Improvising with ABT

8 Aug

My department, Patron Services, was entirely in flux due to the pandemic, so I spent a summer improvising with ABT. Without the ability to bring people beautiful productions in person, my boss told me, we would be pivoting to something of a media company, bringing the ballet home through videos, audio, and personal correspondence with patrons. Thus, I spent my summer editing dancer videos, designing letters to send to donors, sorting through recordings of ABT online interviews and other events to ensure that they would be accessible for everyone.

It was hard to escape the feeling of witnessing some kind of history, sitting in on development meetings at a storied American institution during such a pivotal moment in our time. ABT did an incredible job of including interns in most discussions and events within our departments, making us feel like part of the team and allowing us to listen in on discussions about all the various challenges for ABT during our time. I heard conversations about social movements, Black Lives Matter, the impending recession, ways to retain engagement during the time of social distancing—all through the lens of a sprawling cultural nonprofit.

As such, ABT did an incredible job showing us what it takes behind the scenes to make those incredible performances possible. The nonprofit world was demystified by the end of the summer, and I became aware of jobs within a nonprofit that I didn’t even know existed. This, supplemented with the zoom calls we had with notable people within the company and across the dance world, provided me with the tools to make an informed career choice when I graduate next year. It is an incredible feeling to discover that one can work in various, fascinating roles in the arts, even if one does not exactly have the balance and grace to dance.


Sarisha Kurup

Patron Services Intern

Summer 2020


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