THE Special Event!

10 Dec

As the Special Events intern, there was no doubt that the highlight of my internship experience with American Ballet Theatre was the Fall Gala. What was particularly exciting was that this was the first time in 37 years that the company has held its gala at the David H. Koch Theatre (formerly the New York State Theater) at Lincoln Center. The actual night of the gala was momentous beyond words, but it was putting all of those preparations into play that truly made the evening spectacular for me.

I had various tasks in the two months that I was interning before the gala. Some ranged from small “Print this out?”s or “Mail this to this person?”s to hand picking the program and menu cards at the specialty paper shop down the block and assembling all of the information packets for everyone working at the gala.

“Attention to detail” was no joke when I was buying the paper. Making sure it was just the right size, color, weight, and quality for printing was all crucial (I did end up having to make a few returns back!). When I purchased the perfect paper – stark white for the programs and a stormy grey (reflecting the night’s theme of The Tempest) for the dinner and dessert menus – the Special Events Assistant, Maria, and I took them over to Staples to have them printed. I remember picking the five or six heavy boxes up the next night and running into one of the Studio Company dancers who helped me take them up a few streets from Union Square! The rest of the night, Maria, Katie (the Special Events Associate), and I bonded while sorting the place cards with their appropriate tables.

The day of the gala, my job was to print the staffing lists, phone numbers of everyone working, seating charts of the gala dinner, and face book with short biographies of notable guests and celebrities in attendance. Updating and organizing the face book and bios was a recurring project that I was in charge of, and it was gratifying to see that come into play when I, along with the Artistic intern, printed and assembled around 40 of these information clipboards.

Justine with ABT Soloist Misty Copeland

Justine with ABT Soloist Misty Copeland

At the event, these were distributed, and we as the development department team pow-wowed and made changes to the seating lists in the Koch’s green room. Before the guests arrived, this was everybody’s big task. Then, us interns and a few of the staff distributed complimentary coat check cards (which I created, printed, and tore hundreds at their perforated lines during class the day before the event) for our dinner guests.

The real fun began on the Promenade as soon as the performance started. The development department, interns, and volunteers madly ran around to place those beautiful calligraphy name cards at each table, as well as personal thank you letters, and the Melville Straus Leadership Achievement Award to Ms. Adrienne Arsht. Sounds easy enough, but with over 700 guests, the wait staff simultaneously adding their own finishing touches to each table, and the dark ambiance – complete with storm sound effects and strobe lighting – it was tricky (thankfully, but albeit after many minutes of frustration, the lights were turned on fully!).

After seating our guests (I believe I was only able to seat two parties – it was very crowded! But, it was fun to match a face with the bios and pictures that had been working on), we were all able to be seated for dinner and dessert – and, later, dancing! The other interns and I took turns handing out the gift bags – goodies from our sponsors Clinique and Badgley Mischka – to our departing guests. All in all, it really was a terrific night, and it was an incredible feeling to be a part of it all! I have been so grateful and humbled to have been a part of this incredible organization, for all that they do in the arts world.

Justine Stephens

Special Events Intern

Fall 2013

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