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
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Summer at ABT

24 Aug

I have been wearing two different hats at ABT this summer. On some days, I wear the “Administrative” baseball cap and then on other days I wear the “Marketing” beanie cap. And then on some days, I wear them both, either switching off, or at the exact same time. No matter which one I wear, the work is challenging, eye opening, and yes, fun.

Getting to work on our first Marketing Task Force initiative was an exciting experience. After watching a dress rehearsal of Swan Lake, we invited a group of some of the most distinguished members in the marketing field to partake in a strategy session. Getting to hear about what people outside of the ABT world think of ABT was fascinating. Who would have ever thought that the Vice President of HBO Sports would be an avid ballet fan? Or that a partner at Goldman Sachs would attend ABT’s performances at the Met two to three times a week? This task force initiative truly showed me how the rest of the world perceives and witnesses ABT as a leading ballet company.

Learning from Kim about the administrative world has been such a wonderful compliment to my time in the marketing department. In learning about the nuts and bolts that hold ABT together, I have been able to take that knowledge and apply it to my work in marketing. So much of marketing has to do with how much you believe in your “product” and my admin experience has only strengthened my belief in, and love for, ABT.

While the aforementioned may seem like an ABT “love fest,” it is the only way that I can describe my experience this summer. It is rare to be surrounded by kind colleagues and stimulating work, and ABT has provided me with both. No day is ever the same and no interaction is ever the same, thus leaving room for the unexpected. It is this type of spontaneity, combined with artistic passion and integrity that has made this summer at ABT one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling ones yet.

Jaime Rosenstein

Marketing and Administrative Intern

Summer 2017

It’s More than Just an Office Job – My Experience as an ABT Intern

22 Aug

Working for the National Training Curriculum at American Ballet Theatre this summer has been amazing. Unlike some of my past internships, ABT has provided me with experiences that go beyond the development of basic professional skills. Weekly intern meetings allowed opportunities to learn more about non-profits and how to create the perfect resume. Outings to Pointe Magazine Headquarters and the Roundabout Theatre Company expanded my knowledge regarding potential careers in the arts. In addition, speaking with numerous ABT employees helped me network and working alongside the other interns provided me with lifelong friendships. Frequent trips to the Metropolitan Opera House were awe inspiring and validated the hard work that happens at 890 Broadway. Besides the computer, communication and organizational skills that I developed in the office, I also got to meet ballet teachers from all over the world during the training sessions.

After almost three months of amazing experiences however, there is one that stands out from the rest. It was the end of the day during one of our training sessions and I was the only person in the office. The teachers were preparing for their last class of the day in which they would be observing a group of young dancers. As I was printing programs for the Young People’s Ballet Workshop, I happened to look up and see a mother and her young daughter. The mother came over to me with pleading eyes and asked if I knew anyone that could do her daughters hair for class. Luckily, I have danced for years and have conjured countless ballet buns. I told the mother I could do it and watched her face flood with relief. Sitting the little girl in my office chair, I twirled and pinned and twirled and pinned until she was adorned with a perfect ballet bun. They both thanked me profusely and headed off to class.

This moment is so memorable to me because I think it really shows what ABT is all about. It does not matter if you have been a part of the dance world for your entire life or are brand new; ABT brings people together and facilitates a love and appreciation for the arts. Whether it is the Education or Finance Department, student or member of the company, they all work together seamlessly towards a common mission. Doing the little girls hair for class made me feel like I was part of something bigger, and that is what it is like working for American Ballet Theatre.

Lindsey Jacquier

National Training Curriculum Intern

Summer 2017

Beauty and Chaos- ABT’s Met Season

22 Aug

“Why ABT?”  This was the first question I was asked when I interviewed for my position at ABT. Bouncing from art galleries to museums to magazines, I admit applying for ABT was an anomaly among anomalies. But after a summer of working in the Major Gifts department, I can definitely say that I’m beyond grateful they took a chance on me. My first day was at the end of May and everybody was already deep into the hectic Met Season, a string of eight weeks where ABT puts on eight different ballets at the Metropolitan Opera House. If you get the chance to take a summer internship with ABT and experience the wonderful chaos that is the Met Season, do not hesitate to accept it. I dove in head first, working shows, luncheons, auctions, board meetings, backstage tours, you name it. I got to meet a few major donors and talk with them, tour the Opera House with my all-knowledgeable mentor who told me fun facts about the founding of the opera, the famous Met Opera chandeliers, and the inner workings of the immense building, and I got to step out onto the stage and see what the dancers saw every night. I got to walk backstage while Hee Seo was warming up, and see Devon Teuscher dance the Black Swan in Swan Lake from backstage and see her run off laughing, care free. Almost more exciting, I got to hear the news firsthand when she was promoted to principal dancer. I got to see Misty Copeland dance an excerpt from Swan Lake and see her perform in The Golden Cockerel. I went from having little to no exposure, to seeing six different shows and having daily interaction with dancers and dance fanatics. Admittedly when the Met season ended things slowed down. But my time was spent conducting research and walking through the studios amidst all of the summer programs while the halls filled with music and the sound of pointe shoes hitting the floor. How can work ever be boring when your office is half-office space half-rehearsal space?

ABT has taught me invaluable knowledge about ballet but they have also nurtured and grown indispensable skills. Research, writing, communication, Excel and Word efficiency, attention to detail, even learning how to use Raiser’s Edge, are all skills that I have had to use in the past and will need to use in the future. They are skills that one never truly masters but is constantly improving, and my experience with ABT has sharpened them immensely. Not only did I learn how Major Gifts operates, and for a company as big and renowned as ABT, but through the internship program and our weekly meetings I learned about the other departments as well and even got to experience some of the inner workings of the Roundabout Theatre Company and Pointe Magazine. An internship with ABT is all about growth, about learning new things, trying new things, and enjoying what you do. Dance is about passion from every angle, even those who work in dance share a passion for it and that is what makes working for ABT so great. Everyone loves what they do and they do it because they love it. Even those who don’t dance themselves (like me) can enjoy and treasure a position at ABT. There is so much more to the company and so much to learn and experience, you will not regret an internship here.

 

Baylee McKeel

Major Gifts Intern

Summer 2017

Developing Valuable Skills in the Development Department

31 Jul

This past spring, I got to spend time interning in the Development Department at ABT. I worked in Institutional Giving and I got to learn a lot of valuable things about arts administration as a whole and how to develop relationships within the field.

I feel extremely lucky to have had this experience, especially as it was during my last semester in college. The internship program at ABT is unique because they really strive to give you an overview of arts administration as a whole. The intern meetings were fantastic because we got to speak with people who were working in a variety of different  departments and hear about their day to day tasks, the rewards and challenges of their jobs, and what made them so passionate about their work. It was fantastic to see how the departments worked together and the intern meetings gave me a great overview of the field and all of the different ways that people can contribute.

Additionally, I felt very lucky to have a mentor who was incredibly supportive. She was patient and took the time to check in throughout the semester to make sure that I was getting the most out of my experience. She walked me through the process of applying for grants and I got to learn a lot about building and maintaining relationships with different foundations and companies. She also invited me to sit in on important calls and walked me through the complete process of grant applications, from finding grants to writing applications and even the steps that you have to take to follow up and cultivate that professional relationship. All the while, she patiently addressed my questions and concerns and even set up meetings with people in other departments to make sure that I had a comprehensive understanding of ABT and the work that they do.

I feel extremely lucky to have worked with such a talented and passionate groups of people. The environment at ABT was always welcoming and everyone there is really focused on working together. I think that one of the most important things I learned was how people bring different skills and resources to a project and how to be a valuable member of a team. As an intern, I was given tasks that really contributed to the company and its mission. I was also invited to sit in on many discussions and meetings and, as a result, I can truly say that I walked away with much more knowledge about arts administration and the feeling that I got to make a small contribution to something truly incredible.

Niara Walden

Institutional Giving Intern

Spring 2017

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

A wonderful experience in the Public Schools

30 Jun

This past Spring I was given the unique opportunity to intern with ABT’s Artistic Coordinator of Educational Outreach, Richard Toda.  It was a privilege to get to be Richard’s first intern and spend a large portion of my internship assisting him in his educational outreach programs.  Primarily I spent my time in the classroom at either Fort Hamilton High School (FHHS) or at PS 1, getting a hands-on experience with ABT’s outreach programming. This experience provided many useful insights, such as helping me to better understand how to customize outreach programming to meet the unique needs of each public school and allowing me to observe the collaboration process between ABT and the public school teachers.

 

However, the most enjoyable part of my internship was getting to interact with the public school students and see how the ABT outreach programs were allowing these students to develop in their execution and appreciation of ballet. Seeing first hand the benefits of educational outreach reinforced my desire to work in educational outreach, and further ignited my passion for arts education. Thus, I greatly appreciated the opportunity to intern with American Ballet Theatre!

 

Wendy Clark

Educational Outreach Intern

Spring 2017