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Perks of Being an ABT Intern

27 Jun
Being ABT’s Special Events Intern for the past spring semester has been an absolute honor. As a former ballet student, American Ballet Theatre was a company that I have always admired, and to be given the opportunity to support the company as an intern is just a dream come true. Perhaps my favorite part of the entire experience was the opportunity to hear from guest speakers weekly, who gave insight into the different departments of ABT and the collaborative efforts that make ABT the top classical ballet company in the country.

This semester, we had the privilege of hearing from speakers from Institutional Support and the Financial department to Stage Management and Public Relations. My favorite speaker was Ashley Baer, one of ABT’s two company managers. I found a lot of my own journey in hers. Ashley was also a former dance student with an interest in combining her own dance experience with business studies. Her job at ABT is so fascinating as she gets to tour with the dancers as well as build valuable relationships with them. Hearing her journey to ABT as affirmed my desire to work as a company manager for a top-tier classical ballet company.

These meetings have been a wonderful way of learning more about the staff at ABT. Everybody here is so dedicated to making the company the success that it is and truly love the art of ballet. It has been an absolute joy to be a part of it.

Emily Newman
Special Events Intern
Spring 2017

A (Not So Typical) Day in the Life

16 Aug

On June 22, I was a month into the ABT internship program and had just finished working my first National Training Curriculum Teacher Training session. I spent the day finalizing exams and certificates, preparing for the next training sessions in July, and chatting with the rest of the NTC staff about the previous night’s performance of Romeo and Juliet in anticipation of what was to come later that night. I was out the door of 890 by late afternoon and rushed over to the Met to begin what I knew would be a night to remember.

 

After meeting the rest of the ABT and Roundabout Theatre interns at the Met fountain, we went inside for a conversation with ABT General Manager, David Lansky. I spent the hour-long talk at the edge of my seat, absorbing every bit of company life that I could. As a longtime ballet dancer and enthusiast, I could not help but be enthralled by the stories that epitomized the old truism, “the show must go on.” Listening to the challenges that arise due to the nature of live performances and how the ABT dancers and staff overcome them gave me an even greater respect and love for this art form.

 

After the talk, we strolled between sets and stagehands and Alexandre Hammoudi’s pirouettes to get a view of what the company sees every day during the Met season. As I stood on the Met stage, I could only think of the history that stage has seen. From Mikhail Baryshnikov to Misty Copeland, the thought of sharing that space with so many who changed the ballet world left me speechless and floating among the clouds. That feeling and the view of the empty audience seats with the lavish chandelier hanging above are two of the most vivid memories I will carry on from this internship experience.

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As I ran to catch a train at the end of the night, I could not help but feel tremendously grateful for the magical day I just had. In addition to another great day in the education department, the talk with David Lansky, and the backstage tour, I also got to see my childhood ballet idol, Gillian Murphy, have a stunning and heartbreaking performance as Juliet. I felt like the luckiest intern in the world.

Although not every day at ABT was as glamorous as this one, it left me in a dream-like state for the rest of the summer, ready to take on more teacher training sessions and share my love of ballet with coworkers and soon-to-be certified teachers. I truly could not be more thankful for the experience and open doors ABT- and specifically NTC- has provided me this summer, and I know that I will forever look back fondly on my summer at America’s National Ballet Company.

Brittany Hurley

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2016

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What a Liberal Arts Education Doesn’t Offer

7 Aug

At Vassar College, “finance” or “business” were esoteric words for a liberal arts student’s vocabulary. As an Urban Studies major, the closest I had gotten to these words in class was when talking about the income inequality gap with an Economics professor. While I love how a liberal art’s education challenges students to become well rounded and exceptional in myriad academic subjects, it is hard to venture outside of academia into the professional world while on campus.

Interning at ABT this summer has granted me the unique opportunity to get the pre-professional experience I yearned for outside of the classroom. While any internship will give a student exposure to the work environment, our Thursday meetings are what gave me tangible information about the mysterious business world. Once a week, as all the interns sat at the round table at 11 in the morning, we’d have the opportunity to hear an employee speak about their responsibilities, challenges, and joys here at ABT. From the finance department to the head of institutional support, I learned what it took to run a national ballet company, and even more so what it took to run a company in general.

As I sat around this round table every Thursday morning, I’d see the varying levels of experience the interns had with this side of business – some came from small liberal arts school like myself, some came from business schools, and others came from music conservatories. Yet despite our spectrum of exposure to the world of arts administration, we always all had something to take away from these meetings. It was comforting to know that we were all here to get a meaningful experience out of the internship, just maybe in different ways.

Outside of these weekly meetings, I was tasked with projects that were outside of my academic comfort zone. In managing the worksheets for the Education Department’s yearly budget report, I was able to get hands on learning into how a non-profit organization organizes their fiscal data. Never had I thought that interning in an arts administration department would give me such experiences.

Along with the many lessons I will take away from my internship with ABT, I get to go back into my beloved liberal arts world with a new set of skills and experiences that no History or Hispanic Studies classes could not have prepared me for.

Max Goldner

Education Outreach Intern

Summer 2016

Center Stage Comes to Life

21 Jun

I’ve probably watched the film Center Stage at least 50 times since it premiered at the turn of the millennium. They call it a cult classic for a reason: growing up as a dancer, an obsession with Center Stage was an understood requisite. From the memorization of every line, to owning and listening to the soundtrack on your Walkman on repeat, to you and your peers begging your pointe teacher to let you perform to Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” during your senior year recital, the thrill of that movie became an engrained part of my identity, as I believe it did any dancer born during the 80’s or 90’s. (For the record, our gracious teacher did let us perform “Canned Heat”—albeit somewhat to her chagrin—and we dyed our pointe shoes red, and did the part where they move downstage in the line en pointe, and it was arguably one of the most spectacular moments of my life to date. I say this only half facetiously.)

Given this context, you can imagine the intense restraint of giddiness required for me to maintain my otherwise always cucumber-cool state when I passed Ethan Stiefel (aka “Cooper Nielson”) in the hallway on my first day at ABT. I remember we made eye contact, and I thought to myself, “Could that be…?” My eyes must have given me away, because he looked back at me with a subtle, knowing smirk as though to say, “Yes. I am who you think I am.” It was equally as hard to maintain nonchalance when I started oohing and ahh-ing over a cute dog in the hallway (a typical occurrence for me… one unexpected perk of ABT is that many of the dancers and staff members have very cute dogs that they often bring in to work). I slowly began to lift my gaze up from the lil’ pup, only to discover that the dog’s owner was Julie Kent. (Side note: I have seen Julie Kent a number of times since this first meet-cute encounter, but no matter how accustom I become to passing by her in the office or the studio, it still takes a great deal of willpower to keep myself from shouting out, “I love you! You’re perfect!” Every time. Seriously.)

The final test of the indifferent New Yorker composure I’ve worked so hard to perfect was getting to sit down at our weekly Friday intern meeting with Sascha Radetsky (that’s “Charlie,” for any non-dancers out there). Sascha—(we exchanged somewhere between five to seven sentences with each other, so suffice to say we’re on a first name basis now), spoke with us about his best and worst experiences touring with the Company; what a typical rehearsal day at ABT was like; his experience spending two years away from ABT to dance as a Principal with the Dutch National Ballet; his interest in teaching and writing; and of course, a bit about how he got involved with Center Stage. Fun fact: apparently a different ABT dancer was originally cast for the role of “Carlos” in the film, but was unable to perform. The casting crew then hired Radetsky instead, and changed the character’s name to Charlie.

One of the many great things about my experience interning with ABT has been the setup of its 890 Broadway location. Sure, the offices aren’t glamorous (we are still in the nonprofit world, after all), but they are directly adjacent to the studios where the Main Company takes class and rehearses. I believe this arrangement provides an important cohesion between the art form and its administrative work. As a Performing Arts Administration graduate student, we often discuss the role of an arts administrator within an artistic organization, and the administrator’s relationship with the art form (s)he is working to promote. Anyone who is an arts administrator or is contemplating going into the field undoubtedly has an underlying love of the arts at the core of his or her professional interests, and this is an essential component of the work we do.

Nonprofit organizations—the category into which the arts typically fall—cannot offer financial incentives to compensate for the ‘less attractive’ aspects a job might involve in the way that for-profit corporations can. Instead, nonprofits offer a different kind of wealth: a kind of “human capital” obtained only from intrinsic motivation, and a sense of self-fulfillment derived from the fact that you genuinely believe in the good of the work you are doing—a belief that stems from a personal conviction towards the cause that you are directly serving.

ABT’s studio-office layout really helps to advance this concept. As much as I genuinely loved the substance of the work I did this semester, naturally there were days that writing and re-writing grant proposals could feel tedious or monotonous. During these moments, being surrounded by the art form was incredibly helpful: to hear the music of Shostakovich overflowing from the studio into my office; to pass by Misty Copeland rehearsing on my way to lunch; to recall the gasps from students in the audience as they watched one of ABT’s stars lift another effortlessly into the air during the Young People’s Ballet Workshop the week before… these are the instances that bear a significance beyond explanation. These aspects are significant to a nonprofit arts administrator because they are a constant reminder of why you do the work you do.

To contribute to and be involved with a company that I have idolized and revered from a young age—and to know that my work will help sustain this art form so that future audiences can be similarly inspired—has been a privilege. And of course, brushing shoulders with the ever-beloved stars of Center Stage hasn’t hurt, either. 😉

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2016 Spring Interns with former ABT Soloist Sascha Radetsky

Elizabeth Henderson

Institutional Support Intern

Spring 2016

So What’s Your Favorite M&M Color?

15 Jun

 

Going up the elevator on my first day of my internship, I was extremely nervous. ABT is one of the most prestigious dance companies in the world, and I felt more pressure than ever to live up to its expectations. So when the first question posed to me was “What’s your favorite M&M Color”, you have to understand that I was a little bit confused. I do not know if you are aware, but M&Ms all taste exactly the same. I thought long and hard before I hesitantly answered the intern coordinator Dennis. While this was a silly icebreaker so the interns could get to know one another, this question was the first of many very stimulating and engaging questions posed in our weekly intern meetings.

 

Every Friday, all of the interns gathered around the conference room to discuss a new topic relating to ABT or career professionalism. What I loved most about these meetings was the fact that they gave us a very holistic overview on the ABT operations even though our internship honed in on a single department. For instance, my internship was with ticketing and membership. This was very time consuming so I did not have many opportunities to engage with other staff members about their positions. However, with the intern meetings, I was able to speak to board members, company managers, intern alumni, and even the dancers themselves. We actually had the opportunity to talk with Sascha Radetsky. He shared his experiences about dancing in the company as well as filming Center Stage. I also really enjoyed hearing more about the administrative side of the organization. We learned about the roles of institutional development and company management within American Ballet Theatre. It is incredible to see how much work is put into organizing these efforts.

 

Lastly, it has been great getting to know my fellow interns. We are all here because we are passionate about the mission ABT promotes. I noticed this from the first day we all went around sharing which artificial coloring we like best. Additionally, I’ve used my peers as resources when thinking about my future career. As a sophomore, I find it very useful hearing other’s career paths and experiences. My fellow interns gave me great suggestions as to where I might want to look for graduate schools. Even though I wasn’t directly working with most of the interns, I still felt very comfortable with them. The intern meetings definitely fostered this sense of unity.

And just to answer the question you’ve been dying to know, I chose the color green. However, any color besides yellow would have been correct.

Christina Michalski

Ticketing and Membership Intern

Spring 2016

One of my favorite visitors…….

26 May
This Spring at ABT I’ve had the pleasure of working as the Summer Intensives intern in the Education Department, helping prepare for the exciting summer season where young dancers travel far & wide to learn from ABT’s amazing faculty at their various intensives. ABT’s educational programs are all so incredible & prestigious, all helping to train the future dancers of America. Working in the office alongside the people who make that magic happen has been such a rewarding experience, and has solidified how excited I am to work in arts education in the future.
Although I am pretty confident in the path I plan to pursue, one of my favorite aspects of my ABT internship was our weekly intern meetings on Friday. We got to meet so many people with different relationships to ABT; former dancers, board members, employees, intern alums & more! It was so exciting to meet these different people & hear their ABT stories, and learn about different aspects of the arts from them.
One of my favorite visitors was ABT’s Associate Company Manager, Ashley K. Baer. The company management team takes care of all the administrative needs of the dancers; contracts, comp tickets, benefits, travel & lodging logistics, etc. I loved hearing Ashley’s stories from the road about what it was like on tour with the company and having such a huge responsibility taking care of well over 100 people who aren’t just traveling for fun, but are there to put on a show and make incredible art each night! Ashley spoke a lot about how the ABT dancers are treated like celebrities abroad, and how appreciated dancers are in other cultures, which is something I found so interesting in comparison to America. I really didn’t know a lot about company management before meeting with Ashley, but I absolutely loved getting to hear about this exciting job, and learning about this different area of life at ABT. All of our intern meetings gave us important glimpses into different areas of arts administration, and although I love education, I feel so lucky to have interned at a company that gave us a well rounded experience & helped us learn so much.
Meeting Ashley was so informative & inspiring that if I wasn’t terrified of planes, I’d definitely be wrapping my head around pursuing company management! Luckily, my experience at ABT working alongside my wonderful mentors has helped me learn so much about arts education & I could not be more excited to pursue it in the future after this incredible semester at ABT comes to a close.
Meg Haase
Summer Intensives Intern
Spring 2016

Learning Experience at ABT

23 May
Being an intern this Spring for American Ballet Theatre has been a great experience. I have learned alot in the past 4 months and truly enjoyed dedicating my time to the company. The personnel is great to work with and one of my favorite parts of the day while being in the office is the music that comes from the ballet studios. Throughout the day you can encounter some of the dancers and sometimes even watch a piece of a ballet act.  Working for ABT has taught me how hard-working the staff is as they get ready for the MET Gala and how many people are involved in contributing there funds into the company.  Having the chance to attend the MET Gala and watch pieces of the ballets was a beautiful experience and the building itself is quite admirable as well.     The weekly meetings also helped me learn more about ABT,  my own career growth as well as listening to inspiring stories from the dancers. I would like to thank American Ballet Theatre for giving young adults the opportunity to learn more about the arts and the administrative side to it.
Marlene Coronado
Membership Intern
Spring 2016