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Beauty and Chaos- ABT’s Met Season

22 Aug

“Why ABT?”  This was the first question I was asked when I interviewed for my position at ABT. Bouncing from art galleries to museums to magazines, I admit applying for ABT was an anomaly among anomalies. But after a summer of working in the Major Gifts department, I can definitely say that I’m beyond grateful they took a chance on me. My first day was at the end of May and everybody was already deep into the hectic Met Season, a string of eight weeks where ABT puts on eight different ballets at the Metropolitan Opera House. If you get the chance to take a summer internship with ABT and experience the wonderful chaos that is the Met Season, do not hesitate to accept it. I dove in head first, working shows, luncheons, auctions, board meetings, backstage tours, you name it. I got to meet a few major donors and talk with them, tour the Opera House with my all-knowledgeable mentor who told me fun facts about the founding of the opera, the famous Met Opera chandeliers, and the inner workings of the immense building, and I got to step out onto the stage and see what the dancers saw every night. I got to walk backstage while Hee Seo was warming up, and see Devon Teuscher dance the Black Swan in Swan Lake from backstage and see her run off laughing, care free. Almost more exciting, I got to hear the news firsthand when she was promoted to principal dancer. I got to see Misty Copeland dance an excerpt from Swan Lake and see her perform in The Golden Cockerel. I went from having little to no exposure, to seeing six different shows and having daily interaction with dancers and dance fanatics. Admittedly when the Met season ended things slowed down. But my time was spent conducting research and walking through the studios amidst all of the summer programs while the halls filled with music and the sound of pointe shoes hitting the floor. How can work ever be boring when your office is half-office space half-rehearsal space?

ABT has taught me invaluable knowledge about ballet but they have also nurtured and grown indispensable skills. Research, writing, communication, Excel and Word efficiency, attention to detail, even learning how to use Raiser’s Edge, are all skills that I have had to use in the past and will need to use in the future. They are skills that one never truly masters but is constantly improving, and my experience with ABT has sharpened them immensely. Not only did I learn how Major Gifts operates, and for a company as big and renowned as ABT, but through the internship program and our weekly meetings I learned about the other departments as well and even got to experience some of the inner workings of the Roundabout Theatre Company and Pointe Magazine. An internship with ABT is all about growth, about learning new things, trying new things, and enjoying what you do. Dance is about passion from every angle, even those who work in dance share a passion for it and that is what makes working for ABT so great. Everyone loves what they do and they do it because they love it. Even those who don’t dance themselves (like me) can enjoy and treasure a position at ABT. There is so much more to the company and so much to learn and experience, you will not regret an internship here.


Baylee McKeel

Major Gifts Intern

Summer 2017


ABT: A Major Gift

23 Jun
As a Master’s student in Performing Arts Administration, I have found myself in a unique position interning with ABT. I have already made the commitment to the field by choosing this graduate degree, and from that degree, I have learned the industry in broad strokes. ABT has helped me to home in, however, on what a dance company does on a daily basis. In working in the Major Gifts department, I have been exposed to important and sensitive work that is making a real difference to ABT. While that comes with a fair amount of pressure, it also comes with a great amount of satisfaction because I have learned and accomplished some of the most necessary skills to keep a large and prestigious company running.

In doing this work, I have also had the opportunity to work with professionals who execute these vital functions as their livelihood. I wanted to pursue a degree and career in performing arts administration because I feel passionately about ballet, dance, and the arts in general. I grew up dancing and, while I did not want to perform, I did still want to ensure that ballet would be firmly integrated into my life. That passion is absolutely necessary in order to do this job. Working directly with Fallon, Jon, and Diane, and indirectly with the entire ABT Family, has confirmed for me that we are all here for the art. That is what inspired me to begin this career path in the first place and seeing the same drive and dedication in others adds fuel to my fire.

Internships at ABT are not simply about learning the functions of a position, but about fostering the interns to become capable people who will devote their lives to the arts. Once you add in kind and patient mentors, passionate staff members, enthusiastic fellow-interns, and the open culture of the organization, the outcome of the program is young individuals who have been readied to become young professionals in the field. Over the course of this semester, ABT has not only affirmed my preexisting desire to work in performing arts administration, but it has also expanded that desire to become a need. This internship, combined with the experience with which I came into ABT, have solidified my knowing that this field is not only where I want to be, but where I need to be. And for that, I am the one left majorly gifted.

Leora Graber
Major Gifts Intern
Spring 2017

The Sweat Behind the Show

1 Aug

A full-fledged ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House is a true artistic treasure. A simultaneous orchestral flourish and opening of the curtain transports the entire theater to a different world, filled with beauty, suspense, love and surprise. The performances this season have been magical, especially to a “ballet newbie” like me. I’ve been continuously struck by the capabilities of the human body and the raw power of movement.

During my time as the Major Gifts intern, I’ve had the privilege of working several of this season’s dress rehearsals. Before the rehearsal, my job is to situate myself in the lobby of the Met and be readily available for any questions or concerns from our members. It is a lot of smiling and nodding, pointing in the direction of the bathroom, and making polite conversation with strangers. Getting to know ABT members has been one of the coolest parts of the job. They have lived fulfilling and adventurous lives and are eager to share their stories. During intermission(s) I am positioned in line with the tech table, and am instructed to prohibit anyone from wandering close to the stage.

A perk of working these events, is the opportunity to watch the rehearsal itself. The other development interns and I tip-toe into our box and slide into the red velvet seats. Aesthetically, the rehearsal is identical to any performance I’ve seen. All of the dancers are in costume and playing towards the audience. I feel myself slip into the familiar entrancement that normally comes over me while watching a performance, as I hear, “LADIES MOVE LEFT.” The director’s notes startle me, and I am reminded that this show is still taking its form. The dancers are more vulnerable to this audience, revealing the physical strain and wearing their exhaustion on their faces. I realize that these people are also human and I’m overwhelmed by my sudden understanding of the commitment they dedicate to each performance. The subtle missteps or missed turns give weight to the flawlessness I’ve seen in previous shows and I’m once again, amazed.

In the Romeo and Juliet dress rehearsal, I got to watch Misty and Daniil dance the iconic duet during the balcony scene. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was the epitome of artistic cohesion. Even though it was merely the dress rehearsal, they had me transported back into this euphoric state as I watched their characters fall in love.

One of the best parts of being an intern at ABT is that you become witness to these incredible moments on a daily basis. Whether I’m in the office or at the Met, the performances and the people remind me how lucky I am to contribute to such a great organization.


Emily Wolfe

Major Gifts Intern

Summer 2016IMG_3347

ABT Studio Visits

26 Apr


If you donate $900 or more annually to ABT you can enjoy the perk of sitting in on two hours of Company rehearsal with coffee and light breakfast beforehand. Studio Visit days are exciting not only for the patrons coming to see rehearsal, but also for the staff that volunteer to help. I have been fortunate enough to have worked all three Studio Visits this Spring.


My duties included making sure patrons were in the correct studio, answering any questions, and maintaining a quiet atmosphere to respect the privilege of sitting in on rehearsal. Even though I was working, witnessing the work behind the artistry during rehearsal was such a treat that it didn’t feel like work. As a dancer myself, I can no longer kick my face like I used to but I will always appreciate the physicality that goes into every movement. The communication through body language and problem solving between the dancers to quickly learn choreography and then make it effortless is the epitome of teamwork.


Some of the rehearsals I had the pleasure of watching include Chamber Symphony with soloists and Corps de Ballet Men, La Fille mal gardée with the soloist and Corps de Ballet Ladies, Pas de Deux with Maria Kochetkova and Herman Cornejo, and variations with Hee Seo and Veronika Part, to name a few. After rehearsals, patrons have often told me what a treat it is to witness the work behind the artistry and see the interaction between the dancers and the ballet masters.


As a dancer, I know so much hard work goes into every performance, but being able to watch the rehearsals of these amazing professionals makes me even more excited for the Spring Season at the MET starting May 9th.


Martha Dobbs


Major Gifts Intern


Spring 2016

4.15 Studio Visit Blog

An Office that Feels Like Family

18 Dec

When I had my first day as an intern at ABT, I wasn’t sure what my experience was going to be like. My interview had been conducted by phone, and so I only had what my friends and classmates in the NYU Performing Arts Administration program had told me about their experiences at ABT. So I really didn’t know what I was walking into on that first day.


I immediately felt welcomed by Jon, Diane, and Emily in Major Gifts, and during my time working with them they made me feel comfortable and like a valued member of the major gifts office. In fact, the entire development department was a fun and welcoming place to work. We celebrated birthdays, chatted about life, and worked Fall Season events together.


My favorite part of working in Major Gifts was learning about not only the administrative side of major donors and individual giving, but the cultivation side of it as well. I had several opportunities to interact with donors through the execution of major donor events as well as accompanying donors to rehearsals and classes in the studio. Having the chance to connect with donors and see firsthand their love for the Company was extremely rewarding. My time at ABT has been so valuable to my growth in arts administration and I will miss working with the Jon, Diane, and Emily.


Kelli Dowling

Major Gifts Intern

Fall 2015

Why Support the Arts?

5 Aug

At the beginning of the summer, one of my friends sent me an article from Vox – an online news source – that focused on a foundation committed to effective altruism, “a growing movement that commits itself to using empirical methods to work out how to do the most good it possibly can.”[1] The approach profiled in the article utilized a ranking system to quantify the impact that could be made by donating a particular amount to a particular organization. This approach does not favor the arts as donations to organizations in this sector score drastically lower on the effectiveness ranking.

As someone who has always experienced the arts as a significant positive dimension of her life, that article was hard to wrap my head around. Even more challenging was the task of reconciling the view of philanthropy presented by the Vox piece with the goal of the development office at ABT where I was about to spend eight weeks: namely, to raise financial support for the company. My specific position as the Major Gifts intern heightened the intensity of this task as a large part of our office’s job is to show major donors exactly why their generous individual support is a worthwhile choice.

During week seven of the 2015 Met season, ABT presented Swan Lake – perhaps the epitome of classical ballet. Misty Copeland made her debut as Odette/Odile, the ballet’s female lead, in the run’s Wednesday matinee. Well known in both the ballet world and popular culture, Copeland is the first African American ballerina to rise to such prominence at ABT. The end-of-season promotions marked her official status as ABT’s first African American principal dancer.

Valentino Carlotti – ABT trustee and Copeland’s sponsor – delivered a toast at the post-show reception honoring the ballerina. His words finally answered the question that had been nagging at me all summer – why support the arts? – by hitting on the timely relevance and impact of her Swan Lake debut. Carlotti first toasted the beauty of Copeland’s dancing and finished by lifting her up as a sign of hope for the African-American community. The Charleston church massacre occurred exactly one week before the Swan Lake debut.

Carlotti’s comments capture the combination of celebration and poignancy that marked this occasion. Moreover, they highlight the potential for the arts to carry a relevance that extends beyond the parameters of the stage. The arts inspire and impact the outside world, just as the outside world may have the same effects on art itself. The tendency to question the necessity of the arts or the practical value of supporting them overlooks this powerful function. Art occurs not in a vacuum but in the context of the world around it. Undoubtedly, ballet holds a beauty and power internal to the art form. That aspect of art does not – should not – detract from the recognition of the power, relevance and impact that the arts carry even after the curtain has fallen and the applause has faded away.

Grace Singleton

Major Gifts Intern

Summer 2015

[1] Dylan Matthews, “You have $8 billion. You want to do as much good as possible. What do you do?” Vox, April 24, 2015,

ABT at the Met

6 Aug

The Met Season: Nine ballets, eight weeks, up to seven (sometimes eight) casts per ballet, six days per week. What a tremendous feat for a ballet company to take on. Though if there is one company that can pull it off with great success, it is American Ballet Theatre.

I got the privilege this summer of interning for ABT as an artistic intern as well as a major gifts intern. Getting to experience both departments allowed me to witness the incredible work that goes on both artistically and administratively during the Met Season. For the artistic side of my internship, I got to work two days a week at the Metropolitan Opera House with the artistic staff who temporarily relocated their offices from 890 Broadway to the Met Opera green room. They relocate offices because the company spends the total of their time both rehearsing and performing at the Met during the season. To be honest, it’s more like the artistic staff relocated residence to the green room because “working round the clock” is not an exaggeration for them. Some nights they would leave the Met with just enough time to turn around and come back in the morning.

My primary job as the artistic intern was to verify and calculate dancer overtime/penalty pay for rehearsal and performance days. Most of those days I got to watch rehearsals, see performances and meet dancers coming in and out of the green room. The excitement of walking through those stage doors never got old. In verifying schedules and calculating overtime, I realized just how incredible of an undertaking a season like this is for the dancers performing. The level of professionalism it takes for these dancers to be rehearsing several different ballets for hours during the day then on top of that performing another one that night is simply unfathomable. Not to mention all that entails for the production staff as well.

And of course while all this goes on within the Met Opera House, there’s a whole other side going on administratively. Ticketing, VIP visits, member events, dinners and meetings: it all happens during the Met Season as well. The sheer number of events, let alone the magnitude, that the development staff puts on is incredible. It is an endeavor only accomplished through much commitment, time, and effort from everyone involved. As a major gifts intern, I was able to see how all the planning and preparation made these events come to fruition.

Though it is a busy time and an extraordinary effort, watch an ABT performance during the Met Season and I think you’ll agree that it’s all worth it. It was without a doubt one of the most thrilling and enjoyable times to be an intern at ABT and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it!

Katie Currier

Major Gifts and Artistic Intern

Summer 2014