Beauty of the Unexpected

9 Aug

ElaineinternphotoI’ll be honest with you guys, before starting this job I was pretty sureI knew what I was getting into. I’ve had a few internships in arts administration and development and while I knew American Ballet Theatre was an important company in the New York and national arts scene, I figured the experience would be similar enough. So I completed my last final in Boston, drove home to New York and just three days later started my internship at ABT.

It was that night, standing backstage at the Met Opera House as I watched the principals of Giselle that night perform not 30 feet away from me that I realized I may have been in a bit over my head.

What followed was an internship and opportunities that I can hardly believe happened to me. I spent the summer in the Executive Department. For most of the summer my time was split between general administrative and organizational work at 890 and working the nightly spring season performances at the Metropolitan Opera House. After wrapping up my work down in Union Square I would hop on the subway uptown to Lincoln Center.  Each night I would hustle in my office or in the front of house to the strains of Stravinsky and Minkus, preparing meetings, escorting guests and donors, drafting daily schedules and briefings and everything and anything in between.  When I wasn’t doing work for the executive department I was slowly replacing my blood with coffee (hey, it’s not my fault the Keurig is next to my desk!), listening to guest speakers brought in through the internship program or watching the performances the ABT staff has put their blood, sweat and tears into.

ABT has been the biggest, busiest, boldest thing that I had the opportunity to dive into. And while every night I would collapse into bed, I woke up every morning and couldn’t wait to get into work.  The internship program allows interns to truly work on a variety of different projects wants us to develop our own skills and experiences. We had the ability to develop our own careers through things like resume-writing workshops and learn about others (chatting with those in varied positions like conducting and finance).  And when it got intense, all I had to do was sit on the fountain and Lincoln Center and marvel at the place I got to exist this summer.

While it feels like no time had passed, it has been almost three months, and my time at ABT has come to an end. Working with and alongside individuals who are passionate about what they do and their organization’s mission, and who have offered their friendship and guidance this summer has been an amazing privilege.  I’ve gotten to work with and meet incredible people from the stagehands and ushers at the Met, to my co-workers and co-interns at 890.  Managing a behemoth like ABT, least of all a spring season with 64 performances of full-length programming is no small task, and I am constantly inspired by every single person at ABT who makes it, and ABT’s mission, possible. As they say, it’s been a wild ride.  Having to leave this community is bittersweet. But, we’re not really leaving are we? ABT has expanded my world in so many ways outside ballet and the lessons and experiences imparted are ones I will carry on.

Elaine Harris

Executive Intern

Summer 2018

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