Till We Meet… Again

3 Aug

Growing up as a dancer in northern Westchester, an hour from the city, I have always viewed American Ballet Theatre as the most prestigious ballet company in the country. As I grew older and became more invested in dance, I realized that I wanted to pursue it as my main career path. However, I am constantly reminded that becoming a professional dancer is not an easy or predictable job nor is it financially stable.

Going into my first year at Southern Methodist University, I knew that I needed to find another interest that I could pursue as a complementary career path to dance but was unsure of what exactly that might be. Once Covid-19 hit, I decided that I would make use of online classes offered during the Summer of 2020 in hopes that the business courses would spark a new interest. After six general business courses, this summer provided a great opportunity to intern in arts management, combining my two interests: business and dance.

Eager and nervous, I submitted my application to American Ballet Theatre at the end of February. After much built-up anticipation, I checked my email and had received an interview invitation with Fallon Sullivan and Megan Stahlberg, the special events coordinators. I was able to complete my interview with them the following week and show them how my passion for dance and skills in business would prove useful in the Special Events Internship for the Summer of 2021. I was fortunate and overjoyed to be offered the position.

During the first few weeks of my internship, I learned the basics of the Raiser’s Edge donor database and met many professional artists during the bi-monthly Ballet Banter’s and Virtual Studio Visits. As the end of June was approaching, the special events team was fully invested in producing a virtual Summer Celebration Gala on July 15th. For this event, I worked alongside Fallon and Megan in weekly meetings as well as emailing and documenting hundreds of donors whose generosity allows for the growth of America’s National Ballet Company.

Summer Celebration was drawing near as the special events team was fully preparing for their biggest virtual fundraiser of the year. On the premiere of Summer Celebration, the microsite that ABT used was down due to issues with their server. As I watched the site buffer from my kitchen table, I sat back as my two mentors (and many development team members) performed some severe damage control in attempt to premiere the event to the thousands of viewers across the world. I was amazed by their talents in improvising this virtual nightmare. I was reminded at this moment that even the most prestigious companies are not perfect.

Aside from the multiple virtual events this year, America’s National Ballet Company set off on a country-wide tour visiting multiple cities and concluding their ABT Across America tour in the heart of Rockefeller Center. I was honored to be invited to the dress rehearsal where I was able to watch the dancers perform, as well as meet my many colleagues I had been working with all summer! One of my fellow interns and I stood there greeting the audience in the middle of Rockefeller Center with our “All Access” badges around our necks. This was such a surreal moment at the beginning of my career as I realize how proud of myself I was for working for such an elite company.

Throughout my special events internship with American Ballet Theatre, I have learned a tremendous amount about myself and what direction I see myself headed after college. I learned that I can prepare and strive for perfection, but when it comes down to it, I must be ready to improvise and think on my feet according to what is given to me. I am thankful to my mentors Fallon and Megan for fully integrating me into their daily work and providing me with challenging duties. Also, for giving me several opportunities to learn about myself which has inspired me to steer my career path to incorporate both dance and the business aspect of the arts.

Emily Slater

Special Events Intern 

Summer 2021

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