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Hello Nice to Never Officially Meet You Both!

23 May

If you have read any posts on this blog from the Spring 2020 – Spring 2021 interns, you will be well aware that this year our internship experience was virtual. Meaning wake up in your bed, walk 10 feet to your desk and voila there is all of 890 Broadway at your fingertips – your ABT internship awaits. However, the virtual nature of the internship is not entirely what this post is about. If you would like to hear about that, just scroll down a couple posts.

When I interviewed for the position of Executive Office Intern, I met with Meredith Shell, the Executive Assistant at the time and immediately felt a connection with her and dare I say, had a pretty successful interview. Everyday I was waiting by my computer with my phone in my hand to hear back from her about whether I had gotten the position. I knew this is where I was meant to be for the next semester, but had Meredith known too? Turns out, she did! (Yes, I know you all knew that considering you are reading my post, but I threw it in for dramatic effect, ok?)

Very swiftly after the offer letter, the first days on the job arose. I worked effortlessly hand in hand with Meredith on everyday projects and tasks related to managing the Executive Director’s time and schedule efficiently. Meredith also introduced me to other departments in ABT that I had the pleasure of working with collaboratively and creating amazing content. The most notable would be the ABTalk series, which is a series of interviews with distinguished ABT community members who work in adjacent fields. I took a couple episodes from the idea to produce content, which was incredible to be a part of.

As soon as I got my bearings and was navigating the virtual internship seas, about 3 months in, with my incredible mentor/supervisor Meredith at my side (virtually), the boat tipped over and Meredith took her graceful leave of the company to pursue another opportunity. I was more than ecstatic for her, as I had seen day in and day out the hard work and dedication she puts into everything. But I was also scared for my future. What would I do without Meredith? I had only put three months into the position, and I was not sure if I could swim on my own.

However, I had no choice, so when Meredith left, another wonderful Executive Assistant, Johanna Kepler came in. She was new and wide eyed and knew less about the company than I did. So, for the remaining month of my internship experience, I told Johanna everything I knew, and we explored the vast depths of her responsibility together.

I have learned many valuable lessons from this internship, but the most important, I learned from Kara Medoff Barnett, the Executive Director, herself. During the beginning of my internship experience, Kara’s advice to me was to lean into the unknown and say yes to opportunities as a woman even if you’re scared. Be scared to do the things you don’t think you can or don’t feel prepared for, because at the end of the day, your success lies within you. You can do anything you put your mind to. Even going from intern to mentor in a virtual world for someone you’ve never met in an office you’ll never see.

Deja Robinson

Executive Intern

Spring 2021

See You Soon, ABT!!

23 May

Interning (virtually) at ABT has been an incredible experience and I am beyond grateful I  had the opportunity to learn and work at this incredible organization. Although I have  volunteered at organizations in the past, this experience was the first time I had ever interned at a  non-profit. When I applied I knew I was ready to get some finance experience at a non-profit and  bring some of my accounting skills to the organization. Additionally, I had not stepped into a  ballet studio since the age of six, however, art and the performing arts have always been an  important part of my life. I love to paint and would help with the dance and theater productions  at my school whenever I had the chance. Therefore, interning at ABT allowed me to experience  another side of productions I had never seen before, finance.

The projects I was given during my internship helped me understand the operations going  on behind the ballet productions, like payroll, depreciation schedules, prepaid expenses, and even  tax forms! I learned a lot about what goes into making performances come to life through  unconventional ways. For example, preparing the depreciation schedule for fixed assets allowed  me to learn more about productions and which materials, costumes, and props goes into creating  them. (I also discovered ABT’s production of Whipped Cream and went down a rabbit hole  researching that show!!) Additionally, Godwin and Sandra were amazing to work with and the  projects and guidance they offered helped make this internship an incredible learning experience.  I learned more about payroll with Sandra’s help and even with complications due to the virtual  nature of this internship and the sensitive information I was dealing with, I was still able to  complete many projects. Also, Godwin is an incredible mentor and truly made this internship a  chance for me to learn. The skills I acquired through each project helped me understand how the  accounting concepts I am learning in class apply in a real organization.  

 Finally, I am grateful for the (virtual) community I was able to join through my ABT  internship. Although I was in California, I still felt very much connected to the ABT community,  especially through Kara’s and Kevin’s kind and informative emails they would send out.  Additionally, Dennis’s weekly Friday meetings gave all the interns a chance to regroup and learn  useful technical skills, from writing a good cover letter to acing an interview. I also enjoyed all  the amazing guest speakers from across different departments at ABT who shared their  interesting experiences and fascinating stories.

 I am so grateful I had a chance to be part of ABT and contribute to this organization’s  mission. Although my internship ends soon, this is definitely not goodbye, I can’t wait to finally visit the studio in person!!!

Allia Al-Darmaki 

Finance Intern  

Spring 2021

My Semester at ABT

23 May

My life has always revolved around ballet. I started dancing when I was six, attended ballet performances monthly, and volunteered at the annual Nutcracker performances,  to name a few. At sixteen years old, I made the difficult decision to leave ballet to focus more on my studies. Although I had stopped dancing, I never left the dance world. I continued to volunteer at Miami City Ballet performances and continued to attend shows. When it came time to apply for my first internship, it only made sense for me to apply to a dance organization. When I learned that ABT was hiring interns for its spring semester, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to work for the JKO School, as I was a student at their summer intensive back in 2013 and had a fantastic experience. Fortunately, I was hired and joined ABT as an intern in the Department of Education and Training. 

During the past couple of months, I have hosted Zoom classes for four different levels of the JKO School, worked on data entry for fundraisers and summer intensive audition results, and final student evaluations for the semester. Through each step, I was guided by the JKO team of Katie Ferris, Katherine Currier, and Jenna Berloni, who provided constant assistance. It was astounding to see how detail-oriented the team was, as they were constantly aware of any issue with any student in the school. They were all very attentive and considerate of each student’s individual needs, especially during such a complicated time. As a student at Miami City Ballet, I always admired the hard work of the school administrators, and now I understand how much they genuinely care for every person at the school.

Although I would have loved to experience this internship in person, the online opportunity allowed me to travel to visit my family for an extended period of time. For two months, I was in my mother’s home country of Brazil, perfecting my Portuguese and spending time with my family, who I had not seen in over five years. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend so much time with my family, and I am so grateful that I could complete this work in Brazil. I will never forget this opportunity as my first internship experience, and I hope to be at 890 Broadway one day in the future!

Ashley Kail

JKO School Intern

Spring 2021

890 Broadway: A Community

21 May

890 Broadway seems to hold a special place in the hearts of so many people who are a part of American Ballet Theatre. This physical address was mentioned in our weekly intern meetings by many different guest speakers, again in weekly check-in meetings with the Children’s Division staff, and by teachers during JKO ballet technique classes. I have heard stories of students running up and down the hallways asking questions of the JKO staff, the relationships that are forged between pianist and dancer in the company’s studios, and the conference rooms in which a small, but mighty, marketing team discusses ways to bring ABT “into the now.”

Throughout my time as an intern for American Ballet Theatre, however, I have discovered that 890 Broadway is so much more than a physical location with ballet studios, offices, and conference rooms. 890 Broadway is a community of people—students, dancers, artists, musicians, staff, and audience members.

As one of the JKO School interns, I hosted and moderated the JKO Zoom technique classes throughout the week for four different levels. Although my face was hidden behind the ABT logo under the guise of “ABT JKO School”, I too feel part of the 890 Broadway community. Watching the dancers work and grow throughout the semester has been such a wonderful experience—one that inspires my love for this art form even further.  I watched as the Level 1A’s began to more clearly understand the technique of a tendu, was inspired by the Level 3A’s eagerness to explore the mechanics behind certain steps, listened as the Level 1B’s shared the excitement of their days before beginning their warm-up, and read their comments supporting each other during center exercises. Teachers encouraged questions and understanding; lectures in partnership with the NYU Harkness Center taught dancers about anatomy, nutrition, and mental health. Character classes brought excitement to the traditional schedule of ballet, conditioning, and modern classes, and parents were able to observe their dancers perform an exercise to music from The Sleeping Beauty during the final week of classes.

The JKO School is a community, and this community extends beyond the school, through every facet of the organization. Every single staff member or former intern who spoke during our weekly Friday intern meetings encouraged us to reach out with questions, or even just to have a conversation. Dennis Walters, our ABT internship coordinator and the Director of Education Operations, was available any time of the day for internship help, resume questions, and ideas on how to make the internship experience the most valuable it can be. The camaraderie among staff was almost tangible in the Weekly Education Staff meetings, and the JKO team of Katie Ferris, Katie Currier, and Jenna Berloni were so welcoming and quick to respond to any questions I had while moderating Zoom classes.

Over the last few months, I also worked on evaluation projects, summer intensive database entry, and began work on increasing the accessibility of adult classes. One project that particularly resonated with me was transferring data from a JKO fundraiser in coordination with Custom Ink to an Excel spreadsheet. Hundreds of individuals purchased a sweatshirt or donated in support of the school, but they also left comments sharing what ABT means to them and how the JKO school has shaped their life. The way American Ballet Theatre has impacted so many individuals, whether former dancers, company members, current students, audience members, or fans from across the world, is so inspiring. These comments are such a beautiful testament to ABT’s commitment to its mission of bringing ballet to the widest possible audience and the global community the company has created.

So, although I have never traversed the maze that 890 seems to be, what seems to truly make this place is the people.  I feel so honored to have been able to work with, learn from, and be a part of the same community as all of the wonderful staff at ABT. Thank you so much to the JKO team for such an engaging semester, and I cannot wait to see how the Children’s Division continues to grow, adapt, and become an even stronger community. 

Morgan Jankowski

JKO School Intern

Spring 2021

In Demand with ABT OnDemand!

21 May

One of the most interesting parts of being involved in a virtual internship is watching how different companies adapt to the current environment to stay relevant. Being in the arts and humanities industry, I figured that ABT would mostly be relying on the generosity of donors and members to help them stay afloat until they were once again able to perform. I was surprised to learn that not only were dancers still performing by utilizing a pod system, but the company was ensuring that performances were still being live streamed, and content was being presented.

I got to be a part of the launch of one of these efforts called ABT On Demand. Marketed as an online viewing platform, it would be a way for members to still find joy in performances even though they couldn’t attend live. This streaming platform would not only feature full length ballets, but Ballet Banter episodes, private classes, and other short films including the dancers. 

Once the platform launched however, we ran into a slew of problems that we weren’t entirely prepared for. Members were only allowed to access the streaming service if they gave above a certain amount in a calendar year or were a certain membership level. We were more than happy to extend access to anyone who requested it and made a generous donation.

However, we soon realized that we had donors who were donating their Met Subscriptions in place of cash donations. Because their donation was still accepted and typically fell over the required amount, we decided to also include them in the promotion. This led to an incredibly successful launch of ABT On Demand with viewers all over the world who were accessing our content. 

I loved being able to witness a project like this come to life and have a part in its success. Watching an industry that relies so heavily on its community be able to still provide for their supporters during a challenging time was incredibly satisfying. Knowing that people were consuming and enjoying the virtual performances gives me a lot of hope for the future of American Ballet Theatre for when we return to live shows.

Emma Titus

Patron Services Intern

Spring 2021

On Being the Membership Intern…

21 May

American Ballet Theatre’s internship program has been an amazing experience. I was a spring intern during the COVID pandemic and it was quite the trip. We zoomed into everything, which was weird but still awesome that ABT decided to still do internships. I loved how fast-paced it was and how you never knew what was going to happen, I love that kind of excitement. This internship kept me on my toes and was good practice for problem solving quickly and effectively.

One of my favorite parts of my internship was sitting in on department wide meetings to see what it takes to launch something like ABT On Demand or ABT’s spring campaign. As an intern, you were asked your opinion on things, which I thought was really cool. My mentor was very down to earth and honest with me about non-profit development work. She trusted me with big projects and I greatly appreciated that. She just kept giving me projects and asking what I’d like to be a part of. It’s crazy how fast the past 5 months have gone by. It feels like yesterday that I was meeting all of the spring interns and setting up logins for ABT. 

As an intern, you have an amazing opportunity to make lifelong connections that could help you with your future. Make friends and don’t forget to ask questions. It’s much easier for you and your mentor to ask questions about anything. You never know what kind of connections/meetings you could partake in. I would highly recommend asking to meet with people in departments that you are interested in. Take advantage of all the opportunities in front of you and make the most of your personal internship.

ABT’s internship program is a good way to get some exposure and see what job fields you might be interested in. I highly recommend applying to ABT’s internship program because it is an unforgettable experience.

Jessamyn Efken

Membership Intern

Spring 2021

Interning for One of the Most Prestigious Institutions in the Dance Industry… Through A Screen.

18 May

When I received my offer letter for a position at THE American Ballet Theatre, I froze. I will say that I am a confident young man, but the honor of being accepted into the family of a pioneering dance company was overwhelming. I gladly accepted the position of Chief Philanthropy Officer Intern (the only male in my cohort) and my journey began.

At first, jumping into the deep end felt like a mad frenzy. I had really no idea what I was doing. We had a brief orientation to become familiar with the software and databases, but then it was off and immediately I was tasked with my first project. I was fortunate to have had an amazing supervisor assisting me along the way and answering any questions I had… because there were many! In what I would come to find out was typical ABT fashion, I leaned into the feeling of confusion and tackled each project head-on. Over the semester, I drafted acknowledgment letters to major donors and trustees, created presentations for board meetings, wrote transcripts, researched organizations for prospective partnerships, pulled records and information from databases, and much more. 

In a normal year, the ABT  internship program would run in the main building at 890 Broadway. Given the restricted circumstances of the pandemic, my entire 16 weeks of building connections and creating relationships took place via Zoom meetings, emails, and phone calls. The absence of in-person interaction definitely created a small void in the full intern experience, but my time as an intern was absolutely fulfilling and one I will never forget. 

While in my last year of undergrad at NYU, I was also an RA, worked part-time at school, served on the boards of multiple organizations on campus, tore my meniscus and underwent surgery, worked outside of school choreographing and performing on different projects, etc. I say all this to say that I had to juggle a lot this semester and it was most certainly intense, but the ABT team being flexible made it all manageable. Special shout out to Kaitlyn Frieling, Georgia Siampalioti, Dennis Walters, and my cohort. I’ve had a blast!

Malcolm Young

Chief Philanthropy Officer Intern

Spring 2021

A Semester With the NTC

14 May

Following an unusual undergraduate graduation in May of 2020, I decided to spend the
next academic year earning my master’s degree through the ABT/NYU partnership program and
subsequently received an internship in the National Training Curriculum department at ABT! I
was intrigued to apply for this position by the promise of an incredibly unique opportunity to
learn about the administrative side of the NTC, all while earning my own certifications. In
January of 2021, I was welcomed into department and also met another NTC intern on our

Over the course of the semester, I worked alongside the NTC department to prepare for
virtual teacher training sessions. With the past year being the first time the training sessions
were offered entirely online, we had almost 100 participants enrolled from around the globe
learning the curriculum together. Raymond Lukens and Franco De Vita, the authors of the
curriculum and my instructors at NYU, were able to host the trainings for this diverse group of
teachers from their home in Florida. My personal responsibilities included organizing
participant information and exercises, engaging with participants, screen sharing for lectures,
grading exams, preparing packages to be returned to participants and collaborating closely with
the NTC team to handle anything else that came up.

As I look back in the rearview mirror at this experience, it stands out to me how this all-
female team was welcoming and accessible as they showed me the way, while still
accomplishing the incredible feat of training teachers from around the world in the ABT curriculum.

They were trusting and gracious as they handed over responsibilities and I never
doubted my importance as we completed the many administrative tasks of these trainings

Jillian Marziotti

National Training Curriculum Intern

Spring 2021

The ABT RISE Weekend Was a Success!

12 May

The semester had the upcoming ABT RISE weekend looming over it. Constantly, we were left wondering (hoping, really) if it would be successful. In late February/early March, we got to work. We began keeping track of all the students that were applying for the weekend. It was here where we hit a wall; it was great that students were applying, but most of the students applying were from New York. 

The goal of the ABT RISE weekend was to give typically underrepresented students in ballet an opportunity to learn from great teachers for a weekend at no charge. So we had to come up with a plan to reach a broader pool of students; our goal became to secure one applicant from each state. This meant meetings with the marketing department, meetings about equity and inclusion, and planning social media posts. For me and one of my fellow interns, this meant reaching out to Boys and Girls Clubs across the country in the hopes of finding new and eager dancers. 

Cold-calls and spreadsheets owned my first two weeks of March! I was worried about calling the clubs at first, but I ended up having great conversations with directors who left the call more interested in ABT and ballet in general. Not sure how many students we acquired from the calls, but ABT definitely developed relationships with many of those clubs and it was awesome to be a part of that.

Finally the weekend arrives. The zoom meeting opens and we are immediately flooded with tons of kids, dressed in their dance clothes and eager to start the weekend. The kids started their day with a ballet class, then repertory, and they ended the dance portion of their day with a modern dance class. Watching the students blossom over the course of the day was an amazing thing to witness. One student said at the end of the ballet class, “I was really nervous to come today but, after this class, I’m so excited for the rest of the weekend!” (Oh, that sound you hear? It’s just hearts breaking everywhere.) 

The weekend ended with reflection from the students. They talked about how excited they were to continue their dance training and gushed about how fun the weekend was. I was so happy I got to be a part of what seemed to be a formative experience for most of the kids.

This experience really showed me the kind of company ABT is. I admire how they go out of their way to make ballet accessible. Dance in general can be really inaccessible, so a major dance company like the American Ballet Theatre crafting an entire weekend dedicated to students that might have difficulty taking a dance class, is incredibly honorable. It signals to me that I chose the right place to intern and I am excited to see ABT’s future equity and inclusion projects.

Kelsey Shelton

Education Intern

Spring 2021

ABT’s First Education Archives Intern!

10 May

As ABT’s FIRST Educational Archives Intern I have to say, it has been so fun! I am completing my Master of Arts in Dance Education: ABT Pedagogy at New York University. I am then hoping to get my archiving certification and officially become a Dance Archivist. What does a Dance Archivist do? They provide consultation regarding the arrangement of artifacts (digital & physical) accrued by individual dancers and dance companies. Archivists take stock of these artifacts (photos, programs, costumes, letters, certificates, etc), provide digitization guidance/services, and help create websites/databases/albums/collections. For me, the ultimate goal is to objectively clarify the human story left behind by this ephemeral art form, dance.

Being virtual for the duration of my internship was not at all a hindrance. I had plenty of online projects. I was able to create databases that functioned as frameworks for the organization of website information. I also created databases that functioned as advertising tracking and visual representations of program results. One of my favorite projects was organizing the ABT Vimeo collection. I got to then create a user-friendly database that supports the weekly posting of videos on different platforms. This database functions really well and it looks good too!

Another enjoyable aspect of the archiving work has been writing up stories for the website. I had the opportunity to write about two incredible women, Lucia Chase and Billie Holiday. I shared known and possibly unknown contributions that these two remarkable women made to ABT.

I love history and I love ABT. Having the opportunity to do archives work for an organization so dear to my heart has been an incredible experience.

Renee Meiffren

Education Archives Intern

Spring 2021