5 Aug

Before this summer, all I really knew about ballet was that the ballerinas danced on pointe, they wore tutus, and that Natalie Portman played a one in a movie that left me quite a bit spooked.

So, if you had told me two months ago that I’d spend my summer backstage at the Met with ABT, I would have looked at you like you were from a different planet.

I came to ABT with an arts background, from participating in summer camp theater to currently singing in a collegiate a cappella group. Despite my experience with the performing arts, ballet had always seemed to exist on another plane of existence; free of the imperfections (and voice cracks) that define a singer’s experience, the dancers were always perfectly poised, always using their bodies to convey the passion which they emoted with every single fiber of their being. Every performance was a masterpiece, a journey to a different world.

And frankly, this world terrified me. How could I, an anxious singer who could barely walk down the sidewalk without tripping, exist in the same place as these graceful, powerful, superhumans? I quickly realized that what I had seen on stage is only really one part of the village that it takes to produce a performance at The American Ballet Theatre. There were the folks in artistic department, development, education, membership, and so much more. And there was me, speed-walking around the Met in order to make sure everything was taken care of.

Working for the executive office as the Spring Season Intern, I learned to develop a schedule, a rhythm for which I would operate in this foreign world. I learned to spot a guest in Orchestra Row N from the back of the house. I learned every inch of the Metropolitan Opera House. I learned the best way to guide guests from the Parterre level to the Belmont Room. And most importantly, I learned every single usher’s name (well…almost).

Before I knew it, I’m backstage, watching every dancer spin faster and faster in their different interpretations of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake; I’m noticing the nuance that each one brings to the role, the slight artistic liberties that each individual took to make it their own. I’m seeing the dancers catch their breath backstage, popping jolly ranchers for a quick sugar boost and resin for some more pointe shoe resistance. And I realize – this distant, perfect world, this world of ballet, is no less foreign or imperfect than the world of singing with which I am familiar. At the end of the day, it takes a village to produce a work of art, to put on something as massive and beautiful as what ABT puts on stage.

To have worked in such an amazing place, with such fantastic people, has been an absolute pleasure. This incredible company has welcomed me into the world of ballet, and I could not be more thrilled and appreciative. I’ve learned so incredibly much during my few short months here, and you can be absolutely certain that you’ll see me at the next ABT performance, for the dancers and the company that makes it happen, cheering them on with all of my heart.

Danny Fier

Executive Office Intern

Summer 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Aug

Growing up, my dream was always to be on the Metropolitan Opera Stage dancing for one of the most world-renowned ballet companies, however when I stopped dancing, that dream suddenly became unattainable. When I first started my internship at American Ballet Theatre, I quickly realized that I would indeed be working at the Metropolitan Opera House, just on the administrative side.

Working in the Major Gifts Department has presented me with so many wonderful opportunities. Whether it’s casually passing by Misty Copeland at the Metropolitan Opera House or doing hours of research at 890 Broadway, I couldn’t be more grateful. One of the biggest highlights was giving a sponsor a personal backstage tour and seeing her dancer’s costume, hair, and makeup transformation for his role of Von Rothbart in Swan Lake. Putting all the glamour aside, I would have to say that my favorite part about my ABT experience is how they treat interns as equals. I wasn’t given menial tasks and felt as though I was truly contributing to the company and the projects that I was a part of.

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ABT is my first internship and administrative job and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being surrounded by people who share the same love and passion for Ballet as you do while working is amazing and rare to come by. Due to the amount of responsibility given to me, I have acquired new skills and I thank ABT, particularly Iosu, Diane and Jon for giving me guidance. ABT is truly a family.

Paige Stanton

Major Gifts Intern

Summer 2019

 

1 Aug

Before my first day at ABT, I did not quite know what to expect. Growing up, I watched ABT perform in The Kennedy Center which inspired me to become a ballerina. I danced professionally for 7 years before deciding to change my path and pursue my undergraduate degree at Columbia University. ABT has been a pillar of my upbringing, a company I have always admired, so I felt incredibly fortunate to have spent the summer learning what goes into the administration and executive side, parallel to the artistic.

As an Executive Office intern, I worked under Meredith Shell (Executive Assistant) and Kara Barnett (Executive Director). Most of my time was spent doing general administrative and organizational work at the 890 offices. Working alongside two intelligent and hardworking women was a learning experience every day. No two days were identical and each day pushed me to think quickly and efficiently, while also maintaining flexibility in a work environment. The variety of projects allowed me to cultivate my own abilities and there is no doubt that these skills and experiences will translate to my daily and academic life.

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The Internship program full of interesting artistic opportunities such as seeing ABT perform at The Met (Jane Eyre, Le Corsaire, Twyla Tharp Trio, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty), meeting other interns at the Roundabout Theater, and tour the Pointe Magazine offices. The employees at ABT are kind, exuberant, supportive, and passionate about their jobs, which speaks volumes to the organization as a whole. My summer was one full of growth, encouragement, and excitement thanks to ABT.

Mimi Tompkins

Executive office Intern

Summer 2019

A New Intern, Literally

31 Jul

It’s hard to believe that my summer internship with the American Ballet Theatre comes to a close this week. It feels like just yesterday I was anxiously checking my email to find out if I had been selected to intern for this phenomenal organization. I remember exactly where I was when I received it – backstage on opening night of a performance in college, how fitting!

I am currently double majoring in Dance and Exercise Science at the University of Alabama. I am also pursuing a minor in Nutrition with concentrations in both Sport and Fitness Management and Health Promotion. I am also the historian for our dance department, and love producing dance films and working with photography. Needless to say, I have a wide variety of interests and absolutely love learning. I knew I wanted to work this summer somewhere that would inspire me to see what path I wanted to pursue post undergrad, and ABT was absolutely the most perfect place.

ABT gave me an extremely unique opportunity. They created a position for an intern this summer that had never been done before. After interviewing with the ABT Education Department with the JKO school, my resume was sent to the National Training Curriculum Department. NTC had wanted the opportunity to archive footage of their training and my application came at the right time. From there, I was given the opportunity to create a promotional video in conjunction with the marketing department. My first assignment was at the Metropolitan Opera House with over 3,000 public school students to film for ABTKids. ABTKids is one of the impactful outreach programs ABT does, allowingstudents in the community to come witness a production of excerpts from some of ABT’s ballets. I ran around, capturing some of the sweetest and heartwarming smiles of the children who were so entranced by the aura that is the MET. I was then given access to the press box and proceeded to film for the rest of the show. I couldn’t wait to get home and piece together a video for my advisors.

After I sent my video to the marketing departments, other departments contacted me wanting a similar project done. I was ecstatic that people loved my work and was excited to continue creating. I ended up producing a video for the ABT Supernumeraries and then another for the Summer Intensive, on top of photographing for the National Training Curriculum, the Collegiate Intensive, and the Summer Intensive. Producing the ABT Super’s video was probably one of my favorite memories of my summer here at ABT. A press memo was sent out (with my name on it!) and I was sent over to the MET with two press representatives who were so kind and willing to assist me in any way they could. I filmed “fly-on-the-wall” style, quietly capturing the excitement backstage. Being in that environment made me feel more a part of the ABT family than ever. I truly felt the magic and never wanted that night to end.

ABT has treated me with so much kindness, respect, and professionalism. My experience here not only met my expectations but exceeded them. Every time I walk into 890 I know how lucky I am to be here and I cannot wait to start working.

I decided to put together a video to show some highlights of my time at ABT, because some things are too special to put into words. I hope you enjoy!

Emilia Stuart

National Training Curriculum Intern, Media Production

Summer 2019

890 Comes Alive at the Met

30 Jul

As soon as I walked into the ABT dancers lounge for intern orientation, I knew I was in a very special place. The newly renovated lounge was one of the most beautiful rooms I had ever seen, and it was filled with people whose passion about the arts and excitement to be a part of ABT was tangible. We spent the morning learning about our day to day duties and internship guidelines, but I left orientation completely unaware of just how amazing this internship experience would be.

Joining ABT in the summer as a patron services intern was a very intense and exciting experience; ABT’s longest season is an eight-week run at the Metropolitan Opera House from May to July, and so I started in the busiest time for patron ticketing. For the first few weeks of the internship, I spent the majority of my time creating and tracking ticket order forms for donors and preparing for the many special events that are hosted during the Spring Season. I also had the amazing opportunity to design several save the dates and invitations for various special events.

The aspect of this internship I most enjoyed was seeing all of the work we did at 890 come alive at the Met. For example, one of my favorite days of the internship came in the second week, when all of the development interns helped run the Golden Circle Luncheon, which is a lunch, auction, and dress rehearsal for 300 donors at the Met. We arrived at the stage door early in the morning to start implementing all of the plans created at 890. Throughout the day, the Grand Tier of the Met transformed into the development staff’s incredible vision of the event. I had the opportunity to create many of the designed materials for the event, and it was surreal to see them laid out at each place setting.

Over the coming weeks, I had many more chances to interact with the Met. One day I was assigned to get the autographs of every dancer as they came out of company class at the Met, so I had the opportunity to interact with a large percent of ABT’s dancers. On other days, development interns could sign up to work the Belmont room in the Met, which is a lounge for donors to purchase food at intermission. On the nights I chose to work in this room, I was able to speak with the donors whose ticket orders I filled out at 890, and I also received free tickets of my own to watch the show.

I also assisted at the AMEX champagne toast, which was an event held during the Friday Evening performance of Swan Lake. The event went late into the night, and by the time it was over, another intern and I were two of the last people in the building. While we were walking through the Met to collect our belongings, all of the lights in the building turned off. At first it was jarring to be in the Met when it was pitch-black and empty, but navigating through the depths of the Met to find our way out was quite the adventure, and it ended up being one of my favorite moments from the summer.Picture1_claire

I am so grateful to have interned at ABT this summer – my experience was better than I could have ever imagined!

Claire Ganiban

Patron Services Intern

Summer 2019

Law Meets Ballet

29 Jul

I’ve thought about what to write all summer for this post, and I simply cannot find a way to accurately distill this summer into a single blog post. But, here’s my attempt.

I am a ballet dancer and a third year law student at UCLA Law, and as such I took this internship to learn how to fuse my two major interests together.  I thought this opportunity would allow me to better understand how a major ballet company operates.  What I couldn’t anticipate was exactly how much exposure I would get to the different departments.  I was able to meet with and learn from several department heads in part because I took the initiative to approach these people and volunteer to help, but also because ABT has structured the internship to expose its interns to the various arms of ABT.  In addition to working and attending shows, we had weekly intern meetings on Fridays with guest speakers including the Senior Director of Finance, Company Management, and the Executive Director.

As wonderful as working and watching all the different shows (Tharp Trio, Jane Eyre, Le Corsaire, Manon, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty) was, the highlights of my summer come from the projects I got to work on. In Development I was responsible for a lot of prospect research.  I was trained to use Raiser’s Edge.  I wrote both an obituary and a new baby announcement (though not strictly Development, I suppose these fell under “other tasks as assigned by management?”).  I consolidated department calendars into a single mega-calendar for executive staff.  I cultivated relationships with prospective donors and Holiday Benefit attendees based in California.  I sat in on and actively participated in Development’s Met Season Debrief meeting, which really added to the sense that ABT really cares about its interns and values their insight.

From the interview process through the end of my internship I also made sure everyone knew exactly what I wanted to do with my career, and everyone at ABT understood, supported, and helped me craft a summer experience to get me closer to that goal.  My boss, ABT’s Chief Philanthropy Officer, gave me interesting projects to work on, but she also gave me the freedom to explore my professional interests; the result is that I got to work together with ABT’s Associate Director of Institutional Support and ABT’s Chief Administrative Officer to create a curriculum for a workshop that is exactly in line with what I aspire to teach someday at a BFA program or law school.  Working with the Chief Administrative Officer (who doubles as ABT’s in house lawyer) also opened my mind to the legal issues a dance company faces.  Additionally, I scheduled a meeting with ABT’s General Manager to discuss how he negotiates contracts between the company and it’s choreographers, employees, and the employees’ unions.

Exploring these departments showed me there is a market for fusing law and dance, and I am so glad I came to New York to work for ABT. While I only have one week left at ABT, I know this isn’t really goodbye; I will always be a part of this wild, whacky, fun family whether that’s as a California contact, employee, donor, or simply a ticket buyer supporting America’s National Ballet Company®. The internship is what you make it, and I made it pretty great!

PS: While writing this I also found out ABT lists their interns’ names on their staff page at abt.org and wow! This is exactly I’m talking about; the interns are celebrated here and as an intern you will never be overlooked or dismissed. You’re family.

 

Conor Gómez

Development Intern/Project Plié Scholarship Recipient

Summer 2019

Different

29 Jul

I haven’t had a typical ABT intern experience. Technically, I’m not an ABT intern at all!  I am a “21st Century Intern” for the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Over the summer, the program sends students to work with performing arts companies around the world.  During the following school year, those students help host the companies when they come to perform in Michigan. When I first got the 21st Century Internship, all of the ABT summer intern roles were already filled.  My supervisors searched for months to find somewhere to send me.  The day before I left to go home for the summer, they found a loophole.  I would spend Monday through Thursday as a Programming Intern for the Joyce Theatre in Chelsea.  Then, I would come to ABT on Fridays to participate in their Professional Development Workshops and sporadically work on small projects.  I was even given the fancy title of “occasional education intern.”  

Though my hours at ABT have been limited, they have been incredibly rich.  My first day of “work” at ABT (excluding the Friday workshops) was a trip to New Jersey.  I met Taneshia Nash Laird, the president and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall. She described her vision for the company, and I was moved by her determination to hold social activism at the center.  It meant so much to me to see an empowered woman of color leveraging her position to specifically uplift marginalized communities. It was one of the first times I’ve been able to point to someone and say, “that’s the work I want to do.”

My second excursion was to the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, where ABT teaches free classes as part of a partnership with the New York Department of Education.  I took two (very humbling) ballet classes alongside eager middle and high school students. While I was only there for one day, I was able to learn a lot about how to responsibly enter and serve communities.  I will apply those lessons when I am hosting and planning community events with ABT, when they come to perform at the Detroit Opera House next year.

While I wish I could have spent more time with ABT this summer, I am more than happy with the way things worked out.  I now have an experience completely unique from any other ABT or 21st Century intern. One of the most important lessons I have learned is this: Don’t miss out on an opportunity just because there isn’t a neat structure already in place.  The job description might not be a perfect fit- it might not even exist! That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you. And when you get there? Help make room for others. 

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Image description: a far-away mirror selfie in a dance studio at the Newark Symphony Hall.  There are colorful, hand-drawn posters on the short side wall. The adults are talking in the corner.  The marley reflects the ceiling lights, and the two long walls of mirrors reflect each other.

Victoria Briones

Occasional Education Intern

Summer 2019