A Semester as an ABT Virtual Intern

12 Dec

In January, I nervously walked up the steps of 890 Broadway to interview to be a summer intern with the American Ballet Theatre. The energy there was incredibly bright and moving. It was amazing to see the artists and the arts administrators, side by side, simultaneously working together to bring new creations into the world!

However, by February, the whole world had begun to shut down. At this time, ABT had canceled the Spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House and I had no idea what my internship would look like!

Thankfully, as the world transitioned to all online, I was still able to complete my internship as a virtual intern for the Fall 2020 season. Although I was nervous to see what kind of work I would be doing as a virtual intern, I knew that being a part of one of the greatest ballet companies in the world during this unprecedented time would give me the opportunity to learn about how to continue to create art in this new virtual landscape.

This fall season had such unique and interesting challenges and successes! ABT has some of the greatest minds within its administration and it was a privilege to learn from those within my team, Delia Brengel, Kelly Ryan, and Laura Miller, as the company navigated the loss of theaters and live performances. I quickly learned there are no bad questions, or suggestions as they welcomed me to share my ideas and thoughts about how to push an important story further, and in front of more eyes than had ever seen ABT before.

Each day I would wake up excited to get my hands on new projects such as the Moving Stories: ABT Film Festival, the new ABT: Kitchen cookbook, children’s books Boy’s Dance and B is for Ballet and ABT Today: The Future Starts Now virtual celebration. As a virtual press and public relations intern I was able to hone my communications and writing skills, by writing pitches, and brainstorming about the best way to share these new creations with its eagerly awaiting audience.

As a press intern this season I have felt truly connected to ABT’s mission to bring ballet to the widest possible audience, and cannot wait to continue to utilize all the skills I have learned here.

Kendall Butler

Press Intern

Fall 2020

That’s a Wrap on Fall 2020

11 Dec

When I started to think about having a professional career in nonprofit and fundraising, I certainly did not expect and would not imagine to do all the fundraising work online. Certainly, it is not an easy time for a performing arts organization when you can’t put on live performances. Meanwhile, for me it is a unique time to work with American Ballet Theatre as a development assistant intern. It has been so nice to see everyone here at ABT development department keep the work going by being adaptive and creative and embracing the virtual platforms, so I have learned a lot this fall.

As a development assistant intern, I mainly have been working with my supervisor Kaitlyn. Throughout the three months, I have assisted in multiple projects, for example, research on nontraditional performance venues, taking development committee meeting minutes, organizing donor/board member files and acknowledgement letters. All these projects are practical and will be useful in my future career but personally, I find taking meeting minutes interesting since I only have learned about the role of board members in nonprofits in class without knowing much details. It is great way to observe how trustees work with ABT staffs and the significant role they are playing in ABT’s fundraising.

Since this is a virtual internship, I truly appreciate that Kaitlyn would always check in with me and spend time to write down the detailed information to explain project-related content that I am not familiar with. I am also invited to join the weekly development department meeting as well as the monthly education and development meeting. These meetings provide me an incredible chance to learn about the planning and decision-making process within ABT and how everyone in the development department, though play different roles, manage to work together on various projects from the beginning.

Besides my work with development department, the intern meetings have also made this internship a unique experience as Dennis manages to invite ABT staffs from different departments every week to share their experience at ABT and their career path. Through the meeting I am able to learn about the role of different departments at ABT which gives me a more comprehensive perspective on how these departments work together within a large performing arts organization.

So, that’s a wrap on Fall 2020, thank you ABT for this experience, and special thanks to Kaitlyn for being incredibly supportive. I’m grateful to still have the opportunity to learn and grow during a time when uncertainty is the certainty. It has given me a different view to think about the significance of fundraising and to reflect on my future career choices. Can’t wait to see the world come back to normal and the dancers will be performing on stage in front of a full house of audiences!

Anna Zhao

Development Assistant Intern

Fall 2020

JKO Intern Reflections

9 Dec

As a dance student entering my senior year of college, I was nervous as to how transitioning into virtual learning would impact my dance training and educational experience this semester. Dance students and educators across the globe have all faced the challenge of how to move their instruction into a meaningful virtual format this semester, and as the JKO School Intern this semester I had the unique opportunity to be apart of this process and assist the wonderful JKO School team in cultivating high-level training and attempting to replicate the JKO community atmosphere online.

In weekly team meetings, we discussed ways in which we could improve the online learning experience for the students, and my main role as an intern was administrating the Zoom classes. As a zoom administrator, I witnessed the resilience and creativity of both young students and teachers in adapting to the online studio environment. I was impressed with how teachers were able to engage their students and got a little taste of the students’ lives as they introduced their pets and shared stories about their lives at the start and end of classes.

While I would love to venture to 890 Broadway, interning this semester was special as I felt I experienced this tremendous challenge to dance training and was able to support the JKO staff, faculty, and students, in overcoming it.  I helped to coordinate a wellness workshop series with the Harkness Center for Dance injures in order to cultivate the school community and give JKO families the opportunity to learn about best practices for dancing at home. I helped to create virtual classes to be posted on social media for students to take. In assisting in executing this programming, I watched the JKO School go above and beyond to create a rich and authentic virtual learning space and make ballet become more accessible than it ever has been to the larger community.

I had a fantastic experience with ABT this semester, and feel immense gratitude to Katie, Katie, and Jenna for their continued support and mentorship. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the JKO school community!

Sophie Visscher-Lubinizki

JKO School Intern

Fall 2020

ABT’s Role in Guiding my Career Path

9 Dec

As a recent graduate who struggled to decide what to do next, The American Ballet Theatre had a wonderful impact on deciding what I wanted to do with my career. I have interned with other for-profit companies, and I wanted to see what the nonprofit world was like. I wanted to experience what it was like working with people who were passionate about what they were doing and who they were working for. The thing I love about ABT’s mission is that they are looking to provide arts and culture to the largest community they can. Working for a company that works for their audience was rewarding.

I learned all about how nonprofit annual taxes work in various states in the US. I helped analyze financial processes on ABT’s accounting software and learned where and how this company allocates its finances. I helped out with some credit card expense reports and learned about DanceUSA – a community designed to help other arts companies around the nation. 

Godwin, Talisa, and Belzin were a lovely team of people who were willing to guide and teach me. I had a great Zoom call with Talisa one day discussing why getting a CPA was not for everyone. As someone who is pursuing my CPA, it was nice to hear from a woman in finance who told me why it was not always the best option for everyone. It was not a very long conversation, but it was an impactful one for me. I appreciate Godwin always checking in with me and making sure I understood what I was doing. He tried to make the best of this unique situation, and I am so grateful to him for that. I can tell Godwin knows how to be a good leader to his team and to me. He always provided clear direction and guidance, which is honestly a luxury as far as internships go. 

Dennis’ weekly meetings were also extremely helpful for me when I was deciding if the nonprofit sector was for me. He taught us what the company did, its different functions, and set up meetings with various people in ABT to learn a little about their role. Some of my favorite Zoom meetings were with Kara Barnett, the executive director, and Rachel Richardson, a company dancer. I loved learning about ballet and the inner workings of a huge and widely known ballet company. I am hoping that one day I will be able to visit 890 Broadway in person and experience an environment surrounded by talent and passion. 

Madison Ryan

Finance Intern

Fall 2020

My ABT Internship

7 Dec

As I finish my ABT Internship, I am reflecting on the last 3 months  and how grateful I am to have had this experience. While the last few months have felt uncertain, the opportunity to work with the membership team at ABT came as a welcome surprise. I feel honored to have been a part of the membership team at this pivotal time of the year and have learned so much through my experience this fall.

The last few weeks of my internship have been special getting to work towards the end of the year goals for membership and new donations. Getting an inside look into the fall celebration, seeing the short films by ABT Dancers, and being a part of the giving tuesday campaign are a few things that have made my time at ABT that much more special. In a semester, where being in person was impossible, there were other unique ways to connect with the development team and other interns. Working with Alex, Jackie and Grace has been a dream, they have all made my time at ABT and with the Membership team special, as an intern the team made me feel like an important part of the team, and gain some real hands-on experiences.

As part of the program. I got to participate in talkback and conversations with ABT Artists and Staff, which has introduced me to the wider world of ballet and dance. Coming into the internship, I did not have as much knowledge of ballet as everyone else and was excited about the opportunity to learn and grow in a new area of performing arts.

I am thankful for the experience I have gained by interning with ABT this fall. Working with the company has made me feel more prepared and excited for the future.

Ashley Weintraub

Membership & Database Intern

Fall 2020

Welcome to the ABT Family

4 Dec

This fall, I completed the National Training Curriculum (NTC) Internship within the Education Department at American Ballet Theatre, working September 11 – December 11, 2020 in a remote setting. During my internship, I was responsible for assisting with special projects and day-to-day operations related to the NTC, such as:

  • Co-hosting the Level 6-7 & Partnering teacher training course, taught by Franco De Vita and Raymond Lukens
  • Hosting weekly JKO children’s division ballet classes for Harriet Clark
  • Hosting Winter Intensive classes
  • Assisting the Raising The Barre weekend workshop with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, featuring Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden
  • Grading Exams for the ABT/NYU Master’s Program teacher training

I worked directly with the brilliant NTC team: Molly Schnyder, Sonia Jones, and Saya Harada, under the JKO Artistic Director, Cynthia Harvey. I also interfaced regularly with the Education Faculty at the weekly virtual staff meetings, which allowed me to gain more insight into the entire department and witness firsthand how collaboration, communication, and a little bit of humor make for great team work (#winning)! I had the invaluable opportunity to get to know ABT inside and out through meetings with staff from marketing, development, company management, finance, and the executive team. Working in an environment that believes in the power of dance education, I saw how ABT’s mission to share dance with the widest possible audience impacts their daily decisions, which in turn continues to positively impact the current and future generations of dancers and arts administrators.

In addition to my organizational work — which included working in OneDrive, practicing my mail merge skills, creating presentations, and more — I also helped with the @abtschool social media posts for the ABT/NYU Master’s Program! Bringing my knowledge of marketing and media from my past work experience, I was able to use those media skills in my work at ABT to produce IGTV videos for a current audience of 32K followers.

I feel very lucky to have been invited onto the Education team this fall, and become a part of the small, wonderful family that is the ABT National Training Curriculum team!

Cheers,

Amy Wensley

NTC Intern

Fall 2020

Emma Goes to the Warehouse

1 Dec

Starting my internship at ABT, I was thrilled by the opportunity and very eager to learn. The experience has managed to exceed my expectations. This isn’t the type of internship where you show up with a laundry list of to-dos and strict deadlines. Instead, you are called upon to brainstorm ideas and share your perspective. My main project over the semester has been developing content and ideas for the ABTKids Daily webpage. I have been able to use my creativity in all of the projects I have been given, and the best part is that there are tangible results to go along with each task. I get to see my work come to life on the ABTKids Daily page every week, and I know that someone is out there watching and learning from home. Not only that, but I get to learn alongside them as I create the content! First, let me tell you about my new friend, Winston.

Winston, an emerging internet sensation, also happens to be the son of my supervisor, Dennis Walters. Winston is well known for his work hosting the ABTKids Daily series, Winston Goes to the Warehouse. Winston Goes to the Warehouse is a series of videos following Winston as he tours the ABT warehouse and interviews the property master and wardrobe supervisor. I had the pleasure of going through all of this footage and determining what types of episodes we could create with the content we had on film. Diving into the footage, I felt like I myself was getting a tour of the warehouse. Spending hours watching and rewatching the videos, I not only feel like I could give a tour of the warehouse, but I also feel like I met Winston. That is one of the most special things about this remote internship, that ABT makes you feel like you are there in person. ABT has made a conscious effort to go the extra mile and keep their students engaged while they are cooped up at home. It is so rewarding to be a vehicle to help deliver this content to the kids, and the best part is that I am learning and experiencing it all alongside them.

ABT has truly taken this virtual world by storm. I would argue that their use of virtual programming has made ballet even more accessible than before, thus fulfilling their mission to bring ballet to the widest possible audience. Everything ABT does ties back to this. I feel lucky to be a part of an organization that is so driven by their mission, a mission that I am proud to support.

I have had a great experience at ABT over the past few months. I have grown professionally and personally and had a great time while doing it. Thank you to Dennis for mentoring me and showing me the ropes, and to Amanda and Richard for so graciously welcoming me to their team.

I hope you have the opportunity to intern at ABT, for it will undoubtedly be a very memorable and impactful experience.

 

Emma Alteri

Education Outreach Intern

Fall 2020

 

P.S. Check out an episode of Winston Goes to the Warehouse below!

Lessons From A Virtual Internship

1 Dec

As my time at the virtual version of 890 Broadway comes to a close, I find myself grateful for the opportunity to make a difference at such a pivotal moment.  This year has been a time of growth and challenges, but ABT takes it in stride.  With this growth, I learned some lessons working virtually.  I have got 3 pieces of advice: 1) you are your greatest advocate, 2) overcommunicate, and 3) be enthusiastic. 

For the first lesson, it is always important to remember that if you want more projects, can handle more, or have ideas then you need to be the one to bring them up to your supervisor/department.  Everyone is very busy, so make sure to be your own advocate to be heard.  ABT is a collaborative environment and values people who can step up and fill a need.  Advocate for yourself.  In my experience at ABT, if I wanted more projects, I made sure my supervisor knew where I was on current projects and my capacity for more.  This brings me to the second lesson, overcommunicate.  In a virtual world, it can be very difficult to learn the culture of an organization.  If you are unsure about how something is done or want clarity on a subject, just ask.  If you have the capacity to take on more, communicate that to your supervisor.  Lastly, be enthusiastic in all that you take on.  It can be hard to maintain an enthusiastic demeanor virtually, but if you can, it will transform your experience.

My supervisor during my time at ABT was Jon Haddorff in the Major Gifts department.  I had such a great experience being an intern in this department and loved being able to work with Jon.  He is open to suggestions and lets interns have many opportunities to grow.  I come from a program background and so very much appreciated his teaching me how the Major Gifts department worked, while also allowing me room to grow and take part in projects.

Hopefully, ABT will be able to go back to 890 Broadway soon, but in the meantime, I have found these lessons to be useful and adaptable to both virtual and in-person positions.

 

Sabrina Kesler

Major Gifts Intern

Fall 2020

If You’re Well, I’m Well

23 Nov

Spending time with the JKO School Children’s Division has taught me the value of engagement, wellness, and community in the world of dance. Although I revered the company and school prior to my internship, I’m leaving with more admiration than before.

I was the administrator for several Zoom classes every week, so I got to experience the classes firsthand. The faculty and staff work extremely hard at keeping students engaged and well. Many faculty begin their classes with saying hello, asking kids about good things that happened that week, and making sure their dance space is set up and safe. Throughout the class, faculty “spotlight” kids in Zoom to encourage them and complement their dancing. Every student has a chance to demonstrate as well. This keeps students engaged and excited about their dancing- they want to be spotlighted! Structure and curriculum are also very important, for the faculty want them to be ready for whenever they return to in-person classes.

Wellness is also a priority. JKO cares about each individual student, and they are quick to meet with students, encourage them, and help them through struggles and circumstances that are a consequence of the pandemic. One of my favorite experiences was moderating lectures in conjunction with Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Throughout the semester one-hour seminars would be held from Harkness, and these workshops were aimed at promoting physical and mental wellness in the community. They had a positive and healthy quality and addressed crucial topics: the dangers of going on pointe too early, specific health issues for female athletes and how to avoid them, and (actually) healthy mindsets when it comes to eating. It is so important to teach these things to ballet students at a young age, so I was happy to be a part of these workshops.

Finally, as an intern with the JKO School, I got to help create community in a time when it is more difficult than usual. The other JKO intern and I would edit pre-filmed ABTots classes for Instagram so young children could take a free class every week- complete with a story and a craft. We also made a student directory so families could connect remotely. Every week, the JKO Children’s Division staff, interns, and some faculty would meet to discuss logistics and how we could make the semester better for individual students and the division as a whole. In these meetings, I learned how ABT had promoted wellness for dancers in the past and how they strive to do it now in the pandemic.

My internship was a very enjoyable and educational experience. ABT is a positive place and I loved interning with them!

Morgan McIntosh

JKO School Education Intern

Fall 2020

“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

 

IMG_5885.jpg

 

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

Writing for ABT When You’ve Really Never Had A Second Thought About Dance Before

31 Mar

Two months into my internship with ABT, I am still surprised I ended up here.

Here, of course, meaning on a virtual plane.

I’m not at all familiar with ballet. I was in dance class when I was five and lacking an internal sense of rhythm and any particular interest in the subject, I quit. Even the ABT’s annual The Nutcracker performances at the Segerstrom Center, only 30 minutes away from my childhood home, passed me by. As a result, I was completely oblivious to how coveted even an unpaid internship with the ABT would be.

So it caught me off guard when I heard nearly 200 people had applied to be interns. There are only 12 interns in my cohort. The news was even more shocking to me because at the time I was struggling to adjust to the online work environment and beginning to doubt the quality of my writing. 

Spring interns in Development are thrown directly into the deep end. January and February are right at the peak of busyness. Spring 2021 was especially chaotic since a vacancy in the department was forcing my supervisor to shoulder twice as much work as usual. And then as suddenly as all the work appeared, it seemed to vanish. I wondered if it was because the standard of my work hadn’t been up to snuff. It was messing with the worst of my lingering perfectionist, grades-obsessed tendencies from K-12. 

And as I observed the tremendous passion driving every one of ABT’s efforts, I wondered if this position was being wasted on me.

These are concerns I would’ve felt much more comfortable voicing in person, or perhaps would not have occurred to me at all in a normal internship. But because every interaction took place in the strictures of Zoom and email, it was easy for me to twist myself into anxiety pretzels about things I would just ask about directly otherwise. 

After one agonizing weekend I worked up the courage to voice some of these worries. My supervisor assured me that the confusion I was feeling was normal. Institutional Support is uniquely difficult for newcomers to adapt to, being bound up in not only ABT’s constant state of barely controlled chaos, but also whatever state of chaos ABT was in two years ago and the vaguest ideas of what ABT will be doing a year in the future.

So beyond the mechanics of how to create grant narratives with reference to existing materials, informal interviews with coworkers, and ABT’s constantly evolving plans, I would say the main thing I’ve learned so far is really just a recap of a lesson I think I’ll be reviewing all my life: to trust in my own judgement and that of others, and to ask questions instead of stewing in confusion. 

I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more in the remaining half of the internship. I have really appreciated the continuous effort to familiarize interns to all aspects of ABT and ABT’s level of commitment to its DEI objectives. I’m especially pumped for the upcoming discussion on disability. If you’re like me and didn’t know much about nonprofits at all beforehand, an internship at ABT is a great primer, not just to arts nonprofits, but to what a warm and respectful work environment feels like. 

Angela Song

Institutional Support Intern

Spring 2021

An Exciting Start to the Special Events Internship

2 Mar

Though I’ve only completed one month at ABT, I have already learned so much. I have also discovered that my ABT internship is quite unlike any internship I’ve had in the past. The biggest difference, of course, is that this internship has been conducted entirely online. This was certainly an adjustment, but interning remotely offers the opportunity to think critically and quickly as well as adapt to a new work environment. Additionally, this is the only internship I’ve ever had in a large office, where I work alongside many other college-aged interns. This aspect of collaboration—supplemented by fun and informational weekly intern meetings on Friday mornings—has added to my experience, as well as provided some much-needed (virtual) interactions in the midst of the pandemic. So, I’m very thankful to be working with Dennis Walters and fifteen other interns. 

My internship lies within the development department, specifically the special events team led by Fallon Sullivan and Megan Stahlberg. On a typical week, there can be anywhere from one to three special events catered toward ABT donors offered over virtual platforms such as Zoom. As an intern, I’m tasked with helping to plan, organize, and attend these different events. In just my first four weeks, I’ve already been a part of five very different events. Although all special events are now virtual, this has not impeded ABT’s ability to provide interesting programming in the form of Q&A discussions, social distancing-compliant live performances, and lectures. 

On my very first day of work, I was already busy coordinating a guest list for my first event of the semester, a Q&A panel for ABT donors featuring executive director Kara Barnett and artistic director Kevin McKenzie. The Zoom panel was packed with donors, who were grateful for the opportunity to interact directly with ABT leadership. Kara and Kevin answered several thoughtful questions and were able to provide insight into the future of the organization as we move closer to a post-pandemic world. This first special event was a perfect way to learn more about the organization, and I was especially excited to see how much both ABT staff and donors care about the future of ballet. Sometimes, the hardest part of managing a special event is making sure it stays under the allotted time—though the event was held from 2:00 to 3:00, it was apparent that Kara, Kevin, and everyone else on the Zoom call easily could’ve stayed for a few more hours!

This week, ABT celebrated Black History Month, in part, by hosting a special event with Dr. Joselli Deans. She delivered a lecture on the lives of Delores Browne and Raven Wilkinson—two Black ballet dancers who struggled throughout their careers in America to receive the recognition they deserved. Like last month’s Q&A, this event was also highly attended—more than 100 people tuned in, which was a wonderful sign of ABT’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As I just graduated from college with a degree in history and international studies, this was an amazing event for me to have the opportunity to help organize and attend. 

While I have interned at arts organizations before, ABT has been a perfect opportunity to work in a supportive, effective environment while also learning about the world of special events. I’m looking forward to the rest of the semester!

Gillian Reinhard

Special Events Intern

Spring 2021