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Following ABT Across America as a Press Intern

24 Jul

While 20 American Ballet Theatre dancers and 28 staff crew drove across the country for ABT Across America, I had an opportunity to follow the journey by piecing together the press of the tour. Each week I compiled a variety of press clips to send off to the ABT community, a small but fulfilling task knowing the newsletter would soon be delivered to dancers, staff, and board members. During the three weeks of ABT Across America, most of the circulating press focused on the tour. With an acceleration of blogs, magazines, news channels, and podcasts highlighting the tour, I began to see how to process of press brought the whole thing together.

While the first stop in Lincoln, Nebraska began on July 1st, the Press team had begun planning much earlier. Even before I was welcomed in this summer, the team was reaching out to outlets both national and local to cover stories on the tour. The unique performances could be pitched in different ways, from a style story to a travel blog. No matter the angle, the concept of a cross-country ballet tour on a stage converted from an 18-wheeler truck made for a great story. I had the opportunity to pitch multiple travel blogs about the tour, and ultimately learned the satisfaction of receiving one response among many attempted pitches. Persistence is key.  I watched the press unfold from the calendar announcements to broadcasters highlighting the growing crowds, and finally to the glowing reviews that applauded ABT’s successful performance. From start to finish, ABT Across America’s opening night was highly anticipated and victoriously carried out, with many comparing the show’s energy to that of a rock concert. With seven more stops, I was intrigued to discover how new cities presented the tour.

Of all tour stops, I was most excited for Millennium Park in Chicago. I may be biased living in the area, but I was thrilled to see how the press could capture a performance set before 10,000 people, and one that welcomed live performances back in Chicago. The news was rolling out, with media from Time Out and Chicago Sun-Times sharing the event with my community. I started to see the power of digital media in bringing the crowd together. As the word spread and social media captured the attention of Chicago natives, all 10,000 seats would quickly be claimed.

ABT Across America was unlike any ballet performance I had heard about. The shows, mostly free, were brought to many cities that rarely attract ballet performances. As a summer intern, not only did I learn more about the ballet industry from a marketing and press perspective, but I also saw firsthand the efforts of ABT to produce a tour that actively shares ballet with the community through accessible and engaging performances.

I did not expect going into the internship that I would have the opportunity to help gather and share the press of a national tour, especially one so unique and ambitious. I am thankful for the Press team and to my mentor Delia, who gave me thoughtful opportunities and shared with me the world of ballet as it can be presented and admired through the power of the press.

Grace Robinson

Press Intern

Summer 2021

It’s the Small Stuff: A Semester with ABT

21 Jun

We’re always told not to sweat the small stuff, and while I agree with this when it comes to feeling bad about not holding the door open for someone or the typo in the email you sent to your professor, sometimes I think it’s important to sweat the small stuff. 

This semester interning with American Ballet Theatre has given me an insider’s look into America’s National Ballet Company® in a way I never could’ve expected a year ago. Pre-pandemic, as a student at Syracuse University, if I wanted to intern with a company based out of New York City, I had to be in New York City. But with the world of remote work being what it is now, I got the fantastic opportunity to work with ABT right from my apartment on Euclid Ave in Syracuse, NY. 

Yes, being a remote worker has its challenges, but for me, I’ve chosen to relish in all the small things – having Diva, the piccolo player, recognize your face on Zoom, seeing the edit you made make it into the press release or being invited to that extra meeting on a Monday afternoon.

The grammatical nerd in me also loves that American Ballet Theatre does not use “the” before its name. It is not theAmerican Ballet Theatre, just American Ballet Theatre. This level of detail is the kind of small stuff I love sweating because it shows that a word as small as “the” can make such a difference when it comes to company identity and brand consistency. 

When it comes to my intern responsibilities, I had a healthy balance between the small stuff and the big stuff – “stuff” being the nontechnical term, of course. This “small stuff” included press clippings and sending out a weekly newsletter with that week’s press mentions. And while I may have enjoyed the more substantial and comprehensive projects a little more, I recognize that even with the small stuff it is important to put my best foot forward. Being able to complete the small stuff effectively and efficiently takes something off my supervisor’s plate and establishes me as a valuable asset to the team. As a student, just under a year out from graduating, this lesson is one I will take with me from here on out. 

And having put the work into the small stuff, when rewarded for the big stuff, it is all worth it, everything seems to fall into place. For instance, after writing a blog post about International Women’s Day for ABT’s Sidebarre, I received a shoutout in the company-wide Friday email. This email landed in my inbox directly next to the press mentions newsletter that I had just sent out myself. It all just fit together. 

To end, I would argue ABT also sweats the small stuff. Being an intern for the span of four short months – I was small stuff. Even so, my mentors (shoutout Delia!!), team and cohort provided me with a fantastic semester where I learned lots and was given the chance to work in an area I am passionate about. Here’s to sweating the small stuff and turning it into big opportunities!

Samantha Aaronson

Press Intern

Spring 2021

A Semester as an ABT Virtual Intern

12 Dec

In January, I nervously walked up the steps of 890 Broadway to interview to be a summer intern with the American Ballet Theatre. The energy there was incredibly bright and moving. It was amazing to see the artists and the arts administrators, side by side, simultaneously working together to bring new creations into the world!

However, by February, the whole world had begun to shut down. At this time, ABT had canceled the Spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House and I had no idea what my internship would look like!

Thankfully, as the world transitioned to all online, I was still able to complete my internship as a virtual intern for the Fall 2020 season. Although I was nervous to see what kind of work I would be doing as a virtual intern, I knew that being a part of one of the greatest ballet companies in the world during this unprecedented time would give me the opportunity to learn about how to continue to create art in this new virtual landscape.

This fall season had such unique and interesting challenges and successes! ABT has some of the greatest minds within its administration and it was a privilege to learn from those within my team, Delia Brengel, Kelly Ryan, and Laura Miller, as the company navigated the loss of theaters and live performances. I quickly learned there are no bad questions, or suggestions as they welcomed me to share my ideas and thoughts about how to push an important story further, and in front of more eyes than had ever seen ABT before.

Each day I would wake up excited to get my hands on new projects such as the Moving Stories: ABT Film Festival, the new ABT: Kitchen cookbook, children’s books Boy’s Dance and B is for Ballet and ABT Today: The Future Starts Now virtual celebration. As a virtual press and public relations intern I was able to hone my communications and writing skills, by writing pitches, and brainstorming about the best way to share these new creations with its eagerly awaiting audience.

As a press intern this season I have felt truly connected to ABT’s mission to bring ballet to the widest possible audience, and cannot wait to continue to utilize all the skills I have learned here.

Kendall Butler

Press Intern

Fall 2020