For Helena LaPorte-Burns ’18, the arts have long been an important facet of life: “I am someone who grew up listening to classical music en route to ballet class,” said Burns. Though she quit ballet at age 14 to focus on academics, Burns has found a way to keep music in her life through the oboe, which she plays in the Hamilton College Orchestra.
For years, Burns retained her long-standing interest in the arts, especially music, but she struggled to find a happy overlap between her artistic and academic skills. When Professor Peter Rabinowitz saw Burns’ work for the Richard Rorty Society Conference held at Hamilton, he suggested to her that perhaps arts administration was her calling.
“I was intrigued by this idea because it seemed the perfect marriage between something I love, the arts, and something I’m good at, management,” said Burns. With the help of her professors and Heather Wixson of the Career Center, Burns sent off applications to various arts organizations and landed her first-choice internship with American Ballet Theatre (ABT).
Hometown: Somerset, N.J.
High School: Rutgers Preparatory School
When Burns was a dancer, her parents would surprise her with trips to see ABT perform at Lincoln Center in New York City. “When I sent in my application, I thought how wonderful it would be to be back at ABT in the role of intern and not of audience member, really coming full circle,” Burns said.
As the membership intern, Burns is responsible for managing the membership table at the Metropolitan Opera House during ABT performances. Her task is to attract new members, answer questions and thank current members for their continued support. She also staffs events like seminars and board meetings for ABT patrons.
Burns spends the other half of her working hours at the company offices in Chelsea where she assumes a less glamorous, but equally rewarding, desk job. Here, she puts together portfolios, manages correspondence with subscribers and patrons, and prepares literature to distribute at ABT performances. “What is exciting about this job is that I have not had a ‘typical day’ yet. It keeps me on my toes, but thankfully not on pointe!” said Burns.
Later in the summer, Burns will conduct research on prospective donors, which will allow ABT to move into the fall season with fresh ideas on how to widen their membership. “Ideally, when summer concludes, so will my uncertainty about what kind of career I would like to have after Hamilton,” Burns said. “But this experience has been valuable whether or not that happens.”