Seeing the Old, Meeting the New at ABT

18 Jun

My time interning at ABT has only just begun, but I have already learned so much. Most of the skills I’ve learned are very practical and not incredibly glamorous, but there is something satisfying about learning those administrative skills that higher education seems to neglect. I have also met many kind, intelligent, and dedicated people (including my fellow interns!) that reflect how ABT fosters an open and supportive work environment. Something I didn’t expect during my time at ABT, however, was seeing some familiar names and faces.

I grew up dancing at a small studio in Raleigh, North Carolina where everyone knows each other. Dance was a formative part of my childhood: while my classmates participated in sports after school, I attended ballet and modern classes almost every day of the week. Time has passed since I danced everyday. It was difficult to dedicate as much time as I used to while in college. My love for dance, however, has continued to thrive throughout the years, and it has inspired my interest in arts administration and my decision to intern at ABT. Here, I work for the National Training Curriculum (NTC), a program that is dedicated to developing physically and artistically strong dancers. A big part of teaching these students is, of course, teaching the teachers, and many of my daily tasks revolve around Teacher Training Sessions. NTC Certified Teachers can submit their students for examinations, where students receive feedback on their technique and teachers receive feedback on their instruction. I compare it to the Cecchetti examinations I grew up taking, so, if you know what the word “Cecchetti” means, NTC is similar to that!

On my second day, I was proofreading rubrics from some of these examinations. NTC Certified Teachers come from all over the world, so it was incredible to see the name of one of my teachers from my studio on a folder I had to review! Then, later that same day, some dancers participating in ABT’s collegiate intensive came into the office to buy tickets for a company performance. I thought I recognized one of the dancers, and after we stared at each other for a few seconds we confirmed that we knew each other because we danced at the same studio. First a familiar name, now a familiar face! We chatted for a bit, amazed that we ran into each other once again years later at ABT.

Since that day I have not seen anyone else or any other names reminiscent of my studio in North Carolina. But I think those moments stand as a testament to the community ABT strives to create. NTC, among the many other programs ABT offers, attracts individuals from around the world who all aspire to dance and support others’ dance experiences. I am honored to be part of such an initiative and support a program that brings people together. It was fun to see some familiar names and faces, but I am already grateful for all the new people I have had the opportunity to meet and look forward to meeting even more during this internship.

So, on that note: I can’t wait to see some unfamiliar faces this summer. Here’s to new connections and new relationships!

Sarah Miller

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2019


I’m an ABTKid!

29 May

My internship at American Ballet Theatre was amazing! I came from another part of the World (Italy) with high expectations and I can say now, I am not disappointed. I worked in the Education and Training Department with different tasks to do everyday, it’s a really dynamic department. People who I worked with are very nice and available to help me and answer to any questions, concerns or curiosity you may have.

From the beginning, we started working on a project that highlighted my creativity skills, the ABTKids Guide.  It’s a guide of American Ballet Theatre for kids. Through dancer’s, Artistic Director and Choreographer interviews, curiosities, history and games, we could create an extraordinary booklet and I had the chance to learn more about this amazing dance company.

We interviewed ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie (I was completely enchanted by every words he said!) and ABT Dancers Company, like Calvin Royal III and Hee Seo.  In those moments I could really appreciate and feel the mission of American Ballet Theatre, it’s a big family! And after few months here, I can say that I’m part of ABT Family too and I loved it!

Jemila Cappelli

Educational Outreach Intern

Spring 2019

Connecting People Through Ballet

24 May

When most people think of ballet, they think of the glitz and glamour, tutus and pointe shoes. Although these are all certainly components, there is so much more than meets the eye, especially working on the administrative side of a ballet company. The beauty onstage is not possible without the behind-the-scenes work from every dancer, choreographer and staff member in every department here. From my brief time interning in the Major Gifts office, I’ve gathered that ballet is much more than about just selling tickets to a performance. It is about relationship building and connecting many different types of people together with a stunning art form that transcends the ordinary and sparks joy.

Day in and out of the office I witnessed the enormous generosity that the donors have in ensuring the preservation and future of America’s national ballet company. Without people like them who care immensely about the company and art form, classical ballet wouldn’t be able to continue. I was fortunate enough to interact with a few of the donors at some of the special events I was staffed at and found kind people that were just as passionate and excited to talk about ballet as I was. A lot of my daily office work involved helping fulfill donor benefit requests such as ticketing services for the summer season at the Metropolitan Opera House or tracking RSVPS to special events.

The main events I got to work at were studio visits, an opportunity for donors and prospects to get an insider view of the company rehearsals for the Met season. It is a unique opportunity to witness just exactly how much hard work goes into a performance, especially since the final product looks effortless and pristine. Being so close to dancers running through difficult pieces and trying to perfect it is a fascinating and raw experience. It gives you an immense appreciation for the hours on end that dancers and the ballet masters put in to create beautiful performances; the dancers make mistakes, they get out of breath, they execute a perfect turn just to fall right out of one. They are imperfect just like the rest of us, so to see the journey these dancers take to get to that final product certainly reminds you of our shared humanity.

There were many noteworthy moments and events throughout the internship that I got to be a part of. Some of the highlights include the ABT/Hamilton cast party, being in the room while Twyla Tharp rehearsed In the Upper Room with dancers, seeing Blake Lively and her two daughters at an ABT Kids event, getting to dress up for the 2019 Spring Gala, and much more. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience at ABT and value what I’ve learned and the people I’ve gotten to connect with through my time here-there is no better place to gain experience working for a world-class performing arts organization!

Alex Holmblad

Major Gifts Intern

Spring 2019

“Center Stage” in Real Life

24 May

When I was offered the position to be an intern with the National Training Curriculum at American Ballet Theatre, I had absolutely no idea what I had accepted. I just knew that ABT wanted me and the answer was YES! How I stubbled upon what would become my future relationship with ABT was honestly right place, right time. I’ve always appreciated ballet and those who had a gift for it, but I consider myself to be more modern/contemporary based. My college sent an email to all students with an offer, Raymond Lukens would be coming to Adelphi University to offer us an audition to their Collegiate Summer Intensive for that year. I laughed at the idea of me doing ballet for the summer, especially on pointe, but when the day of the audition came, I decided to take the class because it would be auditioning experience. My classmates were shocked when they saw me with all the ballet dancers in the department taking Raymond’s audition class. I knew, even if I was to be accepted, I’d never go out of fear. The day did come when I got the acceptance email, and due to encouragement from my professors I accepted and prepared for a summer on pointe. Towards the end of the intensive, some collegiate students were asked to volunteer for a workshop called ABTKids that was run by Dennis Walters and Richard Toda. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the environment that ABT created, not to mention how kind they were with the compensation of tickets to see two upcoming performances! I emailed Dennis after the event and told him I’d be interested in continuing to work with ABT through an internship, in the education department and that was the start of it all.

When I arrived for orientation, I expected a briefing of our roles and duties as interns as well as a possible tour, but what I ended with was so much more. In around 2 hours I had already met some incredible interns as well as witness my favorite movie unfold before my very eyes. I certainly was not expecting to see Ethan Stiefel and Sascha Radetsky on a nearly weekly basis from my cubicle. Not to mention bumping into ABT principal dancer Stella Abrera in the bathroom on my first day! That was already pretty unbelievable, but the internship program has offered so many amazing opportunities and connection throughout this semester. I am so disappointed I had class on Fridays and wasn’t able to attend most meeting and workshops, but I am extremely grateful for the few that I did get to attend. I was able to stand humble on the Metropolitan Opera House stage that has been graced by the best of the best performers. I was go on an eye-opening backstage tour of the Met before Harlequinade,as well as enjoy the show with my very own guest. Recently, I was also able to attend the Spring Met Gala that ABT hosts and oh my word, if you are a fashion lover that was the place to be. I was able to witness some of the most incredible designs, fabrics, and materials on ABT’s very own, as well as guests that included celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Katie Holmes.

My most favorite experience thus far has definitely been the training session held at ABT for the National Training Curriculum. That was when I physically saw all the work the NTC department come to fruition. I met and spoke with the future certified teachers, and was able to listen in on some of their sessions as well as observe some of the JKO student classes. It was so wonderful to learn from Franco De Vita and Raymond Lukens on ABT’s training curriculum in their class and have the ability to relate it to some of the classes I’ve taken at ABT or with ABT certified teachers. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to completely be immersed in a world that revolved around dancing, but didn’t involve us actually dancing. I’m so grateful for the skills that I’ve acquired here (I am now a certified professional in Microsoft Excel and FileMaker Pro *most up-to-date version*), and for the time that I have spent learning about my mentor, Sonia Jones, and the NTC department on a personal and professional level. No matter what you came into this program looking for, you will leave with new knowledge that will be invaluable to you for the future. 10/10 would recommend.

Pamyla Cummings

NTC Intern

Spring 2019

All the World’s a Stage

16 May

Five months ago, I started my internship at American Ballet Theatre. I had no idea what to expect. I walked into 890 Broadway, went up the historic and manually operated elevator, and Kristine (best mentor ever) showed me my desk in the main development office. Yesterday, May 15th, I had the chance to take a backstage tour of the Met Opera House so that I could learn how to give tours to our donors. These donors are the people who I have been contacting on the phone, meeting at studio visits and special events, and learning about slowly through entering their data into our database. Walking onto the stage at the Met was something I will never forget because it was a perfect culmination of the most rewarding semester and internship yet.

Most people know ABT as America’s National Ballet Company. However, most ballet companies have a home/stage of their own. ABT doesn’t, in fact; everywhere the company performs which includes the Met is considered a tour. Therefore, everyone at ABT must work incredibly hard to mount around 15 staged ballets to perform at the Met in only 8 weeks. That is incredible. This semester, I got to see how hard and diligent the people at ABT work, especially the employees in the relatively small development department.

One of my main tasks this semester was inputting ticket orders from our donors into a tracking sheet in our drive and also on Raiser’s Edge. Although this may have been tedious at times, it made me realize this seemingly small task does have an impact. The information that is in our database is our way of knowing which seats we assigned to the donors, what nights they are coming, and what location they are sitting in. Therefore, being able to work for a little period of time at the Met Season, I get to see the faces of the people I have been entering into our system.

I had a very hard time choosing what my favorite part of this semester was. Here is a list of my top three moments (other than touring the Met):

1) Attending and prepping for ABT at Hamilton where ABT dancers and AMEX representatives were able to see a Broadway show and then meet each other afterwards

2) Going with Alex and Chad to the site of our Junior Color Party which was stunningly gorgeous and made me feel like I was in Italy rather than NYC

3) Seeing numerous studio rehearsals where I was able to watch the joy on donor’s faces in seeing their favorite dancers rehearse and work on many different ballets.

Tomorrow, my college graduates at Lincoln Center and I am able to take graduation photos in front of the huge ABT  banner at the Met. I truly believe that ABT helped me to develop skills that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else, and I can’t wait to come back to NYC and go to Lincoln Center remembering my time with ABT.

Meredith Beisel

Patron Services Intern

Spring 2019

Today I Wore A Suit Jacket

14 May

The day: April 23. Year: 2019. Location: New York City. Today I wore a suit jacket. Not anything lavish, I actually purchased it for my senior prom eight years ago (and it still [mostly] fits!), but for someone who’s pretty much only worked in very casual non-profit environments, a suit jacket is a moment for me. I chose to document this day because I knew that it’d be a mix of my usual tasks and routines along with some special happenings, so it is a nice little slice of my time as the Membership intern at ABT this semester.

Something I’ve enjoyed about this internship is always having responsibilities each time I come in. Some of these tasks include short-term projects like conducting research on prospective donors and analyzing data about family memberships, daily tasks like preparing membership acknowledgements, long-term projects like updating profiles in the database, and special events and programs like studio visits and ABT UpFronts, which I’d be helping with later that day.

After getting most my office duties out of the way, I accompanied Alex, Assistant Manager of Membership, and Meredith, Patron Services Intern, to The Elizabeth Collective to drop off decorations and do a venue walkthrough for the upcoming Junior Council Color Party. Color Party is an annual spring kickoff event for ABT’s young patrons program that took place at Elizabeth Taylor’s former townhouse. Unfortunately, I had class the night of the event, but from what I saw in preparation it looks like it was a great time!

After returning from the visit to The Elizabeth Collective, I had some time to work on a long-term project of updating profiles in the database before heading over to the Joyce Theater for the big event of the evening, the Reason I wore a suit jacket today… ABT UpFronts! UpFronts is a special program for select ABT donors, prospects, and guests to get an exclusive look at the upcoming spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House. This year’s event included conversations with Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky, and choreographer Cathy Marston, and featured excerpts of performances from principal dancers and Studio Company. Before and after the event, I was working at the Membership table to answer questions and speak with current and prospective donors.

After the event (and after snagging a dozen gourmet mini rice krispy treats) a few of us interns went out for a bite to eat, which was nice just to have a moment to hang out and socialize. While admittedly not every day at ABT is as eventful as today was, it was a nice snippet of my time here at ABT… plus I felt fancy in my suit jacket.

Blog Photo11

Chad Rabago

Membership Intern

Spring 2019

Ballet Emergency

13 May

Prior to interning at American Ballet Theatre, I had no idea what working in an office was like. I trained to be a pianist for two decades, but after injury, had to shift career paths. Most of my previous arts administration-related experience involved lots of running/driving around but very little time spent day-to-day in the office. I was happily surprised to discover that working in ABT’s offices was a fulfilling, challenging, and supportive experience. This internship program and the people that I met at ABT taught me lessons that I know that I will take into all of my future work.

Over the past several months, I interned in the Executive Office under ABT’s energetic Executive Director, Kara Barnett, and her two incredible Executive Assistants, Brittany and Meredith. Kara is a whirlwind, always moving from place to place and continually coming up with new ideas for how to move the company forward. Her office is tasked with making sure that her busy schedule runs smoothly and that she is always prepared for her travel, meetings, and events. The fast-paced nature of this office taught me how to work efficiently and under pressure, while still maintaining accuracy.

I enjoyed the challenge of taking care of all of the details, but even more than that, I enjoyed being a part of such a collaborative environment. The Executive Office sits in the middle of the building – it is quite literally the center of everything that happens at ABT – and I loved seeing everyone work together daily to keep the wheels in motion. I can’t count the number of times that there was a “ballet emergency” and, within 30-seconds of asking for help, I would have 3 people running to my side to assist (so thankful for Jackie and Jillian, who always dropped whatever they were doing to help me!). Even when everyone is at their busiest, the environment is truly supportive and everyone’s passion and love for the arts brings people together whenever “all hands” are required on deck.

One of my favorite parts of the past few months has been, believe it or not, the dogs. You may know the hashtag #dogsofabt, but what you may not know is that our corner of the office is the unofficial puppy babysitting station. It is almost guaranteed that at least once per day, a dog will stop by and everyone will stop their work and go to pet it. These moments kept the office feeling lighthearted and fun, even in the most stressful of times.

Monica Chen

Executive Office Intern

Spring 2019