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Ten Transformative Weeks

3 Aug

EleniinternphotoWhen I walked into 890 Broadway on my first day, I immediately knew I was going to love my new internship. The office walls are covered with beautiful photographs of ABT through the years – right above my desk is a framed shot of Isabella Boylston as Odette in Swan Lake, and I never get tired of staring at it. What makes ABT so special isn’t just the decor, but the people who work here. To name a few, Steven, Brendan, Sarah, and Erin, the small but VERY mighty marketing team, are a huge reason why my experience has been so fantastic. They all welcomed Emily (the photography intern) and me into the ABT family from day one.

As an ABT intern, you’re not given the stereotypical internship “grunt work.” One of my favorite parts of this internship is that I have had the opportunity to work on projects that directly contribute to the organization. Each assignment teaches you something new, and it is impossible to get bored. The marketing team wears many hats, which means as an intern, you do too. In a single day, I make sales reports in Excel, design eBlasts that promote our upcoming performances, adjust box office pricing, and draft posts for ABT’s social media. One minute I’ll be scrolling through hundreds of photos to find the perfect fit for an email, and then the next I’ll be calculating figures in Excel – which is exactly why this internship is so amazing. You get to be creative, organized, mathematical, and strategic, and the best part is that you have the chance to be a part of such an inspiring and passionate group of people.

One of my favorite moments this summer was when I had the opportunity to see Don Quixote, which was the first ballet I attended this season. The dancers were whimsical and incredible (as always), and the performance was utterly fantastic. I realized how amazing it is that the work that is done at 890 Broadway helps share this inspiring art form with thousands of people every single year. As an intern, you have the opportunity to be a part of the special ABT family – you become part of what goes on behind-the-scenes, what makes these performances possible. This has been a transformational experience, and I’m so thankful to ABT for all that I have gained and learned!

Eleni Scurletis

Marketing Intern

Summer 2018



Unrivaled, Unparalleled, Unprecedented

2 Aug

AliyahinternphotoWhen it came time to reflect and think of a word to describe my experience as an intern for American Ballet Theatre, so many adjectives came to mind. Out of all the words though the one I think described it best for me was “Unprecedented”.  This was my first real time away from home, on my own and my first real internship that was not in my hometown in Georgia. Even my last four years of college were in Georgia. So, when it came time for me to be an intern at American Ballet Theatre all the way in New York, it was new for me. I had my doubts about working at a company that only seemed real through dreams, but all those doubts disappeared my first day there. Working at ABT specifically with the National Training Curriculum has been a dream come true. Myself and my amazing co intern (Maddy!!) spent our time learning about a different side of what ABT had to offer which was its education side. We got to help make sure all the training sessions ran smoothly, processing exams and maintaining records. Sounds like minimal work but I got to see the importance of every little piece come together to make these sessions flow.  My mentors Sonia Jones, Meghan Love and Molly Schnyder were the best to work with. They took the time to answer all my questions, were always patient and encouraging! They challenged me to do some projects I had never done before and with their guidance I felt confident in everything that was presented to me.  I felt they were invested in me and they really made me feel like I was a part of the team. I was thankful that I got paired to work with such great women.

In addition to working with the National Training Curriculum team, as an intern we had our weekly intern meetings where we were led by Mr. Dennis Walters, the director of education and training. I learned so much about the inner workings of the American Ballet Theatre and how to run such a successful nonprofit organization. Also, with these meetings Dennis gave great lessons on resume building and cover letter writing. I learned marketable skills that I can now keep with me for years to come. Also, as an intern I got to help with the pre-professional workshops and got a behind the scenes look at what the MET season is like for ABT!

So, here I am now reflecting on my time and I say all of this was unprecedented because this was an unparalleled experience than any of the internships I have had. I learned so much more than just basic office skills. I learned that American Ballet Theatre is more than their extraordinary dancers, but they are an intricate group of individuals weaving together unrivaled magic.

Aliyah P. Miller

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2018

Summer of Magic

1 Aug


This past summer, I had the opportunity to serve as the Major Gifts Intern with American Ballet Theatre. I was awaiting a summer full of intense learning of the non-profit performing arts sector and being involved with one of New York City’s most cherished institutions. As the days were counting down until my first official day in the historic 890 offices, I knew I had the opportunity to be surrounded by ballet during my experience working within the development department, but my expectations were greatly exceeded during this exciting and thrilling new adventure.

My magical summer of 2018 consisted of attending numerous captivating ballet performances, including the ever-enchanting Romeo and Juliet, catching glimpses of dancers warming up will touring the backstage of one of the most iconic landmarks in New York City, watching the interactions between gracious donors and accomplished dancers, and working numerous events on the majestic and classic Grand Tier lounge at The Metropolitan Opera House.

My first day at ABT was perhaps my favorite day while serving as the Major Gifts Intern. Taking place on the Grand Tier Lounge of the Metropolitan Opera House, The Golden Circle Luncheon, an annual event which honors some of ABT’s brightest stars, was about to begin. As the sun beamed through the floor to ceiling windows in the Grand Tier lounge over-looking Lincoln Center Plaza, the atmosphere was full of excitement as some of ABT’s most generous donors and beloved dancers graced the lounge all in support of the strong and focused mission of ABT. I had to opportunity to hear Executive Director, Kara Medoff Barnett and Principal ABT Dancer Daniil Simkin give inspiring and aweing speeches to the intimate balcony of loyal patrons. I was beyond impressed with the scale and design of the event, and how welcoming and passionate the staff and donors of ABT were to me on my first day. This was the ultimate welcome to ABT as I soaked in the magic of working at the historic Metropolitan Opera House while celebrating the tremendous fundraising efforts of ABT and an incredible and sensational 2018 Met Season.

Moments of complete awe, such as my first day with ABT, encompassed my entire summer. From hearing the piano music playing from the summer intensive rehearsals while I walk to my desk or passing by legendary ABT choreographers in the Met cafeteria, I absolutely enjoyed being around such creative and passionate individuals. What makes ABT such an amazing organization is not only these intimate moments, but the attitude and undeniable dedication that every staff member, dancer, audience member, student and employee obtain.

Working for ABT has taught me that with a strong and clear mission statement, nonprofits can soar and make enormous change in the world while providing endless inspiration for all. By working within the Major Gifts office, I had the special opportunity to witness the amount of generosity loyal patrons give to ABT to make these magical moments happen. From tracking ticket purchases to connecting dancer sponsors with their ballerina, there was no shortage of meaning from any task I performed. Whether I was working in the office or engaging with donors post-performance at the Met, I felt that my unique experience with ABT has provided me with the tools and skills I need to succeed in my professional career.

As my internship comes to a close, I will take away extensive knowledge about what it means to be a part of a team who makes magic happen for more than 300,000 individuals each year. I am so fortunate to say that I have worked for one of the most hardworking arts organizations not only in New York City, but in the world. I will cherish every lesson I have learned, from what it means to cultivate a new donor base from ticket sales, to understanding the signature personality of a Petipa ballet. I will take these meager and extensive lessons with me wherever I go, and always remember my time with American Ballet Theatre; the summer I saw magic come to life.

Margaret Farrell

Major Gifts Intern

Summer 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

Endless Discoveries at 890

30 Jul

MaddyinternphotoWhat a summer it has been at 890 Broadway! I have had the pleasure of being one of the two National Training Curriculum interns this summer and I have truly not experienced a dull day at the office. Admittedly, the majority of my ABT experiences were limited to the Education Department, but what a place to be. The fourth floor could not have been a more energetic work environment. Between the excitement of soon-to-be certified teachers walking through, summer intensive students running to class, ballet teachers and pianists looking for class schedules, employees happily answering questions and devotedly doing their work, the occasional principal dancers (current + former) waltzing through the office, and the NTC interns taking laps between the computer and the copier’s multipurpose tray, it’s hard to keep up with the happenings in Education. This may all seem overwhelming upon first glance, but this liveliness is matched by true passion and enthusiasm from each of the staff members and it is evident in their work.

It was truly eye-opening to see the importance of organization in such a busy environment as the ABT administrative offices. Specifically in NTC, the orderly systems in place proved to be essential for the success of the programs. Without the high level of organization and the careful amount of attention granted towards seemingly mundane paperwork, the NTC teacher training sessions and affiliate exams would not run as smoothly as they do. This organization also allowed us (the interns) to create exam certificates and update the database to register teachers on the first day of work. The ability to use and create organizational systems is one important skill I will take away from my summer at ABT. I am confident that I will use this in every job I encounter.

While the Education Department is vast and occupies a whole floor of office space, it is only one of many departments at ABT. And within Education, NTC employs three wonderful staff members and two interns and takes up a “pod” in the office, but it represents only a fraction of what the department does as a whole. A highlight from this summer was assisting in a pre-performance workshop for Whipped Cream at the Met, where I got to help lead a class for baby ballerinas. It was so exciting to see another sector of the Education team working to fulfill ABT’s mission statement.

As to why I chose “discovery” to describe my ABT experience: One of my favorite and most rewarding aspects of this internship has been our Friday intern meetings. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to employees from different departments talk about their role in the realm of ABT. I especially loved learning about the structure of a nonprofit from Dennis Walters and how a mission statement drives an organization. With each new speaker that graced the interns with their presence, I discovered a new field of arts administration and the nonprofit world that appeals to me. I left each Friday meeting feeling completely inspired and eager to discover more. I am writing this on the eve of our final true Friday intern meeting. (I am not counting intern brunch as an educational meeting, although I’m excited!) Tomorrow, we are meeting with an employee from the Finance Department. Being a math-minded, constantly curious person, I am looking forward to learning about how ABT’s budget is crafted and how budgetary decisions are made. If I had endless time as an ABT intern, I would arrange informational interviews with every employee in the company to learn more. Constant discovery in an area that I am passionate about is such a joy and has made for unforgettable summer at ABT.

Maddy Paull

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2018

Major Magic at ABT

27 Jul

890 Broadway: a historic building in the heart of Manhattan where elevators are hand operated, live piano music is bound to be heard, and dance legends of past, present, and future walk the halls on nearly every floor. It is in this building that America’s National Ballet Company works tirelessly “to CREATE, to PRESENT,to PRESERVEand to EXTENDthe great repertoire of classical dancing, through exciting performances and educational programming of the highest quality, present to the widest possible audience.” Welcome to ABT.

I have long admired American Ballet Theatre for a wide variety of reasons: its vast and ever-expanding repertoire, its commitment to remaining accessible to audiences around the world, and its company of performers that are simply unparalleled in technique and artistry. This organization somehow simultaneously honors the rich history of the performing arts that led to its creation, and challenges the boundaries of tradition. I’d easily chalk it all up to magic, but these past four months as an intern at ABT have taught me just what is behind it all.

The quote just up above is ABT’s mission statement. This collection of words serves as a guiding light and common goal for every member of the company, and it could not be more apparent. Every person at ABT, from the dancers to the administrators and everyone in between, exhibits an understanding of and support for this mission. In the Major Gifts office, where I was lucky enough to spend my semester, it came through in every project we did. Here’s a particularly exciting one I worked on:

Every year, a select group of ABT’s Major Donors meets to discuss the state of the company, look ahead at plans for the upcoming season, take a moment to acknowledge just how much they have done to propel both ABT and the art form forward, and consider what they can do to help it along even more. This year however, in true ABT fashion of honoring tradition while pushing its boundaries, our team decided to make the occasion even more special. In addition to the usual agenda, we would present an engaging panel discussion. Being that this meeting fell during the week of Romeo and Juliet at the Met, the discussion would center on that ballet. The speakers? Robert LaFosse, Leslie Browne, Cynthia Harvey, Susan Jones, Kevin McKenzie, Isabella Boylston, and David Hallberg, moderated by dance writer Pia Catton. And yes, even months later, this list still gives me goosebumps.

The conversation was meant to highlight the way in which a classic piece of ballet repertoire is passed down through the generations, and how it maintains its integrity while also remaining relevant. Along the way, the panelists shared fond memories of working with choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, discussed their varied approaches to the iconic leading roles, laughed as they recalled comical mishaps with costumes or props, and enlightened everyone in the room on small yet crucial details of choreography that often go unnoticed. They did this all between viewings of archival video clips and photo montages put together in a presentation by, you guessed it, me! It was my responsibility to create all supporting materials for this meeting. In the weeks leading up to the event, my days were spent scouring archives, building PowerPoint presentations, writing talking points and cue cards for our speakers, and meeting with a crew at the Met to set light and microphone levels. When the day finally arrived, I took my place in the tech booth to control the presentation. It was in this tiny room at the back of the auditorium that I realized just how remarkable this entire event was.

Here we all were, discussing the CREATION of an iconic work of art, walking through and comparing its various PRESENTATIONS throughout the years, analyzing just how many original details have been PRESERVED through the care of our incredible ballet masters and coaches, and looking ahead to the future generations whose dancers will EXTEND the reach and push the boundaries of this work. This panel embodied every fiber of ABT’s mission statement, and it was on that evening in the middle of June that the words I had been reading for years on the company’s website, came to life for me.

It goes without saying that working at ABT is an extremely special experience, filled with memorable moments. Take a read through the rest of the magnificent posts on this page and you’ll get a sense of just how rewarding it can be. Whether you are sitting in on rehearsals in the studios, helping to run an educational program for young children, interacting with patrons at the theater, or coming across your childhood idols backstage, there is no shortage of opportunities to get involved and have your dreams come true at the same time. But there is one more detail missing from the list that makes this experience truly remarkable, and sets ABT apart: the people.

In my time with the company, I have had the pleasure of meeting and collaborating with some of the most encouraging, caring, talented, and hard-working individuals I’ve ever come across. They approach each project with confidence and creativity, they work together to successfully move mountains, and they support each other like one, big family. Simply being in this type of environment taught me more about how to successfully operate a non-profit than any academic course could. It taught me that at the heart of it all is a group of people with a shared passion—or mission, if you will. I am eternally grateful to have been a part of it. Now, as I sit in the audience, clapping as the curtain goes down and tears of wonder stream down my face, I see so much more than just the beauty on the stage. I see all of the work that goes into it, and the bigger picture it represents. And you know what, I still see magic. I’m not entirely convinced there isn’t a bit of that involved too.

Kate Pirtskhalava

Major Gifts Intern

Summer 2018

From LaDuca’s to the Executive Office

27 Jul

SelenainternphotoFifteen-year old “Selena Ballerina” vowed to work at American Ballet Theatre. She pumped herself up for daily technique classes by imagining they were ABT’s company classes. Six years later and she’s finally here!

A lot has changed in the past six years – I traded my tutus and Gaynors for Lulu skirts and Laducas and I even changed my major from dance at Ailey/Fordham to arts administration at NYU. However, my passion for dance and my dream to work within the walls of America’s national ballet company never wavered. Whether it be at the barre or at the desk, I planned to give ABT my all. This summer, I had the opportunity to do so as an intern in the Executive Office.

In the Executive Office, I worked under Brittany Heier (Executive Assistant) and Kara Barnett (Executive Director). During the Spring Met Season, my job was to hold down the fort here at 890. In each task I completed, my problem-solving skills were put to the test. I had to think quickly, work efficiently, and evolve with the dynamic work environment. My people skills also greatly improved because I worked with every department from Special Events to Company Management.

One of my favorite projects was helping to plan the end of season Cast Party. The dancers requested an easy-going celebration, so I made sure to order pizza, chips, and candy; coordinated the donated drink delivery; and helped put together a photo station with fun props and a balloon-lettered back drop that said #ABTMET18. The cherry on top of the evening was being in the room where it happened and partying with all the ABT superstars I idolized as a teenager.

The ABT Internship Program itself is unparalleled to any I know. The resources provided create an environment where learning is encouraged and supported. During Intern meetings we spoke with staff members about various segments of ABT and had workshops focused on preparing us for careers in arts administration. We even had opportunities to meet with the Roundabout Theatre interns to further discuss our experiences as young arts administrators. As a Project Plié Scholarship recipient, I know ABT is actively supporting the diversification of ballet on and off the stage. The office is full of diverse individuals who bring all of their unique experiences and knowledge to make ABT a true reflection of the country it represents.

Selena Robinson

Executive Office Intern

Summer 2018