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Ballet and Beanie Baby Basketball

31 Jul

“How do you feel about going on a field trip on Thursday?” Dennis Walters, the Associate Director of Education and Training, asked one afternoon in March. I was here to learn so whatever it was, I knew that it would be valuable for me to observe. Dennis soon explained that he would be going to the City Hall with Ebonie Pittman, the Manager of Institutional Support. She is in charge of corporate sponsorships and grants at American Ballet Theatre and they scheduled a meeting with one of New York City’s Council Members. The meeting would hopefully convince the councilmember to support ABT’s outreach programs with his flexible funds to enrich arts in the schools in his district. I was taking a class on fundraising and grants so this was the perfect opportunity for me to get a glimpse of what a meeting would look like. Then Dennis added a cherry on top to an already exciting day when he asked “I’m going to the Metropolitan Opera that afternoon for a meeting after that. Do you want to come to the meeting?” My answer, of course, was a yes!


Thursday came around and Dennis, Ebonie and I got on the train to head to the City Hall. As they reviewed the folder full of data and information on the subway, I was excited to be able to connect what I learned in class to a real funding meeting. The meeting itself was brief but Ebonie and Dennis articulated the importance of arts programs and the results of ABT’s outreach programs through its 20 years’ history. As we left the office, I asked Dennis and Ebonie when the funding would be secured and learned that we may not know until August or September. While it may seem like a last minute decision before the school year, knowing that the students would ultimately benefit from the program would surpass the inconvenience of uncertainty.


We then headed to the Metropolitan Opera House. I was in awe of the beautiful chandeliers and it was even more special to see it when the house was empty. Representatives from the Metropolitan Opera, ABT’s Special Events, Company Management and Education Departments gathered to align all the events that were scheduled for the Met Season. They went through each event and confirmed that everyone was on the same page with room arrangements, catering, and even smallest procedures. While it may seem tedious, it was important to prevent any confusion on the day of the event when there are patrons and audiences in the house.


Of course this was one of many exciting days. To name a few others, I helped out at donor events, assisted final performances at Make a Ballet schools, helped teach a Make a Ballet Administration class at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, witnessed kids’ excitement as they were about to step onto the stage for Young People’s Ballet Workshop at the Met, sat in on a company wide meeting, and delivered pre-performance workshop materials to the Met. Even a monotonous day at the office was made interesting by flying cupcake beanie babies. (Long story short, they were bought for a pre-performance workshop for Whipped Cream and they are the perfect size to be catapulted across the office without hurting anyone. Don’t be alarmed when you’re in the office and there’s a cupcake beanie baby or an angry bird plushy in the air! Dennis will launch one into the air when you least expect it and an impromptu basketball game might ensue. As Dennis says, all ABT interns learn how to catch because you don’t want your face to end up being a backboard.) From exciting field trips to working in the office, I am so grateful to say that my time as an intern at ABT was full of opportunities to learn and fulfilling.


Sarah Cho

Education and Training Intern

Spring 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


19 Jun
I have to say that interning at ABT is probably one of the best internship opportunities you might ever get. I studied Dance in College and am still active artistically in the dance scene. ABT gave me the opportunity to get a closer look behind the scenes and I am very thankful to have gotten the opportunity to learn from a successful arts organization what it means to keep the arts alive.

The ABT staff is incredibly inspiring. I could sense that they are very passionate about their work, which makes it fun to learn. As a Membership Intern in the Development Department I was lucky enough to have the opportunity of fulfilling a wide range of tasks. Getting to know and learning from the Membership staff has been an absolute pleasure. Everyone is super friendly and very open-minded.
In addition to that, my favorite part of the internship was helping out at Events. One of my first events I helped out with was a Ballet Class for Donors. For that class, staff members of the Membership Department joined in and also invited me to take the ballet class, which was taught by one of ABT’s current dancers. We, as well as the donors, had the best time dancing together in one of ABT’s studios, where I always saw the Company rehearse while passing by during the day.

Another one of my favorite moments was when I was invited to one of Project Plié’s meetings. ProjectPlié encourages people of color to work within the area of Classical Ballet. For that meeting Calvin Royal III came in to tell us about his experience and we ended up having great conversations involving interns, staff members and a dancer.

I have to say again that everyone at ABT is very humble and welcoming and I truly enjoyed my time working there as an Intern; an experience I will never forget.

Reshma Anwar
Membership Intern
Spring 2017

A Learning Opportunity

22 Jan

“Why don’t you pull up your chair. This is a good teaching moment.” Many times this semester my mentor would ask me to do just that, and so time and time again I would pull up my chair next to her desk. These are the moments that truly make ABT a unique place to intern. Interns at ABT are part of the Educational program. Not a distraction but a valued investment.

Coming from a liberal arts background, finance or budgets were not really my strong suite. But perhaps the opportunity to intern in ABT’s Institutional Support Department excited me precisely because of the challenge it presented. I knew I could learn, because I knew I’d be taught.

I always had a lot of questions. But my mentor was extremely patient and more than willing to answer them. She spent time explaining the details of raising institutional support: what the application process for the different foundations looks like and how diverse the requirements can be, what the best ways to organize and document files are, what the nuances of interactions with representatives of foundations or corporations are, how project budgets are created, how to write reports, and so much more. But not only did I have the opportunity to learn about Institutional Support, I also got a glimpse into the Development, Artistic, Production Departments, and the Company as a whole. I knew that after graduating I want to be working in arts administration, but more and more I’m coming to understand how broad of a term it really is. ABT gave me the opportunity to explore and learn about the field not limiting me only to one aspect.

Looking back at my four months as an intern in the Institutional Support Department, I am blown away by how much I have had the chance to learn: what is a W990 form, how to make project budgets, how to write grants, and do prospect research. Things that only a couple of month ago existed vaguely in my imagination have now become concrete concepts I am ready to talk about and work on. The hands on experience and actively being able to apply the knowledge to a real life situation right after sitting by my mentor’s desk and learning about it make the ABT Internship Program truly unique.

Alisa Goz

Institutional Support

Fall 2016

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

Go To All the Events!!!

26 Dec

Coming into my internship with the Major Gifts department at ABT, I had only a vague idea of what words like “Major Gifts” or “Development” meant. I was the tiniest bit afraid it would turn out to be dry or not at all what I expected. But over this past semester, my experience with ABT proved how interesting and creative a career arts administration can be. It’s so inspiring to work with people who care deeply about ABT’s mission and the performing arts as a whole, and to see all of the behind-the-scenes work give life to the projects on stage.

While the events and performances were definitely highlights of my time at ABT, I can’t overlook the experience I had day-to-day at 890 Broadway. In the Major Gifts office, Fallon Sullivan was so ready to help me learn (about development, the industry, our finicky printers, etc.) and contribute to the staff’s work. I was happy to see how the work I was doing was immediately used by Major Gifts to reach out to donors, organize events, or create reports. There were also of plenty of little hands-on projects that came up now and then – designing invitations, putting together an information binder for the board, asking a dancer for their signature for a donor gift, etc. I never felt like I was stuck doing “busywork,” and if it was ever tedious, the people I was surrounded by always brightened things up!

Aside from regular office duties, my favorite parts of the internship were the occasional pop-up events. Just before the opening of the Fall season, donors sometimes came into 890 Broadway to sit in on a rehearsal or dance class. I loved putting faces to the names I’d been working with and hearing a bit about their lives. It was also inspiring to see the dancers work tirelessly to perfect their performance. Another day, Burberry NYC was hosting a special fundraiser for major donors and members in their midtown location. I tagged along with another intern, taking in the incredible runway collection, the dancers, and donors who shopped the event. And at an early morning intern meeting, Kara Medoff Barnett (ABT’s new Executive Director) came to talk informally with us about her professional and personal experience leading up to her new job at ABT. After each of these little surprises, I looked at ABT with a new appreciation – the office and the art and all of the staff are constantly blending into each other, each of them striving to put forth the best work possible.

As a note of advice for future interns, I would recommend that you go to ALL the events possible. They’re so fun, and that is where you get to soak in what the heart of ABT is about and to make a connection with the staff and the other interns. Ask as many questions as possible, and don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone and everyone! Everyone I encountered in my time at ABT was so open and willing to help out. I can’t thank them enough for the incredible experience I had this semester. I look forward to putting everything I’ve learned into practice!

Rebecca Souza

Major Gifts Intern

Fall 2016

My Semester in Special Events

16 Dec

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always dreamed of working for American Ballet Theatre. Back then I might have had a different outfit in mind, but when I was accepted into the internship program at ABT this fall I was more than thrilled to put on some business casual attire and translate my passion for the art and for the company through an administrative perspective.

This semester, I had the opportunity to work as the Special Events Intern in the Development Department where I was able to learn so much more about the company, how it operates as a large, successful nonprofit organization, and of course the components of planning, organizing, and executing special events. In this position, I was given the opportunity to not only assist with the important and necessary tasks that go into major events such as recording and filing new reservation information, drafting and mailing acknowledgement letters before and after events, and tracking expenses, but also attending and staffing the actual events themselves. This fall I had the opportunity to help work on three big events; the 2016 Fall Gala, the preview event for Alexei Ratmansky’s new ballet, Whipped Cream, and the 2016 Holiday Benefit.

By far, attending events was one of my favorite parts of the internship program. As the Special Events intern, one of the most rewarding aspects of the position was seeing how the little things I helped work on throughout the process of planning were visible, important components of making the event possible. I also really enjoyed getting to meet donors I had been communicating with through acknowledgement letters at events, it was a wonderful experience getting to place faces with names and further connect the work I had been doing in the office to an outside environment.

In addition to these special events, I really enjoyed helping out with other events in the Development Department as well, such as Membership Studio Visits, Junior Turnout, Company Class on Stage, and Board Meetings. I would highly recommend volunteering to help at as many of these events as you can because not only will you get the opportunity to work with all the incredible people who work in the Development Department at ABT and have even more opportunities to connect with donors, but you can also get a glimpse into some rehearsals to see the amazing artists in the company at work.

Interning at ABT was everything I hoped it would be and more. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone interested in arts administration, development, or nonprofit work. You will be given a lot of responsibility, countless opportunities, and great insight into how the company operates from a different point of view.

Alyssa Wagner

Special Events Intern

Fall 2016