Reconnecting at ABT

25 May

An internship with ABT is the most fulfilling internship one can get. It has to be the best intern program in arts management. I have been lucky enough to intern with other companies, and they do not hold a candle to ABT’s program. Dennis Walters, the director of the intern program, has created a unique curriculum that gives one the opportunity to understand how an arts organization functions beyond the department in which one works; with weekly lectures and workshops.  He also teaches fundamentals of resumes and interview skills. These workshops had more useful practical information on how to acquire a job than any class I have ever taken in college. 

To give a little background, I am attending SUNY Empire State College studying Dance-Arts Management, and I have been a professional ballet dancer for over twenty years. I retired six years ago from dancing with the Metropolitan Opera. I am a graduate of the National Ballet School in Canada. I have danced professionally with the National Ballet of Canada, San Francisco Ballet, Les Ballet de Monte Carlo, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Pittsburg Ballet Theatre. The last ten years I have been teaching at two schools in New York. I also had been supernumerary with ABT when I was a child, and I even got an opportunity to dance with the company at 16 in ABT’s Nutcracker. 

To work at ABT as an intern has been fulfilling because of all the places I wanted to dance in my career, it has always been ABT. Interning it has allowed me to see people I have not seen in 10 or 20 years. One of my two favorite moments interning with ABT was reconnecting with Kate Lydon; we danced together at SFB. However, we had met years before in NYC with mutual friends at Cafe La Fortuna as students. I was down from Canada, and she was at ABT’s school, and we took photos of that night 20 plus years ago, and I just found the photos last summer.  My second favorite moment was telling Cynthia Harvey that we had already met and we performed together… supering when I was a child in ABT’s Cinderella. 

ABT is the one ballet company that I have always dreamt of working for, and I have loved interning with American Ballet Theatre.

Ian Thatcher

NTC Intern

Spring 2018



Stepping up

23 May

For the spring internship at ABT I interned under Fallon Sullivan, Assistant Manager of Patron Services. Working with Fallon meant that I would help keep track of all orders taken and oversee all ticket information for donors $1,200 and up. These donors included VIP’s, board members and over 1,000 patrons and prospects.

For the first few weeks Fallon wanted to inform me of all that she does and what I would help her with during my time. I started with inputting all the subscriptions for the members we currently have into Raiser’s Edge. Soon Raiser’s Edge would become my best tool while working in Patron Services. The next big task at hand was creating single ticket and exchange orders for members as ABT’s Spring Season approached. My job was to make sure the single ticket and exchange orders were logged three different ways; in an Excel order tracking sheet, in separate single ticket and exchange folders, and physical copies of the orders. At the beginning I was a little confused with the system, but as the weeks went on I started to understand Fallon’s plan. Another assignment of mine was to take care of the tickets sent over from the MET. I had to make sure the tickets matched the selected seats, date and time before I entered them in Raiser’s Edge and before they were mailed.

My ability was put to the test when Fallon traveled with the company and some members on a trip to Hong Kong. For two weeks I had to make sure I kept single tickets and exchange orders up-to-date, handle all calls that came in for Fallon, and email Fallon daily with orders taken from the membership and development department. Fallon prepped me by explaining my assignments thoroughly, she laid out the necessary folders needed to keep track of all incoming orders, and adding Brain from the membership department as additional help. Handling Fallon’s calls was the most difficult part during her two week absence. Members and nonmembers would call and ask questions I wouldn’t have the answers to, thankfully Brain was there to help. I was able to go to Brain or other members in development to get the appropriate answer and relay it back to the callers. My biggest concern was making sure the caller left with their questions answered or needs attended to.

After Fallon’s trip to Hong Kong, it was crunch time because the Spring Season was quickly approaching. This was by far my favorite part of working in Patron Services. I could feel the energy shift in the building during this time. Sitting in on a development meeting with the Executive Director, Kara Medoff Barnett, I was able to see how membership, development and special events worked together to stay on top of assignments for the Spring Season. Also walking by the studios and seeing the dancers rehearse was a great treat as well. Overall, my experience with Patron Services was very fulfilling.


Make Griffith

Patron Services Intern

Spring 2018

The World of JKO

9 May

I am so grateful for having the opportunity to intern at ABT because it has been a wonderful and unique learning experience. Each day I learn something new about the day-to-day managing of the JKO School. Saturdays in particular are the busiest, since both the Children’s Division and the Pre-Professional Division have classes all day. However, I really enjoyed coming to ABT on Saturdays because I was able to take a more active role in helping the students and their parents. Some of the things I helped with were: accompanying the younger students to their classes, helping them fix their ballet buns, finding the right pair of shoes when they forgot theirs at home, running the boutique sales, and answering any questions parents might had.

Another great thing about interning at ABT is that there are so many opportunities to be involved and help in various events. For example, I volunteered as an usher at the Ailey Citigroup Theater for the ABT Studio Company’s performance. And I also helped chaperone a group from the Children’s Division when they performed at the Kaye Playhouse. This, for me, was really important because I was able to get a full picture of the organization and gain knowledge and experience from different roles. Right now, we are preparing for the JKO School’s spring performances at the NYU Skirball Center and I am sure that all the hard work that has been done by everyone at the school will make the performance a big success!

Alejandra Castillo

JKO Intern

Spring 2018

Just a Normal Day at the JKO School…

28 Dec

My time at ABT was a dream come true. Growing up in dance, I had a built-in appreciation for the arts, but never truly knew all that went on behind the scenes until I had the chance to work with the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. As the JKO School Intern, I assisted the directors of the JKO School, including both the Children’s Division and the Pre-Professional Division, while interacting and helping the children and parents of the school.

The Education Department is a close-knit family, and I was thrilled to be taken under their wing. Besides valuable training, I gained friendships that will last a lifetime. Whether it was helping with quick changes backstage, taking pictures, or making ID cards for the dancers, I learned so much throughout my internship. Most importantly, I soon learned one must always be on their toes at the JKO School, as there was always something exciting going on with over 300 students in the school.

While I improved in many skills this semester, I also added some new skills to my skill set. Who knew I would become an expert at painting ballet shoes? Yes, that’s right! Two days before the Young People’s Ballet Workshop, the Studio Company needed help preparing for their performance. My mentor graciously offered to let me pull costumes and props together for the show. However, someone needed to paint the ballet shoes. I had done it before, so I offered to help! It was a really fun experience, but also extremely helpful for the rest of the Education Department and dancers. A couple days later when I had the privilege of helping at the show, I had a feeling of pride seeing all the shoes I painted, onstage!

I also learned that I am a very good dragon. ABT partook in the Lincoln Center Halloween Party, and instead of passing out ABT bookmarks and candy, I was privileged to dress up as Jackie, the JKO School Mascot. At the time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it ended up being a blast! Jackie was a hit and kids were thrilled to meet a “real dragon.” One mom even handed me her baby! I can now add “dragon master” to my resume. Nevertheless, it was a great memory, and I joined an elite group of people who have worn that dragon costume including Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy.

These are just a few of my many great memories while at ABT. I will forever be thankful to the JKO School and the Education Department for allowing me a place in their family. I have so much appreciation and respect for what they do to promote ABT and carry on traditions to the next generation of dance. This semester flew by, but the memories will last forever. Thanks, ABT!

Stevie Mack

JKO Intern

Fall 2017


A New Strategy

26 Dec

I am so grateful to have been a part of this internship program. I initially applied for the program after a former intern informed me that there were still spots open. After applying so late I wasn’t expecting to get accepted for the Fall,  but a spot miraculously opened up. I just so happened to be in New York for a dance audition when I found out. The next day I had both my interview and orientation on the same day. Everything happened so fast. I can’t believe I have now completed the program.

My experience at ABT has been nothing short of an eye opening and learning experience. Working as the Strategic Initiatives Intern, I had the opportunity to work on short term and long term projects designed to propel ABT into the future. While working on these projects, I worked in collaboration with the many departments within the organization. This was definitely the most rewarding part of my position. I wasn’t specifically working in one department, so that allowed me to get insight into what each department does at ABT. I had the opportunity to observe and participate in meetings with the Education, Marketing, Press /Media, Finance, Development, and Music Departments. Although I can’t say much about these projects, I can assure you that what is to come for ABT is very exciting!

Overall, my experience was one I would definitely recommend to others, especially those of color. Being a Project Plie Scholarship Recipient and understanding the core values of this initiative, it definitely allowed me understand the importance of diversity on stage and behind the scenes. ABT is in the heart of a very diverse city and it is great to see them acknowledge the need for inclusion within their organization.


Paris Jones

Strategic Initiatives Intern

Fall 2017

ABT-erning 101

21 Dec

My internship with ABT was nothing but great. I worked with the Major Gifts team in the Development Office and it was my first look into the administration side of dance. This internship was my first office internship and learning the ropes of a new place can always be hard. I spent a lot of time worrying about what office appropriate attire or when lunch break was.  I thought maybe there would be other people starting their internship with similar thoughts I had, and so below are just some answers to concerns you may have! I can only speak for the Major Gifts Intern position and this is all based on my experience. Every department is slightly different and experiences differ from person-to-person.

What you wear really depends on the department you’re working for. Working as the Major Gifts intern you interact with a lot with donors and so it’s always best to come dressed business casual.  That means no jeans or torn clothing; remember, you want to look professional and presentable.

The people in Development usually eat their lunch at their desk. I didn’t eat at all on my first day because I assumed there was a lunch break (like in The Office and Parks and Recreations), but people just eat at their desk when they’re hungry.

Everyone is very friendly and genuinely nice.  On my first day I introduced myself once, but by the time I was leaving they knew my name. When I heard “Bye Leiden!” I was very surprised and touched that they made the effort to remember who I was, even though they met me three hours ago. I asked so many questions and everyone was very willing to help and answer. My first few days I had to constantly ask the staff for directions to the bathroom or the mailroom and everyone was very understanding and helpful!

Through this experience I gained so much understanding and knowledge about dance and arts administration. Even beyond the work, I’ve had wonderful conversations with security, a company pianist, and donors. The whole place is brimming with talent, history, and remarkable people—it’s something I will truly miss.

Leiden Doma

Major Gifts Intern

Fall 2017


Late Start to a Great Week

19 Dec

At the beginning of the program I was excited to start the internship, learn about institutional support and more about ABT. My supervisor, Ebonie, described the projects I’d work on once I started which generated more excitement. But then she dropped a bomb. She told me she would have to go in for jury duty but hoped she wouldn’t get picked. However, the odds weren’t in my favor. This meant my start date would be pushed back another week. I was saddened by the news but I knew it was out of her control.

After the late start, I was ready to jump right in and that’s exactly what happened. On my first day I drafted proposals for foundations, attended a developmental staff meeting and met Misty Copeland. To say the least, my first day was pretty remarkable. During my first week, I began working on a major grant application for the Shubert Foundation. I couldn’t believe Ebonie trusted me to carry out this important task. Her confidence in me boosted my own confidence, because I was apprehensive to work on something important in a new field.

While working on the Shubert Foundation grant application, my assumptions of ABT being just a classical ballet company changed. I learned about their Project Plié initiative, educational outreach programs, touring and the Women’s Choreographers Initiative. Their efforts to stay true to their mission and provide dance to the widest possible audience is genuine. I also appreciated their efforts to not only provide opportunities to dancers but also to teachers and arts administrators. ABT is consistently trying to expand and adapt to the needs of their community.

My first week jumpstarted an inspiring internship and a passion for arts administration. While working at ABT I was able to assist with the Fall Gala, attend performances, sit in on rehearsals, meet donors and attend an in-studio performance. In just 4 months I was able to learn the ins and outs of ABT. Well some ins and outs, as I’m sure there is much more to learn.

Makeda Griffith

Institutional Support Intern

Fall 2017