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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

Everything Happens for a Reason

1 Jan

I’ll preface this by saying I’m not typically one to believe in the “everything happens for a reason” mantra. My journey to ABT however, can only be explained as such. Being from the DC metro area, I had first applied for a marketing internship with The Washington Ballet. I had my interview – my first interview ever – and didn’t feel so great about it so I started researching and applying for internships with practically any east coast ballet company that offered one. I applied to ABT and frankly, really didn’t expect anything to come of it – it felt too out of reach. I had first heard of the ABT internship program a few years prior through a girl who I had attended a previous summer intensive program with who, during her freshman or sophomore year at Duke, interned at ABT. Having just ended my dancing “career”, and having just started my freshman year of college as an arts administration major, I knew that at some point in the future, I wanted to apply. The time at which I applied for the internship however, did not feel like the “right” time. Low and behold, about three weeks or so later, I heard back from Washington Ballet that they had decided to go with someone else. The literal next day, I got an email from ABT asking to schedule an interview and for some reason, it then started to feel “right”, I had a good feeling about it for lack of a better explanation.

About a week or so later I got a call offering me the position and having told my mother, who I knew would first object due to the cost of living in NYC, that if I got it I was going whether I had to take out loans to pay for it myself or not, I accepted on the spot. Two weeks or so from then I was in New York apartment hunting with only a little over a week to go before my move in date. Upon signing the lease for a large walk-in closet sized apartment in Manhattan for an absurd price, I returned home eager for my first day at 890 Broadway. It seemed like it took months for this day to come but when it did, I instantly knew I would be happy here. First, as a former dancer, it was just an honor to be in the same building as some of the dancers I had admired for years, more less passing them in the hallways. Second, hearing the music from class and rehearsal made me feel like home and made working so much more enjoyable. Third, everyone in the office was so friendly and welcoming.

My first impression held true throughout the three months. I have loved every minutes of working here and only wish I were here longer. The membership department operates a bit as a family, all the love, dysfunction, and fun included. Although when I applied I listed membership as my second choice, I truly believe that in the end it was the right department for me. The work I did in the membership department ranged from working events, to entering data, to stuffing envelopes. The range of work allowed me to develop a diverse set of skills that I’m not sure another department would have allowed for.

Having gone into my internship with a specific interest in event planning, it came as no surprise that my favorite part of the job was getting to work the member events. As an extremely calm person, almost to a fault, it’s easy for me to remain calm in stressful and fast paced situations and I strangely enjoy the chaos of last minute setting up and running around to prepare. Then, working the actual event generally means there is some degree of participation, either through engaging in conversation at a cocktail party or watching a rehearsal during a studio visit, which I very much enjoyed.

Although not technically a member event, working fall gala was one of the highlights of the last three months. First, people watching as people entered the theatre was what I believe to be one of the greatest people watching spots in New York that night. Second, upon finishing our duties of directing people up to the gala dinner, we were able to attend the gala with our own little table on the second tier – the perfect spot to do some more aerial view people watching. After dinner, a few of us went down to the dance floor and danced the night away in our formal dresses. It was quite a night and one that I’ll never forget.

A second highlight of my time here was the annual holiday staff party. It was great to be able to mingle with everyone from every department, including the dancers, together. An awesome beach volleyball court had been set up in one of the studios and a lot of us from the membership department along with a few dancers, a few people from other departments and later on a group of JKO kids, played volleyball all night long. It was quite a laugh and so much fun. It was a great way to have some fun and to get a chance to hang out with everyone outside of work before the end of my internship.

In short, I loved practically every minute of being a membership intern at ABT. I had a great experience working for one of the top companies in the world and it was a true honor to get to play a part in the inner workings of it.

Taylor Beck

Membership Intern

Fall 2015

The Membership Department

10 Aug

Before coming to American Ballet Theatre, I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous because it would my first experience with ballet, my first internship, my first time being in New York, and my first time living on my own. In spite of my concerns, I chose to come to participate in the internship anyway, which I can now say was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. This summer I had the opportunity to serve as an intern in the Membership Department. This particular department is one of the most important parts of the American Ballet Theatre’s Development Department. I started my internship in the middle of the spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House. During this time, the Membership Department is usually in a frenzy day in and day out. Starting my internship in the middle of the season forced me to learn and adapt quickly. Even though the pace of the work was intense, the peaceful atmosphere of the office never allowed me to feel stressed.

The Membership Department is responsible for recruiting and retaining the members who “make ABT happen.”In order to try to recruit new members, some nights during the spring season, I worked at the Membership table, a table set up at the Metropolitan Opera House. While at this table I made it a point to interact with the audience before and after each performance and during intermissions. I engaged the audience members by passing out pamphlets, answering questions explaining how membership at ABT works, and by simply asking them about their feelings about the performance. It feels great being able to say that I helped 3 people become members while doing this! In order to help retain the pre­existing members, mailings are sent out monthly in order to remind those whose memberships are expiring to renew. Unfortunately, these mailings are usually very large and create papercuts to match. However, each member who renews their membership makes it worth it! Members receive a special set of benefits that can include personal ticketing services and invitations to private events. During the spring season, patron ticketing is hectic. Each day there are numerous calls with single ticket orders, subscription exchanges, and other ticket exchanges. This particular area of the department is very demanding and things can pile up extremely quickly. However, when it is all done and you managed to squeeze that last order in before the messenger got too irritated, you are left with an amazing feeling of accomplishment.

After the spring season is over, everything in the office seems to come to a screeching halt. The cloud of intense urgency that hangs over everyone’s heads seems to fade away and everyone is left with the most beautiful smiles and hearty laughs. Everyday there was a new reason to celebrate and we celebrated indeed. We celebrated with dance­o­clock, chocolate, the best homemade baked goods in New York, and more chocolate. Overall, my favorite part of the internship was the atmosphere in the office. Everyone works well together and genuinely tries to make sure that each employee in the office has whatever they need to make it through the day. If you’re ever in the membership office, you’ll hear the word the family a lot and after being there this summer I truly see why. While dysfunctional at best, ABT truly is one large caring family and I’m extremely grateful to say I got the chance to be a part of it.

Sydney Thomas

Membership Intern

Summer 2015

In the Lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House

In the Lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House