The Sweat Behind the Show

1 Aug

A full-fledged ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House is a true artistic treasure. A simultaneous orchestral flourish and opening of the curtain transports the entire theater to a different world, filled with beauty, suspense, love and surprise. The performances this season have been magical, especially to a “ballet newbie” like me. I’ve been continuously struck by the capabilities of the human body and the raw power of movement.

During my time as the Major Gifts intern, I’ve had the privilege of working several of this season’s dress rehearsals. Before the rehearsal, my job is to situate myself in the lobby of the Met and be readily available for any questions or concerns from our members. It is a lot of smiling and nodding, pointing in the direction of the bathroom, and making polite conversation with strangers. Getting to know ABT members has been one of the coolest parts of the job. They have lived fulfilling and adventurous lives and are eager to share their stories. During intermission(s) I am positioned in line with the tech table, and am instructed to prohibit anyone from wandering close to the stage.

A perk of working these events, is the opportunity to watch the rehearsal itself. The other development interns and I tip-toe into our box and slide into the red velvet seats. Aesthetically, the rehearsal is identical to any performance I’ve seen. All of the dancers are in costume and playing towards the audience. I feel myself slip into the familiar entrancement that normally comes over me while watching a performance, as I hear, “LADIES MOVE LEFT.” The director’s notes startle me, and I am reminded that this show is still taking its form. The dancers are more vulnerable to this audience, revealing the physical strain and wearing their exhaustion on their faces. I realize that these people are also human and I’m overwhelmed by my sudden understanding of the commitment they dedicate to each performance. The subtle missteps or missed turns give weight to the flawlessness I’ve seen in previous shows and I’m once again, amazed.

In the Romeo and Juliet dress rehearsal, I got to watch Misty and Daniil dance the iconic duet during the balcony scene. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was the epitome of artistic cohesion. Even though it was merely the dress rehearsal, they had me transported back into this euphoric state as I watched their characters fall in love.

One of the best parts of being an intern at ABT is that you become witness to these incredible moments on a daily basis. Whether I’m in the office or at the Met, the performances and the people remind me how lucky I am to contribute to such a great organization.


Emily Wolfe

Major Gifts Intern

Summer 2016IMG_3347

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