Balancing Ballet

Ayesha Patel, C’25, designed a plan that allowed a Philadelphia dance company to revive a program for younger supporters.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

By Louisa Shepard

Ayesha Patel, C’25, developed an interest in ballet when she was a little girl, and she has been dancing ever since. So, an internship with BalletX, the Philadelphia contemporary ballet company, seemed like a great opportunity to combine her knowledge of dance with her economics major. 

The 10-week internship was through the Summer Humanities Internship Program, which provides a $5,000 award supported by the College and administered through the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. This is the first year BalletX was a program partner. “It is fantastic and a huge support to nonprofits like us,” says Megan O’Donnell, BalletX managing director.

When she and others reviewed applications and interviewed finalists for the position, Patel “stood out from the crowd,” O’Donnell says. “She was really amazing.” 

A Summer Humanities Internship with Philadelphia dance company BalletX gave Ayesha Patel, C’25, a great opportunity to combine her dance experience with her economics major.

Courtesy of Ayesha Patel

A major project for Patel entailed research and strategy around a BalletX program called Young Xers for professionals 21 to 40 years old. A pilot was in place before the pandemic, and Patel was tasked with creating a plan to bring it back to life. 

During the research phase, she reviewed the pilot, studied similar programs at other arts organizations, and wrote a comparative analysis. She then created a description of a Young Xers committee and a membership structure, a proposed budget, an events calendar, and suggested local partners. Finally, she drafted a marketing plan and content for the website, presented a three-year strategic plan to the BalletX team, and helped plan and staff a Young Xers July social event.

“It all involved a lot of financial planning, making sure that we’re generating revenue from this program, and that it is benefitting BalletX in some way,” Patel says. Her summer experience also included work on shorter-term projects, like tracking and analyzing ticket sales for a two-week run of July performances and brainstorming marketing materials. 

O’Donnell says that without Patel, BalletX would not have been able to relaunch the Young Xers program—one she calls critical to the future of the dance company—this year. “Having an intern like Ayesha, who is so smart and diligent, was really beneficial,” O’Donnell says. 

For Patel, the feeling was mutual. “They gave me a lot of responsibility for an intern, and I really appreciated that,” Patel says. “I also just really appreciated having that professional experience working in the ballet and arts industry…. I’ve made a lot of connections.”