Ballet’s Best Kept Secret…..

9 Feb

It did not take long for me to realize that being an intern at American Ballet Theater’s JKO School is not your average internship. Practically everyday I ride the elevator with a prima ballerina, and I pass world-renown celebrity Misty Copeland all the time in the hallway. It’s not unusual for a principal dancer to snap a picture through the door while I assistant teach a primary class of baby ballerinas. For a dancer or an avid ballet fan, interning at ABT is endless excitement.

We had our official intern orientation meeting this past Friday, where we had a tour of the studios, briefly observing Alexei Ratmansky create his new production of The Sleeping Beauty, and catching a glimpse of Julie Kent dancing a heartfelt pas de deux. But unexpectedly, the highlight of the day was a storage closet at the back end of the JKO School. Holding us in suspense, Dennis said he was about to show us the true finances of a ballet company. Pushing open a locked door, he revealed bags and bags overflowing with unused pointe shoes—hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of brand new shoes, rejected by current dancers, or left by dancers who joined other companies or retired. And it gets better: ABT sells these pointe shoes for as little as $20 per pair!

I felt suddenly and instantly enlightened. I could not believe that I had lived 24 years of my life not knowing that this closet existed. Seeing my eyes widen in excitement, Dennis let me try on all of the makers and designs of Freed pointe shoes they had in my size—there were a lot. I ended up with two pairs that I loved, from two different dancers. When I agreed to come back for more after trying these, Dennis gave them to me for free. Two free pairs of pointe shoes with endless amounts of $20 pairs to come! It felt like if you combined Christmas and my birthday, and something else really great.

This is only the beginning of a semester filled with exciting events, like the 75th anniversary Gala in the spring, and the performance of Ratmansky’s new ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the semester will bring.

Eliza Sherlock-Lewis

JKO School Intern – Spring 2015

Eliza in the Pointe Shoe room with her new shoes

Eliza in the Pointe Shoe room with her new shoes

Exploring the Ballet World Behind the Scenes

31 Dec

With its mission to bring American dance to the world, ABT travels to foreign countries every year and receives warm welcomes and thunderous applause at the various venues. But, what are the elements that support such successful tours and how to compensate the quite high travel expenses? The answer mainly lies on ticket sales revenue from ABT’s Fall and Spring seasons in New York City. Therefore, managing single tickets and subscriptions for the New York seasons is a great chance for membership interns to explore the world of ABT, as ticketing plays an important role in supporting the company’s development.

Learning how to use Raiser’s Edge is the first step in exploring the “Non-Profit” world. I was taught where to insert ticket information and how to merge numerous acknowledgement letters in the database. When receiving actual tickets from The Koch Theater or BAM, I have to make sure all single ticket information in properly entered into the database. This includes performance times, ticket quantities, total price and seat sections.   In addition I have to make sure everything is perfectly matched with the information on the actual tickets. Unlike single ticket orders, subscriptions could only be purchased for the Metropolitan Opera House season (spring season) each year. The long order sheets not only contain subscription details such as performance series, total prices, as well as patrons’ requirements to REMAIN, CHANGE, DELETE, or IMPROVE their previous seats. In order to keep received subscriptions in good order, the ticketing associate and I worked together to create several folders labeled by ‘receive today’ ‘in progress’ ‘done’ to distinguish those orders. Additionally, for documents in the ‘done’ folder, I was able to separate them in two piles: straight renewal and renewal with changes, so that the ticketing associate would find it easier to manage them.

During fall season, I was responsible for setting up and managing the membership table at Koch Theater. Each day I set up brochures, posters, dancers’ pictures and a DVD player 45 minutes before the performances start. During the intermission, my assignment was to chat with audience members who showed great interest in ABT and introduce them to more information regarding becoming a member. In the event I met someone that was already a member above the golden circle level, I would direct him/her to the patron lounge for snacks and drinks.

The whole internship experience at ABT not only made my dreams come true as a ballet fan, but also gave me lots of opportunities to improve my skills, from database to communication as well as organization skills. This experience taught me how to be a reliable member of the team and be the boss of my own projects. Most important, I obtained clearer insight on future career development.

Sha Li

Membership Intern

Fall 2014

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My “Happy Dance”!

5 Dec

As a recent college graduate with no previous intern experience, I was so ecstatic to be asked to intern with ABT that I did my “happy dance” which soon became a running joke throughout the semester. I was happy dancing in the office, throughout the streets of beautiful Manhattan, and even at the Fall Gala!

 

My time at ABT has been extremely wonderful. Not only was I trusted with important tasks from the beginning, but I was welcomed with open arms from all staff members and fellow interns. As an intern for the National Training Curriculum, I was able to help create certificates for Certified Teachers and distribute plaques to Affiliate Teachers. I have emailed individuals helping with issues and towards the end of the semester was able to interact with NYU Master Program students as they completed their first examination for Pre-Primary through Level 3. I was trusted with handing out the exams, making sure everyone followed the rules, collecting the exams, and then grading them. It was an awesome feeling to be trusted by my mentors to handle this task and then create the certificates for everyone I interacted with because they all passed!

 

Some of my favorite parts of my intern experience was the special events that interns got to experience. It was amazing chaperoning the young dancers of the JKO School before their Fall Gala performance and seeing the excitement in their eyes. It was awesome interacting with the Roundabout Theatre Company apprentices and meeting other individuals in a similar position in life as me. I was so happy to be asked to attend professional performances both from ABT and the Roundabout Theatre Company and even got to participate in the Young People’s Ballet Workshop, which is one of the educational outreach programs offered by ABT.

 

The best part of this entire experience was meeting everyone involved at ABT and learning that the organization is more than just it’s professional company. ABT is doing amazing things to help diversify ballet and make sure that ballet is around for years and years to come. Through my internship at American Ballet Theatre I fell in love with ballet all over again.

 

Alyssa Kemper

National Training Curriculum Intern

Fall 2014

 

The David H. Koch Theater before the performance

The David H. Koch Theater before the performance

A view from my seat

A view from my seat

Bringing a Mission to Life

3 Dec

“To create, to present, to preserve, and to extend the great repertoire of classical dancing, through performances and educational programming of the highest quality, presented to the widest possible audience.”

Undertaking an internship at the ABT Education Department was a dream come true. Not only did I have the privilege of working in a passionate environment, but I was part of something bigger: bringing a mission to life.

On a daily basis, whether it be through supporting the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School nurture and develop future generations of dancers and ballet lovers, or inspiring the minds of young people by being part of their Outreach Programs, the ABT Education Intern experience is rewarding and gratifying because it enables you to make a difference.

Helping to administer experiences including the “Young People’s Ballet Workshop” where hundreds of students are introduced to ballet and the theatre for the first time, facilitating ballet related craft workshops at the ‘ABT Open House for the Friends of the JKO School’, and assisting teaching artists in the delivery of student driven projects such as ‘Ballet for a New Audience’ was not only fun and intrinsically rewarding, but also allowed me to grow both personally and professionally, enriching my artistic, administrative and teaching skills.

I am delighted to have played a role in ABT’s mission and highly recommend the Education Internship Program for individuals with professional aspirations in providing value driven artistic opportunities through arts administration and educational programming.

Karen Gauci

National Training Curriculum Intern

Fall 2014

Karen helping young children enjoy ballet-related crafts. ‘ABT Open House for the Friends of the JKO School’. Left: Karen working with fellow intern Isabel to prepare Le Corsaire pirate capes. Right: Making ‘Fancy Free’ Sailor Hats!

A Week in the Life of an ABT Education and Training Intern

3 Dec

Wednesday

The energy of the JKO students fills the air as they arrive at the Koch Theater for the Fall Gala. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the JKO School and the 75th Anniversary of ABT, the JKO students are opening the gala with a piece choreographed for them by Alexei Ratmansky, Pièce d’Occasion. With other current and former interns, I lead the students and their parents up the stairs to watch the dress rehearsal of the company’s pieces for the gala. Once everyone is in their seats, I sit down to watch the rehearsal of a brand new piece by Liam Scarlett, With a Chance of Rain. I’m captivated by the dancers and enjoy the opportunity to see the dance come together with the orchestra’s music. After the rehearsal is finished, I lead a group of anxious students to a hallway where they await their turn on the stage. The 140 students jump up and down, both to warm up their feet and try to rid themselves of their nerves. They have no reason to be nervous, however; their piece is beautiful and highlights their strong technique while evoking the speed with which childhood passes. Once they finish their rehearsal, we take the students through the maze-like hallways backstage to a studio downstairs until the performance begins. At 6:30, nerves abound as we lead the students back up to the wings of the stage, where they receive last-minute words of encouragement from Kevin McKenzie. After the piece has finished to enthusiastic applause, we make sure the students are checked out of the theater, before emerging from the stage door ourselves back into the reality of the outside world.

Thursday

I’m back at Lincoln Center, this time as an audience member at a performance of Raymonda Divertissements, Jardin aux Lilas, and Fancy Free. Before the performance, the ABT interns met apprentices from the Roundabout Theatre Company for dinner and networking, discussing the similarities and differences between working at non-profit theatre and dance organizations. Now, sitting in the audience chatting with Roundabout apprentices before the curtain goes up, I find it hard to believe that last night I was backstage in the wings at this time; the two worlds seem so different. The performance is delightful, and I especially enjoy the chance to see Fancy Free, which I had been reading about a few weeks ago at the office as I helped make worksheets about Fancy Free for ABT’s Make a Ballet outreach program.

Friday

Today finds me at the office, and I have time to respond to a few emails before heading to the weekly intern meeting. Today we’re working on interview skills, and after discussing how to prepare for an interview and common questions asked, we launch into a game of “Interview Jeopardy.” Interns take turns selecting “Good,” “Bad,” or “Ugly” cards and responding to the questions they contain, which range from “Tell me about yourself” to “Why were you fired?” I’m unlucky enough to get two of the “ugliest” questions, but we all get a good laugh over them and learn how not to respond in awkward situations. After our meeting, I work on finishing up research sheets on influential people from the 1940s that students in the Make a Ballet program will study and use as inspiration for their own ballets. Once this is done, I create a flyer describing the internship program to be used at a career fair at NYU later in the day and work on updating the Intern Alumni Database that I recently created. Overall, it’s been an exciting week at ABT as the fall season began. I have learned so much already about arts administration and education and look forward to seeing what the rest of the semester holds.

Isabel McGrory-Klyza

Educational Outreach Intern

Fall 2014

Don’t You Just Love New York In The Fall?

3 Dec

For the first time ever, it’s fall and I’m not a student! This year, I’m spending a beautiful New York City autumn interning in the Education department at American Ballet Theatre. I arrive just after 11am, finishing my coffee as I walk from Union Square station to 890 Broadway. If you’re a bunhead like me, you can’t help but mentally list all of the dance icons that have passed through this doorway. I step onto the elevator, crowded with an assortment of company members, staff, and students. We pass the first three floors, and then I step off to start my day as a National Training Curriculum intern.

Although there weren’t any teacher training sessions this fall, there was no shortage of work for the NTC interns! The first few weeks, I learned something new every single day; now that I’ve learned the organizational systems, I really enjoy coming into the office and getting right to work. My jobs have ranged from shredding outdated paperwork, to mailing boutique merchandise, to updating the database. I’ve also learned to prepare deposit slips, print beautiful certificates, merge all manner of Excel spreadsheets, and mail hundreds documents internationally. With over 1,700 certified teachers to date, processing payments and registering attendees for 2015 sessions has kept us quite busy recently.

Another exciting facet of NTC is its partnership with New York University in offering an M.A. alongside NTC Certification, so I had the opportunity to observe a morning of NYU classes. For the first hour, Meghan Love lectured on the Level 1 syllabus. Afterwards, the NYU cohort took a Level 1 class, as if they were young ballet students. The attention to technical detail and musical precision in even simple tendu exercises held my attention completely. I also enjoyed the use of creative imagery throughout the class. This experience gave me an idea as to what a teacher training session might be like.

In addition to my days in NTC, I’ve also met and worked with the interns from other departments. Helping at special events, like the Donor Studio visits, was fascinating because I had the chance to see the company in rehearsal and experience what work in Special Events and Development can be like. All of the interns were on-deck for the Fall Gala, chaperoning JKO students backstage or setting up for the dinner. In our weekly meetings, we’ve enjoyed guest speakers including JKO faculty member, Mikhail Ilyin, and Chief Executive Officer, Rachel Moore.

Although it took some adjustment to spending my days in business-casual dress rather than leotards, this internship made it possible for me to acquire valuable professional skills while still feeling as connected to dance as ever. It also made me even more passionate about sharing ballet through teaching, and I’m hoping to return to complete an NTC teacher training session in 2015!

Rachel Zervakos

National Training Curriculum Intern

Fall 2014

My Friend, Pat

26 Aug

Throughout my time at ABT, I have made a great friend at work–Pat. Although we did not get along at first and someone had to teach us how to work together, we eventually became close friends.

Mailing is constant here at ABT, and I had to work with Pat often. He can do amazing things! He can seal your envelopes and he knows how to pull the letters through a conveyor belt to postmark them. You can easily send something to another country by selecting an international letter on his program.

Though he makes life easier, he can also decide to act up. He will stop working and say he has to “warm up.” Or, he holds onto a letter and will not let go until you yank it away from him. We will be working on a large project, and then he decides that he does not have the funds to finish and stops working. Of course, all the problems are resolved with the help of someone else or just taking a moment and revisiting the issue later. Simply restarting has fixed many of our problems. All in all, we had some good times together.

Pat, if you have not have guessed, is our postage machine. It may seem weird to write about a mail machine’s importance, but around the development office, we would be lost without it. Huge mailings are sent out before large events, including member ticketing privileges. Whenever donations are received, donors receive letters in the mail explaining their membership or thanking them for their gift. During our performance seasons, we send out a lot of information, such as dress rehearsal tickets. In general, the department’s primary form of communication relies on ground mail. Without Pat, the development office would have a much harder time sending important information to donors (and we would have to lick a lot of envelopes!).

Taylor Logan

Membership Intern

Summer 2014

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