“What is a Maypole?”

19 Aug

As my internship comes to an end, I am still unable to grasp the extent of all that ABT has shared with me over this short period of time. In addition to acquiring valuable new skill sets, learning in a collaborative environment and observing renowned speakers, the thing I have come to cherish the most is a simple project about a maypole.

The transformative maypole project started off as a spontaneous idea pitch called “What is a Maypole?” by my mentor, Dennis Walters. I quickly realized that before I could fulfill answering the project question with a fun and educational activity for ABTKids Daily, I first had to find my own answers that included more than “a tall pole named after a month.” Starting with the snippets of information I gathered from Dennis’s description, I found myself falling into a black hole of new google tabs filled with maypole research. From learning about the pole’s cultural relevance on the historic Beltane festival to comparing Guinness World Records for the largest pole standing, the project surprised me in more ways than one. I was shocked by how much I didn’t know and intrigued with everything I had learned.  

As the research process continued to spark new insights, I came across the next exciting task to transfer the information I had learned into an engaging activity for kids. As a person who trends toward drawing inside the lines and finding comfort in rules and directions, I was challenged with thinking outside of the box to complete this task. By finding inspiration in the little things, specifically a pencil, a few ribbons and a push pin, I was able to overcome my creativity roadblock and watch a fun DIY maypole craft come to life. Not only was I amazed with the simplicity of the craft, but also surprised in my ability to find solutions to a problem that seemed so unfamiliar at the start.

Much like the maypole project, my virtual internship experience was a learning curve, filled with uncertainties that were answered by exploring the unknown with excitement and an open mind. As I celebrated many firsts with ABT this summer, my first time working at a nonprofit, my first introduction to arts administration, my first virtual internship, ABT continuously provided me with a haven to grow and learn without boundaries. Thank you to my mentor, Dennis, and the outreach team, Amanda and Richard, for supporting me with endless opportunities to grow beyond my comfort zone and tackle projects such as the maypole through a multidimensional mindset. I am sincerely grateful to learn from such a passionate team that welcomes curiosity with open arms. My time at ABT was a cherished experience and as an added bonus I am now well versed in what a maypole truly is!

 

Ananya Chatterjee

Education Outreach Intern

Summer 2020

 “What is a Maypole?”

The Connectivity of Ballet

11 Aug

When I began my internship with the National Training Curriculum team at ABT, I was anxious and excited about both my role, and the company’s transition to online work. I had just graduated from Rutgers University with my BFA in Dance; while taking my graduate courses online, I realized that dance still had the chance to bring people together, even if virtually. I came into the internship with the same hopeful spirits that I had finished my undergraduate degree with, and I believe that has made my experience and the experiences of those who I have worked with impactful.

Despite the challenges of having to work remotely, my team and I were able to connect with dancers all around the globe. Particularly, having the chance to learn from Raymond Lukens and Franco de Vita was such an amazing experience. That opportunity showcased to me how the dance community is truly able to make light out of a dark situation. Further, I was even able to have personal conversations with participants who taught me a few things about their side of the world. I am now able to say “Thank you” in Greek: efcharistó. (I am really looking forward to the chance to say this on the steps of Mykonos when that’s possible again.)

Walking out (or logging off) of my time at ABT, I will take away with me how important it is to connect with and learn from different cultures. I truly believe that the more we learn from other people, the more we can learn about ourselves. I am so grateful that I was granted the opportunity to listen to speakers and guests near and far, all while in the comfort of my house in New Jersey. My time at ABT has been incomparable, and I hope that I continue to be open to learn from other cultures and people through dance.

 

Gillian Popino

NTC Intern

Summer 2020

Improvising with ABT

8 Aug

My department, Patron Services, was entirely in flux due to the pandemic, so I spent a summer improvising with ABT. Without the ability to bring people beautiful productions in person, my boss told me, we would be pivoting to something of a media company, bringing the ballet home through videos, audio, and personal correspondence with patrons. Thus, I spent my summer editing dancer videos, designing letters to send to donors, sorting through recordings of ABT online interviews and other events to ensure that they would be accessible for everyone.

It was hard to escape the feeling of witnessing some kind of history, sitting in on development meetings at a storied American institution during such a pivotal moment in our time. ABT did an incredible job of including interns in most discussions and events within our departments, making us feel like part of the team and allowing us to listen in on discussions about all the various challenges for ABT during our time. I heard conversations about social movements, Black Lives Matter, the impending recession, ways to retain engagement during the time of social distancing—all through the lens of a sprawling cultural nonprofit.

As such, ABT did an incredible job showing us what it takes behind the scenes to make those incredible performances possible. The nonprofit world was demystified by the end of the summer, and I became aware of jobs within a nonprofit that I didn’t even know existed. This, supplemented with the zoom calls we had with notable people within the company and across the dance world, provided me with the tools to make an informed career choice when I graduate next year. It is an incredible feeling to discover that one can work in various, fascinating roles in the arts, even if one does not exactly have the balance and grace to dance.

 

Sarisha Kurup

Patron Services Intern

Summer 2020

 

Helping to Ensure the Future of America’s National Ballet Company

8 Aug

After working here this summer, it doesn’t surprise me why American Ballet Theatre is one of the greatest ballet companies in the world. Growing up as a classical ballet dancer, I’ve always admired ABT dancers’ impeccable artistry and athleticism. What I didn’t know was that, behind the scenes, ABT’s administrative staff is equally as hard-working and talented. It has been a privilege to work with the Development Department this semester. Due to the COVID-19 crisis and all live performances being canceled, the role of raising funds for America’s National Ballet Company felt particularly significant this summer.

As the Development Assistant Intern, I jumped right in assisting primarily with the Board of Governing Trustees and Major Gifts. I was trusted with tasks I never dreamed of and given hands-on experience drafting acknowledgment letters, researching donor prospects, updating Raiser’s Edge, and creating statistical graphs for a presentation to the Board. I felt like my mentor, Kaitlyn, truly valued my ideas and challenged me to use my writing skills and creativity in new ways.

Although I never stepped foot in 890 Broadway, I was still given so many opportunities to learn about all aspects of this incredible institution. For example, the “Coffee Chat” zoom I joined, hosted by Executive Director Kara Medoff Barnett and Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. This conversation focused on ABT’s plans for the near future and included staff, major donors, and board members. It was inspiring to be surrounded by those who share my passion for dance, with everyone working towards the goal of making ballet more accessible and inclusive for all. It struck me that these people are powerful performing arts advocates, rallying together to ensure the future of ballet at this crucial time.

While a remote internship is not what I expected this term, ABT’s administrative staff still inspired, motivated, and mentored me throughout this entire experience. As my internship comes to an end, I know the skills I’ve gained will serve as the perfect foundation for any arts administration career path I choose. Whether on-stage or on-screen, I’m grateful to have been a part of sharing ABT’s beauty, innovation, and power with audiences around the world.

 

Nicole Case

Development Assistant Intern

Summer 2020

Membership During a Pandemic

6 Aug

This summer, I have learned more about membership, development, ballet, and nonprofits than I ever thought possible, even while working from home!

One of my main tasks during my internship was managing the Membership email account through answering questions from donors. At first, it was very challenging to find the answers to questions that puzzled me as well, but thanks to the support of my mentor Alex, as well as the rest of the membership team, soon I was able to respond quickly and confidently. I was touched by messages from donors expressing how much they loved ABT, and how they wanted to support us during this challenging time. Through answering these emails, I was able to not only enhance my customer service skills, but also to really discover the importance of ABT and our relationships with loyal supporters.

I also had the opportunity to work on a few creative projects with the other Membership intern, Sam J. Together we were able to create a social media calendar to revamp the Junior Council Instagram, and also produced membership one pagers that could be distributed to prospective donors virtually.

During my time at ABT, I have been able to witness the entire company shift and transform to deal with the unexpected. I can truly say I am proud to have been even such a small part of this organization, and I will remember my time learning about membership during a pandemic for many years to come.

 

Samantha Laurelli

Membership Intern

Summer 2020

Reaching ABT’s Audience from Home

6 Aug

Dance has been a huge part of my life since before I can remember, and after moving to NYC for college, I dreamed about spending a summer interning with ABT. After lots of prep on my application and interview, I was ecstatic to get an offer to join the Special Events team! When we were told the internship would be fully virtual, I was frustrated, as you can imagine. I was also grateful, however, as I knew it would be a good opportunity for me to learn a new way forward.

Luckily, I had the pleasure of working with two of the most intelligent, eloquent and supportive mentors, Fallon Sullivan and Megan Stahlberg. Despite not being able to work in person at 890 Broadway, Megan and Fallon made me feel included by letting me be “in the room” of many zoom meetings every week. These meetings were an amazing opportunity for me to learn how the Special Events team works within ABT internally and with partners externally. I experienced first hand the strategy and operations of Events within a non-profit, and I am indebted to Megan and Fallon for granting me that exposure and for supporting me through this non-traditional intern experience.

I quickly noticed two phrases used at ABT that all individuals and teams used to shape their decisions. There was a heavy emphasis on being America’s National Ballet Company, and especially within light of the BLM movement, how we can work to represent, include, and welcome the diversity that makes up the country. There was also a lot of focus on ABT’s mission statement ofreaching the widest possible audience.

In my second to last week, a full length recording of Manon, performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2007, was offered to our donors. When looking over the analytics of the video on Vimeo, I noticed that the ballet had been viewed in over 30 countries. Scrolling through the names of countries I was amazed to see such variety: Japan, Singapore, Israel, Bulgaria, Puerto Rico and South Africa, just to name a few. I knew ABT was reaching the widest possible audience, literally spanning the globe. As Fallon Sullivan, Events Manager, mentioned “Virtual events are the future of ABT Special Events.” These viewers were able to experience the magic of ABT without having to travel to the Met. It was really special to feel that I had a role in strengthening ABT’s mission, even during the uncertainty of a global pandemic.

I cannot express how grateful I am for my time at ABT. Thank you to everyone who has made the experience unforgettable, and thank you to Megan, Fallon, and the whole development team for showing me what resilience, humility and graciousness looks like when working through troubling times.

 

Jane Tegeler

Special Events Intern

Summer 2020

Staying Connected in a Virtual Internship

6 Aug

I am not well-versed in the dance world, let alone the ballet world. When I was searching for a Summer 2020 internship, the opportunity to be the Finance Intern at the American Ballet Theatre intrigued me, as it would be a way for me to dive into an artform I admire from afar while also learning more about a field I am interested in.

At first, I dreamt about commuting to 890 Broadway and working in an ever-changing office space. Shortly thereafter, the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the world. The Summer 2020 interns became ABT’s first intern class to work virtually throughout the entire summer. My visions of working only a few blocks from Union Square Park now seemed trivial as I wondered what a virtual internship would entail.

My initial hesitations about this new type of internship experience dissolved immediately. During the first few days of my virtual internship at ABT, I realized that being a virtual intern would not make me any less involved. My supervisor, Godwin, introduced me to the accounting software I would use for the remainder of the internship while Belzin and Talisa walked me through how to record the ever-increasing influx of student refunds and donations to be processed as the Summer Intensives went virtual. By the end of the first week, I began working on a project that would later be used as part of ABT’s application to the SBA Paycheck Protection Program. I was only a few days in but already learning about and given opportunities to help coordinate ABT’s response to the pandemic.

When I look back at the past ten weeks, I see the strong community at ABT. Godwin, Belzin, and Talisa called me over the phone or on Zoom and were always open to having conversations to stay updated on my progress and answer any questions I had. Furthermore, when looking back, I see the lessons I learned at ABT. The international reach and scale at which ABT operates contrasts the smaller local nonprofits I have prior experience with. The trust the Finance team placed in me gave me the room to grow and learn about internal accounting and financial statements. I completed independent projects using Excel relating to expense reports, the Form 990, and other finance-related tasks. While I learned with each task, I also knew that my work meaningfully contributed to ABT.

I sincerely thank Godwin, Belzin, and Talisa for being supportive mentors throughout the internship program even though we have not yet met in person. I would also like to thank Dennis for his efforts to create a community among the intern class with our weekly Zoom meetings. I am looking forward to the day I can visit 890 Broadway and meet the individuals who made this internship an unforgettable and invaluable experience in person.

 

Simrit Grewal

Finance Intern

Summer 2020

An ABT Internship from 1,300 Miles Away

6 Aug

When I applied to intern at ABT, I never could have expected to be doing it from over a thousand miles away from 890 Broadway. I previously had an internship in the development department of another ballet company and was thrilled to see ABT’s internship opportunities posted. After a lifetime of dancing and looking up to ABT, I knew if there was an opportunity to intern here, I wanted it. Then of course, right before my interview was scheduled, the country began to shut down due to COVID-19. At that point, I thought I was traveling home to Florida for a few weeks, which then turned into the whole summer. Despite all of the surprises and changes over the past few months, interning remotely at ABT has exceeded all of my expectations.

As part of the Membership team, I got to work on a variety of projects while also keeping up with the weekly routine (or as we say, “the Membership Machine”). That included checking the voicemail to help out members with donations and renewals, learning how to use Raiser’s Edge and NetCommunity to send out acknowledgement letters, and gathering press and social media materials to be sent to donors in a weekly newsletter. I also had the opportunity to work on larger projects with the other Membership intern, Sam L. We collaborated on things like creating a social media calendar for the Junior Council Instagram and one-pagers to showcase the different membership levels ABT offers. I really enjoyed working with a close-knit team, and everything we accomplished was rewarding and taught me a lot about membership.

I don’t think any of us knew what a remote internship would look like, but for me it was the best experience I could have asked for. I got to participate in regular Zoom calls with the Membership and Development teams, and worked closely with Sam L. and our supervisor, Alex. While I wish I could have spent the summer at 890 Broadway in person, I am so thankful for my time as an ABT intern.

 

Samantha Jones

Membership Intern

Summer 2020

 

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The Children MUST Dance!

6 Aug

I can certainly attest to ABT’s resilience during these uncertain times! The resounding efforts by all departments allowed the organization to continue their educational mission, and more impressively re-envision an impactful fall season. Being the JKO intern during Summer 2020, I did not experience the magic of 890 Broadway. Rather I was fueled by the community spirit proudly exhibited in weekly zoom meetings and in details of assigned projects. A phrase that was often proclaimed in challenging moments, “the children MUST dance”, served as a motivational mantra in all my tasks. No one could predict the coming months, but we all knew the children would be dancing together again.

The anticipated decision of the JKO School fall re-opening plan came with an abundance of preparation: zip code enrollment analysis, scenario planning, parent surveys, and weekly re-opening discussions. My involvement in these plans took a data-centered approach. I analyzed the student’s feasibility of travel, anticipated housing accommodations, preferences for learning scenarios, and attitudes towards pre-cautionary health/safety measures… all in the name of “the children MUST dance”. With a deeper understanding of the student’s capabilities and needs, I wrote generalized conclusions that informed an inclusive fall re-opening plan. Perhaps most informing were the commentary left by students and parents from the JKO School. I read about the tight-knit community in the JKO School, and I learned about the incredible artistry created in the studios. Once again, that notion that “the children MUST dance” echoed in all their responses.

Though I won’t be able to see the children dance together again in the fall, I am proud to help re-connect the JKO School community. In the future, I hope to experience the in-person magic of 890 Broadway. Thank you ABT, and the JKO School Staff!

 

Allaistar Regan

JKO Intern

Summer 2020

You Can Write Grants From Anywhere- A Virtual Internship at ABT

28 Jul

I applied for the ABT summer internship on a whim in February 2020, not knowing that COVID-19 would cause a mass shutdown canceling ABT’s Met Season, closing 890, and making internships virtual. In the Spring I was not only auditioning, but I was also looking for jobs that were more behind the scenes of performing arts for the first time. Armed with my Journalism degree and experience writing grants and press for very small ballet companies, I applied for any job or internship I could find in the city.

That being said, I was very surprised when the Institutional Support department at ABT called me in for an interview. I was even more surprised when I received the email saying I got the Institutional Support internship. Unfortunately, with the uncertainty of COVID and when ABT can return to 890, the summer internship was entirely virtual. Am I disappointed that I could not work at 890 and see the backstage of the Met Opera House during my internship? Of course! However, I wanted to work with and learn from the development department at ABT no matter what format.

Prior to starting my internship, I was told that the best time to learn how to fundraise is during a crisis. Because after that, fundraising feels easy. I started my ABT internship with that exact mentality.

I hit the ground running when I started my internship. During the first week, I drafted a grant application, created a grant interim report, and wrote an acknowledgment letter. I was amazed that Ebonie Pittman, Associate Director of Institutional Support, and Nicholas Denninger, Institutional Support Associate, trusted me with that much responsibility right off the bat. I cannot thank Ebonie and Nick enough for spending time to teach me more about the grant writing process, and how to create a compelling grant narrative.

With the nature of writing grants, I had the chance to interact with many departments at ABT. I worked with everyone in development to create ABT’s SMU’s DataArts profile, which is required for NYC Department of Cultural Affairs grant applications. I interacted with the education department to create grants and grant reports to support ABT at School, ABT’s residency program in NYC public schools. I am in awe of Richard Toda, Dennis Walters, and everyone in Education with how they are bringing ballet to students across the city.

By the end of my internship, I’ve completed two grant applications, two interim reports, many acknowledgement letters, the development part of DataArts, and learned how to utilize Raiser’s Edge and Raiser’s Edge NXT.

Jon Haddorff, Associate Director of Major Gifts best described the internship program. “ABT is like a teaching hospital. Like the interns in residency, we give our interns hands on experience.” This internship has solidified my new career goals of working in a development department in a performing arts organization, ideally a ballet company. Thank you ABT for giving me this opportunity to start my new career path.

Jessica Frazier

Institutional Support Intern

Summer 2020