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Building Relationships at 890 Broadway

5 Nov

Having the opportunity to intern with the country’s national ballet company has been an unexpected dream come true. Coming from a theatre background, I have been completely immersed into the dance world with my time at ABT, and I love it! I had heard wonderful things about ABT from others which got me really excited to start working with this wonderful company. About two months into the internship, I have gotten experiences that have proven to be very valuable for future careers. Plus, I have seen some of the world’s best dancers rehearse just a few doors down from my desk.
We have just concluded the fall season here at ABT, and as the membership intern, I was at a lot of the ballets offering people information about purchasing a membership with the company. This was by far my favorite part about working for ABT because I was able to directly speak to patrons from all around the world, hear their experiences with ABT, and learn about their love of dance. I met a woman from Germany who was in the city for work and happened to get a ticket for a performance. She came to me after the show and said she was going to the box office to buy another ticket because of how much she enjoyed herself. Another mother and daughter were from Alabama and came to New York specifically for an ABT performance. The daughter was a dancer, and ABT was her favorite company; she was so excited to finally have the opportunity to see them perform live. Seeing the excitement in the audience members, got me even more excited and made me even more appreciative to have this amazing opportunity.
In addition to speaking with people from around the world, I was also able to talk to longtime patrons of ABT; a handful of them have been involved with the company since before I was born. This fact really showed me how special ABT was to the community; to have such an overwhelming amount of support over a long time span, clearly means the company is doing things right. I heard so many stories about how the company has transformed over the years and different works they have seen performed at the Koch and Met. These long time patrons were just as excited for the performances as the five-year-old who was seeing her first ballet.

Working in membership means it is important to build relationships with the patrons. They have done so much for us, and I now have a larger appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes to make current members happy, as well as, cultivate new members. The staff takes so much time and truly cares about the people who are able to help create the magic that ABT has. I have not had the chance to work in a development role before working with ABT, and this internship has given me hope that there are so many people out there who still believe how fundamental the arts are. The patrons and staff in the membership department are invaluable assets to the company, and I am so thankful I had the opportunity, even if it is just for a few months, to work with the American Ballet Theatre.

Gillian Curry

Membership Intern

Fall 2018


66 days of summer (at ABT)

31 Jul

StellainternphotoWhen I think back on these past two months, I almost can’t believe that I was the one experiencing it all. I was in New York for two days before my mentor contacted me, asking if I was free before the official start date on that Friday. It was already Week 3 of the Met Season, which is one of the busiest periods for the whole company. The next day I found myself anxiously awaiting his arrival in the plaza, staring up at the huge ABT banner that hung in front of the Met Opera and thinking “I work there!” We met for the first time in person, walked through the stage door, and the work quickly began. I learned the ins and outs of the Membership table that’s on display during all the shows to interest people in becoming more involved with ABT. My first day was also the first time I had ever seen ABT live in performance. I’ve been in a permanent state of awe ever since.

The days were long and packed, with new projects and events happening constantly. It’s a learning experience like no other. There’s no time to slowly transition into your role; you just jump in and assist wherever you can (kind of like being thrown in the deep end in the most loving way possible). I was usually at 3 or 4 shows each week, talking and connecting with people who stopped by at the Membership table, getting to share my passion about ABT with ballet-goers and feeling the excitement that fills the theater is pure magic. But also walking into 890 every morning and seeing everyone work so hard behind-the-scenes, made me appreciate that magic even more. It’s a small office, and all the staff work together to ensure that the pieces come together as smoothly as possible.

Development is relationships. That’s at the core of every task in the department. The work that goes on in the offices, from mailing out letters and packages to members to answering emails and calls about the company to analyzing database information, is all in order to cultivate these relationships and to make ballet accessible to the widest possible audience. The connections that happen at performances and events is the result of all of that work. It’s the culmination of a lot of small actions that creates a larger feeling of personal connection to ABT and the culmination of all those unique connections makes ABT America’s National Ballet Company. Having a conversation with a long-term donor at a show and listening her years of involvement that spanned decades, connecting with a patron who had a recent health scare but who still made it out to the ballet, hearing a mother beam with joy over the fact that her daughter had gifted her tickets to Swan Lake, these individual moments reveal just how essential these relationships are to the longevity of ballet and the arts and how necessary these relationships are in our world.

I can’t even begin to put into words how lucky I feel to be the one to contribute to such a world-class ballet company. To be able to see beauty happen on the stage, and to be able to say I’m a (very small) part of that is unbelievable.

Stella Ji

Membership Intern

Summer 2018

The First Day

24 Aug
For me, June 1st marked the beginning of my two month long internship in the Membership Department at American Ballet Theatre. For my mentors, it was the second week of ABT’s season at the Metropolitan Opera House–in other words, it was show time. I had anticipated my first day would include a tour of our offices at 890 Broadway, a sprinkling of “get to know you” games with my fellow interns, and perhaps some NY pizza (and I happily experienced all three). What I did not expect was my mentor’s first question: “Are you ready to go uptown?”
It was not until we stopped at 66th Street that I realized not only were we going to the Met, but that we were using the Stage Door entrance. I’d been to the Met a few times before, but on those rare and special occasions I played the role of a young audience member, not a staff member. However, my sentiments of excitement and awe were the same in both roles.
Twenty minutes later, I was assisting our Director of Membership with setting up our Patron Table inside the elegant, red velvet interior of the Met. I was instructed to stand behind the table and was given the run down: the various levels of Membership, the mission of ABT, the layout of the building, and frequently asked questions (including “where is the bathroom?”). When the house opened on June 1st, and patrons began to ascend the grand staircase towards me and my table, I was beyond anxious. But this anxiety soon dissipated because of my mentors. They were gracious and supportive, but above all they were patient. They were willing to provide instruction beyond simple explanations, carefully taking the time to tell me why my tasks were important and how they fit into the overall picture of ABT. Because of them, I not only became comfortable in the position, but found great enjoyment in it. Over the remaining six weeks of the season, I met many dedicated volunteers, loyal patrons, and aspiring ballerinas while standing behind my little table. I will miss it.
Helena LaPorte-Burns
Membership Intern
Summer 20179F26A9E9-3094-4163-8344-D38247613BF2

Are you clueless about ballet? You should intern at ABT!

5 Jan


I am a business student who loves sports, so naturally I began this internship knowing next to nothing about dance. I knew the company name and the basics of what a ballet consisted of: ballet dancers. So walking in on my first day was pretty nerve-wrecking. Not only was I the new intern, but I was also way out of my comfort zone.  Turns out that that is something I am now grateful for. I got to meet my coworkers Jackie, Gwen, Arielle, and Grey who I often worked and interacted with. They made the experience an opportunity to meet great people and learn and not just a job. I learned bits and pieces of what role the development department plays in a non-profit organization. I learned how to interact with members and was able to put faces to the names on the acknowledgement letters I did weekly. I made new friends, my fellow interns, who didn’t make fun of me for not knowing who Misty Copeland or Jeffrey Cirio were. Instead they taught me the basic essentials of the ballet world. For that I am thankful to them, for guiding me and helping me learn to fit in. Overall, I’m grateful for the experience. People always ask me why I selected American Ballet Theatre to be my first internship when I was clueless about dance and never danced before, and I’ll always tell them, “Whenever I’m given the opportunity to learn about something that I am clueless about, I will never say no, because all knowledge is precious and no one knows what you’ll learn, or who you will meet, that could impact your life.” I’m glad to have been able to see the behind the scenes aspects that make the ballet performance as breathtaking as the dancer’s view on stage.

Carina Escobar

Membership Intern

Fall 2016

The Four M’s

16 Aug

As I stepped into 890 Broadway for the first time, I was immediately enchanted by the classic elevator that carried me to the little office of one of the greatest ballet companies in the world. This little office, however, is also home to not just amazing artistic talent, but to a job that I had only dreamed of doing until this summer. The opportunity to combine my marketing degree with my lifelong passion for ballet has been incredible, and  much like how marketing revolves around the four P’s (product, place, price, promotion), I have found that my internship could be summed up in a similar way, but with four M’s.

Membership, the first of the four M’s, is where I had the pleasure of spending my summer as an intern. It is without a doubt one of the liveliest offices within ABT, as we are directly responsible for assisting members and ensuring that they have a positive experience. There was never a dull moment with everyone working together to ensure that the needs of the members are satisfied and I was able to witness just how vital the members are to the success of the organization. Without our members, ABT would not exist, and I was privileged to work alongside the people in my department to learn how to care for and cultivate membership so that ABT can continue to fulfill its mission. My favorite project with the department was when I researched different fundraising platforms and ideas to launch a social media fundraising campaign. It was interesting to see all of the different marketing options that are available today through social media, and I am thankful for the experience to learn about the process of organizing and marketing a social media fundraiser.

One of the major methods of communication with current and prospective members is through mailings, the second M. On one of my first days of work, I was introduced to one of our good friends in Membership, the mail machine. Though we had our rough days (the machine smells fear!), I eventually learned how to seamlessly glide the letters through without submitting them to the horrors of a paper jam! While I folded countless of mailings this summer, one of my favorite moments was when I had the opportunity to work with volunteers on the task. We would set up in the conference room, surrounded by mountains of mail that quickly faded as we chatted about our love of ballet.

The Metropolitan Opera House, the third M, is where ABT performs during their eight week spring season. Walking into the Met for the first time is an experience like no other, and you are immediately transformed by the beauty around you. The physical beauty of the space does not compare to the dancing that I would witness on the stage this season. Since many of our member events, such as dress rehearsals or a backstage tour, and the membership table, were housed at the Met, I was able to view many amazing moments that happened this spring. By seeing not just the performances, but also a peek backstage pre-show as Stella Abrera tied her shoes or notes from a ballet master in a rehearsal, I was reminded of the hard work and dedication that our dancers put forth to deliver such amazing performances at the Met.

As interns, we participate in events with other organizations in the area, and my personal favorite was our day at Pointe Magazine, the final M. It was so fascinating to see the office and editors that are the masterminds behind the magazine that I read religiously as a young dancer. Stepping into their office and having the opportunity to talk with the editors was wonderful because I got to see the thought process behind the content in their magazines. Everyone seemed so focused, yet the light and open atmosphere made it evident that it is a wonderful place to collaborate and work.

My time with American Ballet Theatre has been an invaluable experience that I will treasure forever. It has reminded me of my passion for the arts, and it has made me a well-rounded person by exposing me to the non-profit sector and field of arts administration. I am so grateful to have the experience with ABT to start me on my journey.

Mary Katherine Marr

Membership Intern

Summer 2016


Company Class

1 Aug

My favorite day during my internship was not your typical workday.  Members of ABT are entitled to several events throughout the year, one of which is attending an on stage company class.  This summer the class fell on a Saturday, which also happened to be the day Misty Copeland was taking her turn as Odette in Swan Lake.  Of course Misty was stunning and breathtaking, but I’m here to talk about company class.

I was handed a calendar my first day in the office that had a bunch of member events I could help out with.  My eye was immediately drawn to company class.  I loved the idea of getting to watch ABT’s company members in their natural habitat; taking class, just like every other aspiring dancer in the world.  To top it all off class was held on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House.  My excitement could not be contained.

The day of the event I was tasked with helping people find their way into the theatre and handing out membership brochures, a typical task for interns in the Development department during the performance season at member events.  Once my tasks were complete I got to watch class.

I sat in my own little section of the Met and it felt like there was no one else in the theatre.  I was literally on the edge of my seat grinning from ear to ear.  There is something so special about getting to watch ABT’s dancers take part in this ritual that connects every ballet dancer in the world together. One of the greatest takeaways from the day was realizing that ABT’s dancers are just like us.  They have technique they’re working on in class, they still get corrections in class, and they like to goof around with each other.  Just like us.  Yes, they are unbelievably talented and have unrivaled abilities, but they’re humans too.

I am also incredibly grateful to the Development department for welcoming me this summer.  Getting to work with such a fun group of people made this summer so special for me.  I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity to be a part of an institution I’ve admired for so long.  ABT was the perfect place to begin my career.


Brendan Rosell

Membership Intern

Summer 2016


Brendan Rosell with fellow interns Ranisha Shelton and Yasmeen Enahora 

Working with Donors

15 Jun
Each day for the first 2 months was definitely an adjustment.  I dealt with speaking to Major donors on the phone and these major donors usually have very specific requests such as seats they would like to sit in, and these requests would vary for each performance.  Often donors would call to have their memberships renewed and immediately following our phone call, I was required to begin the process of their membership renewal gifts, generate acknowledgement letters and update membership records accordingly.  In each case, the goal was to make each donor feel special so they would continue their donations.   American Ballet Theatre targets specifics donor groups and wants to ensure effective work flow within the department. Being able to pay very keen attention to detail while entering donor information was one of the most important factors of my position with this internship.  I was responsible for maintaining the integrity of the donor database as well as analyzing and editing data, while also ensuring accuracy.  Anytime I happen to overlook something relating to a donor it was definitely brought to my attention and addressed expeditiously.  This was imperative because, the smallest mistake could create a lot of confusion and unnecessary issues, not to mention the loss of a donor contribution.

As a membership intern, I was also a part of coordinating studio visits for donors, a time when donors were able to come and observe dancers in rehearsal and speak with dancers personally following their practice session.  Donors love to come and watch rehearsal, as this is for the very privileged few.  I was asked to help set up the chairs in the studio before rehearsal began as well as show donors to the restrooms and other various locations in the studio.

There are 5 different studios available for visits and it was my responsibility to ensure donors were in the right place at the appropriate times.  I assisted a lot with all logistics of studio visits, member events, and some receptions.  After donors watched rehearsal, I would then escort them back to the lounge to get their personal items showing as much courtesy and appreciation as possible, while also thanking them as I would proceed to escort them to the exit doors.  I was able to create some quite interesting relationships with the donors and realized the value on the initial phone conversation with each donor.  They are always sure to show their appreciation when visiting the studio, and it’s nice to know that someone feels as if their needs have been met and that I was able assist in an enjoyable experience which also made me feel great inside.

It was my pleasure to be able to thank them for previous donations and their continued support.  The reward in knowing that many dreams will be kept alive has been an overwhelmingly amazing and eye opening experience, giving to others is what makes this world a better place and with the American Ballet Theatre, giving is at the heart of the organization which is why I truly enjoyed this experience.

Destiny Hill

Development Intern

Spring 2016