Development, I was able to learn from so many people, especially those in Major Gifts and Membership. Seeing my colleagues speak to and about donors and having a wealth of knowledge about their preferences was so interesting; they knew which program might excite which donor and who loved which dancer as if they were friends. The experience really reinforced the idea of development being relationship building. 

Though I was often learning on the spot, my supervisor Lauren did an excellent job guiding me through tasks that were time-sensitive and demanded accuracy. She was kind, encouraging, and showed me not only what good teamwork looks like, but also how I want to treat others should I have people working under me in the future. I hope every ABT intern has a supervisor as amazing as her! 

I am so grateful for my time at ABT. I learned so much, got to see amazing performances and meet equally amazing people. Thank you so much Lauren, Devo team, and ABT for an awesome summer! 

Monet Takeda  

Patron Services Intern (Development)

Summer 2022 

Seeing the MET through the lens of Finance 

22 Aug

I vividly remember attending ballet practice after school when I was seven. As I grew older, I slowly fell in love with the art. While I ultimately didn’t have the opportunity to pursue ballet as a professional dancer, I’ve retained an interest that has manifested in a thoroughly unexpected way. Through its Finance Internship opportunity, American Ballet Theatre offered me the rare chance to apply my field of study to something I have always loved.  

At American Ballet Theatre, I had the chance to work on meaningful projects that mattered and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of responsibility entrusted to interns. Over the summer, I worked on various projects under the guidance of Godwin and Leeann, who were, respectively, the Senior Director of Finance and Bookkeeper. Regardless of the task, whether it was filing Form 990 or analyzing financial statements and preparing bank reconciliations, Godwin and Leeann were always friendly and helpful, encouraging me to ask questions.  

While I worked in the finance department throughout the entirety of the summer, I had plenty of opportunities to engage with other members of the organization. Naomi and Julie hosted weekly meetings with the heads of different departments, providing interns with the chance to explore different paths and diverse perspectives within the dance company. It was a priceless experience to hear stories and advice from the Marketing department, Artistic Director, and CEO of one of the greatest dance companies in the world. Janet Rollé’s emphasis on the power of choice, service mentality, and embracing an authentic self particularly stood out to me.  

Interning at ABT also meant experiencing dazzling weekend nights at the Metropolitan Opera House and enjoying every performance of the summer season. As I was previously primarily familiar with classical ballets, seeing a contemporary choreography of Of Love and Rage was a breath of fresh air; the juxtaposition of jealous Chaereas and innocent Callirhoe gave a different kind of excitement from the destruction of hope conveyed by Odette and the prince in Swan Lake

As I reflect on my summer, I would like to thank Godwin and Leeann for their guidance and feedback, all the speakers at the weekly meetings, and Naomi and Julie, who made all of this possible. Working at ABT this summer allowed me to learn many new skills, meet amazing people, and immerse myself in the incredible world of ballet. 

Kyuree Shin  

Finance Department Intern

Summer 2022 

A Summer Internship to Remember  

22 Aug

Where has the time gone by? That is what I found myself asking during the last week of my internship in the Special Events department at the American Ballet Theatre. My time with ABT was filled with amazing memories, new experiences and improved skills. I work with two talented women who truly made me feel like my work was important and I was a part of something bigger. And I enjoyed every moment of it!  

I worked closely with the Special Events Assistant Director and she allowed me to join in various department meetings. These meetings included sponsorship meetings, Development meetings, and Events meetings. These meetings gave me insight into some of the conversations that these departments have and how they work together towards a common goal. I was also able to learn about non-profit culture and expectations. This was very valuable information to learn as I might enter the non-profit world once I graduate.  

The Assistant Director also found it valuable for me to take on various types of tasks to ensure a well-rounded internship. These types of tasks included finance, communication, organization, data retrieving and entry as well as client correspondence. She made sure to explain the tasks well and why they were important to the department and ABT as a whole. This made me take more pride in my work and better understand the tasks I completed. These tasks also built skills that I had not known about before the internship.  

Working as an intern at ABT in the Special Events department has been a very impactful experience and created a summer I will always cherish. I made a lot of new connections, built my skill set, and learned way more than I anticipated. If I could sign up for this internship twice, I would do it in a heartbeat! 

Hazveen Lazare  

Special Events Intern (Development)

Summer 2022 

 

Transition to Behind the Scenes 

22 Aug

At age 3, I attended my first ballet class and at age 18, I took my final bow. When I decided to attend college instead of pursuing a professional dance career, I never thought I would be able to keep ballet and my love for dance in my everyday life. As the Marketing Intern for American Ballet Theatre this summer, I learned that there actually is a way to stay connected to dance as a member of the arts administration field and there is no better place to pursue this passion than at America’s National Ballet Company.  

As the Marketing Intern during the first season at the Metropolitan Opera House since 2019, it was a crazy and exciting time to join ABT. Almost immediately, I was thrust into the fast-paced work environment and already seeing my contribution have an impact. This isn’t a job where you just sit around waiting for work as an intern, there is always something important to do – especially during the Met Season. I spent most of my days curating posts for ABT’s Facebook page, editing videos from special events and the season for organic and paid social media, using Rival IQ to analyze social media metrics from the Met Season, and always picking up random tasks like creating email contact lists or reformatting something wonky. My biggest project was the Silent Disco event at Lincoln Center on June 18th and June 25th. I was responsible for curating promotional posts and emails, attending the events to capture content, and creating videos to re-cap the event on Facebook and YouTube. Having the opportunity to spearhead a promotional event on social and get to execute all aspects of the event for marketing was extremely educational and even more importantly, super fun! There is nothing more gratifying than seeing work that you have created all over American Ballet Theatre’s social presence – as a lifelong superfan of ABT it makes me giddy every time.  

Besides the overwhelming amount of real-world experience that I gained in digital marketing, it is the relationships I built and the memories I made that will leave the biggest impression. From the first day, the entire marketing team took me under their wing and made me feel like a part of the family. I cannot thank my supervisors, Britt and Steven, enough for their guidance and trust in me these past three months. During my time as an intern, I got to work and attend the ABT Summer Gala, dance under the disco ball at Lincoln Center (twice) and create lasting friendships with the marketing team all at the same time – it never really felt like work.   

I hope that I can return to the ABT Family again in the near future and continue working with the most inspiring and determined group of people I have ever met. Thank you ABT for a spectacular summer full of more surprises and beauty than I ever anticipated.  

Emma Guido  

Marketing Intern

Summer 2022 

At a Silent Disco at Lincoln Center

My Summer at ABT

22 Aug

I have always believed there is something incredibly special about dance. Though I grew up dancing, I gave it up in high school to focus more on music and theater, but had the great pleasure of seeing some of my closest friends pursue their art through dance and loved getting to sit in the audience and experience the joy that they embodied on stage. I feel so lucky that I got to experience that same joy at ABT this past summer in their first Met season back since the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In my first semester of graduate school this past spring, I took a course in fundraising and development for the arts that focused largely on non-profit organizations. Everything I learned that semester piqued my interest in development, which led me to apply to ABT’s summer internship program. I was so thrilled to have the opportunity, and even more thrilled when I got the offer. This summer was an incredible educational experience, from learning all about donor relations and gift entry in Raiser’s Edge to working on the board of trustees handbook for the upcoming fall season and sitting in on Development staff meetings to learn all about the day-to-day in the department and what it takes to run a successful performance season from an administrative standpoint. None of it ever felt like busy work: I truly felt like I was contributing to the department as the summer went on. In addition to learning in a very hands-on environment, the professional development aspect of the internship program was beyond amazing. We heard from people across several departments every week, all the way up to the company’s Artistic Director and the CEO, and gained some incredibly valuable advice and perspective on the different paths a career in arts administration can take. Getting to attend performances by world-class dancers was the icing on the cake.  

Everyone I encountered at ABT fostered an environment where the interns really felt like part of the team. I cannot recommend applying to this internship enough: learning from some of the best in the business was invaluable, and I am so grateful to the entire Development staff – especially my wonderful mentor Alyssa Stewart – for being so welcoming, and to Naomi Gewanter and Julie Solomon for leading our intern cohort this summer. I am so looking forward to what comes next with this fantastic experience under my belt.   

Christa Ryan  

Development Executive Office Intern

Summer 2022