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A Unicorn Amongst the Donkeys

3 Dec

I used to say dancers were like the unicorns of the world, and they were surrounded in a field of donkeys. That’s also how I saw myself coming into this internship. A graceless donkey coming into work with some of the most poised, professional and unbelievably talented and hard-working people I have ever met.

I came into ABT strictly with a theatre background, having just graduated and earning my BFA in Stage Management from across the country. it was definitely a big change to go from working exclusively in production to working in the office. I moved into the city and started this job on the same day, so life was definitely crazy to start coming into this position. I had previously shadowed backstage during the 2018 Met Season at ABT, and I absolutely fell in love with not only dance but the company. The dedication towards putting on such an amazing show really inspired me, and I decided that this is the kind of place that I want to be in.

I had never worked in an office before, nor had I ever worked under and with such amazing women, these people are some of the best in the world at what they do and that goes both artistically and administratively as well. Working with Kara was truly an inspiration watching her work and getting a peek into her life and the way she works was truly a privilege. Working with the Executive Assistant, Meredith, has also been amazing and seeing someone working so hard and so successfully really inspired me to push myself so she could count on me, and also made me a better worker.

This experience has made me grow in ways that I had never even considered, and it has absolutely given me some invaluable tools as I continue into my career. I came into this experience interested in diving into something new and seeing how the skills I learned in school could be used to apply myself to a totally different area, in a company that I really respected. Over the course of my time with ABT, I have really been able to grow in new areas that I had never even considered doing previously. My cover letter, resume, and interview skills have all improved significantly, and I feel so much more prepared leaving then I did when I came into the position.

My experience with ABT in this position has been invaluable, and I am so grateful for all I was able to learn and for all of the people I was able to meet. It was truly wonderful, as a donkey, getting to hang with some unicorns and feeling like a part of something truly special.

 

Tim Wils

Executive Office Intern

Fall 2019

Working with Superhumans

5 Aug

Before this summer, all I really knew about ballet was that the ballerinas danced on pointe, they wore tutus, and that Natalie Portman played a one in a movie that left me quite a bit spooked.

So, if you had told me two months ago that I’d spend my summer backstage at the Met with ABT, I would have looked at you like you were from a different planet.

I came to ABT with an arts background, from participating in summer camp theater to currently singing in a collegiate a cappella group. Despite my experience with the performing arts, ballet had always seemed to exist on another plane of existence; free of the imperfections (and voice cracks) that define a singer’s experience, the dancers were always perfectly poised, always using their bodies to convey the passion which they emoted with every single fiber of their being. Every performance was a masterpiece, a journey to a different world.

And frankly, this world terrified me. How could I, an anxious singer who could barely walk down the sidewalk without tripping, exist in the same place as these graceful, powerful, superhumans? I quickly realized that what I had seen on stage is only really one part of the village that it takes to produce a performance at The American Ballet Theatre. There were the folks in artistic department, development, education, membership, and so much more. And there was me, speed-walking around the Met in order to make sure everything was taken care of.

Working for the executive office as the Spring Season Intern, I learned to develop a schedule, a rhythm for which I would operate in this foreign world. I learned to spot a guest in Orchestra Row N from the back of the house. I learned every inch of the Metropolitan Opera House. I learned the best way to guide guests from the Parterre level to the Belmont Room. And most importantly, I learned every single usher’s name (well…almost).

Before I knew it, I’m backstage, watching every dancer spin faster and faster in their different interpretations of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake; I’m noticing the nuance that each one brings to the role, the slight artistic liberties that each individual took to make it their own. I’m seeing the dancers catch their breath backstage, popping jolly ranchers for a quick sugar boost and resin for some more pointe shoe resistance. And I realize – this distant, perfect world, this world of ballet, is no less foreign or imperfect than the world of singing with which I am familiar. At the end of the day, it takes a village to produce a work of art, to put on something as massive and beautiful as what ABT puts on stage.

To have worked in such an amazing place, with such fantastic people, has been an absolute pleasure. This incredible company has welcomed me into the world of ballet, and I could not be more thrilled and appreciative. I’ve learned so incredibly much during my few short months here, and you can be absolutely certain that you’ll see me at the next ABT performance, for the dancers and the company that makes it happen, cheering them on with all of my heart.

Danny Fier

Executive Office Intern

Summer 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Summer of Excitement

1 Aug

Before my first day at ABT, I did not quite know what to expect. Growing up, I watched ABT perform in The Kennedy Center which inspired me to become a ballerina. I danced professionally for 7 years before deciding to change my path and pursue my undergraduate degree at Columbia University. ABT has been a pillar of my upbringing, a company I have always admired, so I felt incredibly fortunate to have spent the summer learning what goes into the administration and executive side, parallel to the artistic.

As an Executive Office intern, I worked under Meredith Shell (Executive Assistant) and Kara Barnett (Executive Director). Most of my time was spent doing general administrative and organizational work at the 890 offices. Working alongside two intelligent and hardworking women was a learning experience every day. No two days were identical and each day pushed me to think quickly and efficiently, while also maintaining flexibility in a work environment. The variety of projects allowed me to cultivate my own abilities and there is no doubt that these skills and experiences will translate to my daily and academic life.

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The Internship program full of interesting artistic opportunities such as seeing ABT perform at The Met (Jane Eyre, Le Corsaire, Twyla Tharp Trio, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty), meeting other interns at the Roundabout Theater, and tour the Pointe Magazine offices. The employees at ABT are kind, exuberant, supportive, and passionate about their jobs, which speaks volumes to the organization as a whole. My summer was one full of growth, encouragement, and excitement thanks to ABT.

Mimi Tompkins

Executive office Intern

Summer 2019

An Enchanting Summer

13 Aug

RachelinternphotoI have been reluctant to write this post till the last moment as I still I have one week to stay at this lovely place. I don’t want to get too sentimental too before my final goodbyes.

While I have done several internships in both small start-ups and large corporations, this internship at ABT can definitely be credited with many “firsts.”  I came here from China to attend a graduate program at Columbia, this internship is my first time to work abroad, and after leaving ABT in mid-August, I will have been in America for one year. There are many other “firsts” as one can imagine, but I won’t count them here.  I’ll divide my post about ABT into three parts: ballet, people, and tasks.

One reason that ABT’s Summer Internship is so attractive is of course because of their season at the Metropolitan Opera House!  I have to admit that unlike other interns, most of whom learned dance and had a strong connection with ABT before they came, I knew little about ABT and even less about ballet.  As a student in an arts administration program, I am interested in interning at great arts organizations, for their artistic achievements and administrative success. Before interning at ABT, my only experience with ballet was The Nutcracker a year and a half a year ago. However, this summer I had so many opportunities to watch ballet, which has totally turned me into a huge fan. (Good job, ABT!)

As for the people, everyone here is so nice! As a Strategic Initiative intern, I have worked and had meetings with staff from several departments including: executive office, marketing, education, development, etc. They have all been friendly, helpful, and funny! I would especially thank my mentor Ophelia and another Strategic Initiative Intern Hannah – you both constantly make my day! Busy or not, I enjoyed working on projects with these two great co-workers and chatting about the industry, musicals, food, and everything! More importantly, I cannot thank them enough for instructing me whenever I have questions and offering suggestions whenever I need one. What makes the workplace even more exciting is that I can meet lots of talented dancers, hear the music and see them dance every time I pass by the studios!

Finally, for my tasks, I will try to describe them in two sentences: (1) ABT values the skills and the interests of its interns – my mentor asked me to select the projects I would like to work on and the intern program provided weekly meetings inviting guest speakers from various fields. (2) These tasks are really meaningful to me – I was challenged and excited by the projects I chose, gaining knowledge about what direction to take and what skills I should develop.

To wrap up my nonsense, I would like to thank ABT – the journey was enchanting.

Rachel Huang

Strategic Initiatives Intern

Summer 2018

The Strategy in New Potentials

10 Aug

HannahinternphotoWhen I walked into 890 Broadway for the first time at the beginning of June, I had no idea what to expect. To say I was wide-eyed would be an understatement. After my first brand new experience of the day — a morning commute through the streets of NYC — I meandered through the hallway in an attempt to find my office, but became more focused on the seemingly never-ending assortment of ABT history that plastered the walls. I think it was this immersion in the years and years worth of posters, photographs, and advertisements that caused the excitement of my upcoming internship to really sink in. I understood just how much I would inevitably gain from being a part of an organization of such rich history and carried with such great passion.

As I settled into my role at ABT, my growth and development felt tangible when I walked out the doors of 890 each day having learned something new about ABT, about the arts world, or about myself. Along with my development, that initial wide-eyed sentiment morphed into a recognition of how the variety of experiences opened my eyes to the previous unknown inner workings of this complex and incredible world. By virtue of my particular position as an intern in the Strategic Initiatives office, I have worked on projects that have required me to learn about every other department in the organization, and especially how they interact with each other. In this way, I am coming away with a new, broader understanding of the complexity of arts administration in nonprofits, and both the day-to-day tasks and long-term research projects that are involved in ABT’s best strategic efforts. My projects were wide-ranging — from website editing to Women’s Movement research to industrial data analysis to much more — and exposed me to a variety of work methods, hard skills, and soft skills. The commonality was they all helped me learn about important facets of ABT’s strength, and I felt as though we were making on working ABT stronger from many different creative approaches.

Aside from my departmental work, I was able to learn even more about the extensive nature of the company and industry through the programming for interns. All of us interns, all of whom are incredibly talented and passionate people I’m grateful to have met, gathered each Friday to learn about some aspect of ABT or arts administration in general. We received advice from ABT’s inspiring Executive Director, a Q & A with an ABT Principal ballerina, a crash course on accounting and 990 forms from the Senior Director of Finance, a resume and cover letter workshop from the Director of Edu & Training, and so much more. We were also fortunate enough to meet interns at a peer arts organization, Roundabout Theatre Company, attending a Roundabout play and an ABT ballet with them and sharing thoughts on our organizations and experiences. These experiences were invaluable in supplementing our departmental experiences and really gave us the comprehensive, holistic ABT experience. Feeling surrounded by such genuine support and by staff members so intent on helping answer our questions, and educate and expose us to as much as possible, was so invaluable.

Over the summer, I came to consider that a sense of care, excitement, and responsibility to a beautiful company — that the ABT posters inspired in me on the first day — is what inspires everyone’s work here, and is how the organization thrives. And although I eventually became accustomed to navigating both the city streets and the office corridors, I remain wide-eyed at the history and community that have surrounded me over these 10 weeks. A poster of a glowing Misty Copeland as the Firebird greeted me right above my desk every day; multiple days at “work” involved spending time at the indescribably stunning Metropolitan Opera House; every conference room and meeting space has at least some gem of ABT decor from past or present to lend a sense of inspiration to the space; music from classes in which the next generation of America’s National Ballet Company’s talent is being trained floats through the hallways. I am so grateful to have had my eyes opened not only to the rich history and beauty that pervades ABT’s culture, but also to the complex, difficult, exciting, and multi-faceted world behind the scenes that makes it all happen, and that has taught me so much. I can’t wait to see how the things to which my eyes have been opened will affect my future path!

Hannah Fein

Strategic Initiatives Intern

Summer 2018

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

From LaDuca’s to the Executive Office

27 Jul

SelenainternphotoFifteen-year old “Selena Ballerina” vowed to work at American Ballet Theatre. She pumped herself up for daily technique classes by imagining they were ABT’s company classes. Six years later and she’s finally here!

A lot has changed in the past six years – I traded my tutus and Gaynors for Lulu skirts and Laducas and I even changed my major from dance at Ailey/Fordham to arts administration at NYU. However, my passion for dance and my dream to work within the walls of America’s national ballet company never wavered. Whether it be at the barre or at the desk, I planned to give ABT my all. This summer, I had the opportunity to do so as an intern in the Executive Office.

In the Executive Office, I worked under Brittany Heier (Executive Assistant) and Kara Barnett (Executive Director). During the Spring Met Season, my job was to hold down the fort here at 890. In each task I completed, my problem-solving skills were put to the test. I had to think quickly, work efficiently, and evolve with the dynamic work environment. My people skills also greatly improved because I worked with every department from Special Events to Company Management.

One of my favorite projects was helping to plan the end of season Cast Party. The dancers requested an easy-going celebration, so I made sure to order pizza, chips, and candy; coordinated the donated drink delivery; and helped put together a photo station with fun props and a balloon-lettered back drop that said #ABTMET18. The cherry on top of the evening was being in the room where it happened and partying with all the ABT superstars I idolized as a teenager.

The ABT Internship Program itself is unparalleled to any I know. The resources provided create an environment where learning is encouraged and supported. During Intern meetings we spoke with staff members about various segments of ABT and had workshops focused on preparing us for careers in arts administration. We even had opportunities to meet with the Roundabout Theatre interns to further discuss our experiences as young arts administrators. As a Project Plié Scholarship recipient, I know ABT is actively supporting the diversification of ballet on and off the stage. The office is full of diverse individuals who bring all of their unique experiences and knowledge to make ABT a true reflection of the country it represents.

Selena Robinson

Executive Office Intern

Summer 2018

A New Strategy

26 Dec

I am so grateful to have been a part of this internship program. I initially applied for the program after a former intern informed me that there were still spots open. After applying so late I wasn’t expecting to get accepted for the Fall,  but a spot miraculously opened up. I just so happened to be in New York for a dance audition when I found out. The next day I had both my interview and orientation on the same day. Everything happened so fast. I can’t believe I have now completed the program.

My experience at ABT has been nothing short of an eye opening and learning experience. Working as the Strategic Initiatives Intern, I had the opportunity to work on short term and long term projects designed to propel ABT into the future. While working on these projects, I worked in collaboration with the many departments within the organization. This was definitely the most rewarding part of my position. I wasn’t specifically working in one department, so that allowed me to get insight into what each department does at ABT. I had the opportunity to observe and participate in meetings with the Education, Marketing, Press /Media, Finance, Development, and Music Departments. Although I can’t say much about these projects, I can assure you that what is to come for ABT is very exciting!

Overall, my experience was one I would definitely recommend to others, especially those of color. Being a Project Plie Scholarship Recipient and understanding the core values of this initiative, it definitely allowed me understand the importance of diversity on stage and behind the scenes. ABT is in the heart of a very diverse city and it is great to see them acknowledge the need for inclusion within their organization.

 

Paris Jones

Strategic Initiatives Intern

Fall 2017

From Berlin to ABT

31 Oct

I applied for an internship in the executive office at ABT beginning of 2017 and received my letter of acceptance in April. What happened then was a lot of planning and bureaucracy especially the visa process took quite a while. I finally got to New York by the end of July and started my internship in August. Altogether I stayed for 3 months for a full-time internship and had the greatest time at ABT.

What did I enjoy most during my time at ABT?

Definitely the exceptional people who work for ABT! Each single one of them is so nice and thoughtful, whenever I had a question they took their time to help, even though they are all very busy all the time. I could not have wished for a better supervisor than Brittany was for me and a more helpful person than Jillian to sit opposite of my desk!

There were two events that stood out during my time. One of them was seeing ABT perform at Lincoln Center during the Fall Season and being able to go backstage, seeing the theater and meeting the people who make sure, that those amazing performances can happen.

The other remarkable event wasn’t really an event, it was something I experienced at a usual work day in the office. I was supposed to type up notes from a senior staff meeting, where each of them explained in keywords, what they think ABT does, why they do it and how. Reading the notes, I realized that the people working at ABT are so passionate about what they are doing and that they are in it with their hearts and souls, which made me realize that this is something I want to do achieve some time, feeling that strongly about the work I am doing!

Having said that, it is back to Berlin for me and hopefully see you soon ABT!

 

Luzie Neyenhuys

Executive Intern

Fall 2017

 

 

 

“Kara Needs an Intern…”

7 Aug

I usually stop by Starbucks before I head into the office, just because somehow I ended up getting to the area with 45 minutes to spare. But this Monday morning, I only had about 20, so I just headed straight to the office a little early.

I had just sat down at the “intern’s desk”, for the JKO School, when Mary Jo the Director of Education and Training came by the area and said, “Kara needs an intern.” Intern? I am an intern, so I turned around to face Mary Jo and listen to what she was saying. That’s when she looked at me and her eyes widened, just enough to show that she had just come up with an idea. “Ranisha, do you think it would be okay if we steal you away from the education department to work with Kara as her assistant? It will just be until she hires someone else full time, so you should be able to get back up here before your time here ends.” “Me!? Work for the Executive Assistant? Of course it’s okay for you to “steal me away’!!”, is what I thought to myself. “Yes, I do not see the problem. I would love to help Kara”, is what I actually said to her.

After she had reviewed my application materials, she introduced me to Kara Medoff Barnett, the Executive Director for American Ballet Theatre. I wasn’t sure that this was actually happening to me until I had sat at the desk of the Executive Assistant and started helping Kara.  While she is very kind and understanding, she also handles very important people and concepts everyday, so I had to be on top of my game at all times. It was quite an experience to be able to work with her.

I told everyone that asked, that I had come to New York to be a sponge and to learn everything absolutely possible in these three summer months and I think I learned as much as I could. Working both in the Education Department and the Administrative Department were altogether different experiences and it was great to be exposed to both and learn what they both had to offer!

Ranisha Shelton

Education, JKO School Intern

Summer 2016